Match of the Day pundits, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer have announced that they are boycotting the programme in a show of solidarity for fellow BBC presenter and former England, Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur player, Gary Lineker, as he announced earlier this week that he would ‘step back’ from his host duties.
This follows a BBC probe into tweets Mr. Lineker made in reaction to Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s March 7 ‘we must stop the boats’ video, an announcement establishing a forthcoming government Illegal Migration Bill as a leading Conservative election promise.
Although the bills announcement has been met by widespread public discourse, it was Lineker’s comments comparing the inflammatory rhetoric Mrs. Braverman used in the video as “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s,” that has drawn the attention of both the Conservative and traditional media establishments.
The Conservative party claims that such comments threaten BBC’s impartiality, which the company considers its primary journalistic value, and the neutrality of any future news covered by the broadcaster. Mr. Lineker refutes these claims as he asserts that he made the comments as a private citizen and can therefore discuss his political preferences at will. After an emergency meeting with BBC editorial staff to discuss the validity of his position, Mr. Lineker was asked whether he stood by his comments to which he responded,”of course.”
Public response to the speed and severity of the BBC’s actions has called into question their own impartiality as it was confirmed that BBC chairman, Richard Sharp, has donated over £400,000 to the Conservative party in addition to helping former prime minister and Conservative leader, Boris Johnson, secure an £800,000 loan during his tenure.
This incident follows allegations that the BBC is increasingly monitoring its programming for signs of left wing propaganda, the latest victim an upcoming episode of future Sir David Attenborough’s new show ‘Wild Isles’ which was axed over fears that its human-caused pollution themes “would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the rightwing press.” When asked by the Guardian to respond, BBC insisted the allegations were “totally inaccurate.”
Past comments Mrs. Braverman made on the legality of refugees have further weakened the Conservative stance. During a January 15 interview with LBC presenter Sangita Myska, the Holocaust survivor, Joan Slater MBE, suggested that Braverman’s language “dehumanises” those that she targets. Mrs. Slater encouraged the public to “question the propaganda” they are getting from the Home Office.
In light of the BBC chairman’s links to the Conservative party and the unpopularity of the Illegal Migration Bill, focus on Mr. Lineker’s comments have been declared a distractionary target. Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, stated “the BBC is not acting impartially” and the BBC was “caving in to Tory MPs complaining about Gary Lineker.”
Following news of a potential suspension for Mr. Lineker, presenters Michah Richards and Alex Scott publicly stated their solidarity and refused to present on the show, as have MOTD’s live commentators. Jason Mohammed, a presenter of the BBC program Final Score, has also announced he will be stepping back from his duties.
As momentum builds behind Mr.Lineker, the BBC, faced with increasing vocal pressure from the Conservatives, has yet to respond to the mass walkout on Match of the Day. As it stands, Mr. Lineker’s future on the show still remains in doubt.
Edited by: Alanna Fullerton
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