Zadie Smith, the author, said the Coalition Government’s policies on libraries, were "shameful"
The BBC has been accused of bias after it invited Zadie Smith, the author, to read out a five-minute lecture attacking library closures.
Her comments, broadcast during the Today Programme on Radio 4, were an impassioned defence of libraries and "shared institutions" in Britain.
The BBC has been criticised, however, for inviting Ms Smith to broadcast her comments without any interruptions or questions and for allowing the five minute piece to turn into a "party political broadcast".
After telling listeners about growing up with a love for Kensal Rise library in north west London, which is now earmarked for closure, Ms Smith rounded on the coalition Government’s "shameful" policies.
“Of course I can see that if you went to Eton or Harrow, like so many of the present cabinet, you might not understand the point of such lowly gateways. Or conceive of why anyone would crawl on their hands on knees for the privilege of entering one.”
She continued with her criticism: "Perhaps this is why they [the government] are so cavalier with our heritage. The fewer places there are to find a history book these days, the better."
While her comments were supported by the majority of people posting on message boards, some believed the Today programme had made a serious error of judgement in allowing such a political speech to be made. One BBC insider said, "We’ve shot ourselves in the foot once again."
One listener on Twitter said: "Was this a new section on the Today Programme, socialist thought for the day?"
Over an hour later the programme invited Shaun Bailey, an ambassador for the Big Society, to preset an alternative view, but this was part of an interview conducted by the presenter Justin Webb.
Emma Boon at the TaxPayers’ Alliance lobby group said: "Just because she is an author, I am not sure why she should not be subjected to the same rules of impartiality and balance as everyone else on the Today programme.
"It is unfair to use license fee funded programmes to broadcast such a one-sided view and only offer a balancing view in such a completely different format."
Various listeners pointed out that the decision to close Kensal Rise library was taken by the local Labour-controlled Brent council, which has earmarked six libraries for closure.
A spokesman for the BBC said: "The Today programme occasionally features personal authored essays. The programme balanced Zadie Smith’s piece about libraries with an interview with Shaun Bailey, an ambassador for the Big Society project, who had the opportunity to respond to the points Smith raised."