The missing government minister on last night’s BBC Question Time programme appears to be because governmental toys have been thrown out of the pram on the grounds of who else had been invited on the show.
The BBC is absolutely right to resist political interference in its programme scheduling: it’s a vital part of the impartiality of the BBC and its role in the public life of this country that the government of the day cannot dictate to it or seek to script it. The key issue remains that – regardless of who else had been invited on the programme, and regardless of it being the week of the Queen’s Speech, and regardless of the aspect of whether representation on the programme should be on a ‘like for like’ basis between government and opposition – the government should simply not be demanding the removal of other panellists as a price of their own appearance on it. It’s a matter of principle and the BBC is absolutely right to insist on it.
This new coalition government has a lot to learn – and it had better start by learning that it is in no place to throw its weight around like a wannabe playground bully.