Corbyn supporters back Richard Burgon as he claims BBC put him ‘on trial’
Is he the new John Prescott?
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has divided opinion by claiming he was being “put on trial” when quizzed on the content of his party’s manifesto.
As he was grilled on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Burgon said questions about the costs of Labour’s plans were “tedious”.
And asked what proportion of GDP the overall tax take would reach if the manifesto was implemented, he replied:
“It seems to me that we are being put on trial for daring to suggest higher public spending, put on trial for daring to set out with greater transparency than any other party has put forward before about how much we’re going to spend and how we’re going to spend it.”
Burgon, who is one of Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest supporters, then told presenter Kirsty Wark: “We’ve got a choice with this interview: we can either do the rather tedious thing of going through each number that’s in this document, or we can talk about the big picture.”
The Conservatives have seized on Burgon’s performance, with former Braintree MP James Cleverely saying the interview showed that “it is clearer than ever that Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour team do not want any scrutiny of their nonsensical policies”.
But supporters of Corbyn immediately swung behind Burgon on social media, with shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner stating: “On Newsnight, Richard Burgon brilliantly keeps the focus on our popular policies, on equality & declines the elephant traps.”
Labour’s candidate for South West Norfolk, Peter Smith, stated: “Richard Burgon takes on an aggressive Kirsty Wark on Newsnight and holds his ground. Impressive.”
And the party’s candidate for North East Hertfordshire, Doug Swanney, commended Burgon for doing a “superb job on Newsnight”. He added: “You did us proud.”
More unusually, one former adviser to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown also suggested that Burgon had successfully achieved what he set out to do.
Writing on Twitter, Theo Bertram advised: “Instead of mocking Burgon, notice his discipline at sticking to the line & how well his tub-thumping Prescott-style plays with the base.”
And having made the comparison with John Prescott, the experienced adviser went on to call Burgon a “future deputy leader”.