Thursday, 25 February 2010

Questions about Question Time

Alwyn Ap Huw (a.k.a. Miserable Old Fart) makes a good point in comments below the Druid's last post, regarding the make-up of regional panels on the BBC's Question Time programme. During recent editions of the programme from Scotland and Northern Island, the panels were entirely composed of politicians from or with positions directly related to those regions. For example in Northern Island, the panel consisted of:

  • Shaun Woodward, Secretary of State for Northern Island
  • Sammy Wilson, DUP MP and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) for East Antrim 
  • Gerry Kelly, Sinn Fein MLA for North Belfast
  • David Trimble, ex leader of the UUP and first First Minister of Northern Island
  • Marget Ritchie, SDLP leader and MLA for South Down
  • Jim Allister, former MEP and member of Traditional Unionist Voice

Thanks to the entirely Irish composition of the panel the programme allowed for particularly in-depth and lively discussions relating to issues important to Northern Island residents.

This evening, however, Question Time will be broadcast from Cardiff and the panelists will include:

  • Peter Hain (Labour), Secretary of State for Wales
  • Dr Liam Fox (Conservative), Shadow Defence Secretary - the Druid has nothing against Liam Fox, but he is Scottish by birth and has no particular Wales remit. Would it not have been better for the Conservatives to field either Nick Bourne or Cheryl Gillan?
  • Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru), MP for Meirionydd Nant Conwy
  • Nigel Farage (UKIP), MEP - again I have nothing in particular against Farage, but he is an MEP for the South East of England and is standing for election to Parliament in Speaker Bercow's constituency of Buckingham. So, nothing to do with Wales again.
  • Janet Street-Porter, "journalist" - Seriously, why?
  • and presumably there will be one more Lib-Dem panelist who has yet to be announced - Kirsty Williams would be a good choice.

So only two panelists out of six have any specific remit to speak for Wales. Thats not good enough and the BBC is doing Wales and Welsh voters a disservice in not putting together a 'Welsh' panel as they have done for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Lord knows Wales has enough problems which our elected representatives need to be grilled about.

UPDATE: So there was no sixth panellist nor a single question about Wales. The Druid was hoping that someone would at least have brought up Peter Hain's stupid Rwanda remark.


Anonymous said...

Agreed. So much for the BBC network's response to the Anthony King report on fair 'nations and regions' coverage. Has the National Assembly taken a formal line on the issue? What about the Cardiff Bay political elite - politicians, lobbyists and media? Doesn't Llanelli's own Tinopolis own the show? Lil Old Wales is punching below its weight on this and I really don't understand why. Any ideas?

Alwyn ap Huw said...

And the program included a question about about the ENGLISH football captain for Fu** sake!

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anon - one would assume that Tinopolis only produces the show whereas all editorial decisions such as panel composition and the questions asked are taken by the BBC. There was a report recently that Whitehall doesn't fully understand the devolution settlement - perhaps the same is true of the BBC?

Alwyn - and unbelievably it went on for well over five minutes.

Anonymous said...

Janet Street-Porter's mother was from Penmaenmawr & Janet was born there!!

The Druid of Anglesey said...

Anon - I don't claim to be an expert on Janet Street-Porter, but I'm afraid according to Wikipedia she was born in South London and grew up in Fulham and Perivale. Her mother was born in Llanfairfechan not Penmaenmawr - but thats a very tenuous link if that was the reason she was invited to be a panelist on this programme. Interestingly, during visits to Wales when a child, Street-Porter's Grandmother used to beat her with a stick of birch. Something we'd all enjoy doing no doubt.