The BBC admits it co-ordinated in advance the on-air resignation of Stephen Doughty

Yesterday, three Labour front-benchers resigned in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s minor reshuffle. One of them – the previously unheard of Stephen Doughty – did so live on the Daily Politics just 5 minutes before the start of Prime Minister’s Questions, giving David Cameron the opportunity to bring it up in the chamber.

Today, the ‘output editor’ for the Daily Politics, wrote a – now taken down – blog on the BBC website’s ‘Academy’ section*, explaining how it all came about. You can read a cached version of the blog here.

Apparently, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg set it all up. From the blog post:

Just before 9am we learned from Laura Kuenssberg, who comes on the programme every Wednesday ahead of PMQs, that she was speaking to one junior shadow minister who was considering resigning. I wonder, mused our presenter Andrew Neil, if they would consider doing it live on the show?

The question was put to Laura, who thought it was a great idea. Considering it a long shot we carried on the usual work of building the show, and continued speaking to Labour MPs who were confirming reports of a string of shadow ministers considering their positions.

Within the hour we heard that Laura had sealed the deal: the shadow foreign minister Stephen Doughty would resign live in the studio.

Although he himself would probably acknowledge he isn’t a household name, we knew his resignation just before PMQs would be a dramatic moment with big political impact. We took the presenters aside to brief them on the interview while our colleagues on the news desk arranged for a camera crew to film him and Laura arriving in the studio for the TV news packages.

I think this this is quite interesting because, while it could be argued that a live on air resignation is a great coup, I’m not sure it’s the job of the BBC’s political editor to actively assist disgruntled shadow cabinet members attempt to inflict maximum damage upon their party leader. I imagine if she had assisted a junior government minister do the same, there’d be a fearful row about BBC impartiality. What do you think?

*I found this via a posting on Reddit.


65 thoughts on “The BBC admits it co-ordinated in advance the on-air resignation of Stephen Doughty

  1. Add that to Laura’s Twitter feed (dozens of tweets about the reshuffle and little else) and you have a clear bias in the BBC political editor.

    I’ve never really rated her. Come back Andrew Marr – all is forgiven.

    1. Have you read Peter Hitchins latest? Not going to link to the Mail buy he has gone right up in my estimation lately.

        1. Always thought Christopher was the smart one (although could be a dick often) must admit underrated Peter.

    2. An admission?? There should be a mass outcry demanding an official apology from the BBC to general public, given that Mr Gibb is unlikely to fully answer the complaint from the Labour Party. The now prolonged breaches of the BBC’s duty to be ‘independent and impartial’ must be addressed before any further review to the Royal Charter Agreement.

    3. I dont listen to what she says with her mouth I watch her face when she talks. tells you what she really thinks. Try it …..

  2. I’m not remotely shocked. The laughably called “Independent” BBC has for many years simply been the broadcasting arm of the Conservatives. That joke of a man Jon Pienaar doesn’t even attempt to be neutral when reporting, he snipes and makes sarcastic comments about Corbyn at literally every chance he can. The sooner the BBC is privatized the better, if I wanted to pay for Tory propaganda I’d join the party.

  3. I am at a loss for words, a once greatly respected Institution the epitome of “British honour decency and renowned for impartiality” brought to its knees by a cheap publicity stunt. It is no longer fit for purpose – Is this what we as a Nation have become totally without honour

    1. It is a complete disgrace, and symptomatic of the way very little is genuine any more, but all “dressed up” to fit what the media – specially the BBC – wants. Horrible.

  4. At the risk of being controversial it was New Labour, and in particular Alistair Campbell, who told the bbc in no uncertain terms to toe their paymasters line.
    The Tories seem delighted to carry on this fine newly created tradition.

  5. What is surprising? It is same as a print journalist putting story they discover in their newspaper. Well done to BBC for the scoop !

    1. Except it isn’t is it MIKA, it’s a TV programme engineering a resignation, for dramatic impact, actually voluntarily becoming the catalyst and the impetus rather than simply reporting on it.

      1. ‘engineering a resignation’? Where’d you get that from, because nowhere in the Bllog is that suggested.

        I really don’t get it. A shadow minister intended to resign…..a politics tv programme invited him to do it on air and he did. So what?!?!

        Oh yeas, of course, I get it. It made Comrade Corbyn look bad, and that is no longer allowed in his ‘new politics’.

        1. You are absolutely right……it nade Corbyn look bad and gave an open goal to the PM just 5 mins before PMQs. And that’s the problem… is not the role of the BBC to giftwrap news items for the benefit of any political party. So let’s see how they report the massive split in the Cabinet over the EU referendum when one of the hard-right isolationist extremist Ministers steps away from collective responsibility and criticises his own PM. I bet that they won’t be described in those terms for a start!

          1. If it made Corbyn look bad, then take it up with Doughty or Corbyn!

            You’re right – they won’t use a description like that. Because they’re impartial!

        2. Buy a dictionary and look up ‘I.M.P.A.R.T.I.A.L.’: who knows, you just might REALLY “get it”.

          1. ‘a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objective criteria, rather than on the basis of bias, prejudice, or preferring the benefit to one person over another for improper reasons.’

            Do you think it wouldve been any different if it had been a Tory, or Ukipper? If you don’t……then look up the word in the dictionary.

        3. It is enshrined within law that the BBC (and any other broadcast media) be ‘impartial’. The same is not true of printed media.

          That means that they are required *NOT* to behave like tabloid journalists.

          Which, in this instance, is exactly what they did. They actually broke the law. Shame on them.

          1. Agreed… and to compound the issue even further, the BBC remains a public service and has 2 duty binding agreements.

            One being the Framework Agreement between the BBC and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

            Perhaps John Whittingdale will be tasked to look into this? :))

          2. Go see a solicitor then….good luck with that.

            The point is….there was nothing ‘unimpartial’ about it.

  6. They call it a show! Then call it the Andrew Neil Comedy Show. If it is supposed to be an informative political programme they have the wrong presenter.

    If you work in Public Service you should know this is totally unforgivable.
    Both Kuenssberg and Neil should be instantly dismissed for gross misconduct.

    1. To be dismissed for Gross Misconduct you have to have misconducted yourself….and neither have.

      Andrew Neil is probably the best in the business at what he does.

      1. Mate, it’s so obvious that you think this is ok because you don’t like Corbyn. You obviously DON”T understand the meaning of impartiality! Sticking to a principle, no after who it benefits or damages. Let me quote the article for you – he expresses it better than I can: “I’m not sure it’s the job of the BBC’s political editor to actively assist disgruntled shadow cabinet members attempt to inflict maximum damage upon their party leader. I imagine if she had assisted a junior government minister do the same, there’d be a fearful row about BBC impartiality.”

        1. Not obvious at all actually.

          I suspect I understand the concept of impartiality more than most actually, I would suggest you don’t. Its the job of the BBC and Daily Pol to put him on….what the MP does is up to him. Whether he is ‘disgruntled’ or not is irrelevant if you’re impartial. If Doughty wants to inflict damage that’s up too him (you’re only saying that because you like Corbyn).

          Why would it be any different with a Government minister? If it was, then you’d have a case about impartiality. But then that’s a hypothetical. And isnt there currently a fearful row about impartiality in this case anyway.

          As has been said……..a mass outbreak of thickness.

  7. This shocked me (and I thought myself inured to BBC bias). Of those defending the Beeb, I ask “If it was all so above board, why did they pull the web page that explained what happened?”

    Maybe, just maybe, the outrageous events have a positive side if they help to dispel the myth of BBC impartiality and commitment to public service.

  8. The BBC has lost all credibility, they are full of common purpose acting bejond their authority, they are the governments mouth piece, liars and deceivers of the truth and they silent any opinion that don’t fit their narrative agenda

  9. He had already resigned via letter to JC, as was stated on the show. Twisting things quite a bit to suggest doughty only resigned due to the BBC.

    It might be better to start thinking about why these people resigned. It wasn’t because the BBC twisted their arms.

    1. You are abs right Gordon tell me, before the elections did not the that the BBc continually not only openly support the Labour party by giving them twice as much viewing time and that their reports were much more detailed in favouring Labour. They even went to great lengths to predict they would win. Perhaps instead this story did not harm the Labour party it took the flack away. No questions were asked why these three mp’s were deselected which could be have brought to light three of them are Christians and two of them openly support Israel. The BBC does like either of these causes and neither does Mr Corbyn.

      1. Utter nonsense… me one independent piece of research that shows Labour had twice as much airtime. The biggest fault was the amount of coverage given to UkIP. Yet again the BBC followed the tabloid agenda rather than take an independent impartial viewpoint.

    2. No one’s saying the BBC urged him to resign – the story explicitly says that Knuessen, or whatever her name is, heard about Doughty’s resignation beforehand. But they engineered the public announcement of it, to do maximum damage to Corbyn. If he’d just come on, and sprung it on them, that would have been fine – everyone would say “Scoop!”

  10. I’m sad to say, the BBC has become no better than a tabloid journalist (obviously I know tabloid and journalist shouldn’t be used in the same sentence!) If Kuenssberg wants to be active in politics she needs to run for office, but her role is the report, commentate and analyse the politics, not contrive it. It is the lowest, most despicable thing any journalist can do, and she has plummeted in my estimation.

    Regardless of what people think about JC, he is leader, elected on a huge mandate, and has the right to choose his Shadow Cabinet. That he did it by consultation and consensus rather than by dictating has so surprised people they don’t understand his approach. The people who have resigned have done so to stab him in the back, and have done a number of things, shown themselves up to be like petulant children, and not willing to accept more members of the party support JC’s view rather than the old Blairite way. They need to learn, its time to move on, and actually people want an opposition, not just a rubber stamping of Tory policies.

  11. I think comments comparing the resigners to petulant children let them off the hook and are also denigratory to children. These are petulant and unprincipled men who have shown by this action that they are untrustworthy.

  12. Kuenssberg is a hopeless political editor whose lack of ability is matched only by her child-voiced naivety. Remember her scoop on kissing hands at the Privy Council? It only embarrassed the political neutrality of the Queen. She has been unable to forge any substantive link with the Opposition, which is paramount in order to avoid being a mouthpiece for the Government. She wrote drivel during Mr Corbyn’s appointment of his first Shadow Cabinet because she had simply no information at all. Ditto this time. The story the next day about three little people leaving in a string only proves that she does not report news, she only manages her failure to do so.

    1. Paul we all know that this sort of “Reporting” is commensurate with being Tele Totty…….As a Woman, she should be ashamed of herself and as “Journalist” even more so………No wonder then, they earn the title “Reptiles”.

  13. Good to see people waking up to the underhand,manipulative, sinister practices of the bbc. Here in Scotland people were disgusted with their utter manipulation, propaganda and outright lies. They made little attempt to conceal their bias and contempt for the democratic process.

    The stuff about them being taken apart by the tories is supposedly the start of their demise as a (faux) media for the people. It started a long time ago, and many will not be sorry to see the bbc taken down. The tories use it for their own end and people should seriously consider not paying the tv tax, ie license. Many have ditched them here in Scotland and never looked back.

  14. The BBC are not to blame for the resignation…..that is down to the petulant narcissism of those resigning……but it is responsible for colluding with the Government to maximise the embarassment of the Opposition. It is failing to report on the massive splits in the Cabinet over the referendum … huge that Cameron has done a 180 degree u-turn on allowing a free vote. As Ken Clarke commented, it is inconceivable that a Minister should remain in the Cabinet if they are campaigning against Cabinet policy. Corbyn is following the same line on collective responsibility yet is accused by the BBC of “revenge reshuffles”. The BBC are taking the same perspective on Corbyn as the Murdoch papers and Mail etc are taking I.e. that he is both weak and vindictive and are therefore failing to report actual news. Instead, they are editorialising and commenting, to make the “news” fit a pre-determined agenda .Stage-managing a resignation is just the latest aspect of that.

  15. BBC News has for a long time been subtly making news, not just reporting it. Now they’re being less subtle, probably emboldened by what they got away with in the Scottish referendum, and how their competitors are even more blatant about it.

  16. Kuenssbergs veritable ‘frothing at the mouth’ ‘reporting’ of anything REMOTELY Corbyn borders on obsession. The woman (along with Stephen Doughty) obviously has a taste for drama: perhaps the pair could form a double act along the lines of ‘reality’ TV – always in need of clowns.

  17. I’m disgusted with all BBC news this is not public service! I’m seriously considering not paying my license fee ,this is the last straw in a long line of biased reporting!!

  18. One more point! The BBC didn’t ‘admit’they co-ordinated in advance the on-air resignation, they asserted it. In an article published publicly on their website. Not therefore an admission.

    1. Which they took down within 24 hours. But as you say Baz, language is important. Describing the Labour resigners as “moderates” and Corbyn as left-wing is simply being accurate presumably. So describing Ken Clarke as a moderate and George Gideon Osborne as right-wing would be equally accurate. Funny that it doesn’t happen though. Giving money to millionaires but taking it from low-paid families is as right-wing as you can get in mainstream politics but is Gideon ever described by the BBC in those terms? Or even referred to by his real name?

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