Thursday, July 06, 2006

Question Time - live blog

And so we begin. My comments on the panelists are on an earlier post. "There they are and here we go."

22.37 The titles have some different shots of the special production team setting things up.

22.37 David Miliband is the only panelist with a tie on!

22.38 Matt Pollard looks understandably nervous as Dimbleby introduces him. And the audience are all twenty-one or under.

22.38 Question: Should the government place the burden of tackling extremism on Muslim communities.

Goldsworthy: Calls for an independent enquiry and two way dialogue. Dimbleby pushes her to comment on Tony Blair's comments the community.

Miliband: He agrees its a role for all of us to build a just and tolerant society. He acknowledges the debate in the Muslim community between co-existanceists (the vast majority in the UK) and would be dominators who need to be stood up to.

This isn't really firing off yet but given the date it's understanable that this is the first topic. Miliband is trying to justify the lack of a public enquiry as unlikely to tell anything new. He has a point that a public enquiry could divert from the police focusing on preventing a repeat attack.

Audience: Isn't it all our responsibilities?

Madeley: The intelligence services don't have much of a reputation left after their failings like 45 minutes and Forest Gate so what would an enquiry tell us? He is more concerned that a survey found 13% of UK Muslims regard the suicide bombers as martyrs. Is something going wrong in mosques and discussion forums?

Audience (a female Muslim): Feels there needs to be more discussion of the role of US foreign policy.

Audience: Wouldn't an immediate withdrawal from Iraq be the best thing to tackle extremism?

Pollard: Rejects an immediate pullout because of the chaos in Iraq, being on the verge of civil war. His first comments are both sensible and confidently delivered. He doesn't like to agree with Liberal Democrats though... He thinks a key problem is ignorance of Islam in this country that needs better education.

Coe: Thinks Blair is right to say what he did, but wishes people had seen the Islamic Expo at Alexandra Palace. He feels the 13% needs to be tackled by engaging, explaining, listening and showing that we understand, but disagrees with Madeley about the efficiency of the intelligence services.

Madeley responds with the shooting on the tube as being a cock-up according to the leaks.

Audience: Picks up on Forest Gate and asks what would have happened if the situation had been reversed.

And another raises the issue of the war as a sign of the government not listening to the community.

Miliband points to the plot to kidnap the Canadian Prime Minister as proof that the Iraq War is not the cause of all the problems.

22:51 Is it fair for Londoners to pay for the Olympics when it benefits the whole country?

Madeley: Is from East London and feels the need to take responsibility for our own cities. "We'll be the first to benefit from it."

Questioner: Feels it unfair that the council tax should go up so much.

Pollard: Agrees it's a steep demand, but it will benefit London the most. Physical regeneration will mostly benefit locals.

Audience: Why do we need the Olympics to regenerate our inner cities?

Coe: We don't but it's the best vehicle he knows to do that. He thinks the majority of Londoners are comfortable because Londoners will be left with world class facilities we can all use. He also points out that there will be a cap on the council tax increase with other forms of funding.

Dimbleby asks how much it will cost by 2012 when the budget escalates. Coe responds that it wasn't bid for as just six weeks of support but as a way to regenerate a community (although I'm not sure Stratford is totally the "East End" - I've always felt the East End is west of the River Lee). Coe is being bombarded with figures by Dimbleby but isn't able to bat them all down. He is justifying it by the regeneration potential.

Audience: Why should we have to wait until 2012 to get these great facilities? Shouldn't more be done to prepare our athletes for 2012?

Miliband: Agrees. Dimbleby ask "so what are you going to do about that?" Miliband: More money going in. He feels that the Olympics have banished the British curse of falling at the quarter and semi finals and there is an inspiration to young people. The audience member isn't convinced and feels the need to invest now.

Another audience: Feels companies like McDonalds and Coca Cola are not the best sponsors to encourage people to take up sport.

Coe: Feels there's massive scope to encourage not just spor but much more. Also feels that London has fallen behind sportswise and the Olympics can help push it up the agenda. In the mid 1980s the Sports Council had £40.2 million for the whole country and much has improved.

Goldsworthy: Feels it's also about winning medals and needs to be reminded of the question. (She is a Cornish MP - for Seb Coe's old seat I think.) She thinks it's fair that Londoners makes a capped contribution but it should not have unlimited liability.

Audience members: What will happen to the greenbelt land around London?

How do we ensure it isn't late Wembley style?

Thinks the ones who will go forward as athletes will be those wealthy enough.

Pollard: Agrees that at the moment the audience members won't be athletes. "Why are our facilities so rubbish."

Miliband agrees that more needs to be done but points to the way facilities have been improved, but also feels it's key to improve the base.

23:02 When will Blair follow Beckham and resign for failing to deliver the nation's dreams.

And there are reminders of the way Miliband has been compared to Rooney...

Miliband: Blair will go before the next election. (How about a specific time?) He thinks there have been major changes to the UK since 1997 and that Blair shouldn't go on too long - defined as "beyond the next election".

Madeley: Has no idea when Blair will go and that it was foolish for Blair to announce his departure so early. (And yet in many other countries such promises are made with no problems, e.g. Japan.) Also thinks Prescott should go now.

Audience: Thinks the nation deserves to know.

Goldsworthy: Compares Blair to Sven. Thinks it's the same procress of protracted unwinding and losing all control.

Audience: Never mind when Blair's going, what about Prescott? (Dimbleby hints it's coming soon.)

Pollard: Thinks long term announcements of departure are bad and that Blair should go when it's best for the UK, not Blair's career.

Coe: Doesn't mind too much - it doesn't affect his task which is a cross party alliance.

(Is it me or is this a rather constructive and tame edition? There's no fierce arguments beyond Dimbleby picking up on a few individual details.)

Coe: "I will always be a William Hague man; he's my friend."

23:07 Is there a limit to amount of chapagne socialists can indulge in? Should Prescott go? (The most popular topic)

Goldsworthy: Thinks now it's being investigated by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and the story won't die down until Prescott goes.

Pollard asks if the enquiry shouldn't be prejudiced. He thinks someone who is currently found innocent should not be forced to resign until found guilty. He thinks the issue is just driven by the ranch visit.

Madeley: It's way past a joke and credibile that he can remain Deputy Prime Minister. Thinks Prescott's belated registering the visit is tantamount to accepting a police caution and really should go. It may give the Labour Party problems but for the country's sake a Deputy PM should be reasonably above reproach.

Audience: Feels the government has performed well for nine years and this issue is overshadowing. (Does anyone recognise this guy.)

Madeley: Saying Prescott should go isn't a criticism of the government but of Prescott.

Questioner: Thinks Prescott has based his career as being supposedly on a morally higher plane with his attacks on other parties and has been exposed as a hypocrite.

Miliband: (Will he start a bid for the deputy leadership here? Probably not...) Tries to play the card that Prescott was a failed school leaver at fifteen who's pulled himself up - to groans. Dimbleby suggests this is a rather patronising approach. Miliband tries to go down the route of talking about "a fairer society."

Audience: Feels the whole image and hypocrisy of Prescott, doing what he viciously attacked others for, is why he should go.

Coe: Feels the enquiry is a little bit irrelevant. Points out that Alastair Campbell said anyone who does thirteen straight days on the frontpages is inevitably doomed, although not sure if Prescott has clocked that up yet. He points to the misfortune many good Conservatives were in when viciously attacked ten years ago.

Madeley picks up on comments in an interview Prescott gave that seem to hint there is more that could come out. Miliband thinks too much emphasis is being placed on words.

Audience: Shouldn't more pressure be put on Blair to resign because he did worse in taking the country to war.

(Interim as Dimbleby announces the audience.)

23:18 Is North Korea a greater threat than Saddam Hussein was?

Pollard: With hindsight it's clear Hussein wasn't so much a threat. North Korea is definitely a threat, although the weapons can't yet reach the US. China is a problem in not taking action. Diplomacy must prevail and military action should be avoided at all costs.

Audience: We can actually see North Korea has the nuclear capability and there's no scope that the threat could be spun.

Thinks there is hypocrisy as North Korea was known about in 2003 and there needs to be credible action not constant talking.

Goldsworthy: Thinks there is a need to learn the lessons of Iraq and ensure that it is the UN who takes action with the co-operation of neighbouring countries.

Madeley: Recalls the Cuba Missile Crisis which was sudden and intense, whereas this is a long term thing, with North Korea not yet a serious threat. He feels China is the key - it doesn't want South Korea building its own nuclear weapons, or Japan buying weapons from the US. Thinks that playing the China card will sort the situation out.

Coe: This is a destabilised country, it has been in difficulty for as long as he can remember. He thinks Bush's response was a reasonable approach, not an Axis of Evil type speech. He's more sceptical about comments about the "crappy nature of the missiles". Thinks the only thing that can come is that there must be a very measured and thought through policy.

Miliband: Thinks there is consensus and that Kim Il Jong has until now been a main threat to his own people but now branching out. Feels that this is something the UN can and must deal with, through China.

Audience: Wonders why no direct action against North Korea by the US - maybe because there's no oil?

Will this affect views on replacing Trident?

Goldsworthy: It's difficult to predict the future world stage.

23:26 At 16 & 17 you can buy a house, join the army and work but not vote. Why?

Miliband: Always pro reduction - either you raise the other ages to 18 or lower voting to 16. Admits his powers of persuasion are not the best across government. Is surprised to learn Gordon Brown is pro a reducuction.

Audience: 17 year old feels that too many don't understand politics and wouldn't use their votes wrong.

Pollard: Thinks it should not be lowered unless compulsory political education (the current provision is not broad enough) is introduced.

Audience: Thinks we should get PR in first. Dimbleby dismisses this sideshow.

Madeley: Thinks his children were equipped and able to vote at 16. If people don't feel they are up to voting they can then not vote.

Coe: Thinks political engagement is important, would reduce the age. But he gets nervous about the idea of "compulsory political education" and wonders who will set the agenda.

Goldsworthy: Agrees with reducing the age but also need to do other things as well. In true Lib Dem style she manages to get a shot at the electoral system in. (So too did an audience member who looked suspiciously like a member of Liberal Democrat Youth & Students...)

And that's it discussion wise. Dimbleby notes that there have been more hands up than ever before.

And now we meet the students who co-produced the show and present the awards.

An interesting if tame show tonight. What I think it proves more than ever before (not that it needs much proving) is that politics can sometimes not make for the best television when it is having reasoned short debate. But is the solution just to have more and more yahbooing to ever smaller audiences.


A soft socialist said...

what political alignment do u reckon the student was?

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

A Google search doesn't give the easy answer but he certainly wasn't a Lib Dem and feels rather partisan against them. It's very difficult to make a good guess because comparitively little of the debate fell into a clear ideological divide.

Although I've already seen suggestions he should be on the A-List.


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