Can BBC Any Questions / Question Time try a more radical approach?


We are in the middle of a major crisis in our nation, and at long long last, after 10 weeks since the Coronavirus first arrived in our nation (albeit unknown at the time when it arrived in East Sussex), the two largest national political parties have finally agreed to work together. Yesterday, after Corbyn stepped down as leader of the Labour Party, Johnson finally got around to writing to what we have been told is the leaders of all of the other parties to ask them to work together.

‘As party leaders we have a duty to work together during this time of national emergency. Therefore, I would like to invite all leaders of opposition parties in Parliament to a briefing with myself, the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser next week. I want to listen to your views and update you on the measures we have taken so far, such as rapidly expanding testing and providing economic support to businesses and individuals across the country.’

It remains to be seen how many parties will have actually received his letter – given that no one I know has received the letter he promised to send to the whole of our nation a week ago. It also seems strange that it has taken him 10 weeks to grasp that working together is a way forward. However perhaps more importantly, how many of those party leaders will attend the session he has organised? Reflecting over the last 10 weeks of Question Time and Any Questions that the rest of us have access to, the approach by the BBC was to focus almost exclusively on the two largest political parties and then to invite a number of other people who are either political commentators or experts in a range of fields to sit near them or alongside them. Over this time the TV Question Time has profiled Matt Hancock 3 times and has given two seats to the SNP MPs and two to Lib Dem MPs and across the same period Radio 4 Any Questions has given two seats to the SNP and one to the Liberal Democrats. Any Questions was a bit more extreme back at the end of January when they had two Labour Party and two Tory Party members and no one else at the table and so they appeared to compensate for that at the end of February by having no formal politicians which in a way seemed like a good approach. So what will next weeks arrangement look like?

If the Political Parties are going to be radical and start working together, which for me seems to be very important, perhaps what could take place now for the Any Questions or Question Time could reflect this. What is needed is to limit the MPs and Ministers to one at a time and allow people such as Council Leaders (CEOs), Leaders of agencies such as the Police, Fire and Rescue, NHS, Ambulance, and then the Charitable Sector and Businesses along with one or two members of the public from different age groups to begin to challenge the MPs or Ministers on how they are working together. I wonder if Fiona Bruce and Chris Mason would also work together so that the failure to answer a question or respond to a challenge on the Thursday night TV programme by one person could be picked up with focusing on a different collaborative MP or Minister on Friday night on the Radio?

That suggested according to the Mentorn website (they produce Question Time): Got an idea? – Mentorn does not accept unsolicited format ideas. so perhaps it won’t happen!

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Charities, Journalism, Parliament and Democracy, Policing, Youth Issues and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Can BBC Any Questions / Question Time try a more radical approach?

  1. Christine A says:

    I like your idea about Chris Mason on Any Questions picking up failure to answer the question on Thursday’s Question time. I think our elected representatives need to be called out when they equivocate. There’s an interesting piece about academic research into this problem titled “A psychologist explains how politicians evade questions ” on the Liberal England blog.

  2. Rob Furbet says:

    EXCELLENT thinking Ian, not sure I quite endorse ALL you wrote, but mainly because it IS such a big subject.

    category you left out though. JOURNALISTS.
    I think most people are beginning to realise now that they are far too much ‘the story’ rather than their ONLY reason – the REPORTING of the story.

    I lived abroad for much of my life between 25 – 35 and was an avid listener to WORLD SERVICE the in journalistic standards were like chalk and cheese.
    Reporters gave out FACTS. They weren’t allowed to speculate, nor were they allowed to opinionate ( msybecthe same thing ) but my God did they persist in getting an answer to the question they’d asked.

    The first ‘Grandee Poser’ I noticed when coming back to UK to live permanently was John Cole, who never lost any time in telling those of us who really couldn’t give a damn who it was that had got Margaret Thatcher to say “She could go ….. on and on…. “.

    Robert Peston takes 3 to 5 mins to ask a question at the Daily Press Briefings at 17:00. He is also consitentantly verbose with his tweets in that he had to have three to four joined up to make his point or ask the rhetorical question.

    Laura Kungsberg (spell?) puts out ALL SORTS of ‘speculations’ on her twitter posts.

    Too many of them then tweet that the person they’d interviewed didn’t answer about “xxxxxxx / whatever” BUT. There had been NO follow up / Robin Day “ answer the question to them – Nick Robinson on the Today programme is guilty of this.

    And finally RESPONSIBILITY.
    Get away from the ‘trip up’ type interrogation and ‘quick cheep’ headlines.
    Last week, on the day we ALL ( well those of is monitoring it knew ) that Fatalities we’re going to include for the first time deaths outside of hospitals caused by #Covind-19 Andrew Neil’s Tweet was ( something like ) ‘Death Rate starting to run out of control….. numbers are %%greater than before’. The tweet I posted asking for some responsibility because of the change of basis got 250 ‘hearts’ over the next 90 mins.

    You make a worthwhile submission to the debate. Keep this up.

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