Yesterday I spoke about BBC Question Time and how they’d moved it from it’s regular 10:35 slot to 9pm because of the anger in country surrounding the scandal of MP’s expenses. And, dutifully, I sat down at nine to watch, with my laptop on and twhirl open so I could follow the wider debate on Twitter via the #bbcqt tag.
The show wasn’t as much of a bloodbath as the previous week. The Salisbury audience were more sedate than the folks ‘up North’ had been. But they still laid into the panel in a way rarely seen on Question Time. One lady, who looked as though she’d missed her WI meeting to attend, tore several strips of Labour representative Ben Bradshaw.
The make-up of the panel was interesting and perhaps give an insight into how the parties have handled this furore. The Tories served up former leader and current foreign affairs spokesman, William Hague – who I thought was his usual, straight-talking self. The Lib-Dems gave us the brilliant Vince Cable – the one voice among many who predicted the economic mess we are now in. This is the man who should be Chancellor – or even PM.
In contrast, I’d not even heard of Labour’s Ben Bradshaw until last night. We won’t even mention the craziness of the UK Independence Party sending an Argentinean lady to represent them – I mean, they’d probably send her back across the Atlantic if they were ever in power.
What this tells me is that the Tories and Lib-Dems are much more confident that they’ve handled things as well as they thought they could, while the government are still running scared. Yes, the public are angry with all parties, but I think they, for the most part, appreciate that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have at least appeared as outraged as the rest of us and are talking the talk about cleaning things up. Whereas Brown has stayed very quiet until pushed.
There have been calls for a General Election as a result of the revelations. The public feel that our MPs are out of touch. And they have a point. Take Hazel Blears (please, someone take her). Did she for one second think that brandishing a cheque for £13000 to ‘pay back’ the Capital Gains Tax she should have paid but managed to avoid when she sold a house that WE THE PUBLIC had been paying the mortgage on, was a good idea? (Yes, I kid you not, MPs are allowed to claim their mortgage payments on “second homes” as expenses – then sell those homes and pocket the profit for themselves. This at the same time that people are struggling to pay mortgages on ‘first and only’ homes and being repossessed.)
Was she nuts? Did it not cross her tiny brain for a second that people would see her waving a cheque in the air and ask, “How the bloody hell can you afford to write a cheque for £13k?” I for one know I couldn't conjure up thirteen grand just like that.
I could go on as there are literally tons of these stories, each one more unbelievable than the last. And each one smacking of people at the top who are out of touch with the public and just have not got a clue. It makes it worse when they trot up and try and defend themselves. “I haven’t broken any rules,” is the standard excuse. What about that little rule that the rest of us live by called The Law?
Calls for the General Election have been shot down by the government. They say it’s the wrong time. They say we need time to reflect. They say it would cause chaos.
I say this is a government desperate to cling to power for as long as they can as they know they’ll lose the next election in a big, big way. I say they just want more time to line their own bloody pockets.
But anyway. Twitter. The hashtag #bbcqt was the number one trending topic worldwide from around 9:20, halfway through the show, to about 10:45-ish. We had people in North America coming on asking what the hell it was all about. We told them not to worry, it was a British thing and we’d all be in bed soon enough anyway. Of course, #bbcqt brought out the spammers too. I was offered a naked picture of Britney Spears.
Not only was #bbcqt trending at the top spot, but I was the 5th highest contributor out of over five hundred according to http://wthashtag.com/Bbcqt
So there we have it. I was trendy. (Well, trending). I don’t think I’ve ever been trendy in my live. I was Secretary if the Physics Society at University for God’s Sake – how can I have ever been trendy? But I was. So there.