BBC Complaints: The link you need!

Sunday, 2 May 2010


Steve Munslow
Might be worth listening to Broadcasting House tomorrow morning. I just heard a preview at the beginnng of Loose Ends:
"Politics - and we'll ask if ill-informed voters have a right to be heard". Yes, literally. I can't think what might have inspired this.

Was Steve right in his suspicions about 'Broadcasting House'?
Well, presenter Paddy O'Connell didn't directly broach Mrs Duffy specifically, though he had only recently given the answer to the question "How long had Cyril Smith been MP for Rochdale?" (The answer was 20 years).
Paddy's "we'll ask if ill-informed voters have a right to be heard" question was put like this:
"Well, do you or I have to right to air views, if heaven forbid, they're uninformed or out of date with the latest estimates of the IFS. Should be do our homework before we open our mouths?" Seemingly without irony, he said "Text us at once to tell us what you think." (Surely he must have been joking?!)
He discussed it with two people, former Question Time editor and Conservative Party presentation chief Nick Pasani and an ex-philosophy professor Jamie Whyte, who now writes for The Times, who thinks "people don't have a right to their opinions" or "a right to be heard" and doesn't think "the BBC or anybody else has the obligation to give you airtime."
Paddy, as ever in this sort of debate, only ever questioned from one side of the argument, whichever guest he was talking to. And as soon as you read his second question you'll know exactly who he had in mind:
1. To NP: "Nick, you've made a career out of giving people airtime. Should we...should you have?"

2. To NP: "And is it, if I hear an opinion and know that it's right, what's the right percentage of deficit versus GDP, or is resonance, I see a pensioner and she reminds me of me?"

Mr Pisani answered this question as if Paddy had directly asked about Mrs Duffy, so he knew what/who Paddy was getting at.
3. To JW: "And to you James Whyte, do you sympathise with that view? It's about emotional intelligence, I don't have to get to the nitty-gritty, I just have to trust."

4. To NP: "And Nick do you admit that it doesn't matter if it's informed then, it's about spectacle? Sometimes its fine to bleat without actually backing up what you're going on about?"
5. To NP: "How important to debate have been moments when voters speak from the heart maybe not from the textbook?"

When Nick mentioned a woman on this week's question time who harangued the politicians, saying "you lot work for us, listen to our opinions", Paddy intervened to ask:

6. To NP: "But it was style over substance her contribution?"
(The Olympian Mr Whyte added that it was also "absurd". He thinks "there is a serious problem with the fact that so many people vote". He wants a "randomised" electorate! Talking of philosophers, Plato was regarded by Karl Popper as an enemy of democracy - with very good reason. Is Mr Whyte a Platonist too? He's fully entitled to his view, of course, and fully entitled to give it on the BBC - under my way of thinking!).

7. To JW: "James Whyte, do you have views and opinions which you can't back up with facts yourself, personally in your life?"

8. To NP: "We are told this is a time for leadership, the country needs horrible decisions taken economically. To you first Nick Pasani, is the problem that if we have a consumer culture of politics where it is not appropriate to be rude to voters, where ultimately I am selling my pitch as a politician, am I able to lead?" (A good question though, despite the left-wing assumptions underlying it).

9. To JW: "James Whyte, when you go into the booth do you know the right percentage of deficit to GDP. Have you done your homework on this big economic question?"

So yes, Stewart was right about who inspired the Broadcasting House question. It was indeed Mrs Duffy - ill-informed, bleating Mrs Duffy.

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