Questions for Question Time

On Friday, the Conservative commentator Toby Young became the latest Brexit supporting Tory to express the wish that Ireland would leave the EU and “rejoin” the UK. Toby Young was roundly mocked on social media for his suggestion. However to be fair, Ireland leaving the EU and becoming a part of the UK again is not an entirely unpopular idea. It is a fact that there are millions of people who yearn for Ireland to leave the EU and become a part of the UK once more. It’s just that they’re all British nationalist Brexiteers living in England. In Ireland itself, the notion is about as popular as a massive plook on a prom night. Besides, Irish people will not unreasonably point out that it’s not really a question of Ireland rejoining the UK because Ireland never exactly joined the UK in the first place, more that it was despoiled, colonised, depopulated, and oppressed.

Toby Young proved that it is entirely possible for someone to know even less about the politics of Ireland than Darren Grimes. The ardent Brexiteer Darren went on the BBC’s Politics Live show last week to discuss the results of the Irish election, despite having extensively tweeting during the preceding week that he found it all terribly confusing and didn’t really understand what was going on. Although this is precisely the kind of expertise that both the BBC and Sky News prefer when it comes to discussions of Scottish politics.

I look forward to my own invitation onto BBC news to discuss the intricacies of electoral politics in Mongolia. Although I probably wouldn’t qualify since I can actually locate Ulan Bator on a map. Actually, I don’t qualify because I’m an independence supporter who doesn’t do British nationalists’ job for them by constantly attacking other independence supporters. That seems to be the main criterion for getting on the telly if you’re an independence supporting commentator in Scotland.

Meanwhile the BBC’s descent into face-palmery continues. We’ve all heard of Orange Jaiket Man and his claims that he received regular invites to the BBC Question Time audience. Some of you may also have heard of Alison Fuller-Pedley, the Question Time staffer who is apparently responsible for the audience selection. Back in 2016 Ms Fuller-Pedley was the object of some controversy when claims were made that she’d been sharing social media posts from the far-right group Britain First, had tweeted support of Vote Leave and had joined facebook group the “British Patriot Front”. The BBC claimed that she had shared these posts “unwittingly”. However here’s the rub, you cannot have a job doing political background checks on potential members of the audience in one of the BBC’s most important political programmes while claiming to be unaware of the context of social media posts by Britain First.

The Scottish editions of the programme regularly feature Conservative and other politicians in the audience whose political affiliations are not made clear to the viewers. The episode of the programme last year from Moray featured audience members who were former Conservative MSPs, and current members of the local Conservative party. One of them was recently forced to resign from the party after tweeting abuse about Nicola Sturgeon. If you wondered why when BBCQT went to the markedly left of centre and independence supporting city of Dundee the audience was full of posh Tories who supported Brexit, it seems that your suspicions were not unfounded. BBC QT audiences seem to be disproportionately full of Brexit supporters and opponents of independence. It’s not unreasonable to wonder if there’s a connection.

It is now being alleged that the woman whose racist rant from the QT audience last week was publicised by the BBC was in fact a known supporter of Stephen Laxley-Lennon, Britain First, and was once a National Front candidate. It’s further being alleged that the woman was invited onto the show by Alison Fuller-Pedley. If true, this destroys what little remains of the credibility of the programme, and a BBC which continues to support it.

BBC Question Time is presented to us as a serious political discussion programme, one of the few which features direct engagement with – supposedly – ordinary members of the public. However the programme’s production team are presenting it as a serious political discussion while at the same time structuring it as a click baiting entertainment show in which audience members with extreme views are deliberately sought out and featured. It’s a programme which no longer seeks to enlighten and inform, but to entertain and enrage. In doing so the producers are doing a great disservice to the viewers. The programme should be dumped from the schedules immediately. There is now a widespread perception that it has become a forum for the promotion of right wing British nationalist views, a toxic boil on the already disfigured face of British politics.

If the audience in a programme which travels to different towns and cities throughout the UK doesn’t accurately represent the views of those different towns and cities but rather the preferences and predelictions of its producers, then what’s the point of it? If a producer is skewing audience selection for the purposes of entertainment, we need to know because then we can adjust our expectations accordingly. If a producer is skewing audience selection for the purposes of promoting their own personal political agenda, that’s a bona fide scandal.

But it’s not just BBC Question Time which has questions to answer. Today on the Andrew Marr Show, the flagship political programme on BBC 1, one of the guests on the newspaper review was the Daily Mail journalist Sarah Vine. Now of course people should not be defined by who it is that they happen to be partnered to, but it’s a disservice to the viewers that it wasn’t pointed out that Ms Vine is the wife of Michael Gove. She used her appearance on Andrew Marr to lay into all and any criticism of her husband’s government. When she insisted that she didn’t believe allegations that some civil servants are being bullied by some government ministers, and told us what the relationship between ministers and civil servants was “really like”, she was leveraging her personal connection to a UK government minister. Her marriage then became germane and relevant to the discussion. Yet she was presented to us as an objective and disinterested observer.

Media companies with contracts with the BBC should not get to decide in secret who is allowed to speak on the only programme on the BBC which allows the public a mass political platform. If the BBC is serious about restoring trust, then transparency is a vital first step. If it is indeed true that the producers of Question Time deliberately sought out and publicised the views of a member of a far right extremist racist organisation, then this is not a BBC that anyone of a liberal, socialist, or social democratic persuasion could defend. It is an organisation which is unfit for purpose, and which is contributing to the descent of the British body politic into a cancerous malignity.

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40 comments on “Questions for Question Time

  1. JSM says:

    Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female and commented:
    Once again, spot on.

  2. Sheryl Heporth says:

    Well said Paul!
    I haven’t had a TV in my house for 9-10 years and when I see online what sh**e they are peddling as programming now I am so, so happy I am a non-viewer!! The BBC should be so thoroughly ashamed off themselves now and I’m pleased that the schools no longer use the channel as an educational tool nowadays. Let’s face it, STV are as bad but don’t push their garbage as much!

  3. panda paws says:

    What’s worse is that this programme counts towards the “Scottish” share of BBC spending despite it rarely being in Scotland and never truly representing our polity.

  4. Bob Lamont says:

    Eloquently put.
    As has been said before, the QT production staff have previous on editing out sections of their show, and Bruce is well known for interrupting or shutting down commentary with which she or her producer does not agree.
    The pink “lady” was parked a la “Orange jaiket man”, yet perhaps Bruce inviting comment was pure chance… But to allow the 82 second list of BNP “victimhood” to proceed uninterrupted was beyond extraordinary. To then broadcast it despite it’s unwelcome reception by a stunned audience is beyond absurd, to later tweet the segment to publicise it further pushed coincidence far beyond preposterous.

  5. […] Wee Ginger Dug Questions for Question Time On Friday, the Conservative commentator Toby Young became the latest Brexit supporting […]

  6. I was thinking 1930s but now it is definitely Nero/ Caligula/ Horse and co – which should mean the end is near. Westminster, Tories, BBC etc are completely beyond ridiculous. Very dangerous. It would be a really good idea to get Scotland out now. Really now.

  7. Petra says:

    Tommy Sheppard wading in with “BBCQT is out of control.” Then again maybe not. It all depends on who’s controlling it and their agenda.

    Wee video of the racist ranter.

  8. Welsh Sion says:

    ‘Twas ever so.

    In June 2012, I applied to join the local QT audience when they visited Luton (3 miles down the road and home to EDL and Tommy Robinson), As part of the application procedure you had to fill in your party political affiliation and record two questions which you would ask the panel. If these are ‘accepted’ at this stage (mine included one suggesting the creation of a federal legislature instead of the House of Lords for rUK, were the Scots to vote for independence a few years down the line. Fairly innocuous in context, as I didn’t want to reveal my hand too early as a full-bloodied independista.) All these personal details are logged by Menthorn and kept for 5 (FIVE) years – check the small print.

    Anyhow, they then phoned me up a couple of days beforehand to confirm my questions (maybe it was this Alison person on the phone?) and then, invited to proceed to the programme a few days later. Which I then did.

    After extensive queuing and registration we were then serenaded by a few off-colour David Dimblebore jokes at bankers’ expense and stuffed ourselves on BBC petits fours. Then we got ushered on to the set, where a few gobby self-publicists presented themselves as dummy (term used advisedly) panellists and for the rest of us to ask them questions. This went on for about 3/4 hour so we could see how the programme ‘worked’ – before the politicos turned up.

    I forget the questions which were asked – but I do know neither of mine were selected. (My National Party memberships counting against me, perhaps?) All I do recall however was the panellist who made the most sense at that time was Tony (now Sir Tony) Robinson aka Baldrick. Other than him and the late Paddy (Lord) Ashdown, no one stayed on afterwards to thank us (the audience) for coming.

    I then trudged back home through the soft Lutonian rain – and have not been back since. Somehow, I don’t miss it. QT doesn’t miss me, either.

  9. Hamish100 says:

    I really must object that this blog is spending so much time on independence and bbc bias. Surely LGBT’s+ takes priority on all issues? F *** Independence, I rather be a britnat that than discuss independence some seem to think these days. Sturgeon out claims ( anonymous SNP supporter).

    Thanks WGD for discussing wider and just as important issues. I have always wondered what our TV watchdogs do. I believe one of the so called Scotland representatives had some past connections with the Snp.They are silent as well as toothless it seems.

    Mrs Ex National Front lady was put centre stage I am sure deliberately by the bbcqt director. On closer inspection the person seemed to have facial reconfiguration undertaken. I am a great fan of Mission Impossible so it could be Douglas Rees-Mogg on an off day- or his sister.

  10. Duncan Mitchell says:

    When I was younger I enjoyed Question Time but, in recent times, it has only annoyed me.
    So I stopped watching it in 2014. What you say is absolutely spot on.

  11. Legerwood says:

    Out of respect for my blood pressure and recently diagnosed heart condition I did not watch this. I did see a very short clip where she said something about 63 million English. Thus the Welsh, Scots and Irish (northern) are subsumed into greater England.

  12. Macart says:

    Must admit to not having watched QT in years now. It’s NOT a programme for serious political discussion, but then so very little is on broadcast meeja these days. More yer soapbox for the intolerant, the arrogant and the ignorant. At best they’ll invite the odd progressive to act as the pinata du jour, wind up the audience and let them loose on the poor soul. At worst? At worst there won’t even be a progressive. Mainly a rantathon for the hard of thinking.

  13. Not entirely happy with the metaphor of your final words, but an excellent analysis as always. Thank you.

    It beggars belief that many of the nutty opinions of the moment are given such free reign on the BBC. I wonder though if there is an extent to which the BBC is doing exactly what it has been doing since its establishment, broadcasting Britishness wearing a dinner jacket in clipped RP. But history has moved on and now accepts many other forms of journalistic authority. I can’t help thinking sometimes that complaining that the BBC is promulgating extreme Britishness is a bit like complaining that water is wet. Perhaps, that it is allowing even fascist opinions greater space is a only sign that the Britishest Britishness is now under threat.

    While the BBC’s news and current affairs departments are clearly an arm of the British state, I am listening as I write to 6Music, which must be one of the best radio stations in the world. A contradiction I find intriguing.

  14. MIke B says:

    I read that the woman came from London. So another question is why was she in the audience of a QT from Weymouth? Why does the show travel around the UK if it imports audience members from 220 km away?

  15. mogabee4 says:

    What a time to be alive! Living in a nightmare with heavy overtones of corruption, exploitation and crimes against fellow citizens… And that’s just the Tories.

    I’ve gone from watching the beeb to being astonished at our representatives being sneered at to giving up watching any political programmes AT ALL.

    Now hearing that some Tory MP’s being bombarded with emails etc because their electorate love the BBC and are shocked at how it’s being treated!!

    Hahahahaha you couldn’t make it up 😀

  16. Angry Weegie says:

    Reblogged this on Angry Weegie and commented:
    Clearly expressed view of what was so awful about BBCQT last Thursday and how the rest of the BBC’s current affairs output is letting viewers and listeners down.

  17. Sandy MacGregor says:

    Plook lol no heard that in ages.
    P.S. The Irish dinnae huv “Prom Nights” hen a think yer wee holiday has taken it’s toll 😘


  18. chicmac says:

    At least Question Time does what it says on the tin. Currently I’m wondering whether its 100 AD, 1090 AD, 1654 AD or 1750 AD.

  19. susan says:

    The BBC, full stop, does what it says on the tin. Why get upset about it when nothing will change. I don’t watch tv anymore as it’s bad for my mental health. Just don’t pay the licence fee.

    • J Galt says:

      Essentially you are correct, this continual gnashing of teeth just encourages them and makes them think they must be doing something right!

      I wish the SNP hierarchy and the Independence movement in general would simply ignore and boycott them.

      My only use of the BBC is “Take the Floor!” on Radio Shortbread on a Sunday evening, however I would be prepared to sacrifice even that!

  20. Petra says:

    Fiona Bruce is getting paid practically double what LBJ’s gets.

    • Legerwood says:

      She has nicer hair.

      Removes tongue from cheek

      • Petra says:

        Well I’m off to the hairdressers, Legerwood, in the hope that my boss will give me a massive rise, lol.

        See that you haven’t been keeping too well. Hope things improve for you. Take care of yourself X

        There’s a mention of the GRA on the Indyref2 site. If the get the time, and feel up to it, maybe you could post some of the data that was banned from WoS.

        • Petra says:

          “You” not “the”.

        • Legerwood says:

          There is an article on the GRA on Talking up Scotland site and there are some links in the comments section from myself and others that may be useful.

          Trying to keep calm but these days not so easy.

  21. Petra says:

    Professor Donald Christie supports Professor John Robertson re. the SQA exam results. Time for the BBC, STV and newspapers to cut it out. Propaganda that is.

  22. Ken2 says:

    The Tories are just a disgrace. Migrant deporting migrant. What a bunch of hypocrites. Failed bankers at the Treasury. Tax evaders in charge of raising revenues. What a sight. Just appalling. Wasting public money like there was not tomorrow. On failed wasteful projects. Letting people die from austerity.

    The Brexit mess and shambles. Wait until the queues start at airports and goods are in short supply. The Tories will be out. What a bunch of hypocrites. A nasty sight.

    It was the UK/US Illegak wars which caused the worse migrant crisis in Europe. Millions of people displaced. The European countries having to pick up the pieces and the cost. Then the Tories used it as an excuse for Brexit. To ruin the economy.

    The carry on about a few people self identifying. A total storm in a tea cup. A mountain out of a mole hill. There have been mixed changing room for years in health facilities. It helps women and others to use the facilities.

    It helps more families and friends to swim. It is safer than separate changing rooms. More open with separate cubicles. More staff available. It is safer. Prisons etc are monitored all the time. Attacks on women happen in their own homes. That is where they are most frequent.

    • J Galt says:

      “The Tories will be out.”

      I fear you are being a tad over optimistic.

      The sight of “Brits” being held in “second class” queues at EU airports will only bring about outraged calls for reprisals here and the images would be carefully manipulated and would be a recruiting sergeant for the Tories – not the other way about.

      They are in charge for 5 years, probably 10 – who’s going to challenge them – the new Joker taking over from the old Joker in Labour?

      The shortages?

      They’ll deal with that no bother – they hold all the levers of media manipulation, and I’m afraid if we’re depending on a shortage of Brie in Hartlepool turning the tide we’re jiggered!

      • Dave tewart says:

        You’re so right.
        The spin on the French fishing the englanders waters.
        The english fishermen SOLD their EU fishing quota to:-
        French, Belgian, Spanish, Dutch and Danish fishing companies.
        So these fishermen were fishing for english quota in their own boats, how dare they.
        Talk about selling off the family silver.
        They don’t do irony these englanders.

        • Bob Lamont says:

          Indeed, the only country of the 28 to permit selling of quotas, all controlled by a few for the benefit of the few while the British public are conned all the way…
          Now the fishing industry is fulminating over Patel’s Immigration Policy as they’ll no longer be able to employ cheap foreign labour, nought about ALL those jobs which would be restored, you really couldn’t make this up… Shysters and charlatans everywhere, Tory supporters to a man…

  23. Petra says:

    Take a look at these links, folks, in particular Westminster’s plan for Faslane to become the UKs dumping ground, other than nukes that is.

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