I love the beeb, it is one of the finest and most trusted of British institutions.
In order to remain so, its principles of impartiality and objectivity need to be held to account.
By resigning in this manner, he gave David Cameron a big stick to poke Jeremy Corbyn with.
This is standard fare in the world of politics, no foul. That is, until you read the contents of a now deleted BBC blog entry:
Would [Stephen Doughty] consider [resigning] live on the show?
The question was put to Laura, who thought it was a great idea. Considering it a long shot we carried on the usual work of building the show, and continued speaking to Labour MPs who were confirming reports of a string of shadow ministers considering their positions.
Within the hour we heard that Laura had sealed the deal: the shadow foreign minister Stephen Doughty would resign live in the studio.
Although he himself would probably acknowledge he isn’t a household name, we knew his resignation just before PMQs would be a dramatic moment with big political impact.
The last line is the key, consider its implications for impartiality: “we knew his resignation just before PMQs would be a dramatic moment with big political impact.”
Many would argue this is just journalism, no different from a newspaper orchestrating a front page resignation for maximum political impact, to complain is just making a mountain out of a molehill.
The problem is, newspapers are private entities with the freedom to create a political narrative. It would be a shocking event if the Daily Mail actually led with an impartial headline. If I want partisan journalism, my options are endless.
The BBC does not have this freedom, it is paid for by the licence payers and bound by its constitution to remain neutral.
The BBC should be simply reporting on “dramatic moments with a big political impact”, not doing their best to manufacture them. Doing so completely undermines the integrity of the BBC.
It is very telling that the blog entry has since been removed. I personally have lost faith in the ability of Laura Kuenssberg in particular to be impartial (her tweeting record the last few days has been pretty skewed too). This loss of public trust is very damaging for the BBC.
What is essential now is for the BBC to take action to preserve its most important of assets: integrity.