The BBC behaved "appallingly" during election campaign, said Labour's Andy McDonald

16 December 2019, 10:54

The shadow transport secretary told Nick Ferrari that while Labour leadership was to blame for the defeat, the BBC behaved "appallingly" during the campaign.

"I think Jeremy and John McDonnell have made it abundantly clear that they own responsibility for our defeat," the shadow transport secretary said and also included himself in this blame.

"We were leading the party, we formed the manifesto and we prosecuted a campaign to get into government and we failed," Mr McDonald said, "there are other issues at play, of course there are."

He explained that Brexit was a conundrum; the party was of a Remain persuasion and Labour seats in areas of Leave voters were sacrificed which was "a circle we couldn't square."

Nick asked whether anyone ever spelt out that policy wasn't working.

Mr McDonald said that with Brexit in particular, when he explained Labour's stance in the local context, people understood.

"It had some effect," Mr McDonald, "but you're right it just didn't cut across." He said the party need to spend some time reflecting on this and learning from the "terrible, terrible" defeat.

Andy McDonald said the party needs to learn from this "terrible, terrible" defeat
Andy McDonald said the party needs to learn from this "terrible, terrible" defeat. Picture: PA

When Nick asked who the frontrunners for Labour leadership was Mr McDonald said it would be good if it was a woman, but ultimately someone who could unite the party. He said he would follow that person faithfully as that's what the party "needs."

"I maintain that the Labour party is the greatest force from social change," he said.

Nick asked what the shadow transport secretary made of the new government thinking about decriminalising non-payment of the BBC license fee and he called this "very concerning."

"I also ask how the BBC has conducted itself because I am a great defender of a public service broadcaster," Mr McDonald continued, "I feel that they have taken a particular view, they have been used and abused and they're going to be dispensed with.

"If we get into an environment where we've got wall to wall Fox News broadcast media, I fear for us."

Nick said that was a bit of a quantum leap.

"All I'm saying is without the BBC the field is open to people with lots of power, lots of money, to fill the void," Mr McDonald said, however, "some of the behaviour of the BBC has been quite frankly appalling."

He listed examples of the broadcaster reporting things that "weren't true", and while conceding that BBC interviewer Andrew Neil gave a three minute unforgiving monologue about Boris Johnson, he still urges they reflect on their conduct.