After that performance, anyone would think the BBC wants working-class women out of politics

Angela Rayner

BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys came under fire for his conduct on 7 March. Radio listeners accused Humphrys of “patronising” interviewing of Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

Free schools vs free speech?

Rayner was contextualising the government’s announcement of £500m in funding for so-called ‘free schools’:

When you look at the £3bn cuts that our current schools are facing, half a billion is a drop in the ocean. And not in the areas that we require it.

She continued:

The money that’s on a vanity project with no evidence to suggest that it will help children move on from socially deprived backgrounds, I think it’s disgusting.

Then, Humphrys interrupted with an odd misconception of Rayner’s point:

Let me be clear – new schools are a vanity project, are they?

To which she firmly replied with the obvious:

No, the grammar school process is a vanity project…

Speaking out

Rayner continued to speak out against grammar schools:

It’s not about giving places to local children that need those schools. It’s about sucking money out of the current state public sector. These schools select, not the parents that select their children to go, it’s the school that will select the pupils

Humphrys then interrupted again with another misrepresentation of what Rayner was saying:

Nobody’s forced to send their child to a grammar school.

So she set the record straight. Again:

I’m not suggesting that people are forced to send their child to grammar schools. It’s quite the opposite of forcing a child to go to a grammar school. I’m saying that most children won’t get into them. It will make the education system worse for most of the children in our system. When our schools are facing significant cuts… This money on a vanity project is not what our schools need

The BBC presenter continued to interrupt Rayner. And social media users continued to point it out:

Male? White? Middle class? Come on in!

Straight after speaking with her, people noticed a change in Humphry’s conduct as, now, Associate Editor of The Spectator Toby Young was on the line:

Listeners were not impressed with Humphry’s performance on Radio 4. The BBC needs to take people from all walks of society seriously. And it definitely should not patronise the working class.

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