Mark D'Arcy was standing in for Carolyn Quinn on last night's Westminster Hour. Given how well Laura Kuenssberg did with the programme's Politics Panel (for the two previous weeks), it's disappointing to report that the modest Mr D'Arcy (who's such a thoughtful presenter on the Parliament Channel's Booktalk) was not in the same league.
The panel consisted of three MEPs: the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, Nigel Farrage, leader of the UK Independence Party, and the Conservative Charles Tannock.
Mr Tannock has, like Dan Hannan, fallen foul of Conservative HQ for making some interesting, off-message remarks about the NHS. (Was that, by any chance, why he was asked to be the Conservative representative on the programme? What a cynical thought - though it's likely to be true!!)
By inviting Caroline Lucas and Nigel Farage onto the show, Westminster Hour became the first to speak to the Greens and to UKIP since 14th July!!! So hopefully it would let both parties make up for lost time.
The figures speak for themselves, whichever way you look at them:
Length of time granted to each speaker:
Charles Tannock 7 minutes 34 seconds
Caroline Lucas 7 minutes 11 seconds
Nigel Farage 3 minutes 33 seconds
Mr Farage got (as you can see) less than half the time that either Ms Lucas or Mr Tannock were allowed. Quite extraordinary!
Number of questions asked to each speaker:
Caroline Lucas 3
Nigel Farage 5
Charles Tannock 8
Over seven minutes to speak, yet only three questions to answer. Another easy ride for a Green
on the BBC!
Number of interruptions:
Charles Tannock 3
Nigel Farage 2
Caroline Lucas 1
Nigel Farage 0.6
Charles Tannock 0.4
Caroline Lucas 0.1
I shall, of course, be e-mailing these figures to UKIP. Their first interview since 14th July and yet this sort of treatment! That's unfair in anyone's books.