Is BBC News Political Impartiality Dead After The Stephen Doughty Affair

The BBC is justifiably proud of its news coverage and its record as a public service broadcaster, especially when it comes to its coverage of politics. Readers in the U.S. may not be aware that the BBC is publicly funded. The BBC is not allowed to broadcast advertising in the U.K. and it must be strictly neutral when it comes to politics. Sadly, over the past year or so BBC news has increasingly been accused of political bias.

The rot set in when BBC news was accused of taking a pro-union stance on the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum. BBC news was accused of giving significantly more airtime to those campaigning for the Scottish people to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many people have accused BBC news of unjustifiably negative reporting when it comes to issues concerning the new labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr. Corbyn is by some distance the most left wing party leader we have had in the U.K. for generations. Corbyn would like to see the U.K. get rid of its nuclear weapons and renationalize the railways, he is also anti-war. BBC news is also accused of employing scare tactics to undermine Corbyn and his party. Earlier this week, BBC news staged a stunt that has led to the bizarre situation where the BBC is reporting on complaints against itself. In other words, the BBC is making the news rather than reporting it.

Earlier this week Labour party leader Mr. Corbyn was reshuffling his top team. He sacked a couple of ministers who had opposed him over the U.K.’s decision to join the bombing campaign in Syria. It is fair to say that many Labour members of parliament oppose some of Corbyn’s beliefs, and some resigned ministerial positions in protest at his sacking of some of his team.

The Guardian reports that BBC news is being accused of pursuing a “particular political narrative” in light of its decision to allow the shadow foreign office minister Stephen Doughty to resign live on air. Doughty resigned live on the BBC’s Daily Politics, a news magazine program hosted by Andrew Neil. Mr. Neil is a former Sunday Times editor who is believed to be a staunch supporter of David Cameron’s Conservative party.

By allowing Mr. Doughty to resign live on air, the BBC is accused of breaching its political neutrality to embarrass Mr Corbyn. According to the Telegraph, the Labour party have complained that BBC has been guilty of an “unacceptable breach” of the BBC’s “role and statutory obligations.”

“By the BBC’s own account, BBC journalists and presenters proposed and secured the resignation of a shadow minister on air in the immediate run-up to Prime Minister’s Questions, apparently to ensure maximum news and political impact.”

“That was evidently done before any notice of resignation was sent to the Labour leader.”

According to the Daily Mail, a blog by a news editor on the BBC website was deleted after it was revealed that the BBC had orchestrated the live on-air resignation. BBC editor Mr. Alexander claimed BBC news political editor Laura Kuenssberg had “sealed the deal” with Mr. Doughty before the show had even started filming, undermining what appeared to be an unplanned moment.

The BBC has justified its actions by saying that they followed “normal journalistic practices” in its reporting of the Doughty resignation.

“The BBC had played no role in Doughty’s decision to resign because he had made up his mind on Wednesday morning before speaking to any journalists.”

The claims of biased BBC news reporting is sure to further undermine trust in the corporation. Every person in the U.K. must buy a license each year and the BBC is funded by the license fee and the selling of its programs to international audiences.

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