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 to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?