I’ll expand on Craig’s piece about Any Answers and Anita Anand. I thought the purpose of Any Questions, Any Answers and Question Time was hear answers from a panel of experts - (silence at the back!) to questions raised by ordinary members of the public. The panel are supposedly not given forewarning of the exact nature of the questions. The public are invited to phone in next day with their observations on the panel’s views or to express an opinion on the topic itself.
I assumed that the whole outfit travels, at the invitation of the public, to a location anywhere in the country in order to give a picture of the views of the general public (from all corners of the British Isles) on topical issues at a given moment.
Otherwise, why bother to travel? You might as well stay put in Media City or BH, and bring in the usual lobbyists on a rota.
Anyway, what with activists and agitators bussed into the Question-Time auditorium from regions far and wide, and activists with familiar names airing their views on AA, these participatory programmes have become unrepresentative of the views of the ordinary public.
We already have The Big Questions, a vehicle for semi-professional activists and agitators, and I daresay it would be fine if the BBC devised more programmes where amateur political pundits could let off steam, with the proviso that they made it clear at the outset who they are and what they’re up to.
Last week’s Any Answers was even stranger than usual. Anita practically ignored the relevant episode of Any Questions.
As Craig said, she went off on a journey of her own, setting an agenda that seemed almost unconnected to the programme that had been broadcast the previous day.
Jonathan Dimbleby’s stand-in Ritula Shah let the panel digress completely from one particularly heavily loaded question .
“Katrina Phipps: Do the panel think that more attention has been paid to antisemitism in the Labour Party than Islamophobia in the London Mayoral campaign?”
The first panelist called upon to address that sensitive issue was that fount of vague other-worldliness Ken Clarke:
“I find it shocking that we suddenly have one of these extraordinary hysterical two or three days about antisemitism and Muslim extremism, which didn’t seem to feature in the campaign at all, and shouldn’t. I think all sane and sensible people deplore antisemitism and we’re all ferociously opposed to Muslim extremism and I don’t think there’s anybody in the HoC that’s any other than a fierce opponent of antisemitism and Muslim extremism, and I thought it was a rather distasteful exchange going on.”
His tone was at once dismissive and snide and he subsequently went off at a tangent about the Labour Party’s performance in the recent elections, gently steered further away from the original question by Ms Shah.
Antisemitism was not even mentioned thereafter, and the panel briefly continued discussing the local elections until Ms Shah said she wanted to move on.
A surprising number of AsaJews have been phoning in to these programmes recently to denounce Israel. As Mrs Duffy might have asked “Where are they flocking from?”