The BBC’s Question Time is a programme that helps shape public political opinion in the UK and has been running since 1979. In recent times the programme has frankly, turned into a freakshow where intelligent, or informed political discussion has vanished into the ether. Endless appearances of people like Nigel Farage ( as of the time of writing this, 37 appearances) and audience members seemingly culled mainly from the right of the political spectrum gives the impression that the UK, as a whole, is skewed to the right. Even so, Question Time retains a place in British political discourse, as well as society, few programmes have and any of the criticisms of right wing bias can feel a tad overwrought at times. After all, surely the BBC wouldn’t be as stupid to has a clear political bias on a programme like Question Time as that’d be a public scandal?
In the last week or so news has broke about a producer on the programme, Alison Pedley. Specifically she invites people into the audience after screening applications. This Bella Caledonia article covers the basics of what was discovered which is that Pedley wasn’t just supporting far right, anti-immigrant racist groups like UKIP and Britain First,
Pedley’s been reprimanded by the BBC but the damage is done, and she’s still employed by the BBC on the programme, and til recently, her social media feed still displayed images like the one above. Her social media (her Linkedin still remains) has now been deleted but the damage is irreparable and very firmly done. The reaction to this from the left has been that of anger and wonderfully articulated by Jack Monroe.
And in those Tweets there’s a point. Imagine if Pedley had say, booked figures from the left from say, the SNP, Greens, those leftish Labour people left or Plaid Cymru on a regular basis on the panel rather than a cursory one, maybe two per week? Imagine if she’d booked more left wingers, or even centrists rather than loons like this later revealed to be a member of the hard to far right Orange Order to the surprise of nobody. Imagine the horror and outrage from the Daily Mail had Pedley worked to skew Question Time with left wing, even liberal idea?
Yet the damage Pedley’s done to the national discourse in putting her own far right politics into her job could not just be far reaching, but a look at her IMDB shows the potential scale of her influence, as people may have missed that she’s also worked on other programmes as Alison Fuller. Seeing that she started the job on Question Time in 2007 and it was around then audiences seemed to swing mainly to the right, and it was around then Nigel Farage started what seems like a residency on the programme.
So I agree with the likes of Jack Monroe. A bollocking isn’t good enough. There’s been a conflict of interest, and Pedley’s used her position to corrupt British political debate to make it seem the far right are more numerous in the general population than they actually are. The BBC need to not just sack Pedley, but launch an inquiry as well as apologise for what they’ve done or whatever trust the BBC has left is going to go sinking down the drain.