The BBC’s Question Time has a well-known panel format – since 1998, a panel of five has been invited for each episode. Usually this includes a representative for each of the ‘big three’ parties, often augmented by a leading figure from a smaller party. The remainder of the panel are non-partisan.
The BBC has been criticised, and not infrequently, for inviting UKIP to the panel a disproportionate number of times – 21 appearances since 2009, compared with 11 for the Greens. George Galloway’s Respect party, the SNP and Sinn Fein have also featured, and there was even the occasion back in 2009 when the BBC invited the BNP to appear, resulting in protests at the studio gates.
Given that the format is open to smaller parties, it begs the question – should Dr Clive Peedell be invited to at least one episode of Question Time between now and the 2015 General Election? We give our reasons below:
- Subject matter: the NHS is a key election issue. An Ipsos Mori poll in September found healthcare to be one of the leading electoral issues (29%), second only to immigration (30%) and the economy (31%). Clive Peedell’s area of expertise is thus as important to voters as Nigel Farage’s beloved immigration issue.
- Balance: with the new ‘big four’ parties all offering similar neoliberal policies, it would bring much-needed balance to the panel to have someone speaking against the privatisation of public services.
- Quality: Clive Peedell has a known ability to provide good copy on national media, including Sky News, Channel 4 and Radio Five Live. His opinions are well-researched and where possible based upon current evidence.
- Variety: it may well be refreshing to have someone who isn’t a career politician appear on the Question Time panel. Equally, it might be a break from the norm to invite someone who doesn’t just want to debate populist topics like immigration.