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Friday 28 March 2014

BBC Question Time's Ignoring of the Lib Dems is now beyond a joke.

I don't think anyone with even the vaguest interest in domestic politics would argue that the most talked about political event of the last week was the European, Nick vs Nigel debate.

So when, the next day,  BBC Question Time put together a panel, you would expect that a representative of both sides would secure at least one place.

Certainly room was found for UKIP - but as so often is the case, no seat for the Lib Dems. Unbelievable.

The standard excuse, when given, is that now  we are a party of government, the government's view can be represented by a Tory as much as a Lib Dem. This is, of course, nonsense. But especially so on this occasion as

a) The Tories chose not to be in the debate and
b) The producers found room for not one, but two Tories - Justine Greening and Simon Wolfson, who is a Tory peer.

They also found seats for not only a representative of the Labour Party (Dianne Abbott) but also a Labour supporter and donor, Mick Hucknell.

So, 2 Tories, 2 Labour, one UKIP invited to to discuss the debate of the week.

Just as gobsmacking is BBC Question Time's refusal to engage on Twitter with anyone asking what on earth they were thinking? Unlike, to their credit, BBC This Week, as the exchange below demonstrates.

The Lib Dems still remain under represented on Question Time - with just 7 guests in the 12 weeks the programme has aired in 2014. But this weeks omission on any Lib Dem panellist is the most grievous omission to date.

We should demand some answers.


  1. I suspect that the world that thinks that Clegg v Farage was the event of the week is quite small and probably does not extend even to the 20% who now claim to support either of the parties. I'm heavily in to politics, as you know, and did not watch it.

  2. I can't think of a single domestic political event that has had more coverage - was on the front page of every paper. Find BBC Question Times attitude to the Lib deems dreadful. As is their refusal to respond to debate

  3. Boring Boring Boring, history has proven that politicians cannot be trusted. So why bother listening in to lies, lies and more lies #YAWNYAWNYAWN

  4. You may have a point about this week's episode although given Clegg had just had an hour of prime time TV and radio the night before (and will do again next week) I wouldn't be too concerned.

    But your figure of 7 slots in 12 weeks seems fair enough. There are 5 slots per week. So 60 slots so far this year and the Lib Dems have had 7 of them. That's 11.66%. Given that the party has been polling around that level for the last 3 years I don't think you can particularly complain about this level of representation.

    1. Completely disagree, this kind of bias is setting opinion poll ratings not following them...actual general election votes is what matters!

    2. Mark - that would be fine if it was proportional; but in the first 12 programmes, care to guess how many Tories and Labour Westminster reps have been on? you're probably thinking 12. You're wrong. They've each had 13. That can't be right. and thats before you add on the many Tory and Labour commentators.

      But anyway - it was THIS week that really got my goat!

    3. Richard - The first 12 programmes have between them had 60 slots for guests. Given that both the Tories and Labour generally poll in the mid-30s I'd have expected them to have had roughly a third of the guest slots. So that would be 20 each. Therefore 13 each is lower than I would have expected. Although I expect there will have been some "fellow travellers" from the commentariat for each of the parties taking up some of the other slots so we probably end up about right. Either way your implication that it's somehow dreadful that they got 13 each doesn't add up.

  5. Mark, I can. They've always said that they try to represent votes case, especially in Parliamentary elections. That was their justification for the BNP going on, they'd now got parliamentarians, etc. Opinion polls are just that, and especially at the moment they're all up in the air—the only pollster that has a proven track record of getting results right at the moment is ICM and they've had the party averaging 14-15% anyway, the "average" includes the incredibly dodgy YouGov figures that've been distorted anyway.

    Besides which, one of the reasons UKIP are doing well and, for example, the Greens aren't, is because of the media in general and conversation leaders like QT in particular are promoting UKIP (with no MPs, and they'd been doing it before the poll spike) while marginalising the Greens and other "left" parties that have a serious claim to a place on the panel.

    QT take it one way when they want to justify controversial choices of panellist and then play it the other when they want to exclude people, including recently saying that having a Govt rep is enough—note they don't ever not havea Tory when they have a Lib Dem, but justify having no Lib Dems when there is a Tory using that line.

    1. thanks - you may be interested to know as well that in the 12 programmes so far this year, Lab and Tories have each had..13 (!) Westminster representatives on QT to date. thats before all the Lab and Tory commentators. astonishing

  6. The BBC have been outrageously unfair to the LibDems, we got almost a quarter of the votes at the last general election and that should be the marker for participation. UKIP got no MPs! What votes or opinion poll ratings do Pop stars get?
    This is now beyond a joke!

  7. The problem is the BBC arte going to censor UKIP come what may. But to not too blatantly break their legal duty to "balance" they must give less coverage to the smaller parties, They did spend some time having a Lab + Con + coalition representative but that was very obvious.

    Expect coverage to be limited to the 2 parties bigger than UKIP (well the 2 bigger than UKIP if you don't count the EU election).

    The proper answer, particularly if the LDs were in any way liberal, would be to come out strongly for the BBC to stop being a totalitarian propagandist and give at least proportionate coverage to all political opinions. Not holding my breath.

  8. It's a problem that has become worse since the formation of the coalition because more remarks get made about the Lib Dems' policies or performance in government but there is nobody there to correct or defend.
    The producers of Question Time seem to use recent polling as the basis of their panel make-up whereas OFCOM uses a long-term view of electoral perfmance and polling combined to decide on how many party political broadcasts each party gets. The OFCOM method makes much more sense now that we've moved a long way from the old two-party politics.

  9. I would add that the BBC's representation of the Liberal Democrats on "Any Questions", the Radio 4 equivalent, seems just as lamentable. I haven't crunched the numbers but the impression I have is that whilst there are almost always Tory or Labour representatives there are frequently no Lib Dems for several weeks.