BBC Question Time verdict: ‘Starmer was given an easy ride by far-Left BBC’

Labour Party leader Keir Starmer
Britain's main opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer took part in a four-party leadership BBC Question Time - STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP

Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer, Sir Ed Davey and John Swinney answered voters’ questions live on Thursday’s Question Time election special.

Following the two hours of questioning, The Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner argued “Mr Sunak seemed more positive than of late,” and “connected with the audience better than Sir Keir had done”. Tim Stanley, however, described how the Prime Minister’s “hands were lively but his face dead”.

Telegraph readers also weighed in with their verdict. An exclusive Telegraph poll showed 69 per cent of over 50,000 readers thought Mr Sunak came out on top, followed by Sir Keir with 17 per cent of readers’ votes.

Readers were widely impressed by Mr Sunak, arguing he held his own against a biased BBC audience and Fiona Bruce.

Andrew Leponis argued “Rishi Sunak is doing way better than Keir Starmer. He’s taking a beating but doing well.”

He added: “It won’t make a difference, but he can hold his head up high after this.”

Adam Cormie also believed the Prime Minister delivered the strongest segment of the night, and shared how “Rishi did better and came out fighting. He answered the questions directly, unlike Keir Starmer.”

On the Labour leader, reader Nigel Curtress wrote: “Keir Starmer is slippery. He never answered the questions,” and instead “launched into stock monologues”.

An anonymous reader echoed this sentiment, arguing that Sir Keir spoke “like he has already won”.

Other readers touched on how Sir Ed and Mr Swinney came across.

Reader Harry R Morgan was left “impressed” by the Lib Dem leader, arguing he “knows his figures, gives straight answers, and has a more ambitious and appropriate plan for government than the lacklustre manifesto of Labour”.

However, Anthony Carter questioned “what does Ed Davey stand for?” claiming he gave “platitude after platitude after platitude but no solutions.”

On Mr Swinney, Telegraph readers labelled him as “evasive”. David Pollock, for example, said the SNP leader was “unable to avoid squirming over dropping their single real aim and unable to agree to reflect the democratic wishes of Scotland.

“Everything is someone else’s fault.”

‘Sir Keir was given a very easy ride’

Readers also discussed Fiona Bruce’s and “the far-Left BBC” audience bias in dealing with the four different leaders of the political parties.

Reader D.J. said “Sir Keir has been given a very easy ride,” and argued he was “allowed to wander off into warm little anecdotes to while away the time and avoid anything too tricky”.

Julia Kaweki remarked: “Ms Bruce should not be doing anything other than pointing out who in the audience should be asking the next question.

“This debate is meant to be a chance for the public to speak.”

Meanwhile, A.M. Reboul thought Fiona Bruce was “taking over questioning Rishi Sunak in the most aggressive manner, unlike her treatment of any of the other party leaders”.

They continued: “The audience was allowed to throw around aggressive statements without any intervention, it seemed very unfair. They were supposed to be asking specific questions.”

‘The BBC are helping Reform by not allowing them entry’

Nevertheless, one of the leading topics of conversation among Telegraph readers was the absence of Nigel Farage representing Reform.

“The party which is arguably going to get the second largest vote share is not allowed to attend, therefore I’m not watching,” David Lane said. “Do the BBC not recognise that they are actually helping Reform by not allowing them entry?”

This belief resonated with many readers. William Tell, for example, reacted: “By not appearing on the debate Reform’s position is going to be strengthened, as the viewing public can see all the awful alternatives on offer without any distraction from Nigel Farage.”

Nigel Farage, Leader of Reform UK delivers speech on June 20, 2024 in Blackpool, England
Nigel Farage delivered a speech in Blackpool on Thursday - Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

B. Miller also weighed in: “Truly don’t understand why the SNP – which is of interest now only to a tiny minority of people in Scotland and which can never form the UK government – is allowed on this debate, but Reform which is polling in second place and rising fast, and which is contesting seats across the UK, is not represented.

“The BBC are a disgrace, as usual”.

Reader Chris Green added: “I don’t agree with Farage’s solutions but given Reform’s standing in the polls it is an utter travesty that he is not there. He is always worth listening to, even if he does make me feel like throwing things at TV!”

He continued: “More than anything, democracy depends on freedom of speech. You don’t have to agree with Nigel Farage – or George Galloway for that matter – but the public should be able to hear what he has to say.”