People of Britain, I have bad news for you: this is not “your election” – contrary to the propaganda from the national broadcaster. 

Unless you are one of the record 4,515 candidates standing for election to one of the House of Commons’ 650 seats, it is just “your vote” on who your local MP should be. You have a single vote among some 47 million registered voters – assuming they all make it to the polls. Only 32,014,119 actually cast a ballot in the UK at the last general in 2019. Sorry, but that’s how representative democracy works. 

Yet fresh from enabling a retired diesel engineer from Nottingham to insult the only two prospective candidates for prime minister (“Are you two really the best we’ve got?”), the BBC has launched its populist sloganeering for its election coverage with the “Your Election” campaign.

“It’s your bin, it’s your bill, it’s your shopping, it’s your commute, it’s your tax, it’s your business, it’s your home, it’s your family, it’s your pension, it’s your operation, it’s your environment, it’s your safety, it’s your community, it’s your future. If it’s important to you, it’s important to us, our coverage will make sure your voice is heard. It’s your election.”

It’s so fatuous. The sentiment of this advertisement fires up the individual against the collective, softened with a couple of inclusive buzzwords – “environment” and “community”. The implication is that if you have got any personal problems, the BBC is on your side and “your election” is the way to sort it out. MPs do a lot of valuable constituency work but “your election” won’t sort out your bin problem directly. Nor can it or should it. 

Ok so it’s only a marketing campaign – and the BBC’s coverage has been as essential as ever in this election, not least because of the privileged access it enjoys as the dominant broadcaster. But the habit of mind of the nation’s most powerful medium of communication matters. Much as the producers and reporters of W1A may be aghast at the rise of Trump, Farage, Johnson and Le Pen, they need to ask themselves whether they have been enablers of the sentiment on which these demagogues have risen. 

It is no surprise that Robert Blackstone of Nottingham, 73, emitted his belch of dissatisfaction on a BBC Question Time-style programme. Since the days of Robin Day’s testy but high-minded chairmanship, the format has degraded into a stint in the stocks for politicians of the day, especially those in government. Outsiders on the panel join the audience venting their grievances and talking facile good old common sense. 

Predictably, Nigel Farage has seized his opportunity and is Question Time’s most often invited guest. He hogged the airwaves, including another Question Time notch, in the first week after the election was called because he was sitting the election out, and has enjoyed saturation coverage ever since then because he decided to run. Farage’s current lover’s tiff with the corporation over his latest appearance on Leaders Question Time is enough to make a cat laugh. “It’s not me, it’s you”. He’s on non-speaks with the corporation. We will see whether the BBC indulges or resists his latest powerplay.

A politician in office can’t win when confronted with someone’s family member who died on a hospital trolley or a precocious teenager who knows we’ve got to save the planet. 

Technically, Sunak and Starmer were not appearing together on Question Time, they were taking part in the BBC Prime Ministerial Debate. But rather than let the protagonists challenge each other, the BBC’s idea of debate is to set the audience on them ably assisted by whoever happens to be presenting the show.

Robert knew he spoke for a lot of people. He told his main news source MailOnline that as he left the debate venue, “People leant forward, saying ‘spot on’, ‘well done’ and ‘good question’”. Next, Question Time’s long-time host, David Dimbleby, 85, popped up looking craggy on the front page of The Daily Telegraph to decry the poor quality of politicians these days. Things ain’t what they used to be.

If so, perhaps Dimbleby and co have put off some potential political high-flyers by the prospect of the ritual floggings they would have to undergo on Question Times, with the added bonus of social media vilification for any opinion challenging conventional wisdom. 

Potential panellists are regularly discomforted and the audience is flattered. “Your” opinions are what matter and the BBC is on “your” side. It’s an obvious ploy from a universalist service under pressure, which leaves the BBC providing its audience with political entertainment, but bad education and misleading information about the public’s influence. 

There was no audience at all for the most informative TV debate this year: CNN’s Biden v Trump. The moderators, Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, were models of restraint as well. As a result, fifty million Americans got to see what their would-be Presidents are really like in the raw. Something both Biden and Trump have done their best to hide through their terms in the White House. That was real, impactful journalism. 

At around two million, the BBC Leaders’ Debate drew half the audience of the Euro football on another channel and half the audience of ITV’s scrappy first Sunak/Starmer debate. It must be a comfort that the studio audience and the BBC’s amour propre was satisfied. Robert’s question kept out discussion of matters which seem to be driving sections of the electorate to get more involved in the election such as Palestine or climate change. 

MPs often say they get the greatest job satisfaction from sorting out constituents’ problems. For MPs of all parties, this is an important secondary activity. All parties increasingly favour candidates who know the area, often local councillors, in their selections. 

But helping you is not an election issue, except in a tiny minority of personal cases. An MP’s main job is as a law maker, voting with a faction, or political party, to pass or oppose regulations governing issues of national and international importance and to determine who should lead the government as prime minister. 

Your vote at this election goes towards deciding who, from which party, should have these responsibilities. You elect “them”. However much “they” are forced to pander to “you”, the election is not about your individual circumstances – or about the BBC.

Write to us with your comments to be considered for publication at