Independent Councillors on Question Time?

Submitted on Wed, 09/09/2009 - 3:47pm

The BBC has confirmed on its website that it may invite the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, to an upcoming edition of the popular debating programme Question Time. Denis MacShane's article on the Guardian website, 'The BBC's disgraceful BNP stunt' raises some interesting points.

The BBC justifies inviting the BNP leader to the programme as it's a politically neutral organisation. Members of small political parties, such as the Green Party and UKIP, regularly attend Question Time. If the BBC ignored the BNP they risk being accused of political bias.

MacShane argues that if the BNP are invited to the BBC because they have a responsibility to represent all political viewpoints, why does it not invite any of the hundreds of Independent Councillors in the UK? Is the BBC undertaking a political stunt to increase viewer numbers?

I don't like to compare Independent Councillors with the BNP, but there are 30 times more Independent Councillors than BNP Councillors. In last year's Councillors Census by the LGA, there were 1472 Independent Councillors in the UK. The BNP has fewer than 50 Councillors.

I have personally never seen an Independent Councillor on Question Time. The BBC's logic on this matter seems questionable.

If the BBC wants to truly represent the political make up of Great Britain, whether Mr Griffin is invited or not, Independent Councillors need to have a public presence on this broadcasting giant. It appears that Independent Councillors are being unfairly ignored.

It can be hard for Independent politicians to maintain a public presence, unless of course you're a celebrity. Celebrity involvement with non-partisan politics has been fantastic for publicising Independents. But it also risks turning non-partisan politics into a mockery. Independent Councillors appearing on our mainstream media would add some needed sensibility to the Independent debate and show that not all Independents wear white suits!

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