Question Time: 10/12/15

The show was in Bath. The first question asked if Republican candidate Donald Trump should be banned from the UK. Quentin Letts (parliamentary sketch writer) argued that it was unnecessary for a petition as it was widely agreed that no-one supported Trump’s comments. Mary Beard (professor of Cambridge) was in favour of him coming over to Britain so he could be challenged about his views, especially on a programme such as Question Time. Greg Clark (Communities Secretary, Conservatives) wanted Trump to visit so he could go on tour with him and introduce him to constituents; he also labelled Trump an, ‘offensive idiot’. Caroline Flint (Labour) favoured him being banned as he always seems to offend someone when he speaks. Vince Cable (Liberal Democrats) favoured him being allowed to visit the country as when Nick Griffin of the BNP appeared on Question Time, it exposed his views and Cable believes similar would happen with Trump.

Question two concerned flooding and the actions that should be taken by the government to protect people. Flint argued that more frequent flooding and storms suggested that climate change was having an impact on the weather. She described it as a national security issue, affecting lives and pointed out the money that has been cut from flood defences in recent years. Clark was in favour of a review of what is happening and why. Letts argued that new defences could cause new problems elsewhere and that ministers cannot stop floodwater. Cable focused on the chief scientist at the Met Office finding a link between increased temperatures and more turbulent weather. Cable also added that there were taxes on renewable sources of energy and privatisation is taking place. Clark countered by saying that the government is on track for 30% of energy to be from renewable sources, with 21% currently being produced from renewable sources. Flint argued that most had been brought in by the last Labour government, whilst most had been been built under the coalition government. Beard said the focus should be on management of water courses and the building that takes place on flood plains.

The third question asked if David Cameron’s negotiations with Europe were real or not. Cable said that we needed to wait until the negotiations had been included, with three of the aims being difficult to assess and that Cameron could have avoided it, but only got into the position to appease those on the right of the Conservative Party. Cable added that he believes Cameron is in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union. Beard favoured there being a more positive approach, focusing on Britain’s role within Europe in a world role. Clark pointed out that in a referendum, it would be the voters who would decide. Flint agreed there should be reform in Europe, but Cameron is trying to sell Europe to the Euro-sceptics within the Conservative Party; she added that she would be voting for Britain to stay in Europe. Letts likened Cameron to Tigger, who goes away very enthusiastically but doesn’t get what is wanted; he added that due to the negativity, he would be voting to leave.

Question four asked if Jeremy Corbyn had been fairly treated by the press. Clark said that he has been accurately reported by the media. Beard felt that he was facing a tough time, but acting with great dignity – she also liked that he gives arguments over soundbites. Flint felt there was too much trivial reporting that was unfair, but that other leaders have faced similar in the past. Cable believes that Corbyn is disastrous for Labour and that there is no effective opposition to the government, but he is engaging well with younger voters. Letts looked at Corbyn’s past and noted that he seemed to support the IRA in the past and that Labour politicians often say that they he does not speak for them.

The fifth question concerned the lack of spending for mental health issues. Flint described it as a massively important area and that without increased spending, there would be costs elsewhere. Cable said there was a lack of joined up thinking across government. Beard argued that it is often ignored as it is not a visible issue. Letts was in favour of continued support for the NHS. Clark pointed out that assessments for mental health are difficult to get, with months going by, although this is changing, but that further work is required.

The final question asked if Tyson Fury should be considered for Sports Personality of the Year. Beard said he should, but vote for someone else. Flint favoured kicking him off. Letts favoured keeping him. Cable wanted him off, whilst Clark suggested voting for Andy Murray.


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