From Dispatches to Panorama – the Bias in British Broadcasting

Former London mayoral candidate for the Conservative Party, Zac Goldsmith, who lost out to Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the mayoral election last year, tweeted that the Dispatches Programme “The Battle for the Labour Party”, which aired last night at 7.30pm on Channel 4, was ‘weak’. The suggestion seems to be that the programme-makers, despite employing undercover agents to infiltrate Momentum meetings,  failed utterly in their attempt to discredit Corbyn’s leadership campaign. It is strange to think that Goldsmith and Khan might well be on the same side: both feeling disappointed  with the programme’s failure to admonish the campaign of the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party.

Just an hour later the BBC’s Panorama attempted a similar process of admonishment of Momentum. By all accounts, despite John Pienaar’s best efforts, the programme “Labour: Is the Party Over?” similarly failed to discredit Corbyn or his leadership campaign. Yesterday Owen Smith supporters must have been smirking with delight at seeing that these two anti-Corbyn programmes would be aired within an hour of each other just days before the final vote. By this morning they must have been laughing on the other sides of their faces, seeing the abject failure of either programme to gain any credible traction whatsoever.

Many viewers commented on social media that the programmes probably have had  the opposite effect to the one intended. Despite all the undercover investigative work, the programmes both failed to find even a slither of credible evidence with which to discredit Corbyn himself, his campaign organisers or any of his supporters. If anything the programmes may have inadvertently increased support for the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party.

Surely the real story here is that there should have been no such agenda to discredit Corbyn’s leadership campaign in the first place. One has to ask whether this is an appropriate subject for Dispatches and Panorama to have taken on.

A far more poignant and interesting subject is the witch hunt currently taking place within the Labour Party. This story has received scarcely any attention at all in the national press. The witch hunt has taken the form of trawling through personal remarks made by labour Party members, including tweets and comments on social media, in an attempt to unearth some pretext with which to disenfranchise members. The vast majority of supporters who have been disenfranchised by the NEC appear to be Jeremy Corbyn supporters.

There is plenty of evidence to be gathered, many human interest stories of personal distress to be reported on, and yet no investigative work at all seems to have been done in this area. The fairness of the electoral process is overseen by the Electoral Commission. It is to be expected that the Commission would have something to say about these allegations. Yet hardly a word has been reported from any source.

As Corbyn supporters have started to realise what the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party is up to there has been increasing concern, even panic, amongst members, about what one might have said at one time or another, anything that might be considered to have been overly critical of Labour or overly complimentary of some other party, such as the Green Party.

It would be a complete joke if it weren’t so frightening and so serious to so many people. In Bristol three counsellors have been purged from the party and as a result Labour has lost control of the council. Some may say, putting it mildly,  ‘you couldn’t make this stuff up’!

Many members have been denied a vote, often with no explanation, and with no right of appeal in time for the leadership election, and they feel very upset about it. Others have been hounded out of the Labour Party altogether, which is even more horrifying and upsetting.

This disenfranchisement of Labour Party members comes on the heels of the decision by the NEC to deny members who recently joined the party a vote , unless they paid an additional £25 within a three-day window, a decision that was overturned in a court case which was then contested by the NEC, spending member’s money to win the appeal of the court’s original verdict. Some would call this a horrendous misuse of members’ funds.

It is all bitterly laughable, but, by all accounts, such scull-duggery has failed to overturn the anticipated outcome of the leadership election. It is, nonetheless, a newsworthy story, albeit one that the press seems totally uninterested in covering, while instead some weak, investigation into Momentum is aired on not one, but two mainstream television channels, in the course of one evening, just a few days before the final vote on the Labour Party leadership. Is it any wonder that in Britain today trust in the unbiased nature of news reporting now seems a thing of the past.


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