BBC savaged for ‘divisive politics’ as all-female shortlist to replace Kuenssberg exposed

Laura Kuenssberg to step down as BBC political editor

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Reports suggest those now tipped to become the broadcaster’s next political editor are female. These include “frontrunners” Sophy Ridge from Sky News and Anushka Asthana from ITV. The BBC has not indicated whether the shortlist is all-female because it wants the position to continue to be held by a woman – or because those tipped to take the reins are genuinely believed to be the best for the job.

The broadcaster was widely reported to be keen to produce its first female political editor the last time around, in 2015.

The all-female shortlist is, according to Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney, the latest example of the BBC engaging in “divisive politics”.

He told this form of candidate selection – especially for such top positions – has little support and ought not to be employed by a national institution.

Mr Harris-Quinney said: “All female shortlists are not something that have universal support, or even majority support amongst the public.

“The BBC should be focused on presenting a diversity of views that represent all those present in British society, rather than gathering a panoply of people of different races, genders and sexualities who are of a very narrow set of political views, and calling it diversity.”

He added: “The only diversity that should matter in an organisation charged with representing the views of the British public is that of thought and opinion.”

Political editor at the BBC is considered one of the most difficult jobs in journalism.

Some have suggested the role could be split in two to help reduce pressure, with one candidate covering radio and the other TV.

READ MORE: BBC Laura Kuenssberg replacement: Beeb’s all-female shortlist exposed

The BBC confirmed Ms Kuenssberg was stepping down in December.

At the time, she said it had been “incredible to occupy the chair during a time of such huge change”.

But, for Mr Harris-Quinney, one thing to remain the same is the political bias of the broadcaster.

He claimed: “Much of what the BBC produces now amounts to little more than liberal propaganda.”

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This, he added, was not just true of the BBC’s news output but “across the board”, including in its cultural programming.

In a bid to rebalance its apparent political tilt, Mr Harris-Quinney suggested the BBC considered focusing on political diversity.

He said: “If the BBC is truly interested in diversity, perhaps it should adopt an all-Brexiteer shortlist, or an all-anti-net zero shortlist, to set against the metropolitan liberal groupthink that has dominated the BBC for decades.”

Deciding not to make such a change could, he added, draw forward the end of the licence fee and the position of the institution as a public service broadcaster as a whole.

Whoever is chosen to take over from Ms Kuenssberg will do so in April, when she steps down after close to seven years in the role.

Asked for comment, the BBC responded: “We do not comment on ongoing recruitment processes.”

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