David Dimbleby hosts a Question Time in Shanghai, 2005. A majority of the show's guests are still white men a decade on. Photo: Getty.
Show Hide image

Surprise! White men are over-represented on Question Time

White men disproportionately dominate most fields, but even the BBC's flagship political panel show seems incapable of gender (or ethnic) balance. Then again, Westminster is far worse.

A May 2015 analysis of Question Time guests in 2014 has uncovered what many could have probably predicted – white men are over-represented by the flagship political panel show.

The programme, which has recently stopped for the summer, markets itself as one of "debate in which guests from the worlds of politics and the media answer questions posed by members of the public".

But does a poor job of portraying the world of the members of the public who form the show's audience – it over-represents white men, and under-represents white women and men from ethnic minorities.

… on the other hand, it does a far better job of representing women than parliament does.

Correction: An earlier version of this article wrongly labelled the statistics for minority men as those for minority women, and vice-versa. This has since been corrected.

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

PMQs review: Theresa May shows again that Brexit means hard Brexit

The Prime Minister's promise of "an end to free movement" is incompatible with single market membership. 

Theresa May, it is commonly said, has told us nothing about Brexit. At today's PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn ran with this line, demanding that May offer "some clarity". In response, as she has before, May stated what has become her defining aim: "an end to free movement". This vow makes a "hard Brexit" (or "chaotic Brexit" as Corbyn called it) all but inevitable. The EU regards the "four freedoms" (goods, capital, services and people) as indivisible and will not grant the UK an exemption. The risk of empowering eurosceptics elsewhere is too great. Only at the cost of leaving the single market will the UK regain control of immigration.

May sought to open up a dividing line by declaring that "the Labour Party wants to continue with free movement" (it has refused to rule out its continuation). "I want to deliver on the will of the British people, he is trying to frustrate the British people," she said. The problem is determining what the people's will is. Though polls show voters want control of free movement, they also show they want to maintain single market membership. It is not only Boris Johnson who is pro-having cake and pro-eating it. 

Corbyn later revealed that he had been "consulting the great philosophers" as to the meaning of Brexit (a possible explanation for the non-mention of Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith's resignation and May's Goldman Sachs speech). "All I can come up with is Baldrick, who says our cunning plan is to have no plan," he quipped. Without missing a beat, May replied: "I'm interested that [he] chose Baldrick, of course the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall." (Tony Robinson, a Corbyn critic ("crap leader"), later tweeted that he still is one). "We're going to deliver the best possible deal in goods and services and we're going to deliver an end to free movement," May continued. The problem for her is that the latter aim means that the "best possible deal" may be a long way from the best. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.