What they didn’t tell you about that resignation of Labour shadow minister Stephen Doughty: doing it live on TV and — devastatingly — before PMQs wasn’t his idea … but that of the BBC.
This blog by politics producer Andrew Alexander was published on the BBC’s osbscure College of Journalism blog this afternoon — and then deleted.
Just before 9am we learned from Laura Kuenssberg, who comes on the programme every Wednesday ahead of PMQs, that she was speaking to one junior shadow minister who was considering resigning. I wonder, mused our presenter Andrew Neil, if they would consider doing it 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. We took the presenters aside to brief them on the interview while our colleagues on the news desk arranged for a camera crew to film him and Laura arriving in the studio for the TV news packages.
There’s always a bit of nervous energy in the studio and the gallery just before we go on air at 11.30am, but I’d say it was a notch higher than usual this week. By this point we weren’t worried about someone else getting the story as we had Stephen Doughty safely in our green room. Our only fear was that he might pull his punches when the moment came.
When it did, with about five minutes to go before PMQs, he was precise, measured and quietly devastating – telling Andrew that “I’ve just written to Jeremy Corbyn to resign from the front bench” and accusing Mr Corbyn’s team of “unpleasant operations” and telling “lies”.
The full post is still available in Google’s cache.
Kuenssberg, Alexander and Daily Politics editor Robbie Gibb are silent on the matter on Twitter — which, along with the deleted blog post, may indicate Auntie bosses think they overstepped the ‘news making’ mark.
This is going to kick off.
Senior Labour source on BBC row: "These events question credibility of all involved … raises questions at the heart of democracy."
— Political Scrapbook (@PSbook) January 7, 2016
On Stephen Doughty's resignation on Daily Politics: pic.twitter.com/9i0iR1sqKK
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) January 7, 2016