Having taken the plunge last year into watching David Dimbleby's Question Time again after a long, long break (the bias, the crazy left-wing audiences), prompted by the Biased BBC website's weekly commentaries, I thought I might tonight plunge into Radio 4's Any Questions (the bias, the crazy left-wing audiences), hosted by the other Dimbleby. Much as I'd love to provide a weekly review of it here, I don't think I'll be doing so (or at least that's how I feel at the moment, as I'm still seething).
The panel was packed with left-wingers - Polly Toynbee, Sadiq Khan and that most left-wing of Lib Dems Simon Hughes. Only Dan Hannan stood up for right-of-centre opinion. Throw in left-liberal-to-his-green-fingertips Jonathan Dimbleby and that's four against one. And that's before you even consider the audience. Where do they get these audiences from? (From the Question Time audience list perhaps?) I listened to the programme back in the 1980s when Mrs Thatcher led the Conservatives to two large election victories - you would never have known that from the make-up of the audiences then. And now, twenty years on, it sounds just the same. The hostility shown towards Mr Hannan by tonight's audience was something to hear.
The programme's nadir came during the section on the Conservatives' self-confessed 'screw-up' over tax breaks for married couples. All three left-of-centre panellists ganged up on Dan Hannan. Dimbleby only restrained them so that he could have a go himself - and the audience booed and heckled, as if they were a bunch of Labour Party hirelings. Dan, as ever, stood firm and (seemingly) unperturbed.
At the end of this section Dimbleby said that all the clapping came for both sides of the argument. That was not what I heard. Not what I heard at all. He then, foolishly, put this clearly absurd statement to the test and conducted a straw poll that, surprise surprise, showed very little support for the Conservatives and a "large majority" of the audience against. Dimbleby didn't admit (unlike David Cameron) that he misspoke.
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