News, Culture & Society

Fiona Bruce criticised for asking non-white member of Question Time panel to handle racism question

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce was accused of ‘unconscious racism’ after she asked the only non-white member of last night’s panel on primetime show Question Time to be the first person to answer an audience member’s query about racism. 

The question, which was partly about the revelations of alleged racism made by cricketer Azeem Rafiq, was asked to a panel made up of three MPs, the psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson and former crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal. 

Audience member Julian Lee asked: ‘With the revelations from cricket’s Azeem Rafiq, and footballers still taking the knee, what does this say about racism as a continuing undercurrent in present day Britain?’

Ms Bruce then immediately turned to Mr Afzal and asked him to answer, prompting him to say: ‘The brown person will answer first’.

When the presenter asked him if it was ‘wrong’ for her to ask him first, he said ‘I think so’. 

In a testy exchange, Ms Bruce then added: ‘Well let’s not do it. I’m not being sarcastic at all. I mean if that’s how you feel, I respect that.’

Reacting to the episode on Twitter, one viewer branded what they called Ms Bruce’s ‘unconscious racism’ as ‘incredible’. 

Another said: ‘Fair play to Nazir there putting Fiona Bruce in her place’. 

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce was accused of ‘unconscious racism’ after she asked the only non-white member of last night’s panel on primetime show Question Time to be the first person to answer an audience member’s query about racism

Later in the discussion, fellow panellist Stella Creasy said: ‘All of us have a challenge to ask ourselves, of whether we are normalising forms of racism.

‘And actually I think that is what Nazir called you [Fiona] to account to about Fiona tonight was to say, ‘we normalise the idea that if we are going to talk about racism we go to the person of colour first and ask them to give their hot take.’

Ms Bruce said she always tries to ‘go to everyone on the panel first’, so that ‘everyone has a go at the first question’. 

As the programme neared its end, Mr Afzal asked Ms Bruce to ‘forgive’ him for his earlier answer, but then added: ‘The reality is that brown people, black people, people from minorities are tired of having to continue to describe how much racism we experience on a daily basis.’

Reacting to the exchange on Twitter, another social media user said: ‘Nazir Afzal was spot on. That look from Fiona Bruce in being called upon on it though.’ 

Another claimed: ‘Fiona Bruce is raging after being called out immediately asking the only ethnic minority about racism – BBC need to put her on unconscious bias training.’    

Panellist Jordan Peterson – who was also joined on the panel by the Scottish National Party’s Stephen Flynn and Conservative employment minister Mims Davis – leapt to Ms Bruce’s defence after Mr Ali said he did think it was wrong of her to ask him to answer the question about racism first.  

He said that Ms Bruce’s decision to go to Mr Afzal first was a ‘mark of respect’. 

‘That may have been inappropriate and it may have been taken wrong but that doesn’t mean it was racist,’ he added. 

In his own response to the audience member’s question, Mr Peterson said: ‘Things need to be particularised rather than generalised as a general rule lets say.

‘This cricketer was facing racism, by his own account. The question is, “who? When? What? Exactly.” 

‘Because otherwise it degenerates into something like a discussion of structural racism.

The question, which was partly about the revelations of alleged racism directed at cricketer Azeem Rafiq, was asked to a panel made up of three MPs, the psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson and former crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal

The question, which was partly about the revelations of alleged racism directed at cricketer Azeem Rafiq, was asked to a panel made up of three MPs, the psychologist and bestselling author Jordan Peterson and former crown prosecutor Nazir Afzal

Ms Bruce immediately turned to Mr Afzal and asked him to respond, prompting him to say: 'The brown person will answer first'

Ms Bruce immediately turned to Mr Afzal and asked him to respond, prompting him to say: ‘The brown person will answer first’

‘And when it becomes abstracted up to that level, first of all that pits group against group, which I think is entirely counter-productive and it actually doesn’t address the issue.’ 

However, the popular author then attracted criticism from the rest of the panel when he waved his fingers in the air as he said that ‘racism’ is a ‘global and vague term’. 

Mr Flynn angrily asked: ‘Sorry, why would you possibly do that? What did that mean?…As if it wasn’t a real thing?’

Mr Peterson responded by claiming that the hand sign was ‘indicative or low resolution thinking’.

Ms Creasy then said: ‘He [Rafiq] was repeatedly called abusive terms directly linked to his ethnicity.’   

When Mr Peterson asked, ‘By who’, Ms Creasy added: ‘By not just one but repeated members of the Yorkshire cricket club. 

Mr Peterson attracted criticism from the rest of the panel when he waved his fingers in the air as he said that 'racism' is a 'global and vague term'

Mr Peterson attracted criticism from the rest of the panel when he waved his fingers in the air as he said that ‘racism’ is a ‘global and vague term’

When the presenter asked him if it was 'wrong' for her to ask him first, he said 'I think so'. Ms Bruce then added: 'Well let's not do it. I'm not being sarcastic at all. I mean if that's how you feel, I respect that'

When the presenter asked him if it was ‘wrong’ for her to ask him first, he said ‘I think so’. Ms Bruce then added: ‘Well let’s not do it. I’m not being sarcastic at all. I mean if that’s how you feel, I respect that’

‘If it walks like a duck Jordan and talks like a duck it is a duck. It’s racism.’

Mr Peterson then insisted that he was not ‘denying’ the cricketer’s experience.  

‘What I asked was “exactly who and when” and you just answered that question,’ he added.

‘And so I would say those specific people should be held specifically to account for their actions before any movement up the abstraction hierarchy to a discussion of something like structural racism, which I don’t think is helpful.’

Reacting to the episode on Twitter, one viewer branded what they called Ms Bruce's 'unconscious racism' as 'incredible'. Another said: 'Fair play to Nazir there putting Fiona Bruce in her place'

Reacting to the episode on Twitter, one viewer branded what they called Ms Bruce’s ‘unconscious racism’ as ‘incredible’. Another said: ‘Fair play to Nazir there putting Fiona Bruce in her place’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk