Explaining Laura Kuenssberg’s Bias

There’s a headline. It’s from the BBC, written by no less a figure than the corporation’s chief political editor. Not something up to the standards expected, you might say. As readers know, I tend not to moan much about the recipient of the licence fee. As a general rule, its news coverage is much better than most and where it fails in impartiality, it can make up in balance – particularly with regard to its flagship current affairs programme, Question Time. But there have been plenty of Labour people outraged by the behaviour of senior BBC journalists of late. Here are some much-shared and criticised examples. Continue reading

Question Time and the the BBC’s problem with black people

David LammyDavid Lammy early this month made waves in theQuestion Time obsessives’ community by pointing out how limited the panel composition is. He wrote:

Within the meagre 9.2% of Question Time slots filled by a BAME panellist, there is a staggering lack of diversity. Black women have appeared just 16 times in five years, and 12 of those appearances have been made by Diane Abbott. Another two appearances were by South African black female politicians during the Question Time South Africa special in 2013. Bonnie Greer has appeared twice. There are about 1 million black women in Britain.

Similarly, almost 50% of the appearances made by black men were by Chuka Umunna. Together, it means that just two people have filled well over half of the slots given to black guests since 2010. As talented as they are, Diane and Chuka cannot speak for the entirety of Britain’s diverse black communities, just as Alan Johnson and Caroline Flint should not have to be the sole voices of the white working-class.

There is a similar lack of diversity when it comes to guests of Asian heritage. Again, the same few names dominate: Mehdi Hasan and Baroness Warsi, for example, have filled almost a third of the guest slots filled by British Asians. Analysis of the available data shows that, of the 63 appearances made by British Asian guests, just four have been by people of Hindu heritage. That’s 0.3% of total guest slots – five times less than we should expect given the UK population is 1.5% Hindu. Britain’s half a million Sikhs are also woefully under-represented.

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Britain First: cynical Islamophobia on the telly

Britain FirstA documentary about Britain’s First virtual fascist group, Britain First? Why ever not. With UKIP commanding four million votes at the general election, the press stuffed with xenophobic bullshit as per, and the woman who would lead the Tories pitching herself as Nigel Farage’s successor, a little package shedding light on a tiny and utterly marginal fascist group isn’t likely to create much harm.

My bad. Of course, Britain First aren’t a fascist group. Nor are they racist. As deputy fuhrer Jayda Fransen put it in We Want Our Country Back, the final programme in BBC Three’s ‘Race’ season, BF welcome all British people regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and religion. So BF are fine with Sikhs and Hindus, for example, because they “properly integrate“. Muslims, however, are different. They “refuse to integrate“. Continue reading

The meaning of Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy ClarksonJeremy Clarkson has been suspended by the BBC for an alleged “fracas” with a producer for Top Gear. Innocent until proven otherwise and all that, but it does come after years of nudge, nudge, wink, wink racism and associated vicious stupidity. Needless to say, I don’t particularly like him and avoid his shows like the plague. Yet Top Gear and his contrived alpha male personage is popular and millions tune in every week for fast cars and funny haha cheeky banter. Far be it for me to stop them.
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The BBC, Question Time and Wales

BBC QT in WalesIf fresh insight or stimulating discussion is what you’re after, BBC’s Question Time is likely to disappoint. The only relief from the stifling conformity of the Westminster consensus is the occasional non-politician (Owen Jones, Billy Bragg or Benjamin Zephaniah, for example). More recently, it has effectively become an almost-weekly audience with Nigel Farage. Many people who would normally be interested in political discussion refuse to watch it at all.

However, it also appears that Question Time has a ‘Welsh problem’. That is that that the panel membership fails to reflect the realities of modern Welsh political life, specifically that from 1999 we have had our own elected government which is responsible for a lot of what touches our everyday lives: most notably health and education. Continue reading