Well, this has been an exciting week! A cameo appearance in Question Time (just before 15 minutes) and then taking part in an EU Referendum debate across in Dronfield.
Appearing on Question Time was very interesting. I have been in the audience for the original radio version, Any Questions, a couple of times and the set-up is very similar, just that for a TV programme, everything takes longer to set up and there are far more crew members running around. The big difference between the programmes is the Question Time encourages the audience to participate and takes contributions from them.
While some of these contributions were very good (the women who spoke just before me on the dangers of Brexit and later, at 39:30, another woman who spoke on the effects of the cuts to public services on Doncaster were both excellent), it was another contribution that really made me angry. During the discussion on migration, a women said (at 25:30) “I just want my country back, I want Britain to be Britain”. This has been the cry of some in the older generation for as long as I can remember. Indeed, I can remember people saying it (or something similar) when I was growing up in London in the 1960s. Do they not understand how everything changes over time? Yes, the UK today is different from the UK of the 1960s & 1970s, just as the UK then was unrecognisable to those who grew up in the 1930s. It is sad that some of my generation can’t accept that change happens, some for good & some may be not so good, but that is not a reason to turn our backs on Europe, opportunity, peace & a secure future.
Overall, I enjoyed taking part in the programme & though the level of discussion was very high, even though Daniel Hannan is a very slippery character and totally fixated on what he sees as the evil EU (probably because it doesn’t give him the control over us he wants).
So onto the debate in Dronfield. I was in the platform against the local MP, Natascha Engel and the UKIP & Greens candidates from last May’s General Election. I was there as to represent the Liberal Democrats. The Tories had been invited but didn’t show up. We were hosted by the local Methodist Church and it was run along the line of an Election Hustings, short opening statements followed by questions from the audience.
I was the only panel member who was definitely for Remain. The UKIP gentleman was, unsurprisingly, totally opposed to the EU and what he believes to be its evil works, the Green was for a reformed EU but seemed to want a tactical vote for Brexit to attack the “establishment” and Natascha Engel seemed to be wavering between Brexit & Remain.
The level of questions asked by the well informed audience was very high and not as anti-EU as I was expecting. From the feedback I got from talking to some audience members after we finished, I seemed to come across as well informed and that I had made a good impression for staying in the EU so I think the event went well. My only regret is that there were not more young people there as the Referendum is far more about their future than it is about mine.
Taking part in such debates was not something I had ever done before last year’s General Election. Quite frankly, the idea of sat on a stage and speaking in public on subjects like the EU filled me with dread. Now I quite enjoy taking part and, at least from what other tell me, I seem to be able to hold my own even with experienced debaters like Ms Engel. It just shows that there are hidden depths to all of us and sometimes we just have to have the courage to do things that frighten us.