Ken Loach Criticizes BBC's "Disgusting" Political Bias Ahead of U.K. Election

Ken Loach - Getty - H 2016
Getty Images

Ken Loach - Getty - H 2016


"I think it calls into question the fairness of the election. If you can’t have a free and balanced press, I don’t think you can have a free election."

Ken Loach has joined a growing chorus of complaints against the BBC for perceived political bias ahead of the upcoming British general election.

The veteran filmmaker and two-time Palme d'Or winner called out the public broadcaster for favoring the Conservative Party in its political coverage and its negative portrayal of Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing leader of the Labour Party. 

"The press and the broadcasters really do everything to denigrate him," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I think the one thing that emerges is the bias of the press, particularly of the BBC, which is in such a very special position. It's disgusting...unbelievable. And they've really got to be called into question."

Loach added that there was a "built-in sneer" from the BBC against Corbyn, who he has openly declared his support for.

Several BBC reporters have been criticized of late for political coverage that is claimed to have breached the broadcaster's impartiality guidelines.

Political editor Laura Kuenssberg, who has come under repeated fire for her unsympathetic reporting of Corbyn, was found by the BBC Trust to have inaccurately reported the Labour leader's views over shoot-to-kill policies in a report in November 2015. Kuenssberg was also attacked via social media over a tweet about Conservative spending fraud during the election in 2015, labeling the incident — in which more than 20 members of parliament are being investigated by the police — merely as a "mistake." 

Likewise Nick Robinson, the former BBC political editor and now a presenter on its influential political radio show, Today, was recently called out for a tweet April 20 in which he said: "no-one should be surprised that @jeremycorbyn is running v the 'Establishment' & is long passion and short on details. Story of his life."

As Loach highlighted to THR, Robinson's outspoken opinion regarding Corbyn could be explained by the BBC presenter's own Conservative political leanings. "He's a Tory! He was chair of the Young Conservatives at Oxford University," he said, claiming that biased coverage negatively affects the chance for real democracy.

"I think it calls into question the fairness of the election. If you can’t have a free and balanced press, I don’t think you can have a free election."

In response, Robinson said in a statement: "I judge Ken Loach by the quality of the work he produces. He is a great film maker. I think he should judge me in the same way – by the impartial interviews I do which are rigorous with all sides."

According to the documentary Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach, the veteran filmmaker came out of retirement following the victory of the Conservatives in the 2015 election, directing I, Daniel Blake, which took aim at the "conscious cruelty" of the U.K.'s benefits system. The acclaimed film would go on to win the Palme d'Or and become his most successful title to date. (It also came under attack from Conservative MPs who claimed it wasn't true). 

Asked whether he might get back behind the camera should the Conservatives win again June 8, Loach, now 80, admitted he wasn't sure.

"I don't know. At this time of the day I think, yes, it's worth it. But first thing in the morning, I struggle," he said. "We'll have to see."

A BBC spokesperson, in response to this article, later added: ""BBC News is independent and adheres to clear editorial guidelines including on impartiality. The BBC is consistently rated the most trusted and accurate news provider by the majority of people in the U.K. As such the BBC will continue to cover the general election in a balanced, fair and impartial way."