‘Sickening’ Fiona Bruce just shamed herself and BBC’s Question Time over Stanley Johnson’s domestic violence

Fiona Bruce on BBCQT defending Stanley Johnsons DVA
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Content warning: this article contains discussion of domestic violence

BBC Question Time (BBCQT) host Fiona Bruce caused uproar on Thursday 9 March. It was relating to her comments over Stanley Johnson assaulting his first wife, the late Charlotte Wahl. Bruce’s defence of Johnson’s domestic violence and abuse (DVA) appeared to be in the BBC‘s interests of ridiculous impartiality. However, one comment simply could not be justified.

Johnson: a serial bastard

Stanley Johnson has been hitting the headlines recently. His son Boris is supposed to be putting him down for a knighthood in his resignation honours list. The problems with this are fairly obvious – not least the institutionalised nepotism that the former PM repeatedly engages in.

As one Twitter user pointed out, the Johnson and Johnson furore also encompasses the Tories’ neo-feudal and colonialist approach to running the country: a place where the Johnsons and their mates wield the power and the rest of us are either serfs or invaders:

Of course, Johnson is also an infamous eugenicist, too:

However, the other problem with Johnson’s potential knighthood is that he is clearly a misogynist, sexual predator and perpetrator of DVA. As the Guardian wrote:

In 2021, the Tory MP Caroline Nokes publicly accused the former MEP of touching her at a Conservative party conference in 2003. Nokes, the chair of the Commons women and equalities committee, accused him of forcefully smacking her on the bottom and making a vulgar comment.

Similar allegations were made by the political journalist Ailbhe Rea, while another journalist, Isabel Oakeshott, described him as “handsy”. He denied all the claims.

The most serious publicly known incident of Johnson’s DVA was him breaking his late wife Charlotte Wahl’s nose.

Clearly, even by the UK political system’s low bar, the former PM’s father is not fit to sit in the House of Lords. So, the issue came up on BBCQT. Enter Bruce to whitewash Johnson’s DVA.

BBCQT: defending a violent misogynist

During a discussion around Johnson’s potential knighthood, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown brought up him breaking Wahl’s nose. Bruce leapt in to provide some ‘caveats’, including:

Friends of his have said it did happen, it was a one-off.

The problems with Bruce’s comment were obvious, as Twitter users highlighted:

One user noted that Bruce’s comments were straight out of the state’s misogynistic playbook of dismissing DVA survivors:

To make matters worse, Bruce is an ambassador for DVA charity Refuge. Its website quotes her as saying:

I was honoured to be asked by Refuge to become an ambassador and I immediately accepted. Without Refuge, hundreds of women and children would have nowhere to go. No one to help them escape daily horrors in their own homes.

Bruce: the BBC‘s right-wing sycophant

However, it’s unsurprising that the BBCQT host would downplay Johnson’s violence against his wife. Bruce previously “legitimised racism” against Labour MP Diane Abbott when she appeared on the show in 2019. She also allowed audience members and panelist Ella Whelan to be deeply transphobic to India Willoughby during an episode this year.

The point being, Bruce is a consistent enabler of offensive, right-wing agendas: ones that are not ‘opinions’ or up for debate, but are fundamentally against marginalised people’s human rights. This goes well beyond her role as a panel chair and host. Her downplaying of DVA on behalf of Johnson was deeply worrying and dangerous. However, it comes in a long line of appalling behaviour from the BBCQT host.

Featured image via BBC iPlayer – screengrab

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