Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Scolding the BBC

Below is the text of a Socialist Party complaint to the BBC.

“We are very concerned about an interview with Peter Taaffe which appeared (in the middle of an election campaign) during the 19th April 2016 edition of the ‘Daily Politics’ programme. In this, the interviewer, Jo Coburn, introduced Mr Taaffe (verbally) as the General Secretary of "the Socialist Party".  At no point during the interview, was there any clarification of the fact that the organisation Mr Taaffe represents is, in fact, SPEW (Socialist Party England and Wales) and not The Socialist Party of Great Britain. 

We have two grounds for this complaint:
1. We (The Socialist Party of Great Britain, SPGB) are contesting three of the London 'super-constituencies' in the GLA elections of May 5th. We are the second oldest political party in Great Britain and have stood in Parliamentary and other elections as 'The Socialist Party' for over one hundred years, and use this name on all our publications. SPEW has been operating as a political party for a much shorter time, originating in the now defunct Trotskyite organisation known as Militant, whose members were expelled from the Labour Party.
2. By failing to properly differentiate to your audience, to which political party you refer, we believe you risk misleading electors. It is noted that your current election guidelines promise "fair coverage and rigorous scrutiny of the policies and campaigns of all parties" and go on to state that the BBC is "required, under the terms of its Charter and Agreement of 2006 to ensure that political issues are covered with due accuracy and impartiality." As your programme interviewed candidates of our Party in both the last UK and European parliamentary elections, we would expect you to appreciate the significant difference between the principles and policies of the SPGB and SPEW. We clearly advocate that the solution to social and economic problems can only come with the complete abolition of their cause, the capitalist system. SPEW (much like Labour and the Green Party) advocate a programme of piece-meal reforms, which amount to nothing more than a continuation of capitalism but under greater state control (which we also note have been tried many times by various 'leftist' governments and in all cases led to failure).

We ask that in accordance with your declared aim of "accuracy and impartiality", you urgently consider giving clear guidance to the staff concerned with the Daily Politics programme to stop referring to SPEW as "the Socialist Party", in the absence of adequate clarification.”

Robert Cox
Media Committee

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