BBC promotion of ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ should not surprise

The BBC’s coverage of the suspension of an MP by the UK Labour party has prompted criticism due to its promotion of statements from the fringe anti-Israel group ‘Jewish Voice for Labour‘.

A written report by Jemma Crew & Helen Catt which was published on April 23rd on the BBC News website’s ‘UK politics’ page under the headline ‘Diane Abbott suspended as Labour MP after racism letter’ contained comment from a variety of organisations and individuals, including the following:

“The Jewish Voice for Labour group, which has consistently supported Mr Corbyn, said Ms Abbott’s letter should have been “drafted with more care”, but added it was “no ground for suspension from the Labour Party”.

It added that Ms Abbott’s suspension “is yet a further attack on our freedom to debate very important issues in the Labour party. Her original letter was not antisemitic and the way some critics have rounded on her as if it were is cynical and unhelpful”.”

In a televised item aired the following day, BBC London (the branch of the corporation which promoted the unfounded claim of ‘racial slurs’ made by victims of an antisemitic incident in London in 2021) gave exclusive amplification to the same statement from JVL.

“Jewish Voice for Labour has criticised the suspension of the Labour MP Diane Abbott over her comments on racism in the Observer.”

Many commentators expressed frustration with the corporation’s decision to amplify comment from a small group which does not represent the mainstream British Jewish community.

However the editorial decisions to amplify JVL’s statement would not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the BBC’s promotion of that campaigning group since its formation in late 2017.

When the Labour party suspended Chris Williamson in 2019, BBC Radio 4 turned to JVL for comment and later responded to criticism by claiming that no-one else was available:

BBC R4’S ‘PM’ PRESENTS ONE-SIDED COMMENT ON MP’S SUSPENSION

Earlier, in July 2018, the BBC News channel had brought in a JVL member (who was later herself suspended and subsequently expelled by the Labour party) to ‘explain’ the IHRA working definition of antisemitism to viewers:

BBC NEWS GIVES FREE REIN TO ANTI-ISRAEL CAMPAIGNER’S FALSEHOODS

In August 2018 BBC Radio 4 thought it would be a good idea to have a member of the pro-Corbyn JVL (who was also suspended from the Labour party at one point) as the sole contributor to an item about Jeremy Corbyn:

REVIEWING BBC RADIO 4 COVERAGE OF CORBYN WREATH LAYING STORY – PART TWO

In December 2019 two BBC radio stations interviewed another member of JVL in relation to antisemitism in the Labour party:

BBC RADIO COVERAGE OF THE CHIEF RABBI’S ARTICLE – PART ONE

BBC RADIO COVERAGE OF THE CHIEF RABBI’S ARTICLE – PART TWO

As these examples and others show, since its formation just over five and a half years ago, Jewish Voice for Labour has repeatedly enjoyed disproportionate exposure on BBC platforms. This latest example of the amplification of the views of a fringe group which does not represent the Jewish community in the UK is therefore yet another chapter in the long-running saga of unsatisfactory BBC reporting on antisemitism in the UK Labour party.

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2 Comments

  1. says: Neil C

    JVL always has and always will be a joke organisation. Handpicked anti-Israel Labour supporters with little or no right to call themselves Jews, but always chosen by the BBC to spout an anti-Israel slant as though they had somehow received a mandate to do so from the rest of the UK diaspora. #jokevoiceforlabour #defundthebbc

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