THE BBC was accused of “trivialising the debate” on foreign policy by the shadow international trade secretary yesterday ahead of a speech on defence by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Barry Gardiner said it was “beneath” Radio 4 presenter Nick Robinson to read out the Sun’s headline on the leaked Labour manifesto — Crash, bang, wallies — and put him in his place for answering his own questions.
Mr Gardiner said: “This is the Today programme and people expect a standard of debate that is higher than: ‘Crash, bang, wallop’.”
Mr Robinson interjected: “They expect us to read out newspaper headlines, which we do every morning and have done for many, many years, without backing them, endorsing them or criticising them.”
Mr Gardiner replied: “And they expect you to actually exercise a degree of choice and discretion.”
He then said he welcomed the fact that Mr Corbyn would not “jump to the tune” of the US over military action.
“I’m really pleased that we could have a prime minister who is reluctant and thinks carefully before putting our servicemen and women in harm’s way, who won’t simply jump to the tune the moment that a US president snaps their fingers and says come and join me in a bombing raid,” Mr Gardiner said.
After Mr Robinson asked his interviewee in what circumstances Mr Corbyn would choose military action, he interrupted and attempted to answer the question himself.
Mr Gardiner rebuked him, saying: “You ask a question and then you want to answer it.”
He went on: “He [Corbyn] is absolutely committed to the security of this country.
“If this country were at risk of being attacked by another nation, of course [he] as prime minister and of course a Labour cabinet would be wanting to ensure our security.”