BBC journalist Emma Barnett was accused by apparent Jeremy Corbyn supporters on Twitter of being a “Zionist” after she asked him about the cost of providing free pre-school childcare on Radio 4.
Barnett comes from a Jewish family.
Corbyn was unable to provide the cost of the policy prompting Barnett to suggest that Labour couldn’t be trusted with money.
Former Channel 4 economics editor Paul Mason also criticised her saying: “You repeatedly editorialised in a way no trained BBC journalist would, dropping in your own views/unsubstantiated claim.”
But many other jouranalistic colleagues came to Barnett’s defence.
Former political editor of The Independent on Sunday Jane Merrick said: “Emma Barnett is a brilliant journalist, as shown by her forensic questioning of Corbyn this morning. Maybe she should have the Paxo slot?”
Corbyn later defended Barnett saying: “Journalists do a job that does require asking difficult questions . . . Under no circumstances whatsoever should anyone throw personal abuse at anyone else because they are doing the job that they have been employed to do and I will not tolerate it.”
The interview follows a similar meltdown by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott when she got tongue-tied on LBC over the cost of providing 10,000 extra police officers.
Barnett: “How much will it cost to provide un-means tested childcare for 1.3m children?”
Corbyn: “Um, it will cost…It will cost a lot do so we accept that…”
Barnett: “I presume you have the figures. Yes I do. It does cost a lot to do it, the point I’m trying to make is that we are making it universal so we are in a position to make sure that every child gets it and those that at the moment get free places will continue to get them. Those that have to pay won’t and we will collect the money through taxation, mainly through corporate taxation.”
Barnett: “So how much will it cost?”
Corbyn: “I’ll give you the figure in a moment. You don’t know it, you’re logging into your iPad here. You’ve announced a major policy and you don’t know how much it will cost. Can I give you the exact figure in a moment?”
Barnett: “Is not the exact issue people have with the Labour Party which came up under Gordon Brown that we cannot trust you with our money?”
Corbyn: “Not at all.”
Barnett: “You don’t know the figure.”
Corbyn: “All of our manifesto is full costed and examined.”
Barnett: “You’re holding your manifesto, you’re flicking through it, you’ve got an iPad there, you’ve had a phone call while we’re in here and you don’t know how much it’s going to cost.”