Time to end this left-wing BBC bear pit?

By Pete Madeley | Voices | Published:

In the not too distant past, Question Time was rightly held up as a bastion of high quality political debate.

Under the watchful eye of its late, great chairman Sir Robin Day, politicians would expect a rough ride regardless of which party they belonged to.

They would also expect – and generally received – a certain level of respect from their fellow panellists and the studio audience.

How times have changed.

Nowadays the BBC's flagship political panel show regularly descends into an unbearable shouting match, with guests and audience members screaming in outrage at anyone who dares to disagree with them.

For Tory MPs in particular, an appearance on the show is the equivalent of being placed in the stocks for an hour.

The latest sacrificial lamb to be thrown into the left-wing bear pit was Stourbridge MP Margot James.

The new Digital Minister clearly drew the short straw by being asked to represent the Government on the show at a time when the NHS and the collapse of Carillion are at the top of the political agenda.

It was always likely to be a testing assignment, but on Question Time these days it is not the difficulty of the questions that poses problems – it's being able to get a bloody word in edgeways over the audience's din.


One question that appeared to have been beamed straight down from cloud cuckoo land, put forward the outlandish conspiracy theory that the Government was deliberately underfunding the NHS to push forward the case for privatisation.

2+2=6, as Diane Abbott might say.

Ms James did her best to answer the question – no easy task with the heavily partisan audience loudly jeering, shouting 'rubbish' and calling her a 'liar'.

It summed up perfectly why Question Time has become largely irrelevant.


The majority of the audience seemed disinterested in the MP's answer.

They didn't want to hear her talk about the £3.5 billion the Government put into the NHS at the last budget, or her concession that there were more demographic pressures on the service than before.

Why listen to an answer when it is easier to hurl abuse?

It seems pointless for Question Time to continue in its current form.

The show has moved towards the level of shoddy political discourse that can generally be found on Twitter.

At the very least it needs a revamp.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.


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