BBC Question Time came from Stoke-on-Trent yesterday. On the panel were Geoff Hoon – transport secretary, for labour, Dominic Grieve – shadow home secretary, for the tories, Julia Goldsworthy – local government spokesperson, for the libdems, Clare Short MP for herself and James Caan, venture capitalist.
I know at least 5 TAG members who were in the audience but I only spotted two briefly, Clearly the BBC had boycotted any questions relating to education and BSF.
There were four questions addressed:
1. The first question was about rising unemployment and what should be done about it.
Hoon said training and education were needed, went on about jobs in loft lagging and seemed to be suggesting that climate change was a good thing because it produces jobs.
Grieve wanted apprenticeships but didn’t say how these would come about and also mentioned something about taxation and small businesses.
Short blamed cheap foreign goods for the decline in local industries and said an intelligent change in direction was needed but didn’t elaborate on that.
Caan wanted legislation to stop outsourcing of work to other countries.
Goldsworthy wanted tax cuts for those on low incomes. I’m not sure if that’s quite on topic (tax cuts are no good to you if you’re unemployed) but it is a very good point.
Hoon tried to make out how great the £120 tax cut a lot of us are getting this year is. But that does not address the point that those on the lowest incomes are comparatively worse off following the 10p tax debacle.
Audience members made points that more support is needed for industry here, people want to work but can’t find work and one woman blamed the local labour party for industries lost from SOT.
2. The second question was from a muslim man who was concerned about the 9 BNP councilors and islamaphobia in SOT and wondered if he should remain here.
Caan said he is a muslim but can not understand why islam is picked out because the Islamic, Christian and jewish religions are so similar.
Hoon made a couple of pathetic points. One condescending one that we all need to be educated about islam apparently. The other being there is nothing wrond with the mayor system.
Grieve seemed to be on another planet, he said that people’s insecurity leads them to be BNP activists.
Short was very anti-BNP and wanted people’s issues to be listened to and dealt with.
Goldsworthy was against the government providing a pot of money labeled as preventing violent extremism as she did not think this helps with moderation. She would prefer the focus to be on more general support and development for communities. I thought this was a good point.
Some good points were raised form the audience on this question.
Gareth Snell from Newcastle borough said that labour, tory and libdem all need to start connecting with they people thy are meant to represent and that people will vote for new things if they don’t like what’s in place. However as a proud labour activist he denied that the labour party were to blams but shifted the blame to individuals.
Another audience member pointed out that as labour, tory and libdem are colluding, the only opposition is from independent and BNP councillors.
The situation in SOT was most eloquently summed up by Cllr Alan Rigby who again emphasized that we have a coalition, with a labour dictator mayor in charge. He said shame on the tories and libdems because if people vote for them they still get the labour elected dictator. He presented a good balanced view I think. He condemned what the BNP stands for nationally and condemned labour for taking us into an illegal war. Agreed. He also said that locally he has good friends who are labour muslim councilors but that there were also very good BNP councilors who never mention racism and do everything that they should and need to do in their communities. I’m amazed how well he managed to fit all these good points in.
3. The third question was from a man who had been refused funding for chemotherapy drugs and didn’t see why people should be penalized for where they live, as the same drugs are available in other counties.
There seemed to be general agreement that the difference in availability is wrong.
Goldsworthy wanted a copayment system. I don’t think I’m with her on that one as we ought to have a proper NHS.
Hoon said the man was right to complain but then embarked on a feeble attempt to spin an answer that labour has a fair and consistent system!
Short said drug companies were making a fortune by deliberately making drugs too expensive.
Grieve reckoned the formula for working out funding for different areas wasn’t working properly and he wanted payments to drug companies according to how well the drugs work. Fair points by Grieve on this one at least.
Caan agreed with a member of the audience that the government doesn’t care about ordinary people, only about big business and banks.
Cllr John Davis in the audience suggested one uniform funding system for the whole country, rather than a fragmented NHS with privatization destroying it. Well said.
4. The fourth question was about the government’s loopy plans for a big brother style database.
Almost everyone agreed this is nuts.
Short opposed it completely as it would cost a fortune.
Goldsworthy would not trust the government not to lose it or misuse it.
Grieve and Caan thought it was unnecessary as investigations are possible via ISP and telephone providers as it is.
Hoon of course had to try to support it but just waffled unintelligibly and tried to claim it would protect is from terrorists.
One woman in the audience made a good point that she found it very offensive of Hoon to accuse people of supporting terrorists just because they don’t agree with him. Other points from the audience were that it probably wouldn’t work because of changing technologies, they should concentrate on ehat is practically manageable instead and that government has a habit of using legislation in the wrong way.
What do I think about the panel?
Caan, nice kind of guy without many answers.
Hoon, by far the biggest twit.
Grieve, not especially on my wavelength.
Short, not as impressive as I often find her, Short by name, short on detail.
Goldsworthy, on the whole I quite liked quite a few of the things she had to say.
I’m sorry that being concise is not my strongest point (but being thorough tends to be).
Over to you.
What do you think about these issues, especially in SOT?
What did anyone else think of the program?
Did they avoid education questions from the likes of the TAG because they think they are not that important, because they are too ‘local’, or because they had heard this was a can of worms that once opened would be hard to close?