The first question was about tax avoidance and whether it is morally acceptable. Armando Iannucci made the point that some businesses had got off lightly in avoiding tax in the past. Sarah Wollaston said that there is a moral obligation to pay tax and that avoidance and evasion were different things, with evasion being an aggressive attempt to avoid paying tax. Ed Davey used facts to show how well the government has done in recouping tax money, whilst saying how wrong it was. Chris Bryant argued that more people are tackling benefit fraud than tax evasion and pointed out that not everyone does it. Suzanne Evans agreed that not everyone does it and that political parties spend too much money. A member of the audience hit upon the key point, saying that this has only become an issue due to the election. Tax evasion has been tackled, but more still needs to be done. As it moved onto party political funding, the parties all looked to score points off of one another and the money received from their donors.
The second question asked if the West is appeasing Russia. Ed Davey said that the sanctions were sufficient and the efforts of Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande were the right way to go about things. He also looked to score points off UKIP by arguing that Britain’s position is enhanced by being in the EU. Suzanne Evans argued it is common sense instead of appeasement, with Russia’s forces being far larger. She also said that the EU had provoked Putin. Chris Bryant said that the EU has not provoked Russia, but that there has been appeasement of Russia. Sarah Wollaston described it as bullying and that no-one would want to be involved in a conflict with Russia and that as a result, sanctions are the way forward. The questioner said that the actions of the West may have been seen as appeasement by the Russians. Armando Iannucci agreed with sanctions, citing that those imposed on Iran have seen success in opening negotiations; he suggested extending the sanctions.
The third question asked about Labour’s pink bus ahead of the election. I think it’s a very strange idea that only a pink bus can be selected to encourage women to become involved in politics. My view on the pointlessness of it seemed to be reflected across the panel, although Chris Bryant argued that pink is just a colour and that lots of women did not vote in the last election. The argument also touched on lowering the voting age to 16 and getting young people to vote.
The fourth question asked if A&E patients with trivial injuries should be charged. Sarah Wollaston said no and that it would not raise much money, whilst putting people at risk. Suzanne Evans agreed with her and outlined some UKIP proposals for the NHS ahead of the election. Armando Iannucci argued that they could be fined, but they would still have to be treated. The questioner said that his question was based around people taking responsibility for themselves as opposed to saving or raising money. Ed Davey was against fines, arguing that people could be educated about other options; this was immediately tackled by an audience member, who said that getting an appointment to see a GP is difficult and they often refer to A&E. Chris Bryant argued that there were lots of different aspects causing problems in A&E.