Still more (yes, sorry) about that complaint to the BBC

May 16, 2017

by Martin Odoni

Sorry to keep on about what happened on BBC Question Time last Thursday, but yes, there is more. As I highlighted yesterday, the BBC’s response to my complaint did not really address my concerns, and was verbatim-identical to responses others received.

Some people on social media have argued with me that they thought the BBC’s answer was reasonable. There are a few reasons I cannot agree with that.

Firstly, as I say, the BBC did not really answer my question about the impropriety of elected politicians being allowed to ask the questions on a debating programme where members of the public are supposed to do that. Was it ‘reasonable’ that the BBC’s response talked around that instead of answering it?

Secondly, was it ‘reasonable’ that Eric Holford was allowed to ask his question without it being made clear in advance that he is an elected councillor? Was it also ‘reasonable’ that he claimed that nurses are well-paid entirely because his daughter makes a decent living out of it, but neglected to mention that she works for BUPA, and not for the National Health Service? And was it ‘reasonable’ that the BBC’s reply makes no mention of these details at all?

Thirdly, was it ‘reasonable’ that the BBC’s one-size-fits-all reply denied accusations of ‘planting’ Holford in the audience, when my complaint did not make such an accusation? Yes, I do believe Holford was a plant, but I did not necessarily mean that the BBC was behind it or co-operated with it (although the denial in their answer increases the suspicion). I am perfectly prepared to believe that the Conservative Party arranged it all by themselves, but that would still make Holford a plant.

But above all, I need to highlight a detail that has been drawn to my attention by a reader called Steve Mills (thank you, Steve). That detail is the experience of an Scottish National Party staff member called Catriona MacKenzie. She tweeted a few days ago that she had been invited by the BBC to sit in the audience of an episode of Question Time, but on telling them of her position within the SNP, she found her invitation being withdrawn.


Now, one might quibble that Ms MacKenzie was a Parliamentary staff member, whereas Holford is a local councillor, so the rules need not be the same. But on consideration of that, my response would be, “That’s codswallop.” An elected politician is at least as ill-suited to a place in the audience as a staff-member.

There is no consistency from the BBC at all over this, and with the attempt to explain away the situation being so evasive and generic, it is very tempting to suspect that the inconsistency is quite deliberate.

4 Responses to “Still more (yes, sorry) about that complaint to the BBC”

  1. kelimaten Says:

    Reblogged this on Kelimaten's Blog.

  2. David Green Says:

    he was also asked if Labour Worried him that much he said it Did he was also asked if he had ever voted labour his response was no he was then asked would he ever consider voting Labour but as a Tory Councillor who was paraded as an ordinary member of the public he had a full house and responded no once again

  3. Brilliant.
    Keep at ’em.

  4. britexpat191 Says:

    Reblogged this on brittdp and commented:
    The BBC has given up trying to answer sensibly the tsunami of complaints derived from its bias, because it is undeniable and embarrassing.

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