BBC thinks it’s OK to let Tory Councilor masquerade as a member of the public

So, the BBC have been sending out generic identical responses to those who complained about a Tory Councilor masquerading as a member of the public on the Edinburgh edition of Question Time.

Many thanks for getting in touch about the edition of BBC One’s Question Time from Edinburgh as broadcast on Thursday 11 May 2017.

We were naturally concerned to learn of your unhappiness in relation to Councillors being part of the audience, but we can assure you that the Question Time audience is always chosen to ensure broad political balance, and each application goes through the same rigorous background checks. Nobody is barred, and it is common for those interested or active in politics from all sides to participate.

As you’ll appreciate, this is an audience participation programme and on any given night there will be a range of views expressed by that audience, and any suggestion that the programme planted people in the audience is wrong.

Question Time audiences are selected in accordance with the BBC’s guidelines on fairness and impartiality; and as you will have seen yourself, Emily Thornberry responded to the first audience member’s question for Labour.

Many thanks once again for taking the time to get in touch. We do hope our reply here helps to clarify matters and thus allays any concerns you may have had.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team

The response isn’t very satisfactory. They say everyone is allowed to appear on the show from a wide range of backgrounds. They also say they do rigorous background checks on those who appear. However, surely that doesn’t justify letting a politician ask a question while posing as an average member of the public. Surely the BBC should disclose who the person actually is for the sake of transparency?

Lets give the BBC the benefit of the doubt and accept they do have a policy of letting people from political parties ask questions without telling the audience. Why then have they prevented others from appearing on the show in the past because of their links to politics?

Here is an example from an SNP staff member.

I don’t know about you but it appears to me like the BBC are not being consistent with what they say is their rule.

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Bobby Hainey

Joint founder of Autonomyscotland. In my spare time I enjoy Road Cycling, Munro bagging and beer.

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1 Comment on "BBC thinks it’s OK to let Tory Councilor masquerade as a member of the public"

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Ian
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By a remarkable coincidence the start of recent Edinburgh edition of QT was very similar to the Stirling one from November 2016. Does anyone remember the angry man in the orange hoodie who got to make the opening remarks in Stirling in Nov 2016? Video footage is available at this link… http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/bbc-question-time-democracy-mob-rule-stirling_uk_582e4803e4b09025ba31c7e9 In something of a deja vu moment, he was also later exposed as having been a UKIP candidate in a council by-election in Coatbridge. Well, it takes all sorts doesn’t it? Oh while we talking about deja vu (or rather ground hog day) Merryn Somerset Webb, editor of… Read more »
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