BBC News guide to UK election downplays Labour antisemitism

A guide for North America readers tells of ‘accusations’ against the Labour leader.

On December 10th the BBC News website published what was apparently intended to be a guide to the upcoming UK general election for readers in North America on its ‘US & Canada’ page. Written by the BBC’s North America reporter Anthony Zurcher, the article is headlined “General election 2019: Why this UK vote is a huge deal”.

“As British voters prepare to head to the polls for a defining general election – the third in four years – they face a difficult choice, involving two unpopular leaders. […]

It’s as if the 2016 US presidential election, where both major candidates were deemed flawed and untrustworthy, is playing itself out again three years later, on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Under the subheading “Corbyn’s credibility and ideology” readers find three paragraphs concerning the Labour party leader’s “mixed and contradictory messages on Brexit” before they are told that: [emphasis added]

“He has also been accused of inadequately addressing anti-Semitism with his party’s ranks, of pushing out moderate voices within the party and of previously harbouring sympathies for the IRA.”

The volume of evidence pointing to Corbyn’s failure to effectively tackle antisemitism in the party he has led for over four years includes Jewish and non-Jewish MPs leaving the party citing ‘institutional racism’ and a submission of evidence of antisemitism from 70 current and former party officials to a body formally investigating the party on that issue.

Nevertheless, Zurcher chose not to inform the BBC’s North American audiences of that and additional evidence or to provide an objective and accurate account of Corbyn’s own related record. Rather he elected to portray the issue in equivocal terms which, while technically correct, fail to provide readers with the information that would “build people’s understanding” as required under the BBC’s public purposes.

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