THE BLOG

BBC Conspiracists Are In Danger of Becoming Another Birther Movement

08/01/2016 15:44 GMT | Updated 08/01/2017 10:12 GMT

Back in 2008 as Barack Obama was moving to prominence as the presumptive Democrat nominee for the US Presidency in pockets of American society a new phenomenon was taking hold.

People who for whatever reason simply couldn't stand the idea of Mr Obama becoming Commander in Chief began questioning his eligibility to stand for office.

Small numbers of political activists who were opposed to his campaign began questioning the fact that the future President was born in Hawaii. They speculated that Mr Obama could actually have started his life in Kenya, homeland of his father, or even Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood.

The argument of the activists was that if he was not a natural born citizen of the United States Obama would not under Article Two of the US Constitution be eligible to become President.

The Birther Movement had arrived.

In the years that followed it has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt, not least through the release of his long-form birth certificate, that of course Obama had been born where he had always claimed and had validly become President.

Of course trifling matters such as formal government documents didn't convince the Birthers. You see when you subscribe to a conspiracy theory no amount of evidence will ever prove anything, because evidence can always be fabricated, can't it?

Eight years after the Birther Movement started it's still alive and kicking and with President Obama approaching his final year in office in a revisionist twist is now being used by some Republicans as a tool against Hillary Clinton, who they argue (despite plenty of evidence to the contrary) was the original orchestrator of the allegations.

The truth is conspiracy theories are nothing new and will always be with us.

Conspiracy theorists are nothing new either and they always have one thing in common: their theories come to the forefront when they are losing the argument.

At the moment Labour has its own set of political conspiracy theorists and this week they have gone into overdrive because they believe the BBC has begun plotting with the Conservative government to discredit Jeremy Corbyn.

Their evidence for the conspiracy is thin to say the least. They claim that the BBC, in particular in the guise of Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg, connived with ex-junior minister Stephen Doughty MP in getting him to resign live on their lunchtime Daily Politics show.

Now the BBC bias conspiracists won't be swayed by the fact Mr Doughty had already decided to resign prior to appearing on the show. They won't be convinced that he was particularly aware of his own media management.

They won't be persuaded that the job of any news organisation is to break news and undoubtedly in the wake of a shadow cabinet reshuffle the unexpected resignation of one of Mr Corbyn's front bench team was newsworthy.

They won't believe that, in the same circumstances, any other news organisation would have done exactly the same.

They will only see another tenuous link to an idea that despite all of their editorial standards requiring balance the BBC, alongside the rest of the 'Tory controlled' media will stop at nothing to prevent Mr Corbyn from ever taking up the office of Prime Minister.

The problem is for those that see conspiracies most ordinary people in turn see cranks not willing to accept the truth. Definitely not the sort of people you are going to lend your vote to.

Jeremy Corbyn has a strong narrative, he is a man of clear views and principles. The BBC is a news organisation who, just like every other, will broadcast news stories.

Instead of turning into some sort of British birther movement the job of Labour activists, and our leaders, is to win the argument, to strongly oppose and set out clear, positive alternatives.

If Labour does that there will be no need to come up with theories.