Tag Archives: BBC Question Time

UKIP: gamechanger?

Last night the political reporter for the Nottingham Post tweeted:

The Bus Pass Elvis party is in the great British tradition of Screaming Lord Sutch. And they polled more votes than the LibDems.
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Question Time Johannesburg

BBC Question TimeThis week, for the very first time in its 34-year history, BBC Question Time is going to be televised outside the UK, in Johannesburg. [Correction: not only not the first time it's been televised outside the UK - it's been to Moscow, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and others - BBCQT has been to Johannesburg before, in 2005. My bad.]

David Dimbleby is chairing as usual, though next year will be his 20th anniversary and it’s long past time he retired from the post. (I’ve said this before. I’ll say it again. Dimbleby is a very, very poor presenter.)

Besides Dimbleby, there will be six people on the panel:
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BBC Question Time: why you should complain

Tonight at 10:35 the BBC will broadcast a very special edition of Question Time, from Edinburgh’s Cornmarket.

It’s special on two counts, one overshadowed by the other. Firstly, because the audience will all be 16 and 17 years old – the age range who will be able to vote for the first time on 18th September 2014. (Properly speaking it should have been an audience of kids with birthdays between September 1998 and September 1996, since anyone 17 today would have been able to vote in September 2014 anyway.) But, this means an audience of interested politically aware youngsters will be able to put questions to politicians directly concerned with the independence debate.

Except no.
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Michael Gove: Flipper

Michael GoveMichael Gove talked about people living beyond their means, and Labour spending too much on welfare, and claimed this justified the Tory/LibDem cuts cuts cuts workfare cuts.

Michael Gove used to work for Rupert Murdoch as a journalist at The Times, until he was selected as the new Conservative candidate for the safe seat of Surrey Heath in the 2005 election.

Gove and his wife Sarah Vine, had bought a nice house in Kensington for £430,000 in 2002.

Between December 2005 and April 2006, Michael Gove used the Additional Costs Allowance (meant for an MP to claim for their second home) to claim more than £7000 for furnishing this house:

Around a third of the money was spent at Oka, an upmarket interior design company established by Lady Annabel Astor, Mr Cameron’s mother-in-law.

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Tell @BBCQuestionTime who @BBCExtraGuest should be

David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Easterhouse in Glasgow. Panellists include:

And then there’s the new BBC Extra Guest. Last time was Toby Young, and very dull he was. Who should be the Extra Guest this time?
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The BBC’s idea of a balanced panel

David Dimbleby, former Bullingdon Boy, as chair. When are they going to invite him to retire?

Four men, two women. All white. All wealthy. All but two went to private schools: all but two got a degree at Oxford.

On the left, more or less:

The Labour: Harriet Harman. Privately educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School and at the University of York back when tuition fees weren’t a consideration and maintenance grants were even enough to live on. Became a lawyer and then a Labour MP in 1982, and has been a Minister either in the Shadow Cabinet or in government since 1992. (And tried to exempt MP expenses from the Freedom of Information Act.)

The Comedian Steven Coogan. Born and brought up in Rochdale. The only person on the panel who neither went to a private school nor to Oxford University. Now reputed to have earned personal wealth of £5 million.

On the right, besides David Dimbleby:

The Conservative: Jacob Rees-Mogg. His wife Helena de Chair is the only living grandchild of Peter Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, Viscount Milton (1910 – 1948), only son of the 7th Earl Fitzwilliam: Helena’s mother inherited approximately £45m from her father on his death. Besides his wife’s wealth (they were married in 2007) Jacob Rees-Mogg is a hedge-fund manager and the son of Baron Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times and life peer: the Baron Rees-Mogg was educated at Godalming and Balliol College, Oxford, the Hon. Jacob was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford. Were either of them members of the Bullingdon Club? They’re not listed as such anywhere. His sons of course could be: the de Chair money would put them into the qualifying category if they weren’t already there.

The Sustainable Livestock Bill 2010-12 aimed

to reduce the environmental impacts of livestock production in the UK. It would also amend the way agricultural subsidies are used to make them more environmentally friendly. It includes a duty to give consideration to supporting sustainable practices and consumption through public procurement of livestock produce.

The Bill also aims to reduce rainforest deforestation by reducing the use of soya meal in animal feed in the UK. It would do this by placing a duty on the Secretary of State to ensure the sustainability of livestock, and to give consideration to issues such as public procurement and agricultural subsidy reform.

The Bill was proposed by Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke on Trent: Jacob Rees-Mogg killed it with a fillibuster. What a charming fellow, eh? He’s also tried to shut down a spoof Twitter account for making fun of him and once plagiarised an article from The Sun. I’m sure his nanny loves him.

The LibDem: Danny Alexander. Educated at Scottish state schools in the Highlands, and at St Anne’s College, Oxford – back in the days before tuition fees: he may even remember when students still got grants. (I wonder if he’d honestly admit that £27,000 would have been an intimidating debt for him in 1990?) Talked a good deal on Question Time about how they were making rich people pay more taxes. Slightly forgot to mention that by telling the House of Commons his London flat was his second home, he got to claim the mortgage interest and furnishings and repairs on MP expenses: then when he sold the flat in June 2007 for £300,000, he didn’t pay capital gains tax because he told the Inland Revenue that flat was his main home. Enthusiastic about cutting more and more away from supporting the poorest and most vulnerable.

[Danny Alexander] bought a flat in London in 1999. After being elected an MP in 2005, he declared the property as his second home to the parliamentary authorities and claimed expenses. He claimed more than £37,000 in expenses for the flat – and carried out some work to the property at taxpayers’ expense shortly before selling it in June 2007 for £300,000.

He did not break any rules, but used a tax loophole that allows the continued designation of a property as the main home for three years even after the purchase of another house – in Alexander’s case in Scotland – which has become the principal residence. It did not stop him from telling Commons authorities that the London property was his second home, for which he claimed not only for the mortgage but also for minor capital improvements, the Telegraph reported.

The Other Woman Because It Looks Bad To Have Only One Kirstie Allsopp. Claimed on Question Time to have gone to a state school: she actually went to ten schools, including Bedales and St Clotilde’s, neither of which are state schools. She’s the oldest child of Charles Henry Allsopp, 6th Baron Hindlip, former chairman of Christie’s. When Allsopp suggested that the “Bank of Mum and Dad” should fund their children’s house purchases, she was speaking from experience:

Her parents lent her £30,000 to buy her first property in Battersea, but she lays claim to an upbringing devoid of too many frills. Both sets of grandparents managed to spend “quite considerable fortunes” before they died, so Allsopp’s parents “didn’t inherit anything and had to earn their living. They certainly didn’t have enough money to give any to us; although they helped all four of us buy flats. You put a roof over your child’s head if you can possibly afford to do so, but that is where it all stops.”

The first Baron Hindlip was a 1886 creation for Sir Henry Allsopp, head of the brewing firm of Samuel Allsopp & Sons in Staffordshire, and Tory MP. Sir Henry’s son (portrait of his wife) also became a Tory MP: his grandson was a Unionist Whip in the House of Lords: and his great-grandson, Kirstie Allsopp’s grandfather, the fifth Baron, was a Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire. Kirstie Allsopp is very much part of the web of privilege.

[Update: Commenter Stubben says "@Gareth Snell, that is a picture of Hindlip Hall which has been West Mercia Police HQ since 1967, 4 years before Kirstie Allsopp was born." Swift check through Google Images says Stubben is right about this at least.]

So that’s the BBC’s idea of “balance”. Two more or less on the left – one wealthy man, one powerful woman. Three on the right: two inheritors of privilege, one grabber of privilege.

No trade union representatives: no one with even close to an average income: the only person with a working-class background was Steve Coogan, who hasn’t had to worry about the price of a pint of milk in years.

Can we see some balance, please? BBC Complaints

When are we going to see Mark Serwotka back on Question Time? Why not have a trade union representative every time? What do you reckon the chances are of Kelvin MacKenzie being invited back before any trade union leader?

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I believe in the BBC

What if Scotland votes Yes in autumn 2014 – would we still pay the licence fee – and would we still have the BBC?

In August 2009, at a time when News International were strenuously denying everything, James Murdoch addressed the Edinburgh Television Festival, claiming:

“The expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision.”

(Twenty years earlier Rupert Murdoch had also addressed the same festival, saying much the same thing.)

In the Scotsman, Jennifer Dempsie notes that Scotland would have a larger budget specifically for radio, TV, and iPlayer services than at present: Scotsman:

The licence fee revenue in Scotland is around £325m (sadly the BBC are not too keen to publish official figures in this area). If you assume total BBC Scotland overhead and distribution costs of about £50m (including the contribution to BBC Alba costs), we are left with a public service programme budget for radio, television and online services in an independent Scotland of approximately £275m. A report showed the BBC as providing figures for their total Scottish spend as just £102m plus £70-75m of network-related spending. So, a Scottish public service broadcaster retaining the entire licence fee would have a budget of about £325m, as against the measly £175m currently. Approaching double.

Plus, we could get rid of David Dimbleby on SBC Question Time, forever.

But set against that, while we’d still be able to pick up the BBC on our channels, we’d no longer have access to the full range of programmes on BBC iPlayer. Continue reading

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#BBCqt for International Women’s Day

For International Women’s Day the BBC have decided to have an all-women panel for BBC Question Time.

(Just kidding. The real panel is the usual Bullingdon Boy plus an Eric, two Wills, with Caroline Flint and Janice Atkinson-Small. But let’s pretend we live in a world where the BBC wants to act like it cares.)

So in that alternate universe, David Dimbleby stepped down for International Women’s Day and was replaced by Christine Burns.

On the panel tonight is Theresa May, Conservative MP for Maidenhead and Home Secretary and Minister for Women & Equality; Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley and Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change; Jo Brand, comedian, national treasure and cake fan; Janice Atkinson-Small, UKIP communications director of Women On and contributor to the Daily Mail; and Frances O’Grady, the TUC Deputy General Secretary.

Live-blogging this special International Women’s Day panel for BBC Question Time begins at 10:35.
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Cameron gets Twittered in Newcastle

On Wednesday 15th February, David Cameron visited the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. He intended to speak about the dangers of binge drinking. The Northern Echo reports how

he highlighted the cost of alcohol to the NHS after meeting doctors, nurses, paramedics and police officers.

Mr Cameron toured the hospital, which has a police officer on duty two nights a week to handle drunken incidents, with matron Angela McNab and paramedic Paul Fell.

If David Cameron has a knack, it’s for suiting his speeches to fit his audience. If this occasionally makes him look a bit like Mr Wobbly, well, it means his immediate audience is usually happy and he gets the all-important visuals as background for his Prime Ministerial self.

NHS staff, however, are unusually and uniformly unhappy with David Cameron Continue reading

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Digby Jones and Love My Lotto

Digby Jones There’s an old old joke which last night’s Question Time made me think of:

A man moves to a village in Wales and gets talking to an old man from the village.
He asks the old man what his name is, but the old man gets very irate at this point and says:
- See that line of houses over there? I built them all, but do they call me Jones the house builder? Do they hell!
- See those railway lines over there? I laid them all, but do they call me Jones the engineer? Do they hell!
- See those bridges over that river? I built them all, but do they call me Jones the bridge builder? Do they hell!
- But, a long long time ago, I shagged ONE sheep…

As ever when watching Question Time I was doing some casual online research about the speakers, especially where I didn’t know them very well, and I had been fortunate enough never previously to have encountered the most stereotypical roaring Tory boar, Sir Lord Digby Jones of Birmingham.
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