Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s department has made a formal complaint to the BBC claiming its coverage of the Government is biased, it has emerged.
The former Tory leader launched a scathing attack on the corporation and singled out the broadcaster’s economics editor Stephanie Flanders for the harshest criticism, accusing her of “peeing all over British industry”.
BBC officials last night defended the organisation’s record of impartiality and Ms Flanders’ reporting.
But Duncan Smith claims the broadcaster diminishes the role of the Government in good news stories but “dumps” on it when the story is bad.
The minister appeared to be particularly angered by coverage given earlier this week to unemployment figures after there was an unexpected drop in Britain’s jobless.
His department has formally complained to head of news Helen Boaden about the broadcaster’s “carping and moaning”. He told the Mail on Sunday: “The BBC is locked to the reading of the economy that is run out of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls’ office. They think if only you spend and borrow more money you can create growth everywhere.
“This is the general tenor of everything that comes out of the BBC. They expected the (employment) figures to be flatlining.
“They convinced themselves youth unemployment would continue to rise, but when it fell they were in a complete quandary.
“Stephanie Flanders poured cold water over the whole thing. She said: ‘Of course this is good news, but it could be because we aren’t productive enough’.”
The jobless total fell by 46,000 in the quarter to June to 2.56 million, an unemployment rate of 8 per cent, and the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance last month was 1.59 million, down by 5,900 on June.
Duncan Smith added: “If the unemployment figures had gone up, we would have been on the BBC TV News at Six and Ten and would have got the blame.”
He added: “When the news is good, the BBC view is ‘Get the Government out of the picture quickly, don’t allow them to say anything about it’.
“When the news is bad, (it’s) ‘Let’s all dump on the Government’.
“Last month, there was a marginal rise in youth unemployment so they centred on that.
“This time it came down so they cast doubt on the figures. (Flanders) said it could be industry is so bad they have to take on two people where one person could do the job.
“She was peeing all over British industry and the private sector. It was terrible. Our private industry is unbelievably robust compared to much of Europe.”
A BBC spokeswoman said: “BBC News is confident our coverage of this story was impartial, fair and balanced, reflecting a wide range of views. Indeed Mr Duncan Smith expressed his position on several BBC outlets.
“Stephanie interrogated numerous aspects of the figures in her analysis. She echoed questions raised by many experts, including the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England as well as noting the rise in the number of people in work was good news.”
A DWP spokeswoman said: “The department made a complaint regarding the coverage of the employment figures on the Six O’Clock News and News at 10. The Secretary of State has made his views clear in the Mail on Sunday.”
Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Iain Duncan Smith’s bizarre outburst is a sure sign of a minister out of touch with the public and losing control of his department.
“This Government has delivered a double dip recession, over a million young people out of work and long term youth unemployment spiralling out of control. The Work and Pensions Secretary should stop moaning about how this mess is being reported and start doing something about it.”