BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Friday 6 November 2009


This week's Question Time gathered together Robert-Kilroy Silk, the Conservative Nick Herbert, PC ex-P.C. Sir Ian Blair, comedienne Natalie Haynes and Labour's Peter Hain.
The first question was on the Tories' climbdown over a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. In this section of the programme Nick Herbert was interrupted 6 times by David Dimbleby. If you watch the programme on the BBC i-player, you will see that his answer begins at 3.39. The first interruption follows at 4.05, the second at 4.11, the third at 4.15, the fourth at 4.50 and the fifth at 5.50. The answer to the one at 4.05 ("Might have been able?") was accompanied by a quizzical expression from Dimbleby, as if it was not a good answer. The interruption at 4.50 came as Mr Herbert began to attack Labour and the Lib Dems for reneging on their promises of a referendum ("But surely, wait a minute..yep, wait a moment Nick, wait a moment...Wait a moment Nick..") and a new question followed, accompanied by one of those smirks Dimbleby likes to wear when mugging a Tory. When Mr Herbert tried again later, Dimbleby pounced again (12.35): "All right, we're going round in a circle here. You said that at the beginning" and went to the audience.
Contrast this with Dimbleby's treatment of Peter Hain here. He got two bites of the cherry (a particularly juicy cherry for him), but was not interrupted once. You would have thought that a mischievous Dimbleby would have put the point about Labour reneging on a referendum to Peter Hain. Not a bit of it.
After most of the audience had clapped Sir Ian Blair's pro-EU guff to the skies (where do they get these audiences from?) Dimbleby went back to the audience with these words, "Let's go back to the question.The question was about the damage that might be done, or would be done, to the Conservative party by this. Let me just take a couple of points to that then we'll go on." When the first audience member fails to make the expected point, Dimbleby prompted him, "So do you think there'll be damage to the Tories because of what Cameron said?". "I think so", replied the lukewarm audience member to a murmur of "right!" from Dimbleby. (Job sort-of-done!). Amusingly, things got even worse for him. He picked another member of the audience out and, against all the odds, this one attacked Labour. When Hain replies, the audience member argued back. Dimbleby leaped in to stop the audience member: "All right, all right, let's not go back, all right, the women in pink there...". By incredible ill-luck Dimbleby had picked another member of the audience who was going to attack Labour! "OK I think we'll move on to another question", Dimblely said quickly.
The only other panelist interrupted during this question was, naturally, Robert Kilroy Silk (twice).
The next question was on Afghanistan. This time Nick Herbert was interrupted twice. Then , having taken 2 minutes to answer, Dimbleby went to the audience - but not before asking the panelists to make their answers briefer. We couldn't see Nick Herbert, but he must have bridled because Dimbleby quickly added: "That's not a rebuke to you. It's a general point." Well, that's as may be - but Peter Hain's answer (which came soon after) lasted a good deal longer than Nick Herbert's. Dimbleby did not repeat his request though.
Again, throughout this question Hain was not once interrupted by Dimbleby. Why?
Mr Kilroy Silk said that the terrorists who committed terrorist attacks here were home-grown ("They come from Birmingham, Bradford, Glasgow. They're home-grown terrorists. Which one has come from Afghanistan?"), not from Afghanistan. When Peter Hain says that they were trained in Afghanistan, Mr Kilroy Silk says it was not Afghanistan, "Pakistan maybe but not Afghanistan", then repeats "Ah, Pakistan" and nods his head to signal that 'Pakistan's the right answer. Note, however, how Dimbleby misrepresents the dispute between the two tanned gentlemen: "Ian Blair. Robert Kilroy Silk and Peter Hain were arguing about where terrorists were trained. He says it's here in Bradford (pointing to RKS), he says it's in Pakistan (gesturing towards PH). You know about this...Where do you think the training is coming from, and is Afghanistan central to it?" No, that's not what Robert Kilroy Silk said at all. Quite the opposite in fact. Bias on Dimbleby's part, or just a lapse of concentration/understanding? Take your pick. Whatever it was, I wish Robert Kilroy Silk had picked him up on it & corrected him.
Things were more evenly balanced during the third question (on MPs pay). Here both Nick Herbert and Peter Hain were interrupted twice - though those against Nick Herbert were put sternly whereas those against Hain were put more gently.
The final question was on immigration. Here more windy idealism from Sir Ian Blair brought prolonged clapping from the audience (no really, where do they get them from?). At last a tiny semblance of balance was restored, as here it was Peter Hain who was interrupted 5 times by Dimbleby. (Hain got his revenge by persistently interrupting Nick Herbert later.) The last of these came as Dimbleby gloated over his appearance on the show, despite the threat of a boycott over Nick Griffin's invite.

1 comment:

  1. During the first question on whether the conservatives would be damaged by their stance on the Libon Treaty, Dimbleby first misquoted Cameron by omission, then 'randomly' chose Labour PPC Naz Sarkar from the audience and closed the question by saying:
    "I think we'll move onto to another question, that one will run and run, as they say."

    Q:no really, where do they get them from?

    A: From Iain Dale via Twitter:
    "Why are both Reading Labour PPCs and 2 Reading Lab Councillors sitting in prime seats yet no Tory Councillors or PPCs got tickets?"

    So there you go.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.