Sunday 6 October 2013

More Questions

A Labour Party activist posing as a disinterested voter

We've done quite a few posts about BBC One's Question Time, that weekly ordeal for many politically-minded people of a right-wing persuasion. 

The outstanding problem seems to be the apparently unrepresentative nature of the audiences, and it's a problem Question Time needs to address.

Given that even someone like James Delingpole accepts that the makers of Question Time do try to get an audience that holds a cross-section of views, why is it that - like this week's edition - that audience so often gives every impression of being a partisan, left-wing audience? Of being, as Lloyd Evans at the Spectator puts it, "composed of wonks and party activists posing as disinterested voters"?

This week's audience [from politically diverse Birmingham] was intensely anti-Daily Mail, yelling out whenever it got the chance, giving Mehdi Hasan thunderously approving support, vigorously clapping Yvette Cooper for her economic diagnosis, etc. An audience "composed of wonks and party activists posing as disinterested voters" then?

Well, that audience response is clearly not reflective of public opinion as a whole - even that relatively small portion of the public which cares passionately about politics. Given that UKIP and the Conservatives keep polling around 47% together (in opinion polls), there is not an overwhelming mood of left-wing activism in the country. There simply isn't. 

And yet Question Time audiences have long suggested there is. 

Below the line at Lloyd Evan's Spectator piece is a comment that reminds me just how long Question Time has seemed like that:
Shinsei1967 • 2 days ago −
As someone tweeted last night:
"If the Question Time audience was representative of the UK electorate then Neil Kinnock would currently be serving his sixth term as Prime Minister."
Do left-wing activists hijack Question Time audiences? Does the Labour Party pack Question Time audiences? [Remember the infamous Amy Rutland edition?] If they do, what can the producers of Question Time do to prevent it, or balance it out?

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