Laura Kuenssberg has been criticised for tweeting unnamed criticism of Sir Keir Starmer after he called for a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown in England.
The Labour leader heaped pressure on to the Prime Minister following revelations that he dismissed a recommendation for the measure from Government scientists three weeks ago.
In his most dramatic intervention to date, Sir Keir said a two to three-week national lockdown over half term was needed to improve test and trace and prevent a “sleepwalk into a long and bleak winter”.
But the BBC’s political editor was quick to pour scorn on the comments, tweeting a response from a “government source” who described the moves as “shamelessly opportunist”.
Senior govt source responds to Starmer –— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) October 13, 2020
‘Keir Starmer is a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic.
‘He says he wants a national lockdown but he’s refusing to vote for targeted restrictions in areas that need them most.’
However shortly before Kuenssberg’s tweet, Tory Chairman Amanda Milling posted a tweet with the exact same wording, fuelling allegations of “client journalism”.
And then Labour failed to vote for any action….— Amanda Milling (@amandamilling) October 13, 2020
Keir Starmer is a shameless opportunist playing political games in the middle of a global pandemic.
He says he wants a national lockdown but he’s refusing to vote for targeted restrictions in areas that need them most. https://t.co/GolDESOfsz
Other reporters such as Beth Rigby were also quick to toe the party line, leading to much scepticism on social media.
Here’s some of the response so far:
Cummings’ group texts working then. pic.twitter.com/NvIww6ZUUt— Ross McCafferty (@RossMcCaff) October 13, 2020
Laura Kuenssberg tweeting attacks on Keir Starmer without naming her “government source” is bad but political accountability in the UK might be about to get even worse:— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) October 13, 2020
What if the new press Secretary isn’t seen as an extension of Johnson, but acts as a buffer to shield him?
2019— Andrew Bartlett (@AndrewBartletta) October 13, 2020
The Left: Kuenssberg is a client journalist for the Tory government.
Centrists: Boo! Hiss! How “Trumpian”! This is bullying. This proves you’re authoritarian dangers.
Centrists: I’ve just noticed that Kuenssberg is a client journalist for the Tory government.
Why do the Tories pay Allegra Stratton to do PR for them, when Laura Kuenssberg happily does it for free? https://t.co/BBsc0ij76S— Another Angry Voice (@Angry_Voice) October 13, 2020