We write to complain about blatant selection bias for non-politician panellists on Question Time over the past three weeks.
The Question Time programme which ran on 23-9-21 featured three politicians and the following “non-political” guests:
Richard Walker – millionaire business owner (employer)
Kate Andrews – journalist for right of centre Spectator magazine
The Question Time programme which ran on 30-9-21 featured two politicians and the following “non-political” guests:
Karan Bilimoria – millionaire businessman and president of the CBI (which represents employers with huge cumulative wealth)
Ella Whelan – journalist for right of centre Spiked Magazine
Amy Hart – reality TV star turned influencer
The Question Time programme which ran on 7-10-21 featured 2 politicians and the following “non-political” guests:
Minette Batters – runs a 300 acre farm and represents the National Farmers Union (which represents employers with huge cumulative wealth)
Nick Ferrari – journalist for right of centre LBC, who was censured by the Broadcasting Standards Commission in 2003 for “active reinforcement of prejudiced views about asylum seekers (that) had exceeded acceptable boundaries for transmission”. He was also investigated by Ofcom in 2015 for stating that the November 2015 Paris attacks were “a Muslim problem” and telling a Muslim caller to “go some place else” if not in favour of UK foreign policy.
Rosie Jones – comedian and actress
The BBC markets Question Time as its “flagship political debate programme”, states that it will “select a panel with a broad range of views, knowledge and experience” and is, of course, bound by the BBC’s impartiality charter.
Please can you explain to us how the selection of non-political guests across not one but three consecutive programmes meet these obligations?
Three journalists appear – all are right of centre
Three business owners/representatives of large employer groups appear – ZERO trade union representatives appear
Moreover, the only two “non-political” guests invited to add some semblance of left-centre representation come from the field of light entertainment.
The voice of wealth and right-wing cultural views are spoken by six individuals whose primary role involves making political and economic arguments (journalists, business owners).
The left are represented by two figures whose primary role is entertainment – a former participant in Celebrity Love Island and a comedian/actress.
In light of the above, we believe these panels badly fail in their obligation to present balanced, democratic debate. We look forward to hearing from the BBC about the steps they will take to address this in future.
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We have previously studied selection bias on Question Time – you can read our full report here
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