John McDonnell has accused the BBC of uncritically repeating Conservative “lies” about Labour’s spending plans.
Today the Conservatives released a dossier claiming Labour’s financial plans had a £45bn black hole that would detonate a tax and debt “bombshell” if the party takes power.
But speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, McDonnell said not only was the Tory attack wrong but told presenter Justin Webb he was a “scallywag” for having quizzed him on it.
“In common parlance people would call these, what the Tories have published today, lies, absolute lies. I am shocked the BBC has just taken a Conservative press release and has repeated it all morning,” the shadow chancellor said.
“You’re the BBC, you have to have some sort of analysis before you put something on air.”
“It’s shoddy that the Tories have produced it and also I have to say the BBC should have been critical before they ran with headlines that they’ve got.”
The BBC rejected the accusation. A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said: “During the rough and tumble of the election campaign our job is to scrutinise claims made by all sides, which is exactly what we did this morning and will continue to do over the coming weeks.”
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis will attempt to drive the election battle on to the economy at a joint campaign event on Wednesday morning.
It comes as the Conservatives launch an attack poster showing Jeremy Corbyn and a bomb behind his head with the slogan: “Corbyn: No Bombs for our Army, One big bombshell for your family.”
Conservative campaign poster:
Ahead of the event with Hammond, Davis said Corbyn’s “nonsensical and irresponsible ideas pose a grave risk to the future of Britain’s economy and the finances of every family in the country.
“His many, ill-thought-through promises simply don’t stack up and could not be paid for.
“The damage this bombshell would do to the country’s finances if Corbyn’s coalition of chaos were given the keys to Downing Street would be disastrous.”
The Conservatives issued a dossier claiming that the financial “black hole” would be apparent midway through the next parliament in 2019-2020 if Labour stuck to its tax and spending commitments, and pledges to reverse Tory welfare changes.
The tactic of using hard-hitting attack posters against Labour over the economy has worked for the Conservatives in the past, most notably in 1992 when a picture of two giant boxing gloves ran with the slogan: “Labour’s Double Whammy. 1. More Taxes. 2. Higher Prices.”
Yesterday Labour’s spending plans were thrust into the spotlight after shadow home secretary Diane Abbott struggled through an interview on LBC and was unable to correctly explain how much her plan for 10,000 extra police officers would cost.