‘BBC giving free Party Political Broadcast?’ Anger as Starmer gets prime time slot tonight

Sir Keir Starmer calls Boris "worst possible leader"

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BBC One will broadcast a pre-recorded Covid response message from the Labour leader before The One Show at 7pm. It comes 23 hours after the Prime Minister delivered a televised speech to tell Britons the Government will be accelerating the vaccine booster programme amid fears of a “tidal wave of Omicron” infections.

But, the decision by the BBC to give airtime to the Leader of the Opposition has triggered a furious response by some on Twitter.

One user branded the move “ridiculous”, while another said it was a “free Party Political Broadcast”.

One user, @Leftwinger_11, wrote: “The BBC giving airtime to #keirrstarmer again, years away from an election ‘in response’ to Johnson’s speech, is ridiculous.”

Another, @tim_moose said: “BBC giving a free Party Political Broadcast? Who would have thought @Keir_Starmer should be opposing the Plan B that affects the working people, but doesn’t. Poor.”

A third, @AhoFrank said: “It just feels odd. It’s in collaboration with the BBC. It’s amazing how hard they try to ram Starmer down our throats.”

A fourth, @potter2207 wrote: “Seriously, who does @Keir_Starmer think he is? Why should he get to “address the nation”? And why are the @BBC giving him the platform to do this? He’s just a poor imitation of a Leader of the Opposition, with no right to do this.”

Meanwhile, @whmicha6: “Why is Keir Starmer making an address to the nation tonight on the BBC? The last time I looked he is Leader of the Opposition not the PM of the UK, It’s irrelevant what he has to say.”

The taxpayer-funded BBC is bound by strict impartiality rules and often gives opposition parties the platform to respond to major government announcements.

The BBC’s guidelines say this is required in “exceptional circumstances”, it adds: “In such circumstances, it may also be necessary for the BBC to consider whether responses from other political parties are appropriate.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC for comment.

In his speech on Sunday evening, Mr Johnson said the UK “must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection” as he set a new deadline of jabbing everyone over 18 by the New Year.

The Prime Minister said scientists had discovered being fully vaccinated is “simply not enough” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus mutation and warned the NHS could be overwhelmed.

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The Prime Minister said: “Do not make the mistake of thinking Omicron can’t hurt you, can’t make you and your loved ones seriously ill.

“We’ve already seen hospitalisations doubling in a week in South Africa and we have patients with Omicron here in the UK right now.At this point our scientists cannot say that Omicron is less severe.”

He added: “So we must act now. Today we are launching the Omicron emergency booster national mission, unlike anything we’ve done before in the vaccination programme, to get boosted now.”

Sir Keir has already said Labour will support measures to move to Plan B, which will see mask-wearing rolled out in more places and Covid passes in certain venues.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir said: “I’m not supporting the government on Tuesday, I’m supporting the NHS and the public.

“And if you look at the science in relation to Omicron, the new variant, there is a real concern that we could be in a situation where the number of cases is doubling in as short a period as two days.

“Now, I understand people say, well that hasn’t led to higher hospitalisations and deaths yet, but the sheer volume of cases is very, very worrying, and that’s uppermost in my mind.

“So I’m not supporting the prime minister on Tuesday, I’m supporting our NHS and I’m supporting the public in relation to this pandemic.”

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