Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Elections
28 November 2019updated 02 Sep 2021 5:17pm

Liberal Democrats join in the growing criticism of BBC’s election coverage

By George Grylls

The BBC has taken a pounding in the aftermath of the general election. Downing Street briefed over the weekend that the new Conservative government would be boycotting the Today programme and decriminalising licence fee avoidance. Labour’s shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said that the broadcast media “unfairly demonised” Jeremy Corbyn over the course of the campaign. Now a senior Liberal Democrat has joined in the criticism, saying the party was wrongfully ignored by senior executives.

“We didn’t get traction because we found it very difficult to get into the story,” said Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip.

“You saw the way the big media outlets — BBC, ITV, Sky — cast the election as a contest between Labour and the Conservatives.”

Carmichael has questioned why Jo Swinson was excluded from the leadership debates between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. Both the main parties fought hard to exclude the Liberal Democrats, remembering the brief wave of Cleggmania that followed the 2010 election debates.

“If you see these so-called ‘Leaders debates’ they were crying out for another view in there. A debate between two main parties who wanted Brexit to happen in different ways was not a debate.”

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

From the perspective of many opposition MPs, the BBC in particular had a torrid campaign. Political reporter Laura Kuenssberg inaccurately tweeted that a Tory aide had been punched by a Labour protestor. Most embarrassingly, Boris Johnson failed to sit down for an interview with Andrew Neil. BBC director general Tony Hall responded to criticism in an email to staff where he admitted that the “odd mistake” had been made but maintained that it was not evidence of bias.

Content from our partners
Harnessing breakthrough thinking
Are we there yet with electric cars? The EV story – with Wejo
Sherif Tawfik: The Middle East and Africa are ready to lead on the climate

However, Carmichael points to Jo Swinson’s harsh treatment by a BBC audience during the Question Time Leaders Special as evidence of failure.

“There were only two nominated Liberal Democrats in the room. And everybody else there had a party affiliation. They were all determined to define Jo Swinson, instead of allowing Jo Swinson to define herself.”

Topics in this article :