Monday, 30 August 2010

Tory spotted in Tyneside

Poor Iain Dale. It seems the top Tory blogger (pictured) had a rough time when he visited Newcastle on Friday. He was in toon to appear on 'Any Questions', Radio 4's touring weekly political panel show. Dale reports:

'I suppose that given our hosts in Newcastle were the Workers Education Association I shouldn't have been surprised to get a hostile audience, but it comes to something when you're booed before you even sit down! And frankly, they didn't get any friendlier. By the end I reckoned I could have told the funniest joke in the history of joketelling and not got a laugh.'

Well, we aren't known for giving Tories an easy time around here. Even a Radio 4 audience, it seems, is liable to leave them a little battered.

Shirley Ford, a local leftie and Green activist, has blogged about the same experience, but from a different perpsective: she was in the audience. After commenting on a Radio 4 programme about the history and politics of waste, she writes:

'Now for the other load of rubbish, which was Any Questions, or at least the panel were. A tory, two new labour and the chief exec of Britain’s biggest private health care company, so very much centre-right. The audience invited by the Workers Educational Association, who were hosting it, in Newcastle, as part of their Centenary celebrations, were overwhelmingly very much to the left of the panel. So there was some heckling and booing as you can imagine.'

In the comments thread for Dale's post there are lots of 'boo hoo, the BBC is so leftie liberal' comments, apparently due to the choice of audience. How dare they have an edition broadcast from Newcastle - it's Labour's heartlands and bound to bring a biased audience. That's just not fair.
It doesn't occur to them that the choice of panellists - who didn't express a left wing opinion between them, all of them cosily entrenched in a narrow neoliberal worldview - might be more politically significant.   
Trivia question: who has reportedly appeared on 'Any Questions' more times than any other person? If you think you know, or want to guess, post a comment below!



  1. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Oh, OK, you've wangled it out of me - yes, it is Tony Benn. Well done Jim!

    Benn's record might reinforce the argument about left-wing bias, of course, so don't tell the commenters over at Iain Dale's place.