It’s question time for the BBC after this ‘former UKIP candidate’ appears in the audience yet again

Billy Mitchell at QT
Brian Finlay

If you watched BBC Question Time from Motherwell on 7 February, you may have experienced déjà vu. A familiar face took the opportunity to bash the idea of Scottish independence for the third time:


The audience member said the SNP should be voted out of Scotland – despite the Scottish government receiving 46.5% of the vote in 2016. He also accused SNP politicians of having no plan if Scotland had won independence in 2014. You can find the SNP’s 2014 independence white paper named “Scotland’s Future” here.


Radio presenter and former SNP MP John Nicholson recalled meeting the “Orange Lodge activist” on Question Time before:

Nicholson said he feels something has gone “awry” with the Question Time audience booking:

But what makes this even more ‘strange’ is that the same audience member also attended a pilot run of BBC Scotland’s new Question Time style show Debate Night on 6 February. And we know this because The Canary was also in the audience. But you didn’t miss anything. He used the same narrative as he did on Question Time.

Yes, this audience member was at a BBC politics pilot the day before appearing on Question Time again. He must be really lucky to get picked so often. But it does cast doubt over the audience selection process.

Bizarrely, the audience member was also photographed chatting to the Conservative panel member Michael Forsyth:

“Orange Lodge activist”

As the Scotsman reported, the audience member is Billy Mitchell who is a “former UKIP candidate”. Mitchell stood in the Coatbridge council by-election in 2013 and received just 34 votes. Mitchell has also been linked to “Livingston True Blues Flute Band” after the group shared an image of Mitchell on their Facebook page:

Screenshot of Livingston True Blues Flute Band

It is important to point out that this audience member doesn’t reflect the electorate of Motherwell. The people of Motherwell voted in favour of Scottish independence in 2014 and voted to Remain in the EU referendum in 2016. Not that you would think that watching Question Time.

Context is important

Scottish independence is a hot topic for political debate. But when taking a stance, it is important to fully understand the context. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani got a reality check from SNP MP Stewart McDonald after he shared Mitchell’s rant on Twitter:

Casting doubt

This latest revelation has cast doubt over Question Time audience selection and the BBC must address the concerns of viewers. It highlights flaws in the audience selection process and opens the BBC up to allegations of bias.

BBC spokesperson told The Canary that it is “investigating this issue”.

Featured image via Eloy Enlt /YouTube

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