2007 - 2022

Tory Telly and Short Money

1377_bigBy Mike Small

We’ve lived through a huge election process with winners and losers. People move on and new lights shine. But not if you’re the BBC’s Question Time which is to feature tonight (again) the permanently-present Nigel Farage,  Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Badger Champion Brian May and Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor of the Economist. The token ‘lefty’ is Tristram Hunt, son of Baron Hunt of Chesterton.

It’s a hilariously imbalanced political spectrum consisting of right, far-right, celebrity, far right and posh left.


BBC Producer Paul Lambert’s departure to UKIP last year might, you’d have thought, have offered some respite to Farage’s incessant presence on your telly, as might his failure at the election in Thanet. Not so.

There’s even a website dedicated to the phenomena of his eternal presence Is Nigel Farage on Question Time?’

It’s a pantomime show.

He may be propped up by the state broadcaster but Farage was yesterday described by his own general election campaign director as a “snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive” man who is turning Ukip into a personality cult. But the claim made by Patrick O’Flynn, Ukip MEP for the East of England is nothing next to the feud spilling out between Farage and the party’s only remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, over whether to accept £650,000 in ‘short money’, which it’s entitled to after getting 3.9m votes overall.

Presumably Carswell had thought he would become leader after Farage resigned and then unresigned within days before spouting off that he wouldn’t accept the cash boost.

If Farage and Carswell can’t resolve their feud, and if he was to resign, UKIP would lose all of the £650,000 with him.

As the fruitcakes descend into chaos it may be entertaining to watch, but not on tv we have to pay for.

The devolution of broadcasting remains one of the most compelling (and least discussed) issues for a more democratic Scotland.

More on UKIP Wars here.

Comments (12)

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  1. Douglas Robertson says:

    Question Time is a BBC Scotland product, which it purchases from an external supplier as is now almost universal practice within the BBC these days. It does retain editorial control of what is broadcast however via its executive producer. BBC Scotland’s interest is not in informing the public, but solely on ratings, hence Farage’s perpetual and Galloway’s intermittent presence on the programme. Overall, it is a sad reflection on broadcasting in general and BBC Scotland in particular.

  2. Lochside says:

    Question Time is a travesty of a political programme. With the grandee Dimblebore presiding over it and allowing his disdain for Scottish Nationalism to spill over at every opportunity, it is a one sided London centric exercise in the metropolitan classes chattering to each other.

    Watching it over the years it demonstrates the point that the neo-liberal consensus at Westminster is fact. How hard is it to tell tory from labour or liberal? Throw in an occasional ‘celebrity’ usually a rocket like Starkey and the whole shebang just stinks of complacent Anglo Saxon self absorption.

    The fact that BBC Scotland produces it is a bigger affirmation of what that organisation stands for than any amount of critique about Call Kaye etc. could provide.

  3. HerewardAwake! says:

    I didn’t know all that, Douglas, and quite agree with you. The programme and its presenter have been failing for years. But Lochside, not all Anglo-Saxons are full of complacent self-absorption. Recent events are shaking many things up for all of us, hopefully for the better, but there are no certainties. At least the fools at UKIP and their principal egoist have exposed themselves for what they are, so to speak, so I shall probably watch QT tonight in the hope of seeing some more Whitehall farce.

  4. SteveT says:

    Standard MO for the Beeb, Mike. Once you notice how right wing they are, it’s like taking red pill in The Matrix! It’s astonishing listening to one of their anchorfolk burble self-importantly on about political balance and then realising that the entire commentariat panel is made up of the usual suspects from The Spectator, The Economist and a right wing think tank/ ‘newspaper’.

    We really, really need a crowd-funded mass market news and comment website to redress the balance because at the moment Murdoch’s merry men and their mates on the Mail and the Telegraph are controlling the national narrative. And we saw where that leads last week…

    1. Diogenes says:

      I’m starting to feel the same Steve is citizen journalism the only counterbalance to an establishment controlled “free Press”?

      1. SteveT says:

        It’s a non-corporate media that we need, Diogenes, a place where journalists – citizen & professional – can work without thinking about the advertisers and the (inevitably) right wing agenda of their oligarch owner. I was a newspaper journo for 20 years and I can promise you that the anti-progressive, pro-neoliberal stance is so deeply embedded that everyone conforms to it without needing to be told to do so: the ultimate triumph of the censor. If you fancy seeing this brilliantly dissected day-by-day, take a look at media lens. So, crowd-funding seems one way forward to me – there’s a very good website that uses that model in the US called Truthout. But I think we need to go further: we need to create what is essentially an apolitical newspaper that will make people laugh as well as think, a Sun for the progressives if you like (irreverant and with the common touch but without the phone hacking, ugly intrusiveness & X Factor fixation), because we need to be popular and reach the largest possible audience

        1. Diogenes says:

          I thnk you are right Steve, the likes of Murdoch et al have free reign with publications such as the Sun,Star etc how the left counteract these publications and produce progressive lightweight publications(or prolefeed if you’re being cynical)?

          1. Diogenes says:

            sorry lightweight news & entertainment would be a less cynical way of putting it, this is something the left frequently overlooks

  5. Anton says:

    I don’t have a problem with Question Time. But that’s probably because I never watch it. A strategy which I recommend, for all the reasons given above.

  6. G H Graham says:

    I predict Farage will be on to help the BBC champion the thesis that the SNP’s presence in Westminster is ‘unconstitutional’. And that the FPTP system has a bias against parties like UKIP. But not the Greens. Or Plaid.

    And that Scotland only survives economically due to the generous gratuities from English taxpayers, especially those who work very, very hard & live in a region our neighbour’s south of Coventry, wistfully refer to as ‘The Home Counties’.

    My only surprise is that the BBC hasn’t yet registered itself with the Electoral Commission. Like other political parties, it has a constitution. Theirs is found in a document called the Royal Charter. And then there’s the Agreement which describes funding & its duties. And it benefits from high levels of celebrity familiarity amongst its target audience. Already flush with taxpayers’ cash, what’s the barrier to entry?

    And having invited Farage to Question Time some 13 times since 2010, it’s obvious where on the political spectrum, sits its soul.

    It’s flush with taxpayers’ money, has plenty of well known celebrities & has a clear manifesto wrapped up in something called the BBC’s Royal Charter.

  7. I Clark says:

    “The devolution of broadcasting remains one of the most compelling (and least discussed) issues for a more democratic Scotland.”

    Agreed. The issues have to be addressed. Can the BBC continue in any meaningful way in the new Scotland? If there has to be a public service broadcaster, to what extent can its funding be kept free of political control? How much a threat to the impartiality of the broadcaster would the ‘one party state’ of the SNP pose?

    May I suggest a way of dealing with all three of these issues. The BBC Scottish branch would continue to be the regional arm of the state broadcaster. Its funding would come from London. A new formula – enshrined in law – will be used to ascertain the yearly sum to be devolved to the Scottish branch. This formula would be like a Scottish variant of Short money. The rationale for this would be that – in the light of the new political reality in Scotland – BBC Scotland was now officially recognised as the main opposition party to the SNP.


  8. James Dow says:

    Scotland you have it in your own hands to eliminate BBC Scotland. Withdrawal of funding and not watching in real time are the key, or not watching at all. Discipline is required and education, where people who are intimidated by legal action should have a course of action explained to them to avoid the BBC being able to pursue an outcome.
    Scots” who have already taken this action should endeavour to help their fellow Scots” accordingly.
    And just imagine how warm you will feel doing that. And you don’t have to go far, your fellow Scots” are all around you , help each other, that’s what being Scottish is.
    Scotland make this your mission. Betrayal of trust and consequent revenge sit well with the Scottish soul.

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