SNP deputy blasts BBC Question Time for audience ‘stuffed full of Tory plants’

BBC Question Time host Fiona Bruce with audience
Support us and go ad-free

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown has blasted BBC Question Time for its audience selection process.

“Stuffed full of Tory plants”

The National reported that Brown said the problem went beyond the 16 May episode in Elgin, Scotland:

This latest episode was stuffed full of Tory plants, but the BBC has done nothing to stop far-right and pro-Brexit parties dominating other Question Time audiences.

We’ve been telling BBC bosses for months that they have a credibility issue with the audience selection process.

There’s no excuse for this nonsense, and the BBC has failed to stop it.

Viewers spotted four Conservative politicians in the Elgin audience. One of them was Mary Scanlon, a Tory member of the Scottish parliament for over a decade and a half. The others were Jane Lax, the Moray Conservatives’ honorary treasurer, and two Tory councillors.

Brown continued:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Question Time from Elgin took one audience contribution from someone, pretending to be a member of the public who in fact was a Tory MSP for 17 years. And it took another audience contribution from an individual who presented herself as a Remain voter to attack the SNP on Thursday evening and on Friday appeared in the Conservative party election broadcast.

At any time there would be serious questions to answer about credibility, but just days away from the European elections these matters strike at the very heart of the BBC’s ability to fulfil its statutory and elections obligations.

Brown suggested this is a recurring issue for the BBC. In February, former UKIP candidate Billy Mitchell appeared in the audience for the fourth time. This heightened concerns about the audience selection process, given that Mitchell claimed producers ‘bussed him in’ specifically and that the BBC sends him “offers for tickets all the time”.

BBC response

Responding to previous criticism, a BBC spokesperson said:

Question Time does not bar people from its audience because they have held elected office or are political activists.

There is a selection process to ensure a range of views are heard and last night’s QT audience included supporters of different political parties, including the SNP.

The BBC refused a 2010 freedom of information request to disclose how it ensures the Question Time audience is representative.

Where were the SNP supporters?

On social media, people raised further concerns about the makeup of the audience:

Big questions around the BBC‘s audience producer

The BBC Question Time audience producer, Alison Fuller, has faced personal controversy. As openDemocracy detailed, Fuller deleted all her social media accounts in December 2016. This followed reports she had approached the far-right Lincolnshire English Defence League to join a Question Time audience. Fuller had also joined far-right Facebook groups and shared content from Britain First.

With respect to the ongoing problem, the SNP’s deputy leader also said:

Following a similar incident in February, we pleaded with the BBC to be transparent about the processes around audience selection for Question Time, instead they’ve been defensive and refuse to admit mistakes.

Enough is enough. The BBC should refer itself to [TV regulator] Ofcom and allow them to hold an independent investigation. That’s the only way we’ll get to the heart of whether the individuals identified in the Elgin audience lied on their application forms or whether the BBC knowingly allowed these individuals to masquerade as members of the public.

Featured image via YouTube – The Politics Hub

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us