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‘Toxic atmosphere’: Audience reveals BBC bias against Labour’s Diane Abbott

‘Toxic atmosphere’: Audience reveals BBC bias against Labour’s Diane Abbott
The BBC is facing an angry backlash after members of the Question Time audience revealed biased treatment of Labour’s Diane Abbott, including riling them up before shooting, making fun of her and inaccuracies on polling.

Members of the audience came forward after the programme to voice their shock and dismay at pre-show preparations which they said encouraged people to question the Shadow Home Secretary’s legitimacy and jeer her.

Jyoti Wilkinson, a Labour parliamentary staff member, was part of the audience on Thursday and said the “anti-Diane Abbott sentiment beforehand was appalling.”

Wilkinson told Evolve Politics  that when program host Fiona Bruce came out to warm up the audience, “the real hostility” against Abbott became evident, and the presenter “took it upon herself to instigate a roast.”

“Comments along the lines of ‘let her know what you really think’ and ‘some may think she is in the shadow cabinet because of her very close relationships with Corbyn, nudge nudge, wink wink’ were made,” he said, adding this gave members of the audience “licence to air their bigoted views in public.”

READ MORE: Theresa May keeps attacking Jeremy Corbyn, plans to sideline him from cross-party Brexit talks

Bruce and panelist Isabel Oakeshott also faced heavy criticism online for the episode over their claims Labour is “definitely” behind the Conservatives in the polls. Recent polling shows the two parties are about even, with Labour placing slightly ahead in some.

Other audience members shared similar accounts of the behind-the-scenes behavior. “The jeers against Diane Abbott were worse than could be heard on the broadcast; was some humor at Diane’s expense from BBC staff before the recording,” Alison Martin wrote.

“I was absolutely disgusted about the ratio of leavers to remainers there and felt in a huge minority,” another audience member told Evolve. “Fiona Bruce basically made fun of Diane Abbott in the briefing before it aired and proceeded to do the same during the show, how is this presenter impartiality?”

The BBC denied the accusations, saying: “We firmly reject claims that any of the Question Time team treated any of the panel unfairly before and during the recording last night.”

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