Labour’s top election spin doctor has accused the Conservative Party of threatening the BBC with funding reforms if its election coverage “did not fall into line”.
Tom Baldwin, one of Ed Miliband’s senior advisers, claimed that BBC executives and reporters were threatened with changes to the BBC’s licence fee if their coverage was not altered to more favourably frame the Conservatives’ campaign.
In a Guardian article, Baldwin wrote: “BBC executives and journalists have told me that there were regular, repeated threats from senior Tories during this election campaign about ‘what would happen afterwards’ if they did not fall into line.
“It is a disturbing suggestion that a democratically elected government would seek to stamp on and silence dissent from an independent broadcaster,” adding that there “has been a long-standing campaign by the Conservative party, fueled by the commercial interests of sections of the press, to attack the world’s most successful state-funded public service broadcaster as a giant leftwing conspiracy”.
In response, the Guardian quoted a senior Conservative official as saying the allegations were “complete and utter nonsense”.
Whether or not such threats were issued to alter election coverage, the BBC will find itself under substantial pressure upon the appointment of Conservative MP John Whittingdale as culture secretary - after he branded the BBC licence fee as “unsustainable” and “worse than a poll tax”.