THE BBC is increasingly driven by a right-wing agenda as is evidenced through its news reports and political programmes such as Politics Live, Question Time and Debate Night. Clearly a common strategy has been developed to rig all these programmes to maximise the time for delivery of UK Tory government propaganda while minimising the time for opposition parties to present their arguments. In Scotland, where the SNP is in government, this strategy is turned on its head to still give the Conservative and Unionist Party the advantage.

Apparently key elements of this BBC strategy and guidance for the host are as follow:

1. Outside of BBC studios, endeavour to select towns to host “debates” on the basis of having an argument (no matter how democratically dubious) at UK, regional or local government level, to ostensibly justify a pro-Tory audience, or if in Scotland a pro-Union audience.

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2. Invite panellists with the intent of ensuring that the SNP and parties supporting Scottish independence are under-represented (if represented at all) while panellists supporting the Tories, whether openly identified as such or not, are over-represented with reference to recent election results. Those not politicians should preferably be “professional experts” with a history of supporting capitalist ideology, or, have a socialist background with a career in the arts (so perhaps less likely to be familiar with economic details).

3. Hide or misrepresent political backgrounds of right-wing panelists and opaque organisations they represent in order to stealthily construct a seemingly non-politically-biased panel. (In Debate Night on October 12 Andy Maciver was introduced as a “political analyst and strategist” with no mention of the fact that he was previously head of communications for the Scottish Conservatives while Stephen Noon’s prior association with Yes Scotland and Alex Salmond was presented up-front.)

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4. (Disingenuously) make statements implying uncontrolled public/audience participation such as “you get to ask the questions” (as repeatedly uttered by both Stephen Jardine and Fiona Bruce). (In reality it is the BBC that not only chooses audience members but effectively selects the often politically slanted questions to be discussed, and in which order, and it is the BBC host, probably with the assistance of the programme director, who decides which audience members will be chosen for follow-up questions.)

5. Unless there is a compelling right-wing argument to do otherwise, pose the first chosen question to the Tory representative and allow him or her the time to say what he/she wishes without interruption then allow that representative further time to fully address any audience criticisms. Do not allow the same uninterrupted time, or length of time, to the SNP or Green representative when he or she is invited to respond to, where feasible, a separate politically pejorative question and endeavour to prevent any opportunity for him or her to address any audience criticisms that arise, or that arose earlier in the “debate”.

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6. Be assertive and thorough in the “interrogation” of representatives of the SNP and other parties opposed to the UK Tory government, but aim to create a relaxed and convivial atmosphere overall. Note, the director should avoid camera angles that expose the host contentedly sitting back while a Tory representative is speaking but springing into action and frantically waving his or her finger or pen as soon as a panellist starts to provide an opposing argument – besides distracting the speaker, what he or she has to say can be curtailed by abruptly inviting input from an audience member. (While a “Tory” is often allowed to repeatedly interrupt other panellists, those panellists are generally rebuked for attempting to interrupt the Tory, even when that Tory is repeating the same political propaganda for a third or fourth time.)

7. When the programme is about to end, generally invite the SNP, or another “left-wing” representative, to be the last to speak and apologise that “unfortunately” time has run out, thereby severely limiting any addition to the strictly limited total time that that panellist has been allowed to speak freely.

Russian Television would be proud to effect the level of covert control over political debate that the BBC has managed to achieve in the self-proclaimed home of open democracy, the “United Kingdom”.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian