BBC Question Time: open thread 19/3/09 (Or The Vince & Ken Show)

by Stephen Tall on March 19, 2009

It’s not often I say that BBC’s Question Time looks unmissable, but I may make an exception for tonight’s edition (BBC1 and online, 10.35 pm GMT). What prompts my salivation, you ask? Well, the Lib Dem representative is none other than St Vince of Cable, the party’s deputy leader and shadow chancellor. In fact, Vince’s presence alone would justify tuning in. But, wait, there’s more.

For the Tories will be represented by one of their only sane Big Beasts, Ken Clarke, the party’s shadow chancellor shadow business minister. Now if only Labour had had the gumption to put up Baron Mandelson, of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham, what a show we would have had in prospect. But perhaps they feared M’Lord Mandelson’s title wouldn’t fit in the credits. Instead, the Government will have Tessa Jowell appearing for its defence. Actually, I’ve always had a soft spot for Tess of the Suburbvilles, one of the only Labour cabinet ministers I can listen to without wanting to shout back at.

And I’ve always had more than a soft spot for TV presenter Fern Britton, debuting on QT tonight – I’m curious to see if my expectations of her (liberal, compassionate, no-nonsense) live up to reality, or if she’ll be afflicted by ‘QT celeb syndrome’ (incoherent rabbit-in-headlights, and/or vacuously populist politician-bashing).

Finally, there’s Douglas Murray, a “self-described neoconservative and Zionist” Wikipedia informs me. Great: a posh-boy Melanie Phillips mini-me. Just what the world needed.

Remember, if you’re tuning in, you can join the general debate on Twitter here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate below.

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Don’t fancy Tess Jowells’ chances against Vince and Ken Clarke. Did she just refer to the ‘Conservative government’ ?!?

by Brian Robson on March 19, 2009 at 10:39 pm. Reply #

Fern Britton is talking rubbish.

Young women are the group with the biggest debts.

by Stomach staple on March 19, 2009 at 10:49 pm. Reply #

Ouch, there is something about that young rightwing man that I just don’t like.

by Stomach staple on March 19, 2009 at 10:53 pm. Reply #

Vince is the only one who has made sense on the University fees issue.

The 50% target is stupid and scrapping it and reducing graduate numbers to a sensible level with University education free to all and dare I say it even grants for those needing them.

by Peter1919 on March 19, 2009 at 11:17 pm. Reply #

Ken also made some sense – he was honest enough to admit that he’d changed his mind. Good to see him back, imo, even though I don’t always agree with him.

The guy from the Social Cohesion institute, or whatever it’s called, spoke about a means-blind method of funding universities – which sounds great until you realise that at the level of individual universities, it only works if the number of poor kids applying is balanced by the number of rich kids applying – which is deffo not the case for the university where I teach. So he hadn’t really thought that through.

Sorry to say, but Vince was a bit anonmous, but then he wasn’t given much to bit on by David D.

by Simon Courtenage on March 19, 2009 at 11:37 pm. Reply #

Vince was great on the economy, and rightly addresses people in the audience and people’s concerns. Easily the most impressive on the early questions.

I have to admit, though, that I found myself agreeing more with Ken Clarke on alcohol – though Mr ‘Buy my ciggies, kids’ Clarke telling Vince he was giving in to a lobby was a bit rich! Vince was nicely self-deprecating, but announcing that it was a statement of Lib Dem policy, unequivocally? Really? I don’t remember that being voted on at the Conference we’ve just had, Vince…

by Alex Wilcock on March 19, 2009 at 11:37 pm. Reply #

What Vince gets right is – not to play politics.

Of course Clarke and Jowell said we shouldn’t raise the price of alcohol. Everybody knows that raised prices will be politically unpopular. It’s a no-brainer….

Except for one thing. If you always tell people what they want to hear, in the end they’ll realise that that is what you are doing. And then, they won’t want to hear any more lies from any more lying politicians!

by David Allen on March 19, 2009 at 11:49 pm. Reply #

When asked by DD whether it would be in the manifesto he did at least only say he hoped so (Note DD’s complete lack of understanding that even the Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems doesn’t dictate our manifesto)

by Peter1919 on March 19, 2009 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

“Great: a posh-boy Melanie Phillips mini-me”

Sometimes I just don’t understand what the younger generation is saying …

by Anonymous1 on March 20, 2009 at 12:16 am. Reply #

Yes she did Brian. Maybe she believes she is already a member of a Conservative Government. I mean what is the different between New Labour and the Conservatives anymore. Or, as seems likely, it was a gaffe that no-one noticed including David Dimbleby, suggesting that she has already conceded the next election to the Conservatives.

by Richard Whelan on March 20, 2009 at 10:43 am. Reply #

Christ, listening to Fern Britton was painful.

by sanbikinoraion on March 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm. Reply #

I think the response to politician-bashing should not be to shoot the messenger but try to find ways to select different and better people to represent us.

As long as politicians have the mindset which says it is okay to be self-serving, to lie, to refuse to acknowledge responsibility and to spin, they will be pilloried.

Change is not easy I grant you. But if you want to call for change, you should be aware of whether you, personally, and your party need to change too.

To quote Santayana “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Unless I have missed something, Gordon Brown has yet to admit that there were things which could have been done to avoid the credit crunch. Instead of this, we have the endless replaying of the line “it is a global recession” which seems to translate to “I messed up but please do not blame me”.

This infantile approach to politics surely needs to change.

by Voter on March 21, 2009 at 1:37 pm. Reply #

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