Friday 8 February 2013

We're running out of time, but...

Well, as kind-of promised, here's a post about the questions selected by the Question Time team to be put to the panel by members of the Question Time audience. The number of questions put varies from programme to programme but averages around five questions per edition.

The contention, as I've often seen it put (on right-leaning blogs), is that "the questions are invariably framed from the left".

It's easy to see if this is true. All someone needs to do is to spend a couple of evenings skimming through the Question Time website and tracking down all the questions asked on every available edition of the programme on the BBC's i-Player. As the BBC makes the programme available to 'listen again' for a year after the initial broadcast this would give us a whole year's worth of questions. Obviously, any trends of bias would be immediately discernible from such a list. Equally, if there were no trends of bias that too would be revealed by such a list. 

Here is such a complete list (ignoring last night's edition). A couple of evenings is indeed all that it took to compile it. Please see what you make of it. We'll have our say later. Does it provide evidence of BBC bias? 

9/2/12 London
1. In light of the latest setbacks in the attempt to deport Abu Qatada should the UK simply put him on the first available flight back to Jordan?
2. Do you think in the wake of the phone hacking scandal heavier regulation of the press is the way forward or would that compromise the principles of a free press?
3. Syria is massacring its own people. How bad does it have to get before the British government takes decisive action?
4. If we believe in 'innocent until proven guilty' was it right for the FA to strip John Terry of the captaincy of England?
5. Should Andrew Lansley and his NHS bill be taken out and shot?

16/2/12 Nottingham
1. How would you solve the unemployment crisis?
2. Does the election of police commissioners risk politicising the police force?
3. Will the current NHS changes produce quantifiable benefits to the public before the next election or will it be looked back as electoral suicide?
4. Baroness Warsi suggests religion is being sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere. Isn't this a good thing?
5. What difference would an independent Scotland make to my life in Nottingham?

23/2/12 Tunbridge Wells
1. If David Cameron wants bankers' bonuses to be linked to success why did he allow RBS, a failing bank, to be paid bonuses of £785 million?
2. Is it time for the UK to lead the international community in providing military assistance to the Syrian freedom fighters?
3. Do unpaid work placements for unemployed 16-24 year olds help them into the work place or are they just a modern form of slavery?
4. Isn't bailing out Greece just a measure to delay the inevitable?
5. In light of the recent arrest of journalists at 'The Sun' is it a good idea to launch the 'Sun on Sunday'?

1/3/12 Dewsbury
1. Should the Chancellor resist calls from business leaders and his own backbenchers to remove the 50% tax on high earners?
2. A motioned released by some Lib Dem members today describes the Health and Social Care Bill as so deeply flawed it's not possible to make it fit for purpose. Are they right?
3. Isn't it time that we accepted that in a number of cities in the UK racial segregation is a fact of life?
4. Has the situation in Syria reached a point where Britain and her allies ought to intervene by force regardless of approval by the security council?

8/3/12 Guildford
1. I'm a politics student at the University of Surrey and my question is: Considering the tragic deaths of six more soldiers why is our withdrawal from Afghanistan still planned for 2014 and not sooner?
2. Would a mansion tax be fairer than a 50% tax band for the highest earners?
3. Does the proposal to allow gay marriages undermine the institution of marriage as a whole?
4. How can the railway network justify fare increases, especially as we are already the most expensive in Europe?
5. Gender equality is constantly on the agenda, so why are women still under-represented?

15/3/12 St. Andrews
1. What should George Osborne announce in the Budget that will significantly decrease long-term unemployment?
2. Would Scotland be financially better off as an independent nation?
3. In a recent poll nearly three quarters of people said the conflict in Afghanistan is unwinnable. Is the accelerated exit policy and admission of defeat?
4. Was Donald Trump right in warning the First Minister not to be 'Mad Alex' over the wind power?
5. In light of the proposed minimum price for alcohol why the responsible majority have to suffer for the irresponsible minority?

22/3/12 Grimsby
1. With more than 1 in 6 people now aged over 60 isn't the government right to ask pensioners to pay their fair share?
2. Does cutting the 50% tax rate to 45p signal the end of us all being in it together?
3. Why did the British woman kidnapped in Somalia have to finance her own freedom? Why did the government not do more?
4. Should teachers in Grimsby be paid less for doing the same job as their counterparts in the south of England?
5. Is this year a good time for the UK to consider becoming a republic?
6. Is David Cameron's idea to privatise a vast swathe of our road network not just another excuse to fleece the already-put-upon motorist?

29/3/12 Portsmouth
1. Who's responsible for the unjustified panic buying at petrol stations today? Is it the government or the unions?
2. Does a £250,000 dinner with the Prime Minister influence government policy?
3. Was the 56-day sentence for Liam Stacey, following his racially-abusive tweets about the footballer Fabrice Muamba, excessive?
4. In the light of taxing pasties but not caviare are we still all in this together?
5. should the government allow new grammar schools?
6. As we approach the 30th anniversary, could the UK fight a campaign based on the Falklands as we did in 1982 if required to do so?

19/4/12 Leeds
1. Should we now take control of our justice system in the light of the farcical deportation of Abu Qatada?
2. Was the Bradford Spring just a spot of unseasonable political weather or a sign of wider climate change?
3. Is it fair that the parents of truant children should have fines taken directly from their child benefit?
4. Is the Budget proving to be omnishambolic?
5. Is it right for British drivers to participate in the Bahrain Grand Prix when a pro-democracy movement is raging?

26/4/12 Romford
1. How can we have confidence in the government's economic policy when we are in recession again?
2. In light of recent evidence heard at the Leveson Inquiry should Jeremy Hunt resign as Culture Secretary?
3. Do you feel that moving low income families from Newham to Stoke-on-Trent is a form of social cleansing?
4. Should the contraceptive pill be available to girls as young as 13 without prescription, as suggested by an NHS report?

3/5/12 London
1. With the Olympics only three months away are the recent severe delays at Heathrow proof that our public transport system simply cannot cope?
2. Is Rupert Murdoch fit to run News Corp?
3. What impact will a Socialist victory in the French presidential election have on the Euro Crisis?
4. Mervyn King claimed their was a failure of imagination to understand that the economic bubble would burst. Is he right that no one is to blame?
5. Has the London mayoral election campaign become an embarrassing mudslinging affair which has lost sight of the real issues affecting the people of London?

10/5/12 Oldham
1. Why can't public sector workers accept that if they're going to live longer they're going to have to renegotiate their pensions?
2. Was race an issue in the recent Rochdale grooming case?
3. M. Hollande plans to tax and spend for growth as an alternative to austerity. Would it work for the UK?
4. Cameron and Clegg renewed their vows this week. Will this marriage reach its fifth anniversary?

17/5/12 Cardiff
1. Do you agree with the Home Secretary when she says that police officers should stop complaining about being picked on?
2. David Cameron yesterday told Europe to make up its mind. What choice has he given UK voters? Do we stay or not?
3. In light of Mervyn King's comments this week about its negative effect on GDP, should the Jubilee Bank Holiday be cancelled?
4. Drug and alcohol deaths in Wales have increased by 31% in ten years. Isn't about time we follow Scotland's minimum price for alcohol?
5. Are relations between the media and politicians becoming inappropriate?
6. With the Olympic torch coming to Cardiff next week why should Wales get excited about London's games?

24/5/12 King's Lynn
1. Who's bonkers? Vince Cable, or the 76% of the Institute of Directors who said they would take on more workers if stringent labour laws are eased?
2. When David Cameron called Ed Balls a "muttering idiot" was this improper language or a statement of the blindingly obvious?
3. Is it right that Olympic torch bearers are offering their torches for sale on internet auction sites?
4. Wind power is perceived to have failed our energy needs. Will more nuclear power stations provide a better solution?
5. Should David Cameron defy the European Court of Human Rights and not allow prisoners to vote?

31/5/12 Rugby
1. After pasty, caravan and charity u-turns, is the Chancellor competent?
2. Is it right for doctors to strike over a pension that most of us can only dream of?
3. Would the UK be justified in banning Syrian delegation members with connections to the Assad regime from the London 2012 Games?
4. Do the continual revelations from the Leveson Inquiry put into doubt the personal judgement of David Cameron?
5. Are we about to be invaded by hordes of homeless, hungry Greeks and, if we are, where are they going to go and what are we going to do with them?

7/6/12 Inverness
1. Have this weekend's Jubilee celebrations made us feel more British and damaged the campaign for independence?
2. Is it fair that well-off pensioners should get free bus passes and the winter fuel allowance?
3. Is it the job of the Germans to save Euroland?
4. How can a 3p increase in fuel duty be justified when rural businesses and families are already struggling to keep moving?
14/6/12 Stockon-on-Tees
1. Is it appropriate for Rebecca Brooks and David Cameron to be professionally, definitely in this together?
2. Do you agree with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles that problem families have had it easy for too long?
3. Can the panel please recite a poem that they learned by rote at school and explain how this has been useful in their subsequent careers?
4. Is it right that only rich foreigners will have the right to live with their partners in this country?
5. Is it right that all our e-mail and Facebook messages can be viewed by the police?

21/6/12 West Bromich
1. Are wealthy celebrities who avoid paying tax the moral equivalent of benefit cheats?
2. Should Britain scrap GCSEs and return to O-Level style exams?
3. Do I have more chance of attending a state banquet than see banks increase lending to small businesses?
4. Were doctors right to strike or should they be more willing to play their part in reducing government spending?

28/6/12 Luton
1. Is there any integrity left in British banking?
2. Is scrapping the petrol duty rise a sensible thing given how much the government is in debt?
3. Why should me and my partner continue working, paying taxes, struggling on a tight budget when those on benefits do nothing and get paid a lot more?
4. Is the sudden urgency about House of Lords reform simply a way of keeping the Liberal Democrats quiet in the coalition?

5/7/12 Derby
1. Given that this week George Osborne has already begun blaming Ed Balls for his part in the Libor Scandal I would like to know what's to stop a parliament-led inquiry turning into a political squabble?
2. Will cutting the British Army from 102,000 to 82,000 [increase] the threat to the UK?"
3. The Home Secretary is planning changes to the citizenship test. What question would you like to see included?
4. Is it time to stop fighting the war on drugs and instead regulate, control and tax it?
5. Does the panel think that Ian Brady should be allowed to die as he wishes or should be kept alive at great public expense?

27/9/12 Brighton
1. Will we see the same level of anger as in Athens and Madrid once the full impact of the UK government's austerity measures are felt?
2. would we be better off with more plebs and fewer public schoolboys patrolling the corridors of power?
3. What does the panel believe motivated the decision of Rochdale Police and Social services to ignore the grooming of under-aged girls by Asian males?
4. Can the next generation afford a home without help from the Bank of Mum and Dad?
5. After two years in coalition government is anyone really listening to Nick Clegg?

4/10/12 Manchester
1. Is the government right to scapegoat civil servants for the West Coast Rail fiasco?
2. In the light of the recent deaths of two Great Manchester police officers should British police now be armed, like their American counterparts?
3. Has Ed Miliband found his voice?
4. Is it right to investigate Jimmy Savile's past now he's dead?
5. Are we risking economic catastrophe by delaying airport expansion in the South East of England?

11/10/12 Birmingham
1. Is the BBC's reputation about to be blown away by the Jimmy Savile debacle?
2. Is George Osborne discrimination against the under-25s with his proposal to remove their housing benefits?
3. Should Boris Johnson challenge David Cameron for the leadership of the Tory Party?
4. Shouldn't the adoption limit be a matter for the morality of individual women and not Jeremy Hunt?

18/10/12 Glasgow
1. Why isn't the government doing more about rising gas and electricity prices when these companies are still making millions in profits?
2. Do you believe Scotland would be better off as an independent nation?
3. The UK Drugs Policy Commission wants to relax penalties for drug possession. How would this affect society and drug use?
4. Considering 16 and 17 year olds are not responsible enough to buy fireworks why are we letting them have a lot on independence?

25/10/12 Slough
1. With today's announcement on the GDP figures are we seeing the first signs of green shoots?
2. Is the proposal to limit child benefit to the first two children fair and reasonable?
3. Has the BBC been fatally damaged in the public's mind as a result of the Jimmy Savile scandal?
4. Should David Cameron give the European Court the two-fingered salute by not granting prisoners the right to vote?
5. In recent polls the Liberal Democrats come out as fourth behind UKIP. Should they leave the coalition before they lose whatever support they still have?

1/11/12 London
1. As a U.S. citizen I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, optimistic about his mandate for hope and change. The reality has been very different. Does he deserve another four years?
2. Is Nick Clegg right to claim that bringing powers back from Brussels is a false promise wrapped in a Union Jack.
3. Is the Energy Minister right in saying there are enough onshore turbines or is he tilting at windmills?
4. Was Dame Helen Ghosh right to accuse David Cameron of freezing women out of senior government position in favour of an Old Etonian clique?

8/11/12 Bexhill
1. Is David Cameron's mention of a "gay witch-hunt" in relation to the child abuse allegations a self-fulfilling prophecy?
2. Now that the Bank of England appears to have run out of options, what should government be doing to support the recovery?
3. Did the Conservative Party overreact when withdrawing the party whip from Nadine Dorries?
4. Would money be better spent on policing rather than the cost of the police commissioners' elections or the appointed commissioners' salaries?
5. What can British politicians learn from the recent victory of Barack Obama?

15/11/12 Corby
1. The winning party in Corby has come out on top in every general election in the past 30 years. Will today's result continue the trend?
2. Should we simply put Abu Qatada on a plane to Jordan?
3. Shouldn't we be spending more time discussing how we can better protect children than worry about who's running the BBC?
4. Should we be boycotting tax-dodging companies?
5. Who's wrong - Hamas or Israel?

22/11/12 London
1. Should parliament now consider amending sex discrimination legislation to cover the Church of England?
2. Should Britain forge a new, looser relationship with Brussels?
3. Do you think Israel was justified in bombing Gaza after months of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians?
4. Why should prisoners who've shown they cannot abide my the laws be given a say into society is run?
5. Under the benefit cap should large unemployed families priced out of London move into cheaper areas or should councils subsidise them to stay?

29/11/12 Swansea
1. Are the Leveson proposals an "attack" on the free press?
2. Should the political views of foster parents be taken into account before children are placed with them?
3. Do you think the minimum price put on alcohol is fair?
4. In view of Nick Boles's comments, are we all morally entitled to our own house with a garden?

6/12/12 Liverpool
1. Do the panel agree with George Osborne? Are we all in this together?
2. How does the government intend to ensure that care and compassion is restored back into the NHS?
3. Do the panel trust the press to regulate themselves?
4. When will the new 'pay what you want' tax bill be rolled out to the rest of the business world?

13/12/12 Bristol
1. Is the large number of Tory MPs opposing gay marriage symptomatic of a party out of touch with contemporary society?
2. With almost 3 million more foreign residents since 2001, is Britain no longer British?
3. Is it fair to vilify the two Australian DJs for the unintended tragic consequences of their hoax phone call?
4. Should the use of illegal drugs be decriminalised?
5. Do you believe that the Housing Minister was right to advise against giving food or money to homeless people?

10/1/13 Lewisham
1. Is the 1% benefits cap fair?
2. Do politicians who court celebrity debase the honour of their own profession?
3. David Cameron claimed the NHS was safe in his hands. Given the cuts and closures around the country, is this still the case?
4. Should David Cameron take notice of the United States's warning not to leave the European Union?

17/1/13 Lincoln
1. Lincoln has seen JJB, Blockbuster, Jessops and now HMV fall victim. Some of them will be boarded up. Is the internet killing the high street?
2. Can public services cope with yet another influx of migrants when we open our doors to Bulgaria and Romania this time next year?
3. Countries such as Norway and Switzerland have thrived outside of the European Union but still have strong trading links with EU member countries. Should the UK follow suit?
4. In these times of austerity should we consider introducing horse meat as a cheaper alternative to beef?
5. Is Mali in danger of becoming the next Afghanistan and should the UK get involved at any level?

24/1/13 Weymouth
1. Is the referendum on the EU in the national interest on in the interests of the Conservative Party?
2. Do schools close when it snows for the safety of children and staff or is everyone afraid of being sued or fined by Health and Safety?
3. Is George Osborne's programme of spending cuts credible?
4. Do you agree with cuts to the military as the terrorism threat grows in North Africa?
5. Are poor people fat?

31/1/13 Lancaster
1. Is reducing the travelling time from Manchester to London worth £30 billion?
2. Are we wise to become involved in another Islamist struggle in Mali?
3. With the Cumbria vote against the nuclear waste dump is it time the government turned its back on nuclear and backed renewables instead?
4. Should Prince Charles ask the Queen to go dutch?
5. Should Nick Clegg send his children to private schools?
6. Polish is now the second language in the UK. Will we need to revise this to Bulgarian or Romanian next year?

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