With the General Election beginning to come to the boil - the first head-to-head debate between Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is this evening - broadcasters are supposed to be at least attempting some measure of even-handedness in their reporting. But someone deep in the bowels of New Broadcasting House, it seems, has not yet got the message.
So it was that yesterday, Bozo The Clown panicked, executed a screeching 180-degree U-Turn, dropped Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid in the mire once more, and the Beeb managed not to notice, despite their own political editor having not only noticed, but said so openly. The subject was Corporation Tax rates.
Labour has declared that, if elected, it will raise that tax from the current 19% to 26%. This is still lower than the 28% which was levied before the Tories began their cuts, and it is still lower than the rate in many other countries, not least Germany at 29.8%, France at 34.4%, Italy at 27.8%, Belgium at 29.6% and Portugal at 31.5%.
That did not stop Bozo claiming that “The alternative [to the Tories] is Jeremy Corbyn, who would whack it [CT] straight back up to the highest levels in Europe”. Bozo lying again. But then came that U-Turn, as the Independent has reported: “Addressing the CBI conference, the prime minister claimed the U-turn – leaving the tax at 19 per cent next April, instead of 17 per cent – would free up £6bn to spend on the NHS and other public services”.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, as the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg mused, “Also this morning, who said this? 'Every time corporation tax has been cut in this country it has produced more revenue’?” answering her question “It was the PM who has cancelled the planned tax cut this morning saying that it will save 6bn”.
Bozo told us that cutting Corporation Tax was good for tax receipts and good for the economy, slagged off Labour for wanting to increase it, then increased it himself, his reason being the same one that Labour is using to justify its own plans.
So how did the Beeb report this? Did they highlight Bozo’s lies? Did they home in on his hypocrisy? Did they point up that this was a panic measure? As if you need to ask: the answer is that they did none of the above. Instead, we were given the stirring “General election 2019: PM puts corporation tax cuts on hold to help fund NHS”.
Only by reading down the page do we get to any critical analysis: “The announcement does not mean any new money for the NHS, on top of the £20bn extra a year the Conservatives are promising to give it up to 2023. The BBC understands the cash will be used, in part, to fund existing pledges on GP training”. No new money for the NHS.
But the headline worded, as with right-wing papers like the Mail, to suggest to the casual reader that this is exactly what Bozo has done. No mention of the admission that cutting Corporation Tax means less money in tax receipts. A blatant and panicked U-Turn massaged as if it were anything but Bozo flying by the seat of his pants.
The BBC may be trying to be impartial. But are they trying hard enough?
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at