NEWS

Labour's Richard Burgon Blasts BBC For Being 'Put On Trial' Over Manifesto

An extraordinary Newsnight clash.

17/05/2017 00:05 | Updated 17 May 2017

A Labour MP close to Jeremy Corbyn has accused BBC’s Newsnight of putting the party “on trial” after being asked questions about the party’s election manifesto launched just hours earlier.

Richard Burgon took umbrage at presenter Kirsty Wark for asking if he could remember figures on tax and tuition fees, two central aspects of the party’s pitch to the electorate.

The MP accused the broadcaster of ignoring the “bigger picture” at the expense of specifics. The exchange went:

Burgon: “I think what we need to talk about here...”

Wark: “If you’ll let me finish I’m asking you a question.”

Burgon: “I understand your technique. It seems to me we are being put on trial for daring to suggest higher public spending.

“Put on trial for daring to set out with greater transparency than any other party has put forward before, about how much we’re going to spend, and how we will spend it.

“You, I presume, have read the document and it is all in there. We have a choice with this interview. We can do the rather tedious thing of going through each number...”

Wark: “Hang on, hang on.”

Burgon: “Or we can talk about the bigger picture. We can talk about...”

Wark: “Let me reassure you, we are going to go through some of the specific policies in a minute.”

Labour’s Barry Gardiner, who last week criticised the BBC for reading out - among other newspapers - The Sun’s front page headline on Today, defended his colleague’s performance.

While social media users also hailed Burgon for ‘standing up’ to Wark.

But others, including journalists, were less impressed.

Though Theo Bertram, a former advisor to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, noted:

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