The Conservative Party line is that Labour will burden people with big tax increases. Now, a ‘mistake’ on the BBC has reinforced the Conservative attack line in front of millions.
The BBC exaggerated the impact of Labour’s tax plans on some earners by 971% in a report on 16 May. An image broadcast on the BBC stated a person earning £123,000 will experience a “loss” of £23,000 per year under Labour. In reality, a high earner on £123,000 will contribute just £2,147 more annually to our public services.
So the image greatly exaggerated Labour’s tax increase for high earners:
Staggering BBC bias yesterday. It makes 2 huge errors. Person on £123k would pay 45p, not 50p from £80k-£123k. Not £23k worse off just £2.2k pic.twitter.com/Sq6oLEvNDY
— Tory Fibs (@ToryFibs) May 17, 2017
The BBC’s Economics Editor, Kamal Ahmed, sidestepped admitting that the image was factually incorrect:
Dear @LabourEoin Have explained on my feed. Script was clear. Just grabbing slide pic isn't fair reflection. But, did amend for Ten
— Kamal Ahmed (@bbckamal) May 17, 2017
Ahmed says he “explained” the false image on his Twitter feed. But the BBC broadcast the original image to an audience incomparably larger than Ahmed’s personal Twitter followers.
And yet, even Ahmed’s ‘explanation’ on social media in no way amounts to a correction:
IFS on impact of Lab tax rises: income between £80,000 and £100,000 av £400 a year. Income over £500,000, £22,900 a year. @TheIFS
— Kamal Ahmed (@bbckamal) May 17, 2017
People feel that a correction should reach a similar audience to the original false information. Otherwise, viewers will remain misinformed.
Even the BBC’s language of ‘loss’ appears telling. A Labour government would use the tax increases on higher earners to fund our public services. Everyone, including a person earning £123,000, depends upon services like education, transport infrastructure, and healthcare. Not only to get by, but also to make profit. As Labour’s Sarah Champion said on Sky News:
When you look at a business, they are using the infrastructure, they are benefiting from the education system we’ve got. So paying your fair share back in again – that seems very sensible to me.
Without a healthy, educated workforce that can travel on a train, businesses would be nothing.
The misrepresentation of Labour’s tax plans is not a one off. Nor are claims of BBC bias against Jeremy Corbyn and his party mere opinion. A number of case studies represent an academic consensus that our public service broadcaster is biased against progressive politics:
- The BBC gave double the airtime to Jeremy Corbyn’s critics than to his allies at the start of the coup last June, according to content analysis by the Media Reform Coalition and Birkbeck, University of London.
- A major content analysis from Cardiff University revealed that the BBC is pro-business and conservative-leaning in its coverage. No matter which party is in power.
- 56% of the media’s Corbyn-related articles do not give the Labour leader a voice at all, according to a report by the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Become the media
So unfortunately, we must take our public service broadcaster with a pinch of salt over the election period. Media misrepresentation must be called out at every opportunity. Especially when the BBC exaggerates Labour’s tax plans by a huge 971%. This reinforces standard Conservative smears against the Labour Party. So the BBC should certainly broadcast a correction. But essentially, only nationwide conversations between friends, family and coworkers can circumvent a hierarchical corporate media controlled by the powerful.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Read more from The Canary on the 2017 general election.
– Read more from The Canary on BBC bias.
– Support and read independent news outlets that hold the powerful to account. Here are some we recommend. Please add more that you like in the comments:
The Canary, Media Diversified, Novara Media, Corporate Watch, Common Space, Media Lens, Bella Caledonia,Vox Political, Evolve Politics, Real Media, Reel News, STRIKE! magazine, The Bristol Cable, The Meteor, Salford Star, The Ferret.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?