I had a call last Friday from Ray Barry, our candidate in Broxtowe. He was justifiably angry at not having been informed that a BBC Radio Nottingham debate with the Broxtowe candidates was taking place, and by the time he learned about it, it had already taken place.
The non-invitation of Ray to the debate is typical of the relentless anti-male bias shown by the BBC in many areas over many years. Last year we complained about a Newsnight piece about domestic violence which showed only female victims and only male perpetrators. We wrote a complaint outlining how the piece had violated 54 of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, and the complaint was rejected.
For some weeks I’ve had in my diary a BBC Radio Nottingham debate with the other candidates in Ashfield, which will be broadcast live tomorrow, 23 April, 18:00 – 19:00. I had heard nothing about the proposed venue or format, so was surprised by something Ray told me about the event. I emailed my senior (male) contact at BBC Radio Nottingham the following:
(Name redacted), good morning. Has a venue been decided for this debate? I heard on the grapevine that the theme is to be ‘What will your party do for women voters?’ which I can scarcely believe, given all parties (other than J4MB) focus on representing the interests of women (and girls), and none give a damn about the interests of men (and boys) – hence the 20 areas in our manifesto in which the state assaults the human rights of men and boys, while assaulting the human rights of women and girls in none.
Here are the details for next week.
DATE: Thursday 23rd APRIL, 2015
VENUE: Festival Hall, Hodgkinson Road, Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottingham NG17 7DJ
TIME: Arrive by 5.30pm. On air live 6.05 until 7pm.
PANEL: Five candidates standing in Ashfield have been invited to attend.
AUDIENCE: There will be an audience and they will be invited to ask questions to the panel. Unlike the Broxtowe and Sherwood hustings this audience will be smaller and will have been vetted by the BBC to ensure there is no political bias.
SUBJECTS: This is a CONSTITUENCY debate. We want to talk about issues affecting Ashfield. However, this does not mean we’ll be ignoring national issues like immigration. There will be questions about women voters but equally there’ll be plenty of time given to subjects like health (with reference to King’s Mill hospital) and other areas.
Many thanks again and looking forward to seeing you next Thursday.
Thanks . No question(s) about male voters, in the interests of balance?
The format we’re going for is a more informal form of hustings.
The audience will be made up of 12 women voters who will have gone through a vetting process (my colleague will shortly be sending you details of how you can nominate people you’d like to attend).
The first part of the evening will be on why women’s votes could be so important at this election. But it will not take up the whole of the evening. We want to talk about King’s Mill hospital and regenerating places like Kirkby and Sutton.
(Name redacted), this is even worse. No male voters in the audience? Will the people I can nominate have to be women too? This is a deep insult to half the voters, the half ignored by all political parties (with the exception of J4MB) and the mainstream media. It’s a complete farce.
Will there be an opportunity to make a speech, even a short one, at some point?
It is going to be an audience of women so you’d have to nominate women.
It will be a live debate broadcast on BBC Radio Nottingham between 6 and 7pm on Thursday 23rd April.
Before the debate begins each candidate will have the opportunity for an opening statement – no more than one minute. The position of when you make your statement will be decided by picking names from a hat. At the end there’ll be an opportunity for a closing statement, again one minute in duration, the order will be the reverse of those of the opening statement.
His (female) colleague then emailed me the following:
Thank you for agreeing to take part in the BBC Radio Nottingham debate in Ashfield. You have an opportunity to put some potential audience members forward to attend the event. This debate will be different is style to most, the audience will consist of about 12 women. We want to hear from women from all ages and walks of life, to find out what really matters to them. Topics might include the economy, NHS and Education.
In accordance with BBC national guidelines regarding due impartiality each audience member must be vetted. Details and the vetting form are below could you send on to potential audience members. The choice of who you invite is down to you, but they need to be ‘rank and file supporters’ (normal voters) rather than campaigners or party activists.
Once the form is returned to me and if they are successful I will send out a ticket.
I replied with the following, and didn’t get a response from her.
(Name redacted), thank you. This premise of the programme is outrageous, but I shall still attend. You write:
“The choice of who you invite is down to you…”.
No, it’s not. You’ve excluded one entire gender from the audience.
“BBC Radio Nottingham is giving the women of Ashfield the opportunity to be part of a live political debate.”
Put another way:
“BBC Radio Nottingham is not giving the men of Ashfield the opportunity to be part of a live political debate.”
I invite you to listen to the programme from 18:00 – 19:00 tomorrow. It should be possible to listen to it ‘live’ over the internet. A link to the station is here, simply click on ‘LISTEN LIVE’. Regardless of the cynical format of the show, I shall not be silenced with respect to issues affecting men and boys.