The BBC probably thought they were doing their bit for balance by inviting Helen Szamuely of the Eurosceptical blog EU Referendum onto a discussion with Zainab Badawi.
On the other hand, they might have considered that UK feelings about the EU are not at all warm, and that two pro-EU bloggers out of three was a touch imbalanced. There was Nosemonkey, a “critically pro-EU and centrist” blogger, Shiraz Socialist, a “moderately angry nouveau-middle-class leftwinger” (I’ll refer to him as SS), and Szamuely, a lovable if crotchety Eurosceptic (I am sure she will love the description). Of the three, I am pretty certain Szamuely’s blog has much the largest readership (circa 3000 daily visits).
Then again, perhaps we should look at another metric- time alloted to speakers. In this regard, by my rough reckoning, Szamuely got 92 seconds, Nosemonkey 112, and Shiraz Socialist 134. Shiraz also got the last word, in which he claimed that EU institutions need to be strengthened. He had also been given the first word, fed to him by Badawi, that politicians in general were in the doghouse. Very conveniently, following that the whole discussion managed to omit mention of which party are firmly in the doghouse. People were angry with the recession, they said, but the “L” word went missing.
Now to the tone- it was clear that Badawi was “ready” for Ms Szamuely. She interrupted her several times and disputed with her the “usefulness” of the EU Parliament (Szamuely had a ready retort about Commission overrules of Parliamnetary objections, but that got lost in Badawi’s hectoring). Badawi interrupted her too when she mentioned UKIP, clarifying who they were while Szamuely was in full flow. Then, during the discussion wind up, she told Szamuely (who we have seen got less time) to say “briefly” how she saw the UK public mood, and repeated that “briefly” so that she could give time to… SS.
She did not once interrupt SS, nor dispute with him when he claimed that EU institutions need strengthening, nor when he stated that people were angry about the (his word) “laissez-faire” economics of recent times. She even murmurred, “mmm, yes” at one stage.
Nosemonkey was mainly there for posing value, but he managed to slip in a cheap jab about Tory MPs resigning over expenses which Badawi… let go, surprisingly.
All in all then, a startlingly biased presentation, once you look closely. But see for yourself and make up your own mind by watching the video on EU Referendum’s blog.