POLITICS
22/10/2013 07:57 BST | Updated 22/10/2013 08:41 BST

BBC Presenters Have 'Deeply Held Left-Wing Political Views', Complain Tory MPs

Question Time is 'dominated by left-wing opinion' says one Conservative
PA
Question Time is 'dominated by left-wing opinion' says one Conservative

Much of the BBC's political coverage is biased against the Conservative Party and the broadcaster "long ago gave up any pretence of neutrality", Tory MPs have complained.

Angela Watkinson told the Commons on Monday that the BBC was failing in its duty to "provide balanced information" and was instead routinely offering "political opinion" presented as news.

"The personal political views of news presenters are often transparent when they conduct interviews. Interviewees with whom they do not agree are talked over and interrupted, and another question is asked before the first has been answered in an aggressive style that contrasts noticeably with the respectful, unchallenging approach shown to favoured interviewees," she said.

Speaking in a debate about the corporation, Watkinson added: "I believe that the BBC long ago gave up any pretence of neutrality."

Her view was echoed by fellow Tory Alec Shelbrooke, who said while it was often "wrong to say the BBC is too left-wing" there were some current affairs programmes that had a bias against the Conservative Party.

"Where the BBC does tend to have its issues are in areas such as the Radio 5 morning phone-in show," he said. "Some of the comments the presenter of that show has let slip leaves us in no doubt about where said-presenter’s political loyalties lie."

He said: "That does the BBC a disservice, because, by revealing the political hand in the comments made, the idea of neutrality goes out of the window. I feel there is less bias in it than people on the right of politics think. However, it is clear that there are presenters who have deeply held left-wing political views."

Shelbrooke also attacked political panel show Question Time for being "dominated by left-wing opinion" and for including too many non-politicians as panellists.

"I get sick to the back teeth of opinionated comedians et al going on and spouting forth when they are not in any way accountable to the public. That is where the BBC lets itself down—through what I call a dumbing-down."

However it was not just Conservative MPs who complained about the BBC. Chris Bryant, Labour's shadow work and pensions minister, had the opposite view.

He said: "The BBC is often far too right-wing in the way it presents news. For example, it barely seems to have noticed that the national health service in England is being privatised, and two of its most senior broadcast journalists were formally Conservatives, not members of the Labour party."

A BBC spokesperson said: "The BBC has a responsibility to provide impartial coverage across all output. BBC journalists and presenters do not bring their political views to work and we are confident that our political coverage is fair, accurate and balanced."