A former UKIP candidate in the BBCQT audience? Nothing really changes.

BBCQT audience member
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BBC Question Time (BBCQT) has been up to its old tricks again. Viewers spotted the show giving the mic to an audience member who, by all accounts, is far from a regular Joe Bloggs – not that that should surprise anyone.

BBCQT: up to its old tricks again

On Thursday 15 June, BBCQT was in Deeside, on the Welsh/English border. For regular viewers (who must have a cast-iron stomach to put themselves through this week-in, week-out) the panel was hardly surprising: A Tory minister, a Blairite Labour former minister (not a current MP), a former Tory aide, a journalist for Times Radio – and an SNP MP clearly posing as the token left-winger. The point being, the panel was hardly balanced. There was no voice from anything outside the centre or centre-right of politics present.

Moreover, given the show was in Wales, you’d think BBCQT producers would have given a Plaid Cymru representative a slot on the panel. As one Twitter account pointed out:

Read on...

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But as one eagle-eyed viewer spotted, a former UKIP candidate was also in the audience. Host Fiona Bruce gave him the chance to perform a mindless diatribe, too:

As the National wrote, this little guy is Cain Griffiths:

who stood for Ukip in a by-election last year for the City of Chester.

The seat was won by Labour’s Samantha Dixon, with Griffiths gaining a total of 179 votes.

Apparently, he’s now a fan of Reform UK – the successor to UKIP’s dishonourable, racist throne. Clearly, BBCQT‘s producers thought it fine to have someone with an active political background in the audience. During 15 June’s show, he said:

I’m not a fan of Boris. I think he told too many lies, you know a pathological liar.

But I think Boris could make a comeback and it’s not because he’s particularly special but it’s rather because of the inability of the establishment politicians to tap into what people want.

Boris had his faults, but at least he spoke in plain English. He had a bold and clear vision, unlike his successor, Rishi Sunak, who is just a conveyer belt politician.

Griffiths’ preposterous notion that Eton alumni, former Telegraph journalist, and career politician Boris Johnson isn’t an “establishment”, “conveyer belt” MP is straight out of the populist playbook. However, for many people, the main issue with Griffiths’ appearance was the fact BBCQT let him on in the first place:

Failing as a political programme

As the National wrote, the BBC defends its audience selection by saying:

Question Time selects local audiences which reflect a broad range of political views.

It also vets audience members by asking:

questions on their previous voting record and future voting intentions, whether they have party political membership and also how they voted in the EU referendum.

However, as the Canary has documented, this isn’t the first time a former political candidate has got into the BBCQT audience. For example, back in 2019, another former UKIP candidate made an appearance – after appearing at least once before. As SNP MP John Nicolson said at the time:

This is the point. The BBC, and specifically BBCQT, has an inherent bias toward the government of the day, as well as mainstream political opinion. Moreover, though, and as the two UKIP audience interlopers show, often those the show selects are hardly ‘ordinary people’.

If BBCQT was to ever act as a functioning political programme, it would have a true cross-section of the public in the audience who are free from political connections – as well as a balanced panel. Currently, it does neither of those things – and is a programme still best avoided.

Featured image via BBC iPlayer – screengrab

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