Thursday 30 April 2015

Tonight's BBC One's Question Leaders' Special - and BBC bias

Blogs are meant to be topical (though we originally tried to buck that trend), so I'm going to post my raw observations of tonight's BBC One election extravaganza...

These are the notes I wrote as I was watching (and, as I say, they are 'raw')...


BBC One's Question Leaders' Special this evening featured David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg. (Nigel, Nicola and Leanne will appear later).

The BBC audience tonight, as you'll probably be aware by now, was meant to be (according to the BBC) 25% Conservative, 25% Labour, 25% Liberal Democrat and 25% 'others' (Green, UKIP, nationalists & 'undecideds'). 

How are they behaving?

Well, they are certainly vocal. There's lots and lots of partisan applause and some heckling. 

David Cameron, appearing first, got some tough questions from the audience - and most of the questions and questioners were critical. 

David Dimbleby was quite tame here. 

There was some heckling for David Cameron, especially over 'zero hours' and his refusal to debate directly with Ed Miliband, plus some laughter at his 'harking' back to Labour's record. And the early questions all came 'from the left'. 

However, he also got lots of strong applause to counter the 'lots of strong applause' from those in the audience attacking him...

...and an audience member then tackled the PM 'from the right' over the NHS, saying we're pouring too much money, too much of our GDP, into the thing.

[Mr. Cameron (being a British politician) said he was wrong. The audience member said, 'I disagree'. The audience laughed.] 

Another audience member then also tackled the PM 'from the right' over immigration and the EU. 

This was all proving quite fair. David Dimbleby, however, then introduced a typical BBC pro-immigration point:
First of all, we looked at the figures on this. Under 6% of EU nationals in this country claim benefits,. Of any kind. So you're saying stopping that is going to hugely reduce the number...
Factually (pace our discussion on an earlier thread) the stats may be correct, but still, how typical, don't you think, of the BBC that David Dimbleby's first 'fact-check'-to-hand was....a 'pro-immigration' stat?

The discussion went on. DD, to applause (and laughter) mocked DC for his 'double-talk' over the coalition with the Lib Dems, and the audience applauded against him...

...and then, in contrast, very loudly for him (with cheers and whistles) for his response.

Ed Miliband was up next...

Ed is doing his thing - sounding like his Dead Ringers imitation at times. The questions are critical, and - my goodness! - the audience is whooping and hollowing against him. He's being repeatedly heckled.

"It's a great question, Shirley", says Ed, sounding even more like his Dead Ringers imitation. He gets loudish applause, but his following answer get lots of heckling and an interruption from David Dimbleby.

Oooh, tough crowd! 

An audience member then accuses Ed of "lying", citing Crash Gordon's selling of our nations's gold. The audience member persists, and Ed squirms. ("But, look...").

The next audience member, to considerable applause, also damns Labour over borrowing (and its record). Ed does his Dead Ringers thing, rhetorically, and gets a fair amount of applause in response. 

Next? Labour "misleading" us over the SNP? Applause. Ed: "Let me repeat this point to you". No applause, but strongish applause for saying 'no' to the SNP.

Ed's joke about not liking the idea of Dave and Nick getting together in a "darkened room" gets a laugh. (It made me laugh too.)

Audience member, correcting Ed's mispronunciation of her name, asks Ed about the EU. Ed goes into full Dead Ringers  full mode. Alisha (with some help from DD) then demands to be given her point of view on the EU. Loudish applause for Ed for ruling out an EU referendum. 

The next audience member attacks the "savage cuts" over education. DD swiflly moves on. The next audience member attacks Ed over the EU and trust. (Small applause for Ed's reply).

The same audience member who attacked the "savage cuts" is then invited back in by DD, attacking the "savage cuts" in FE again. Ed agrees with her, unsurprisingly.

Next audience member: "a carte blanche to see the welfare budget rocket"? (Laughter at her "over here" joke".) Ed's long response? No applause. The questioner questions him further. Ed waxes lyrical over green technology. DD interrupts and, following some applause for Ed from the audience, questions him over the IFS's criticisms. The next audience member sticks up for the private sector against Ed's expensive proposals. 

The next audience member - a businessman - attacks Ed over his zero hours policy. The audience applauds.  DD says the evidence shows that people like zero hours. The audience member pursues his point. Ed answers and gets strongish applause.

'Whatcha gonna do about immigration?', asks the next questioner. Ed's reply gets some applause. "I don't believe it's prejudiced...."

A heckle follows...'why don't you set a target?' 

Something of a 'whoop' follow for a soundbite, but is immediately followed by some heckles...

The End..

Well, er, not actually the end...Nick Clegg was up next. OFF!


Oh my! The lefties on Twitter are fuming. The righties on Twitter - and on certain blogs - are grudgingly praising the BBC for being fair.

And understandably so. This wasn't yer typical BBC audience. It seemed reasonably balanced between right and left (like the electorate at the moment, if the polls are to be believed).

The Cardiff Uni crowd will probably "randomly" sample this programme for their next survey though. So wait and see how they skew it to their ends.


  1. The fairness of it all was astounding. Nigel Farage was given a fair crack of the whip too. Now, if they could get it right tonight...
    It would be interesting to know why they decided to do things properly - fear of reprisals if, despite their best efforts, Cameron is elected, or perhaps somebody has been muttering about a judicial review.

  2. What a difference a week and a Farage comment make.

    The BBC top brass must have been all over these progs and the Comres people and I suspect the Comres decided they better do their job properly.
    Because these were like no other BBC audience ever seen before.

  3. David Preiser1 May 2015 at 02:10

    The audience management staff will be sacked tomorrow morning, if they weren't already killed, dismembered, and buried in the nearby woods about half way through Miliband's segment. All is forgiven (almost). He lost his temper and yelled at a member of the audience. And then destroyed by three consecutive questioners based on real details and points rather than the emotional, ethereal concepts Cameron's critics were throwing at him. Game over. No way does he come out well in the polls over the weekend. I can almost hear the wailing and lamenting of Beeboids wafting across the Atlantic.

    Clegg was a dead man walking. He knew it, they knew it. It was uncomfortable.

    I can't remember being so entertained by a sentient QT audience. Except for the morons who were deluded about spending and benefits and claimed people have died because disability benefits are means-tested, of course. There was one episode in East Anglia, maybe. I still want to know the makeup of that 25% who were undecided or "weresupportingotherparties," Dimbleby practically muttered under his breath, so careful was he not to emphasize that bit. I think they scattered everyone around so there were no blocs like in game shows, so I can't tell who was who. But it sure sounded like there were more conservative or at least moderate rather than neo-Marxists up north there than I have been led to believe by the BBC.

    PS: The sound has been skipping and making digital artifact noises during a couple of Clegg's answers. Nothing important or coherent lost, though, from what I could tell.

  4. The QT audience last night was a revelation. It shows that the BBC can produce a balanced audience - if they want to.

    1. David Preiser1 May 2015 at 15:30

      It was even, dare I say it, a little biased against Clegg. Probably not their fault, though, as a lot of those who came in under the aegis of being LibDem supporters were clearly ex-supporters. They're all too thick to let their party continue existing, apparently.


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