Despite all the brickbats hurled its way, the BBC mostly tries not to favour one political party over another, and to portray both good and bad aspects of politics in a way its viewers and listeners can easily comprehend. But sometimes standards slip, and it is too often only by accident that we see it happening. And sadly, it is those who should be the most alert to keeping above the fray who we see getting it wrong.
This happened with the live on-air resignation of Stephen Doughty from the Labour front bench, with a BBC internal blog letting slip that the MP had apparently been encouraged to announce his departure from Jeremy Corbyn’s team five minutes before the start of PMQs, therefore handing David Cameron an advantage. Long-term host Andrew Neil, and the Corporation’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, were directly involved in that one.
And now, Ms Kuenssberg has let slip another less than totally even-handed BBC stance, on racism in the Labour and Conservative Parties. Commenting on a HuffPost article which claimed the Tories were showing the “first signs of institutional racism” over their problem with Islamophobia, she commented “This is on different political scale but tories also have a problem here”. The inference is clear: it’s not so bad for the Tories.
Except that this appears not to be true. And Labour campaigner Owen Jones was unimpressed. “The rampant anti-Muslim bigotry of the Tories is only on a ‘different political scale’ because the institutionally anti-Muslim British media almost always refuses to cover it”. Moreover, the scale of Tory racism now being unearthed, and that which we know about from the recent past - including anti-Semitism - looks very bad. Because it is bad.
Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain (see the thread HERE) has pointed out the disgraceful attacks on Sadiq Khan in the run-up to the 2016 London Mayoral elections, which included both David Cameron and Michael Fallon libelling a former Imam by linking him to ISIS. He notes the casual and repeated bigotry of back-bencher Bob Blackman, about whom nothing was done. The Tories just ignored it. And there was more.
He also points out the attacks on Khan by (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries, who has also indulged in anti-Semitism in the past. There are also dishonourable mentions for Ben Bradley, Andrew Rosindell, and of course no account of Tory bigotry would be complete without the presence of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Also, Evolve Politics has unearthed a Facebook group where Tory bigotry is in full and open view.
That is not all: the Tweeter known as Racists4Rees-Mogg has done as many in the right-leaning press have with Labour, and looked over Tory-supporting social media content. What has been unearthed is deeply disturbing, consisting of vicious Islamophobia, incitement to violence, including death threats against Sadiq Khan, and - to no surprise at all - anti-Semitism, including the casual use of long-discredited conspiracy theories.
Worse, when Sayeeda Warsi has pointed out the Tories’ racism problem, some in their social media support groups have attacked her, rather than bother to stop and think. Yet that Tweet from Ms Kuenssberg is one of only two searchable instances of her using the word “Islamophobia” on Twitter. Someone at the Beeb is downplaying Tory racism.
And that someone appears to be Ms Kuenssberg. Not a good look.
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