There's a headline. It's from the BBC, written by no less a figure than the corporation's chief political editor. Not something up to the standards expected, you might say. As readers know, I tend not to moan much about the recipient of the licence fee. As a general rule, its news coverage is much better than most and where it fails in impartiality, it can make up in balance - particularly with regard to its flagship current affairs programme, Question Time. But there have been plenty of Labour people outraged by the behaviour of senior BBC journalists of late. Here are some much-shared and criticised examples.
Not exactly fair and not exactly balanced, to borrow the strap line of the Murdoch-owned bilge channel. And into this litany of bias comes Laura Kuenssberg's blog on Labour's manifesto. Just look at the state of the headline: "Labour manifesto vision: More spending, more tax, more borrowing". Let's be generous here, that is more or less a factually accurate statement. But this is politics. Kuenssberg's been in the game (at the top of the game) for long enough to know that nothing is neutral in politics, and she knows well enough that it's quite possible to frame and slant reports in particular ways that favour certain parties over others without explicitly saying "vote Tory", or whatever.
For the last seven years 'more spending, more tax, more borrowing' has been repeated ad nauseum as an attack line by the Tories. The spending line specifically is a charge that the Tories and their friends in the press have used since 1979. Kuenssberg knows this, she isn't stupid. And it's outrageous.
What's going on then? As we have seen before, the BBC is a biased institution: it tilts towards the political establishment. Since Jeremy Corbyn took the leadership of the Labour Party, it, like the rest of official politics and the state, have looked on in a mixture of fascination and horror, almost as if Labour was plotting an insurrection followed by full sovietisation. Not a mild programme of social democracy that would move Britain more in the direction of noted communist power, the Federal Republic of Germany. In the avalanche of destabilisation and attacks on Labour and its leader and the subsequent dumbing down of debate, the BBC has played its part with alacrity.
Also, it finds itself in a particular pickle. Since 2003 and the fall out from the dodgy dossier and the death of weapons expert David Kelly, the BBC has even more diligently bowed the knee to sitting governments. The powers that be want to retain the Royal Charter and therefore carry on as a going concern, and this sentiment is shared across all senior staff, including those in front of the camera. In the context of this general election in which the Tories are widely expected to win, the BBC is playing supplicant and not giving them anywhere near as hard a time as Labour. They hope the Tories will leave the corporation well alone. This is no conspiracy, nor will you find documents instructing senior reporters to go easy, but it's a structure of feeling working its way through what they do and say.
Is Laura Kuenssberg a Tory then? Who knows for certain but she, like many others, know which side their bread is buttered on.