Tag Archives: Fiona Bruce

More Question Time bias as Fiona Bruce pats Brandon Lewis: ‘I’m just teasing you’

Cute: But would she show such consideration to Diane Abbott?

What the actual …?

If there was ever an example of BBC bias towards the Conservatives, it’s this:

Asked a difficult question by a BBC Question Time audience member, former Tory Party chairman Brandon Lewis struggled to answer.

So presenter/chair Fiona Bruce patted his arm and said, “I’m just teasing you.”

Where’s the impartiality in that?

Where’s the responsibility to hold those in power to account?

We have seen this on BBCQT before, and the Corporation might legitimately say it’s bias by the programme-maker Mentorn.

But then, the BBC gave Mentorn the contract to make it, so ultimate responsibility lies with Auntie. Doesn’t it?

There’s a full story on Skwawkbox: Video: Tory MP struggles with BBCQT question. Presenter pats his arm, “It’s ok, I’m teasing you” and moves on | The SKWAWKBOX

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POLL: BBC backtracks over Question Time row – Fiona Bruce DID make unwise comments about Diane Abbott

Fiona Bruce: The Mirror used this image on its article about her verbal indiscretion.

Well, how about that! It turns out the BBC was lying when it said Diane Abbott was not treated unfairly during the warm-up for the show in which she appeared nearly two weeks ago.

The Mirror is reporting that Fiona Bruce made “light-hearted personal comments” and “what she believed were good-humoured remarks” before recording of the show began.

Apparently the admission was made in a private email between the show’s editors and the Shadow Home Secretary.

This Writer had heard elsewhere that the remarks concerned Ms Abbott’s relationship with Jeremy Corbyn, with a suggestion that she is in her current position because of that relationship.

I don’t know about you, but I would say a suggestion that Ms Abbott only became Shadow Home Secretary because of a relationship she had in the 1970s certainly qualifies as an example of her being “treated unfairly”.

The implication is that she didn’t earn her job by merit and doesn’t deserve to have it – and Fiona Bruce had no right to make such a suggestion.

Ms Bruce has hosted just three editions of Question Time, after taking over from David Dimbleby. It seems clear that she is not capable of doing the job properly, considering the amount of political bias evidenced by her remarks.

But Question Time is in trouble for other elements of its production that day. Is it true that another member of the team also made prejudicial remarks about Ms Abbott to the audience? The BBC will have to release recordings of what was said before we know for sure.

And what about the claim that Ms Abbott’s microphone was turned down during the recording of the show itself, so she had to work harder to make herself heard?

The BBC has admitted that it lied about Ms Abbott’s treatment – but the extent of that lie has yet to be established. As for Ms Bruce – let’s have a poll:

I look forward to your responses.

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Question Time row: Fiona Bruce issues ‘clarification’ on Abbott gaslighting – but is it enough?

Do you think that this is enough of an apology from Fiona Bruce, for gaslighting Diane Abbott on the BBC’s Question Time on January 17?

Ms Bruce had joined Isobel Oakeshott, after Ms Abbott said Labour and the Conservatives were neck-and-neck in the polls, to claim that the latest poll showed Labour was behind. This was not true and Ms Bruce should have apologised.

I suggested yesterday that the programme would enjoy an upsurge of viewers for its first five minutes – who would switch off if they did not hear an apology in that time. The 20-second statement from Ms Bruce duly appeared midway through the show – ensuring that any viewers who did as I expected would not have a chance to hear it.

The official BBC statement stops short of an apology too.

Labour has made an official complaint, which includes other incidents reported about the Question Time recording in which Ms Abbott appeared.

It has been claimed by audience members that Ms Bruce and another BBC representative told jokes at Ms Abbott’s expense before the show was recorded, apparently to turn opinion against her. It is believed that this was recorded but the BBC is refusing to hand over the material.

And a sound technician said Ms Abbott’s microphone was turned down so she would find it harder to make herself heard.

So the Labour Party still has many reasons to complain.

I’ve already said I hope this goes to court. The BBC has been involved in too many rows like this and deserves a bloody nose.

As for Ms Abbott? She has come out of this smelling of roses:

If this unsavoury incident results in a little more support for the UK’s first black female MP – who receives more hate messages than all the country’s other politicians put together – then I’d say it did some good.

That’s in spite of the efforts of Ms Bruce, Ms Oakeshott and the BBC itself.

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BBC’s Question Time to get huge increase in viewers – for first five minutes of tonight’s show

Will they or won’t they? That will be the question on viewers’ minds as they tune in to the BBC’s Question Time this evening (January 24).

And if Fiona Bruce fails to apologise for joining Isobel Oakeshott in gaslighting Diane Abbott on last week’s edition, you can bet that a large number of those viewers will switch off. After that, word of mouth could cripple not only the programme’s reputation but also its viewing figures.

It would be extremely hard for Question Time, the BBC or new presenter Fiona Bruce – this incident happened on only her second show as chair – to recover their credibility and I can certainly foresee calls for the show to be scrapped and replaced with a less biased format in the future.

For those who don’t know what the row is about, not only did Ms Bruce and Ms Oakeshott lie to Ms Abbott that she was mistaken about Labour’s position in the national opinion polls…

(The BBC subsequently issued a clarification that managed to stop short of being an apology)

… but studio audience members have claimed a BBC employee and Ms Bruce stirred up feeling against Ms Abbott with prejudicial attempts at humour about her prior to recording of the programme. The BBC is believed to have recorded the pre-show warm-up but has refused to release this evidence.

Outraged Licence Fee-payers have been clamouring for an on-air apology ever since:

https://twitter.com/James4Labour/status/1088334992994983937

Will the BBC back down? Smart money says no.

Instead, it is likely the Corporation will double down on its position and hope the outcry dies down.

But the Labour Party has made a formal complaint and may escalate this to court action if it doesn’t get satisfaction.

The national publicity of a court case could do huge harm to the BBC’s reputation as an impartial public service broadcaster.

Can ‘Auntie’ afford it?

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Question Time row: Labour complains as the BBC manages NOT to apologise

The Tory-supporting BBC has got itself into a real pickle after Question Time host Fiona Bruce and fellow panellist Isobel Oakeshott tried to gaslight Diane Abbott over poll results.

They claimed that Labour were trailing the Tories when the most recent poll (by Survation, and therefore reliable) put Ms Abbott’s party three points ahead. It was a blatant lie that many of us witnessed. If you didn’t, see my recent article.

Now, according to the Mirror, Labour has made a formal complaint to the BBC.

The paper claims Labour have complained that Ms Abbott was incorrectly challenged during the programme. The complaint is also said to mention the level of interruption Ms Abbott faced – panelists or Ms Bruce stopped her 21 times, whereas Tory Rory Stewart was stopped nine times and the SNP’s Kirsty Blackman eight times.

And social media claims, reported in my previous article, that a BBC team member made inappropriate comments to the audience about Ms Abbott and Labour leade Jeremy Corbyn are also said to be included in the complaint.

The BBC’s press team has responded to the row as follows:

Many of us have been having fun with it.

Some have pointed out that YouGov is a Tory operation run by Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, thereby calling its results into question.

Journalist Steve Howell addressed the inaccuracies in the statement:

This Writer made a pertinent point about the dates of recent polls:

Here‘s Gurdeep Sahota: “You were sorry to hear her concerns, now say sorry to … Your statement says that you reject anyone was treated unfairly. Do you now accept that she was treated unfairly? Can you broadcast this on the next episode?”

Or how about Audrey: “I’m pretty sure that what you wanted to say is ‘It was Fiona Bruce’s job to rectify Isabel Oakeshott on this, and we recognise that she failed to do so. On hers, and the BBC’s behalf, we profusely apologise to Diane Abbott!'”

Ms Abbott herself has written a piece in the Independent, calling her treatment “a disgrace”. She tweeted:

In her article, she wrote: “Over a long political career I have appeared on BBC Question Time innumerable times, but I have never had such a horrible experience as I had in Derby last week.

“Fiona Bruce… does not appear to be well briefed. She got the polling for Labour vs Tory wrong. She (or her researcher) appears to have got their figures from a Conservative Central Office handout. Above all, it seems she is not afraid to appear unfair as a presenter.

“I was interrupted more than twice the number of times that Tory MP Rory Stewart was interrupted, even though he spoke more times than I and for a longer period overall. I was not allowed to respond to a blatantly abusive remark from the audience. I’m also told that she made unpleasant remarks about me to the audience, before the programme was actually recorded.”

Note that the BBC has issued a denial – but not of what Ms Abbott alleged. It denied that “any of the panel was treated unfairly either before or during the recording”. This could refer to personal treatment, not references made about them to third parties.

Ms Abbott also made a crucial point regarding race: “Who could blame any young Bame women with an interest in politics and a left-of-centre ideology seeing the way that I was treated on Question Time and deciding that politics is not for her?”

That would suggest outright racism on the part of BBC employees.

Or perhaps they are simply following the Conservative “hostile environment” agenda.

Needless to say, there has been a huge gammon-based backlash against Ms Abbott on the social media. I won’t quote any of them; you can find out for yourself if you can stomach that much salted meat.

On a personal note, as the journalist who first wrote that Ms Abbott had been gaslighted by the BBC, it was pleasant to see others in the mainstream pick up on that term and bring it to a wider audience than I have here.

So Biba Kang in the Independent (again), wrote: “They’ve chosen to weaponise the public conception of Abbott as “ill-informed”, and are peddling the widespread and deeply problematic narrative that people of colour, and black people in particular, are paranoid and angry without cause.

“This approach is an incredibly common way of dealing with accusations of prejudice. It’s essentially gaslighting: the process of psychologically manipulating someone, such that they doubt their own sanity. By telling Abbott that she has in fact been mislead by erroneous social media reports, the BBC are actively undermining Abbott’s own experience of events. People of colour will be familiar with this insidious technique being used to undermine their legitimate concerns.”

Hear, hear.

And Faisa Shaheen tweeted:

No – these people need to be stopped.

The BBC has been self-regulating for far too long. I’m led to believe this is supposed to have changed recently but I see no evidence of any difference.

Perhaps it’s time the Corporation was taken to court over the damage it has been doing to the reputation – not only of prominent left-wing politicians like Ms Abbott – but of left-wing politics as a whole.

If Labour doesn’t get satisfaction from the BBC’s complaints department, then perhaps the party will take that option.

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The BBC gaslighted* the UK’s most-abused MP. Where’s the impartiality? Where’s the justice?

Diane Abbott: This is from a previous appearance on the BBC’s Question Time.

I think the BBC, Isobel Oakeshott and Fiona Bruce need to be prosecuted for the systematic, televised abuse of Diane Abbott. Don’t you?

Ms Abbott is the UK’s most-abused MP. It is beyond the pale that an organisation calling itself a public service broadcaster willingly participates in that abuse.

And it’s hardly an auspicious start for Ms Bruce’s tenure as chair that she presided over this abuse on only her second outing in the role.

Here’s the offending incident:

Momentum’s claim – that Ms Abbott was correct and Labour is neck-and-neck with the Conservatives in the polls, despite the combined efforts of the Tory-supporting media moguls – is borne out be recent poll results. See:

Notice the comment from Devutopia there: Christian Fraser on the BBC News Channel allowed a Tory stooge to say that party was “leading all the polls”, even though they weren’t.

Aaron Bastani of Novara Media adds wider context:

So it’s a campaign of disinformation by the BBC, it seems.

Survation, remember, was the only polling company that accurately predicted the result of the 2017 general election.

According to some audience members, sentiment against Ms Abbott was stoked before recording started. Here’s Jyoti Wilkinson:

Tonight I managed to wangle myself into the @bbcquestiontime audience. The way they stoked up the anti Dianne Abbott sentiment before hand was appalling – the BBC is in dire need of reform … The wangle was the fact I managed to get picked without having some underlying hatred of Dianne Abbott”.

The story is corroborated by Alison Martin:

The jeers against Diane Abbott were worse than could be heard on the broadcast; was some humour at Diane’s expense from BBC staff before the recording”.

Shocking.

Mr Bastani (again) provides a little second-hand information:

I’m told that prior to broadcast of tonight’s #bbcqt Fiona Bruce came out, introduced herself to audience and gave a 10 minute talk [this is normal for QT]. Proceeded to make jokes about Dianne Abbott which were ‘in reality appaling’ then in rehearsal the floor manager did the same thing [while this is definitely not]. Abysmal”.

There’s more evidence, as you can see from this Zelo Street article.

The BBC has denied claims that Ms Abbott was treated unfairly. According to the Mirror, a spokesperson said: “We firmly reject claims that any of the Question Time team treated any of the panel unfairly before and during the recording last night.”

Meanwhile the Express has insisted that Ms Bruce and Ms Oakeshott were right to say Labour is behind in the polls, producing the result of a new survey by Tory-supporting pollsters YouGov – from January 6 and 7, nearly a week before the date of the the Survation poll quoted above.

Perhaps Ms Bruce can’t read dates – in which case one has to question her suitability for a job chairing the BBC’s mainstay political panel show.

And Ms Abbott? She has accused the Question Time team of legitimising racist abuse.

I think she has a point and I would like to see an adjudication on it.

Evolve Politics thinks the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) should be asked to judge:

Having had personal experience of IPSO, I wouldn’t advise it unless you have the patience of a saint because it can take a long time and any recommended remedial action won’t be worth the wait.

My advice?

Take the BBC straight to court instead.

*”Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception… sanity” – Wikipedia.

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