Bath Labour motion by Ken Loach labels Panorama doc ‘dishonest hatchet job’

Bath Labour motion by Ken Loach labels Panorama doc ‘dishonest hatchet job’

The motion claims film techniques were employed to portray Jeremy Corbyn negatively, including 'grainy exaggerated close-ups' and 'sinister music'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Bath Labour has passed a motion proposed by film director Ken Loach describing a Panorama documentary on antisemitism as a “dishonest hatchet job”.

The film, which aired last week, reported claims senior figures, such as communications chief Seumas Milne and general secretary Jennie Formby intervened in antisemitism investigations.

The motion, seconded by CLP member Lesley Bees, passed at general assembly yesterday, urged the BBC to produce another programme of “similar length and prominence” on the subject “in the interests of balance”.

“This was a dishonest hatchet job with potentially undemocratic consequences,” the motion states. “It disgraced the name of Panorama and exposed the bias endemic within the BBC.”

The motion also claims “manipulative” film techniques were employed to portray the Labour leader negatively, including “grainy exaggerated close-ups of Corbyn” and “sinister music when he appeared”.

It also asserts that Panorama failed to corroborate or challenge accusations of antisemitism and did not contain interviews with Jewish members with opposing views nor statistical data which would, it claims, refute claims the problem is institutional.

A former councillor and ex-parliamentary candidate in 2017, Joe Rayment is a member of the CLP who voted against the motion. “I stood up and spoke yesterday and was shouted down quite deeply in the room,” he told Jewish News. 

“It’s not just antisemitic members, those who say antisemitic things and are not being dealt with quickly and robustly enough,” he said. “It’s also the scale of antisemitism denial within the party, people who are willing to throw Jewish people under the bus to protect Jeremy Corbyn who they think is being threatened by smears of antisemitism.”

Posting an image of the motion on Twitter after the vote, Rayment described it as “absolutely disgraceful”, adding: “I completely reject it and I want to make it clear that I voted against it. Denying the lived experience of Jewish people in our party in favour of blind loyalty.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the broadcaster said: “The BBC stands by its journalism and we completely reject any accusations of bias or dishonesty […] The outcome shows the serious questions facing the Labour Party and its leadership on this issue. The programme adhered to the BBC’s editorial guidelines, including contacting the Labour Party in advance of the broadcast for a full right of reply.”

Bath Labour has been approached for comment.
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