What is the point of BBC Question Time being held in a different city each week if the audience isn’t representative of that city? The programme would be as well basing itself in London every week. It wouldn’t be any less representative than it is now, and besides it would make it easier for its favourite guest Nigel Farage to get home after filming.
This week the programme obstensibly came from Dundee, although you’d have been hard pressed to notice. On Thursday the National had a front cover showing the lost city of Cadzow, dug up by archaeologists working on the M74 improvements. We desperately need some political archaelogists to dig up the lost city of Yes Dundee, because BBC Question Time dismally failed to find it. What they found instead was some mythical settlement where yes voting working class Dundonians are as rare as unicorns.
It would appear, according to whoever it is that decides the audience for BBC Question Time, that Dundee is disproportionately inhabited by weel spoken middle class types of a decidedly Tory persuasion, and failed Labour party candidates. It was however marginally better than David Cameron’s visit to the Tory party conference the previous week in that no one felt the need to put on a Scottish accent. Watching the programme I was struck by just how much the Dundee accent had changed since my last visit to the city. Although to be fair, it was a terribly long time ago and linguistic change can happen at a surprisingly fast rate. I just hadn’t expected it to change that much since January this year.
My personal highlight was someone who looked suspiciously like the failed Labour candidate Kathy Wiles, presented to the viewing public as an ordinary punter, demanding that the SNP apologise. For you know, general SNPbadness. Kathy was forced to resign as a Labour candidate after making a comment on social media comparing young kids at a protest against BBC bias during the independence referendum to the Hitler Youth. She had to apologise for her offensive tweet, so clearly she’s an expert in apologising.
Another Labour staffer also asked a question during the programme. Since it’s well known that the Labour party in Scotland has a membership which is about one twentieth of that of the SNP, you’d imagine that there were 20 times as many SNP members in the audience. But no. There were 20 times as many Tories instead. This was clearly some sort of Dundee existing in a parallel universe which had fallen through a hole in the interdimensional fabric of space time in order to appear on the BBC. This is the best explanation you’re going to get for the composition of the audience, as some of the questioners were very clearly not of this planet.
BBC Question Time is a programme whose idea of a representative panel in yes voting Dundee is three Unionists, two independence supporters, and a Conservative journalist. Conservative journalists are obligatory whenever Dundee, or indeed any working class Scottish settlement, is the venue, because it fulfils the BBC’s notion of balance. After all, Scotland has more Conservative journalists than it has actual Conservatives. Just who the hell is Tim Stanley anway, and why should we believe that this Conservative journalist from Cumbria have any particular insight into Scotland?
Of course he doesn’t. His purpose was to make up the Unionist numbers and ensure that yes voters were heavily outnumbered on the panel. The BBC is more concerned about the criticisms made against it down south of left wing bias that it cares about the more justifiable criticisms made against it in Scotland of Unionist bias. Naturally the BBC is a Unionist institution. It’s one of the very few British institutions left. Westminster has sold off or privatised all the other British institutions, so it’s down to the BBC to prop up an ailing sense of Britishness amongst a population that no longer cares.
The BBC is institutionally incapable of giving a fair representation to the Scottish independence movement, a political movement which attacks the very foundations of Britishness. We are the enemy, and that’s very plain in Question Time’s composition and in the Dimbleby’s demeanour. John Swinney never managed to complete a single sentence without being interrupted.
So in a yes supporting city we had a panel on which yes supporters were out numbered four to two plus the clearly anti-yes Dimbleby, answering questions from an audience which seemingly was made up of former Labour candidates and imported Tories. BBC balance at its very finest. Still, at least it was representative of 55% of the population, just not the population of Dundee. Next week BBC Question Time will be coming to us from the Tory voting depths of Buckinghamshire, where there’s a greater chance that the audience will actually contain someone who comes from Dundee.
The programme was an example of full on metropolitan trolling, the sort we’ve come to expect from the BBC. It tells us that the proposals for a Scottish Six news programme are doomed to failure. That won’t be because of a lack of talent in Scotland, or because of a lack of potential stories for a Scottish Six to tell. It certainly won’t be because there is no need for a Scottish based and produced daily news programme giving world and national news from a Scottish perspective. It will be because BBC management will starve the programme of investment and resources and will use it to propagate the BBC’s brand of biased Britishness. The BBC is not in the business of putting Scotland in all her glorious diversity on the screen.
The BBC as an organisation is rapidly losing what credibility it has left in Scotland. It’s a top heavy, sclerotic institution driven by metropolitan concerns which makes lip service at best to the point of view where London isn’t. Question Time is a programme which is no longer fit for purpose, produced by a broadcasting corporation which is no longer fit for purpose. Scotland, and the rest of the UK, deserve a public broadcaster which truly reflects what we’re always told is the bestest and most perfectest union of countries in the history of the multiverse. And they only way to achieve that is for control of broadcasting to be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and for the BBC in England to be decentralised.
A Scottish national broadcaster is long overdue. The farce of BBC Question Time only confirms that Scotland will not be reflected accurately or fairly on the television screen until Scotland, like every other self-governing nation, has its own dedicated public service broadcaster. The BBC is a colonial institution with an empire mentality. And all empires are overthrown in the end.
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