The BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special tonight was a remarkable event, because there was only one Prime Minister on show and it was not Theresa May.
What makes it all the more remarkable was not the composition of the audience, but the balance of the questioners. It is called Question Time, after all.
The audience consisted of, at a rough count, 120 people. Out of 120 people in a 90-minute special, not everyone is going to get to ask a question – although almost certainly the vast majority would have submitted questions to the show. There simply wouldn’t be time for 120 questions and 120 answers.
But you might be a little surprised to find that some audience members got to ask more than one – especially when you start to notice a little more about the group they belonged to.
Twitter wags have already noticed that three of the audience did seem rather keen to focus on a couple of narrow – and inaccurate – issues:
But what all but the very observant might have missed is that the three were part of a broadly similar group of nine older, white, clearly right-leaning men – a number of whom admitted during Theresa May’s section that they were Tory supporters. Here’s the whole group:
All of these men asked Corbyn aggressive and/or accusatory questions. Some of them got to ask more than one question during the show.
Nine of them. Out of an audience of 120. That’s seven and a half percent of the audience.
Between them, they asked twelve questions – out of a total, give or take, of 42 questions. That’s twenty-nine percent of the questions asked.
So it’s safe to say that whoever decided who was going to be asking questions did not – whether by design or accident – choose a selection that was balanced or, for that matter, fair to the rest of the audience. It will be very interesting when it comes out, as it surely will, to see which of these men are Tory members or officials.
But in spite of these odds and imbalance, Corbyn won. By a country mile and in the opinions of every remotely impartial observer and even some sceptics.
Corbyn gave answers. May gave evasion and meaningless soundbites. May floundered, Corbyn sailed through – past even the ‘horsemen of the apocalypse‘, as another social media wit dubbed them.
But why were 7.5% – a white, elderly, right-wing 7.5% – allowed to ask almost 30% of the questions allowed to a politically-, ethnically-, age-mixed audience of 120 people?
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