Tuesday 16 July 2019

Are e-petition debates useless?

Since I brought this matter to your attention I felt duty bound to watch the debate at Westminster Hall yesterday. It was billed as an e-petitiion debate on BBC bias, but the entire caboodle was hijacked by the over 75s licence fee debacle. 

The proposed withdrawal of the existing BBC tax exemption or the over 75s is certainly a worthy cause, and the majority of the near-identical speeches on that topic put the blame on the government for passing the buck to the poor cash-strapped BBC, which apparently was left with little choice. I mean how else are they going to maintain Gary Lineker? 

In total, throughout the whole repetitive process, in total, I’d say about two and a half references to the BBC’s actual bias could be detected. If one managed to stay awake.

One speaker made a fleeting observation that the BBC was virtually the mouthpiece of the Guardian. 

There was a lengthy complaint from Clive Lewis. You may be able to guess the type of bias he was worried about. For added emphasis, he cited that dog-eared study by that bastion of impartiality and rigorous academic integrity, Cardiff University. 

There was one other speech that focused on the issue of bias. Graham Stringer MP went into considerable detail about the scandal surrounding a ‘set-up’.
“The BBC procured and presented on BBC Three, when it was a channel, a series of programmes called “People Like Us”. That was based in the ward that I used to represent as a councillor and that is still in the constituency I represent. Frankly, it was poverty porn. It gave the most distorted view of one of the poorest wards in the country. 
Depending on how we count these things—it is not a competition that any ward or constituency wants to win—Harpurhey is the poorest or the third poorest ward in the country. Cameras went along and the people making the programme pretended—it was a pretence—that they were following how people in Harpurhey lived. They were not; they were distorting it. They paid girls to fight each other. They opened a pub and created a most peculiar party of transvestites. I ​have nothing against transvestites, but that kind of situation had never happened in that particular public house, which was being closed for a couple of years. They got a pretend landlord in to talk about how he was very happy for his tenants to take drugs. It was clearly a put-up job. And some of the people who said outrageous things were taken on holiday by the company doing this. 
It was a shocking and terrible thing, and I do not believe that if people from that kind of background had been part of the BBC, that programme would ever have been made. Fortunately, there was not a second series. The head of BBC Three was good enough to see me and Councillor Karney, who represented the ward. I do not know whether it was down to our lobbying, but there was not a second series.”

He also touched briefly on other issues - climate change and Brexit, but that was it.

Many of the speakers were wildly complimentary about the BBC, some inadvertently damning it with faint praise with their emotional pleas that elderly people rely on it 'for company'.  

It was almost as if they hadn’t watched it since 1970. They say MPs are out of touch. I know we at ITBB are a bit geeky about it, but this was a demo of 'Westminster bubble gawn mad'.


  1. Brexit : The 52% guilty of #WrongThink so parliament ignores them
    BBCBias Petition : the 200K signers guilty of #WrongThink so parliament ignores them

    I scanned Twitter for a hashtag but didn't find it
    just search under BBC, @labourlewis

    A Labour supporter put up a full thread

    There is a The HoC Facebook discussion

    \\ HoC debate BBC bias/License Fee.
    Waste of time.
    Helen Jones Lab MP & other pro BBC MPs insist BBC not biased,
    How great it broadcasts to the world.
    We pay for the world to watch for free !
    Left wing MPs supporting left wing propaganda BBC.
    10% avoid paying, let’s make it 100% //

  2. Look if the 246K signers signed up to a debate on BBC bias that is what they should get
    Trading Standards should make parliament do the debate again properly.

  3. @TinyCO2 adds
    \\ The BBC debate was a waste of time.
    W the exception of Graham Stringer and some young bloke, the BBC was found to be really rather fantastic and it was the government's fault for not funding it more to pay for the pensioners.
    Warrington North MP, pretty much ruled out the BBC bias in her opening statement by saying that they'd discussed it before - so end of.
    The MPs there were clearly happy with the status quo or are too scared to go against it. I
    w just a bash government austerity debate and the remoaner left wing Tories (eg Ed Vaisey) metorphorically shrugging and mouthing 'we know we're awful'//

  4. "Are e-petition debates useless?"
    It's almost as though Parliament has got used to ignoring votes.


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