Here’s the panel for tonight’s edition of the BBC’s Question Time programme. See if you can spot what’s missing:
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) December 4, 2019
If you said the Green Party or Plaid Cymru then, yes, you’re right. But there are only five panellists, and it’s the last show before the election, and there are five parties polling higher, and needs must.
So your mole isn’t too concerned that somewhere around 5 per cent of the electorate are not represented on this panel. What is more of a problem is that half the human race isn’t. It’s 2019, and the BBC political team have somehow convinced themselves that an all-male panel is in some way fine, even though it very obviously isn’t.
There will be a woman on the programme, of course: Fiona Bruce, who has presented it since January. But on that basis, there is a woman on the panel every week, which is a bit of a get out of jail free card for the producers’ abject failure to even consider the gender balance on the show. “The chair is a woman” is no more of an excuse than “There is always a woman’s face on the banknotes”.
The election is in a week. People are busy. Everyone is stressed. Not everything is going to be perfect. But all the same, BBC – seriously?
UPDATE: Labour’s John Ashworth has stepped down, in favour of Anneliese Dodds, the Labour candidate for Oxford East:
I had no idea it would be an all male panel when I agreed to do @bbcquestiontime.
I don’t believe it should be an all male panel tonight, so my brilliant friend @AnnelieseDodds is heading to Hull to represent @UKLabour instead of me. She’ll be a fantastic voice for Labour. https://t.co/XFeyIjMhzK
— Jonathan Ashworth (@JonAshworth) December 5, 2019
Good for him – but this doesn’t feel like something the parties themselves should have to fix.