Newsnight’s grotesque ‘Empress’ May – but where’s the ‘She must go’ narrative?


Newsnight has for a long time been one of the worst BBC programmes in terms of a naked bias against Labour – or, more precisely, against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, so much so that there is not even a semblance of a pretence of a charade of balance and any ‘Labour’ representatives on the show are ‘bitterites’ lining up to heap yet more scorn on the Labour leader.

A SKWAWKBOX reader sent in this very interesting dissection of a recent programme that not only highlights the ridiculous nature of the show but also the wider hypocrisy of the media’s handling of the aftermath of last week’s by-elections. It deserves wider consideration, so here is a piece by reader Catriona Lischka:

Under the terms of the Royal Charter and accompanying Agreement, the BBC has a duty to maintain impartiality in its coverage of current affairs. However, ever since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party, it has consistently given far more airtime to opinions critical of Corbyn than to those supporting him (e.g. as shown in a joint study by the Media Reform Coalition and Birkbeck, University of London, published in July 2016).

The Newsnight broadcast on 24 February 2017, the day after the by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland, was one of the worst examples of this biased coverage. The programme started with Theresa May being likened to a Roman empress, Kirsty Wark declaiming in Latin how “Theresa May bestrides the political landscape after the Copeland win”. In the background we saw Theresa May sporting an imperial crown, an image that remained in view for the entire section of the programme devoted to the by-election results. Talk about subliminal messages!

Then, during an eight-minute interview with Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, it soon became clear that Ms Wark was not remotely interested in what Ms Thornberry had to say. The loss of Copeland was all Corbyn’s fault, a disaster for Labour and yet another example of the decline in Labour’s vote that has occurred at every by-election since he became leader. Despite being “a man of principle” he had flip-flopped on nuclear power so that the people of Copeland didn’t believe he was on their side. Jeremy Corbyn was “the problem” and, as such, he should take responsibility for the defeat; failure to do so must mean he is “deluded”.

Whenever Ms Thornberry tried to move the interview on to issues like the NHS or to Stoke, where Labour had defied the doom-and-gloom forecasts and trounced UKIP, Ms Wark dragged it back to what came over as a personal vendetta against Corbyn, accompanied by sneers and aggressive mannerisms. As far as Ms Wark and Newsnight were concerned, Stoke was all about UKIP’s failure, not Labour’s success.

In December, the Conservatives lost Richmond on a -21.7% swing. The Copeland swing from Labour towards the Conservatives was just 6.7%. Did anyone at the BBC suggest Theresa May should consider her position after the Richmond by-election? Of course not.

The fact is that the Labour vote in Copeland has been in steady decline ever since 1997. But that’s not the story Ms Wark was bent on projecting. Her agenda was to pile all the blame onto Jeremy Corbyn in relentless pursuit of a “He must go” narrative.

So much for fair and balanced reporting at the BBC!!

So much indeed – and a great point that deserves to be hammered home by every genuine Labour supporter and every person with even a passing interest in fair reporting or social justice.

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  1. I’d suggest that everyone just cancel their TV licences as I did nearly a decade ago. Plenty of content on catch-up TV from ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 with no licence needed (you need a licence to watch TV iPlayer).

  2. we need probono Lawyers to act on all the breeches of the law by this governments agencies statutory bodies and circulars.

    1. He may not have worn the rosette, but he was a Tory candidate – the Tories backed Goldsmith and stood aside to give him a clear run.

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