» question time ¦ What You Can Get Away With

BBC_Question_TimeBecause I’m a masochist, I watched Question Time last night, where one of the panellists was a representative of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Contrary to the image they present, the TPA isn’t a membership-based grassroots organisation, but a privately funded lobbying group that doesn’t represent anyone but its donors – what’s normally known as an ‘astroturf‘ group. However, like other lobbying groups and corporate shills that pretend to be ‘think tanks’ (the ones with ‘Institute’ in their names), it often gets invited to go on Question Time and other news programmes as though it has some kind of impartiality and objectivity, rather than being something established to campaign for a specific purpose.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with campaigning for something, even if that is to ensure that addressing the concerns of the wealthy and privileged is even more over-represented in political debate, but why aren’t other campaigning groups given a seat on the Question Time panel? I can’t recall anyone from organisations like Friends of the Earth or Amnesty – groups with actual memberships, often larger than any of the political parties – ever sitting on the panel, while the TPA and their ilk regularly get a seat there.

Alternatively, if the producers of Question Time are actually incapable of doing any sort of research into the people they invite and accept the spin that these people are some kind of impartial experts, why not invite some genuine experts on the programme? There are hundreds of academic experts in politics and public policy and at least some of them are safe to put on television before a general audience. Naturally, I’d suggest someone like David Sanders from Essex, but other academics and academic disciplines are available. I have been told by reliable sources that there are historians with opinions out there who aren’t called ‘David Starkey’.

They can still have the astroturf lobbyists on there occasionally if they want to, but surely it wouldn’t be too hard to find a wider range of panellists that might actually allow some facts to be interjected into the discussion occasionally?

, ,

This week on Question Time, we’re in the ruins of Ancient Mu.

The Regeneration of Doctor Who – Some interesting synchronicities between Doctor Who and the KLF. (This is because Bill Drummond is a Time Lord, of course)
Argh, plot bunny: free to a good home – Explaining he secret history of Hollywood
Rotherham, UKIP, And What We Don’t Know – Tim Fenton sums up the issues around the Rotherham fostering case very well.
Is there Bias on BBC Question Time? – A Very Public Sociologist looks at the political make up of the QT panels. It’s slightly better on gender balance than Have I Got News For You, though.
The cosy consensus I saw on Question Time’s panel is a disservice to every man and woman in Britain – Owen Jones after his appearance on QT.

, , , , ,

Interesting headline for a post on Political Betting:

Is now the moment to replace Dimbleby

Even though -like many others – I rarely watch Question Time now, because it’s become so pointless and merely a reflection of a Westminster political culture that regards shouting at people and never backing down as the most important skill to possess, I think I can answer that with a ‘probably’. The show needs a complete rethink, and a new host would be part of that.

But wait, there’s more to the headline…

with Andrew Neil?

And suddenly you realise that there are so many ways in which it could be made worse. A prime example of how just three words can dramatically change the response to a question.

(The comments on Political Betting are fascinating, by the way. Apparently, there are people out there – who don’t appear to be members of the production team – who think This Week in some way resembles quality television.)

, ,