SORRY – won’t be signing that one. A change.org petition is demanding the resignation of the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, along with the producer of The Daily Politics Show, Andrew Alexander, and presenter Andrew Neil.
At the time of writing 6,712 people have supported this petition, sparked by Labour Party annoyance at supposed political bias.
There are a number of reasons why this petition won’t win my support. One is to be found in a link on the petition form itself. This takes you to a Daily Mail story about the BBC’s decision to allow shadow foreign office minister Stephen Doughty to resign live on the Daily Politics Show.
Now that will be the same Daily Mail that habitually besmirches and belittles the BBC; the same Daily Mail that is, by general belief, a newspaper of the right. Nothing wrong with that, but it does suggest the aggrieved supporters of Jeremy Corbyn behind this petition are choosing strange bedfellows in their scrap with the BBC.
The party itself complained that the resignation had been stage-managed in pursuit of a “particular political narrative”, and accused the BBC of “orchestration of political controversy”.
Part of the complaint concerns a now-deleted blog in which Andrew Alexander explained how the programme “sealed the deal” over the on-air resignation. That probably wasn’t wise, but anyone who has worked in a newsroom will see that for what it is: journalistic braggadocio rather than evil scheming; silly boastfulness rather than evidence of an evil plot.
This is how journalism and politics engage. Sometimes the results aren’t pretty. But it’s a mistake to see conspiracy theories everywhere, and Corbyn’s grassroots supporters should grow a thicker skin. They’re probably going to need it.
Politicians on all sides occasionally believe the BBC is biased and “working for the other side”. Those on the right insist the Corporation is riddled with left-wingers; those on the left accuse the BBC of doing the Tories’ bidding.
This sort of endless complaining happened under New Labour; and now Corbyn’s Labour seems to be reviving the bad old habit. His team and supporters should concentrate on opposing the Tories rather than endlessly complaining about the BBC. And I say this as a long-standing bit of an old leftie.
Tellingly, today’s newspapers also report a different accusation of political manipulation – this time against the Conservative Party. And a more serious one, I’d suggest.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of politicising the Paris attacks in his dispute with junior doctors. Hunt’s officials are said to have helped orchestra a letter from the NHS chief medic, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, questioning whether striking junior doctors would be available to help in the event of a major Paris-style incident in the UK.
That’s pretty despicable spinning, isn’t it? And surely as worthy of outrage as the BBC’s political coverage.
Incidentally, I don’t think Jeremy Hunt should be health secretary. His mere presence on the TV screen must send blood pressure rising alarmingly. That man is bad for the nation’s health in so many ways.
As for that petition, here’s a final reason for not signing . If you ask me the BBC needs all the friends it can get, especially under a government doing its damndest to attack and diminish the Corporation.