Dear Mr Hanley,
Congratulations on your new job as editor of BBC Question Time. As I’m sure you’ll be having a very busy time getting settled in, I’ll keep this brief.
I can’t find out much about you online, so I have no idea of your political leanings or lack of them, but allow me to express the hope that your tenure will lead to a rapid and substantial improvement in a programme that has recently become a bad caricature of itself. I can’t find you on social media, so I’m going to put this on Question Time’s Twitter feed and trust that if enough people do the same it will come to your attention.
Any left-wing observer would hold scant hope of genuine balance on a show that has always favoured the establishment. However, lately Question Time has become a ‘chimps tea party’ for extreme xenophobics and, frankly, misogynists.
Any semblance of balance has evaporated, with a stream of ‘Labour’ panel members from the anti-Corbyn, right wing of the party who are, by and large, as happy to dismiss the party’s membership and new direction as the Tory and seemingly-obligatory UKIP panellist.
On the rare occasion when a genuine left-wing voice is present, whether from within the Labour party or without, the audience seems selected specifically to abuse him or, more often, her, such as in the case of the disgraceful shouting-down of the excellent Angela Rayner in Hartlepool.
This does not appear to be accidental, or merely an effect of the location from which a programme is broadcast. It’s on record that your Audience Producer goes looking for the more rabid end of the right wing, as well as showing apparent support for racist organisations like Britain First on her personal social media feeds. Given her job, she certainly cannot plead ignorance of the nature of these groups and should not be in a role where she controls the composition of the audience.
When we’re not ‘treated’ to Britain First or the EDL, we’re force-fed the supposedly-acceptable face of fascism in this country. When UKIP was still considered the ‘lunatic fringe’, Farage was a regular on Question Time and similar programmes, lending legitimacy to his views in a way that contributed hugely to that party becoming instead a ‘lunatic mainstream’ party.
Whether this is out of political bias or a misguided attempt to ‘enliven’ the programme, it’s simply unacceptable and the behaviour of a ‘flagship’ BBC programme in giving a platform to bigoted voices is unquestionably contributing to the rise in open racism and hate crime that we are currently cursed by in this country.
Your assurances that this will change under your editorship would be most welcome.
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