Wednesday 8 April 2015

Another BBC audience

(h/t Geoff at Biased BBC for spotting this tweet):

Good question, Andrew.

Time and time again, the topic of "biased BBC audiences" crops up. Why do these strange beasts appear to be so heavily dominated by the left, especially when the BBC claims to make strenuous efforts to balance them out and ensure a fair range of opinion?

This week's two Scottish leaders' debates will only serve to raise that question again. 

By all accounts last night's STV audience wasn't a typical BBC audience. Tonight's BBC debate, however, could not have been more of a typical BBC audience... 

UKIP was on the receiving end of the first jeer. The first audience member slagged off UKIP. He was followed by more jeers for UKIP. Then there was huge applause for the SNP attack on UKIP. Then there was strong applause for the SNP attack on the Tories, then applause for the Green Party attack on Tory cuts, followed by huge applause for Labour's attack on UKIP. Then there was strong applause for Labour saying they will put taxes up on wealthy, followed by light applause for the Lib Dem attack on Tories, followed by stronger applause for the Labour attack on Tories. The second audience member attacked cuts. The third audience member calls for public spending rather than cuts. The fourth audience member said austerity isn't working. There were then more boos for UKIP over cutting foreign aid spending, followed by huge applause for the Green attack on UKIP....

....and that was just in the first twenty minutes.

The audience came across as overwhelmingly left-wing, on subjects from Trident and public spending to the EU and immigration.

Scottish opinion polls on all of these subjects show much a far greater spreader of opinion on all of these subjects than might be expected, and a much greater spread of opinion than came across from this BBC audience.

The pattern of applause became less predictable when matters relating to Scottish independence came up. To me the audience sounded to lean heavily against the SNP on matters relating to independence. (SNP claims of pro-unionist BBC bias are already well underway on social media).

The whole debate was full of yelling and occasionally became a bit chaotic. It ended with Labour's Jim Murphy bawling like a maniac at UKIP's David Coburn - something extraordinary to behold. Host James Cook was highly interventionist (though not so much, I felt, against Jim Murphy).

To return though to the beginning, and that question of Andrew Neil's: "This audience clearly more left than last night's audience. Why?"


  1. Somebody needs to tweet a link to the BBC website page where the QT producers give themselves the right to rig the audience as they see people in if they feel the audience as constituted at that point doesn't fit the way they interpret the local political demographics. Or just to make good television theatrics.

    It's almost worth starting a Twitter account just to do that.

  2. Off topic (apologies), and you may know this already, but I've just discovered that our old friend, Echo Chambers maven, Anthony Zurcher, who never found a Progressive opinion he didn't think was important, is now the BBC's US reporter.

    Of course he is. So predictable, and so pathetic.

    1. His Echo Chambers became almost entirely US-focused, so it was a curiously-titled blog by the end.

      He's on Twitter too:

      Anthony Zurcher
      BBC senior North America reporter, covering politics, the universe and everything. Well that's just, like, your opinion, man. (And mine aren't BBC's.)

    2. I'm so sick of that disclaimer. It should really read:

      "Opinions mine, not the BBC's, although we all have the same ones anyway."


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