Every time she messes up, there are her colleagues at the BBC telling anyone who will listen that she is being bullied, that the response is sexist and even misogynist, that she is of impeccable professional standing. And then political editor Laura Kuenssberg goes and does it again. Except this time, the dust had hardly settled from the last hideous gaffe before along came the next. And this one could have her in trouble with the law.
Laura Kuenssberg ((c) Guardian)
On today’s Politics Live, Ms Kuenssberg was responding to host Jo Coburn, who pitched “There is this question about turnout. We haven’t really talked much about turnout … over the campaign, but that now is coming to the front and centre of peoples’ minds”. What say Ms K? “Certainly. And the forecast is it’s going to be wet and cold tomorrow”.
Well, pollster John Curtice reckons that no longer matters so much. But do go on. “The postal votes have already arrived, the parties are not meant to look at it but they do kind of get a hint, and on both sides people are telling me that postal votes that are in are looking pretty grim for Labour in a lot of parts of the country”. Well, well.
Asanka De Silva wasn’t sure she should have been making those comments. “How is this legal? You simply cannot comment on #PostalVotes. As far as I can see, there are 2 violations here … 1.) Her sources communicating from postal voting sessions … 2.) Broadcaster responsibility to not communicate such info”. Quite.
Gary Moyes added wearily “@ElectoralCommUK surely this is illegal? [Laura Kuenssberg] capping her horrendous election coverage with this blatant attempt to influence the outcome of #GE2019 by commenting on [Postal Votes] [BBC News] will ignore and deflect, as always”. He had seen it all before. We all had.
Less than an hour after De Silva’s Tweet, the Electoral Commission gave this response: “It may be an offence to communicate any information obtained at postal vote opening sessions, including about votes cast, before a poll has closed. Anyone with information to suggest this has happened should report it immediately to the police”.
And Jolyon Maugham reminded us that “The rule about keeping secret how postal ballots are breaking is in regulation 84 of The Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001 (as amended)”. This states that the Returning Officer “shall keep the ballot papers face downwards and take proper precautions for preventing any person from seeing the votes made on the ballot papers”.
Saying “The parties are not supposed to look at it but they do kind of get a hint” might sound wonderfully stylish, but it is more prosaically illegal. In any case, neither Ms Kuenssberg, nor the political parties, nor any journalist, knows how the postal votes in any one constituency can be bad for any political party until they have been added to those cast on the day. But she has, perhaps inadvertently, helped Labour.
Because all party activists seeing yet another blatant slice of partiality will be motivated even more to go and get out the vote tomorrow. After all, the election result may not matter for the entitled of New Broadcasting House, but it does to millions of others.
Meanwhile, cue the next round of bullying and sexism excuses. Same old, same old.
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