Friday 26 February 2016

Hope springs eternal

I have to say that I'm becoming absolutely fascinated by the social media reaction to BBC One's Question Time.

I watched the build-up in advance and saw confident predictions from lefties on Twitter that the programme would be 'Tory-biased' yet again and, in contrast, saw equally confident assertions from righties that the programme would be biased either 4-1 (or 3-1, with one left dangling) against 'Leave' in the EU referendum.

(The latter, doubtless because he's such a bogeyman for 'people like us', wrongly assumed that Giles Fraser would be pro-Remain.)

This time the lefties 'won' the 'BBC bias' argument. The panel eventually split 3-2 against the EU. And rightwards. 

The panel consisted of: Elizabeth Truss, Diane Abbott, Julia Hartley-Brewer, Rev. Giles Fraser and Julian Fellowes.

In the past few weeks things have swung both ways, unpredictably...

...which seems new to me. Usually the bias has tilted towards the left and, even more clearly, towards the pro-EU.

Call me 'overly trusting', but I'm taking this as a hopeful sign.


  1. One can only hope that QT continues with balanced panels during the referendum campaign (you can bet Cameron will be attempting to apply pressure to prevent that - they'll probably be arguing for party balance to be reinstated).

    It would help if the audiences were seen to be balanced as well (I am still a little dubious about that).

    It was a pretty disastrous QT for the Remainders. Liz Truss seemed more like a victim - rather than a purveyor - of Project Fear . Diane Abbott made no effort to disguise her body language which said "I wish I didn't have to argue for staying in the EU."

    1. I got the impression that Abbott isn't really all that invested one way or the other. She just attacks Cameron, and it happened to make her appear against Remain.

      Come to think of it, though, she then went through the motions of saying there are arguments on both sides, which is only half way walking it back. Maybe she is personally with Corbyn and wants Out, and is just too stupid to realize that saying there are arguments on both sides is not, in fact, the official Labour position Corbyn has stated.

      I'd say something about which side the smart money is on, but the smart money is never with anything Abbott says.

  2. I just now started watching this. First eye-opening moment: Dimbleby in his intro labeled the panel as to their position on the EU, and then pretended to instruct the audience to speak out so the BBC doesn't "get accused of bias".

    On Monday morning I shall call my broker and tell him to invest big time in Porcine Aviation, Ltd.

    As I write this, I'm listening to Liz Truss repeat boilerplate she's memorized. Dimbleby must be under some pressure, either from way upstairs or his own conscience, because he's making much more effort than usual to call panelists out for dodging the question. He always does once or twice an episode, but last week and this week he's doing it when it counts.

    PS: Kilwillie!

  3. Audible negative grunting from the audience when Truss said the UK could only do better trade within the EU. Three weeks in a row the QT producers couldn't rig the audience. I am learning the lesson of the Miliband moment during the Leaders' QT last year. Truss hasn't, because she went on to tell lies about 'closing' the country to trade. What a joke.

    Kilwillie's first remarks totally foreshadowed that curious 14-year old girl who spoke next regarding the lame current policies on grading (for lack of a better term) the desirability potential immigrants.

    Diane Abbot played the race card, as usual. I bet she's also insulting her parents, because they came to Britain and became gainfully employed immediately. She's so self-absorbed her mouth engaged before her brain and she ended up giving a good reason for Brexit because she was reflexively attacking Cameron.

    Julia HB noticed as well, but regretted the way she phrased the question.

    I thoroughly enjoyed an Asian British audience member talking about how immigration is messing up housing prices. Take that, BBC.

    St. Giles couldn't waste an opportunity to signal his virtue. Idiot. His tedious little sermon could be interpreted as him calling Europe racist and cruel and un-Christian. I love listening to these authoritarian far-Leftoids saying the reason they believe in Brexit is because the EU is un-democratic. No, not 'love listening to', but 'vomit when'. Even if he's accidentally correct.

    The whole argument about 'refugees' hasn't improved, I see. Julia HB tried to move it to a more adult level, but was shut down immediately.

  4. Continued from above:

    Moving on (or back) to trade and economics, obviously there will be some growing (shrinking) pains initially, and some spiteful moves from European mandarins unhappy at the loss of British taxpayer cash to fund their pet projects so they don't have to. But it would suicidal for the European countries to place trade embargoes. Cameron and Co. have known for months now that they'd have to address this issue, and have come up with nothing. I'd say that's proof that Brexit won't hurt much and will probably help.

    Hey, St. Giles accidentally showed that Dimbleby is a dishonest broker. Just because outlay is £50 million but net is £15 million (not sure that's correct but sake of argument, etc.) doesn't mean there's a non-significant further loss by letting the EU Central Bank sit on that money and earn interest for a year before handing it back - after a hefty administration fee, management fee, exchange fee, shipping and handling fee, etc. It's an outright lie for Dimbleby to say that Giles is being dishonest. Shows his bias on the issue, I think.

    Lord Kilwillie is very shrewd in how he chooses to frame his arguments, isn't he?

    Oh, Eff Off Liz Truss about not being able to sell British lamb to Europe. Even one of those celebrity chef shows proved that British institutions like the NHS couldn't buy local British lamb because of effed up regulations.

    Good question from the audience lady in blue about whether or not British MEPs have any say at all in the EU Parliament. Nobody could give a good answer, which is a shame. Not sure why Dimbleby didn't follow it up properly, as it's kind of important.

    Is Boris Johnson persuasive? I'm more and more of the impression that he isn't outside the Westminster/Media bubble and the other chattering classes.

    Climate Change? Oy. Leave it to Diane Abbott to dredge up any bit of BS she can think of. 'A Social Europe'. She doesn't even know what she's saying, just babbling talking points that got her applause from sympathetic audiences. Even Dimbleby got tired of the babbling and not making a coherent argument, at which I LOLed.

    Kilwillie on Cameron's 're-negotiation efforts': "I doubt anyone could have done better." Yeah, classic Kilwillie - the caricature character I'm referencing. First time he's disappointed me on QT. I guess he has to hang out his loyalty bona fides in order for anyone to listen to his argument.

    My question about Liz Truss: What's the opposite of "I may be stupid, but I'm no fool"? She is very practiced in parroting spin on figures, though. Too bad nobody on the panel or Dimbleby was able to pick her up on any of it.

    As soon as I write that, Kilwillie busts her on screwing up the talking point about how many years it would take to extract Britain from the EU! Awesome.

    We really have nothing like this in the US. Not even close, and it's a shame.

    1. As always, the truth is complex -

      At a minimum we must be paying net £9billion pa = £25 million per day. A huge amount! You could completely revamp the road and rail network in a decade for that sort of money or completely modernise all the NHS scanners or provide good 24/7 care for 300,000 old people.

      But strangely the fact checker site suggests the true figure might be closer to £34 million per day! (£250 million per week) - perhaps through VAT payments that go overseas? (no idea).

    2. Regardless of how far away St. Giles was from the real number, there's a big loss just in moving the money around and sending a rebate later. There's some net less just from the UK not holding onto that money in the first place. Dimbleby's argument is wrong.

      Plus, St. Giles wasn't saying it was net, he was saying it was how much Britain was paying in up front. So he was being "accurate" by any BBC standard, as explained to us by professional journalists and Beeboids.

    3. I agree. There is also the point we get to spend ALL of the EU contribution according to priorities we decide.

  5. PS: Blatant accidental admission from Dimbleby at the end that the audience DOES NOT represent the local demographic of the host town. He said if you want to be in the audience for the next two episodes, come down to Liverpool or Dundee then go to the website to apply, etc.

    It's all a lie. The whole BBC defense against charges of rigging the audience is a lie. This is now the second big piece of evidence, in addition to the bit on the QT website about them reaching out to advocacy groups if they think they audience applications for the week don't add up to their interpretation of whatever poll of local political demographics. I will screen-capture that excerpt tomorrow.

    PPS: Apologies for spamming the comments thread, but we're entering the end game here.

  6. It would be very easy for the BBC to establish a national base audience for QT sessions through a paid for survey that could be updated every five years or after a general election. This would not need to take claims about party voting intention at face value but could use a range of indicators (age, profession, postcode) to double check the sample is right. You could maybe have a base of 10,000 and then invite people on a regional basis by e mail as you went from town to town, with confirmations being sent in line with the desired balanced profile of party affiliation, age and so on. All that could be done by computer programme with no human intervention. You could then perhaps select 10% of the audience locally on a random basis.


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