NEWS

Labour Manifesto Launch Crowd Boo Journalists Apart From Morning Star Reporter

Labour leader forced to plead with audience to stem the barracking.

16/05/2017 13:19 | Updated 16 May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn supporters were in fine voice at Labour’s official manifesto launch, booing almost every journalist who dared to ask a question - with limited exceptions.

Questions at Tuesday’s Bradford event came from both the general public and the national media, with whom the Labour leader has a fraught relationship.

PA Wire/PA Images
Jeremy Corbyn at the manifesto launch in Bradford today

The audience booed Andy Bell from Channel 5 News, who asked about immigration, while even Jack Blanchard from the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror was castigated for asking why the party’s policies were more popular than Corbyn himself.

The pro-Labour crowd was still booing Bell as BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg - a previous target of Corbyn supporter for her supposed bias - stood to ask a question.

Corbyn’s communications chief Seamus Milne appeared ominously behind her as she asked him to be clear about how the manifesto would be funded.

But the crowd was much keener on Peter Lazenby, a journalist from the far left Morning Star newspaper, who asked whether “anything could be done about the shockingly biased media”.

Journalists reacted bitterly to Lazenby - who has been a journalist in Yorkshire for decades. They tweeted an image of him wearing a flat cap with a red star on it.

Journalist Adam Bienkov questioned why a Morning Star journalist should talk about media bias when his own paper declares its editorial line “remains anchored in the political programme of the Communist Party of Britain”.

Corbyn was forced to plead with audience to stem the barracking, saying: “Please, please, let’s have respect for everyone who wants to ask a question including members of the media.”

He added “by the way” that he was a member of the National Union of Journalists.

The Spectator’s Isabel Hardman singled out Corbyn’s appeals for his supporters to stop.

After Blanchard’s question about Corbyn’s popularity, a woman shouted “we love you Jeremy” and the Labour leader said: “It’s ok. It’s not the cult of personality.”

This struck some as ironic.

But Blanchard defended Corbyn’s “passionate, personal” answer to his question.

In response to Lazenby’s question, Corbyn said it was “sometimes said to be the case” that “some of the media are slightly biased against the Labour Party”.

“Journalists and journalism and free journalism and free press are intrinsic to a democracy and a free society,” Corbyn added.

“But it’s also important to ensure there is responsible journalism, that there is a multiplicity of ownership and that there is a right of reply, and that there isn’t an abuse of monopoly power within it.

“We would develop Leveson, and Tom Watson is very clear on this, that we will protect the diversity of our free press and we will ensure there is diversity of all of our media outlets in this country”.

The party’s manifesto includes a commitment to ensure “Ofcom is better able to safeguard a healthy plurality of media ownership” to “protect democracy and media freedom”, a swipe at Rupert Murdoch whose News UK owns Sky News, The Times and The Sun. 

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