The SNP is demanding a review of BBC Question Time. It comes after the show amplified the views of a racist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon ‘supporter‘ on its social media. But the SNP is not messing around, saying that the flagship show is now “out of control”. Meanwhile, the audience member’s somewhat dodgy past has also come to light.
BBCQT: platforming racists?
As the National reported, Question Time was caught up in controversy after its programme on Thursday 20 February. An audience member made some pretty racist and xenophobic comments about immigration. But the show’s social media feed decided to share her comments, anyway:
“We should completely close the borders … enough is enough”
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) February 20, 2020
But as HuffPost neatly pulled apart, her arguments had no basis in fact. So, people were rightly angry that Question Time had not fact-checked the woman’s claims before sharing them on social media:
— WhoVotedForThisShite (@WubeyOneKenobi) February 23, 2020
People like the #bbcqt hate preacher going off on one because we translate public service info into other languages fail to mention that, all over the world, people make the effort to translate so much into English.
It’s only polite to return the favour for visitors to Britain. pic.twitter.com/T6h19o3fpc
— 🕷 Mark Cockerton (@CockertonMark) February 23, 2020
Even the man sitting next to her is now gaining recognition:
Never before has one cringe described the pain of a nation so perfectly. The greatest cringe in recent history.
— Rachael Swindon #UTFC (@Rachael_Swindon) February 22, 2020
Truly overwhelmed by the kindness and support since my #bbcqt trauma live you lot! After 30 years of trying to articulate a coherent argument for the left I now find that a meme of my cringing face is infinitely more powerful than my words! Let's all do it – #facesagainstracism pic.twitter.com/2IUjYxDQLg
— Will Austin (@WillAustin1964) February 22, 2020
Also, Sam Bright claimed the show’s social media post violated BBC guidelines:
So I used to run the social media accounts of a BBC political debate programme.
This post blatantly violates BBC editorial guidelines https://t.co/0Y73Ddek3Z
— Sam Bright (@Scram_Sam) February 21, 2020
But now, the SNP has weighed in.
The SNP: Question Time is “out of control”
As the National reported, Tommy Sheppard MP has called for the show to review its social media policy. He wrote to Question Time bosses, saying:
I was deeply disappointed that the audience member was not challenged on these plainly incorrect assertions, but even more surprised that Question Time then clipped this contribution and posted to their Twitter site without any fact-checking or context.
Question Time used to use their social media outlets to ‘live’ fact-check contributions from panellists and the audience, as well as giving context to each question asked by the audience. Rather than carelessly clipping these inflammatory contributions on immigration, I suggest that Question Time looks to reinstate the more informative and engaging fact-checking as part of their social media strategy.
The ‘informing’ and ‘educating’ seemed to be lacking from this flagship current affairs programme this week.
A “senior SNP source” went further. They told the National:
This latest incident shows Question Time is out of control – and it’s high time the BBC got a grip of it.
The BBC did not respond to the National‘s request for comment.
But this isn’t the end of the story. Because many people on Twitter are claiming the woman was no ordinary audience member.
Not all that it seems
— John O'Connell (@jdpoc) February 22, 2020
But moreover, the woman is allegedly a former National Front MP candidate:
Why did @bbcquestiontime platform a former National Front MP candidate (for Leyton) AND then clip her racist rant containing dozens of inaccuracies for dissemination on social media?
— 🐟KT #BellaCiao Parker (@lunaperla) February 22, 2020
Hello @lunaperla, I can see that a Sherri Bothwell was NF candidate for Leyton in both elections in 1974 – do we have a positive ID on the BBCQT racist? I know she’s a Tommeh supporter, but is she the same person as the 1974 candidate? Thanks! 🤓✊🇪🇺 #resist #StopFascism pic.twitter.com/26vvstUV1r
— Paddy Docherty (@paddydocherty) February 22, 2020
Leyton has long been the focus for London fascists & racists -Bothwell tried to capitalise on this in 1974. Note that Colin Jordan, leader British Neo-Nazis (with George L Rockwell in USA) also opposed EU/Common Market in 70's. Jordan, NF & others openly racist in their campaigns pic.twitter.com/wNHQCytBx7
— Cockney Campaign (@cockneycampaign) February 22, 2020
All of this makes Question Time look extremely bad. As Zelo Street noted, if the accusations are correct:
that puts Mentorn Media (the company that produces Question Time, and also The Big Questions) in one of those Very Difficult Positions. It puts the BBC in a yet more difficult position.
If the programme becomes the story, it is finished.
Sadly, that ship appears to have already sailed. And as the SNP rightly point out, Question Time and its audience selection process are clearly out of control. The BBC needs to take action, and quickly.
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