Opinion: The failings of This Week

As we kick back and relax from a hard day’s work (or job seeking as is so often the case), we would expect our licence fee funded BBC to reflect our views, those of 23% of the electorate according to last year’s poll (the national election).

However, a glance at our daily political programming would suggest that the BBC is still pandering to the cosy duopoly of Labour and the Tories.

Perhaps this cosy duopoly is most evident on Thursday nights with “This Week” (BBC 1 11.30pm ish), promising “politics with attitude and without the spin”. Andrew Neil (ex-Conservative party employee and presenter) is joined by Michael Portillo (Conservative) and a Labour guest to debate the top topics from the world of politics.

Where are the Liberal Democrats? Apart from the occasional appearance by big beasts such as Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrats are entirely unrepresented.

This under-representation is compounded by the fact that I often find myself watching this cosy duopoly batter Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne or the Lib Dems in general without a right of reply. Contrary to the show’s claim to be “without the spin”, this is an exercise in political socialisation.

“This Week” should be called “The Duopoly Show” and not mislead viewers as to its underlying intentions.

The format of the programme, as with the participants, reflects this duopoly with two opposing sofas, one of which is inhabited by the representatives of the duopoly, a Labour and Conservative figure, and the other by everyone else.

We need no reminding that the Liberal Democrats are now part of the government and therefore an integral part of British political life. Any programme therefore funded by licence fee monies deserves equal representation of cross-party views, not just those of the duopoly status quo.

Many of the comments contained herein were submitted to the BBC complaints department. Their reply was – “audience research indicates widespread confidence in the impartiality of the BBC’s reporting”.

Tune in this week and judge for yourselves…

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • It appears also that it is “de rigeur” to make jokes about Clegg on any program e.g. on QI, ” name a vertebrate with no backbone” answer from one panellist, “Nick Clegg”.

  • Try being Scottish. Our party of government is mentioned roughly once every eight years, if we’re lucky.

  • David Allen 23rd Oct '11 - 5:14pm

    “This Week” looks for speakers who won’t just parrot the party line and might have something original to say. When more Lib Dems do that, as Kennedy and Ashdown will, then we’ll get more speakers on the programme.

  • Cllr Colin Strong 23rd Oct '11 - 8:59pm

    While I agree with your sentiments my question is “Why are you still watching this drivel?”
    It is in a graveyard slot for a good reason.

    Declaration of interest:
    I do not watch Question Time
    I do not watch This Week
    I do not watch Daily Politics

    I watch BBC Parliament so I can make up my own mind. I do not need Politics spoon-fed to me by idiots like Brillo.

  • Although “This Week” is merely a BBC side show, I believe it represents a microcosm of the structural inequality underlying much of the BBC’s political programming.

    We can of course just switch off and watch the corporate backed media instead.

    However, the BBC is funded by us the licence fee payer and therefore we are well within our rights to demand equal representation on any and all political programming on the BBC.

  • Take heart. I strongly suspect that the show is aimed at political nerds like us and it ann’t goint to influence me.

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