Thursday 27 May 2010

New politics? Now Number 10 wants to pick the Question Time panel for the BBC

How long might it take for power to go to Andy Coulson's head?

Are the Cabinet really such a bunch of bottlers? And, if not, might they try to take control of their comms operation, rather than being run by it?

And might the Liberal Democrats in government please take the opportunity to remind any of their excessively Murdoch-influenced Conservative allies about the value of an independent BBC?

Here's Gavin Allen on the BBC editors' blog, on the demands made by (unnamed) No 10 media and communications staffers to be able to veto the BBC Question Time panellists as a condition of a Cabinet minister being willing to appear.

According to No 10, a senior member of the cabinet was available to do Question Time but only if Alastair Campbell was replaced by a member of the shadow cabinet.

Very obviously, we refused and as a result no minister appeared, meaning that the government was not represented on the country's most-watched political programme in Queen's Speech week - one of the most important moments in the Parliamentary calendar.

... No 10 stated that the objection to Alastair Campbell was that he was not an elected Labour representative or a front-bencher ... It is not an argument or an objection that bears scrutiny.

It is a fundamental principle of our independence that politicians cannot dictate who sits on the panel.

The Liberal Democrats will be represented by defeated ex-MP Susan Kramer, and the Conservatives by backbencher John Redwood. (That suggests either that Redwood was a late addition or, perhaps, that the missing Cabinet member might have been a LibDem. If you know any more, do please tell).

Hat tip: Paul Waugh on twitter.


UPDATE: Alastair Campbell had tweeted, around 4pm, that

Mugged up on David Laws cos led to believe he was govt minister on Question Time. Turns out there won't be one! In Queen's Speech week!!!

Hat tip: @politic_animal

1 comment:

Jane Chelliah said...

I thought hard about this one while watching QT. QT isn't a scrutiny body in the sense that it doesn't have official status to scrutinise the executive. QT is like any other vehicle of the media, surely. My point here being that politicians don't have to appear on QT. However, I do think the Government passed over a good chance in the week of the Queen's speech to meet electors face to face.