As someone who has tracked the BBC’s coverage of the EU for some time, Question Time last night from Cardiff was wearsomly predictable. Nigel Farage was bumped off last week’s programme from Teesside because the producers were worried that he would have made highly damaging remarks about how the EU was responsible for the closure of Corus steelworks. He was reinstated for last night’s edition. The audience was palpably strongly anti-UKIP (evidenced when they applauded loudly when gratutious insults were made against Mr Farage); and so, too, of course, were the four other panellists. The question chosen about UKIP was this:
Are Nigel Farage’s rude and attention seeking remarks about the President of the European Council not conclusive proof that UKIP and he have become nothing more than a boorish national embarrassment?
This showed breath-takingly deliberate (even by QT standards!), ad hominem bias against Mr Farage. Dimblebore proceded to shut Mr Farage up every time he made, or tried to make, a point in his defence. The exchange became a vicious tirade against both Mr Farage and his party. UKIP was treated exactly the same way that BNP was when it appeared. Mr Farage was called – variously – cartoonish, racist (by the boorish Janet Street-Porter), and a carictaure of himself, all without a breath of balance or attempt at intervention by Dimblebore, other than to say Mr Farage must take it all on the chin. All the while, the blood-crazed ‘audience’ jeered and booed at every opportunity.
UKIP’s appearance on this programme could and should have been an opportunity to discuss a substantive issue about the EU. Instead, the producers made it open season against both Mr Farage and his party. This was bias at its very worst.