This Question Time will go down as a pro-European, MPs expenses apologist and spend our way out of recession programme. There were also too many MPs on the Panel. Although from different parties, MPs are under so much fire these days that they tend to stick together and knock lumps out of the public instead of each other. Maybe one MP and four very poor taxpayers would have been better.
The first question was about Tony Blair's fitness to be the next EU President. Although there was mixed feelings about this, most panelists argued that the UK need to have as 'many people at the top in Europe' as we can so we can push our agenda. Even a well put point that the people at the heart of the EU would be working for the EU's benefit not solely the UK's seemed to go over their heads. How on earth can someone who goes into Europe and has to swear allegiance to the EU project (Oh yes they do!) possibly put an argument forward on our behalf? It just increases the influence of the EU over the UK. Good to see in this morning's papers that the UK public are quite savvy about this.
Then we moved into the 'expenses tarnished MPs moving to the House of Lords' territory, with Dimbleby obviously starting with Ms Jacqboots Smith. This turned into an MPs apologist fest with all MPs saying (in the face of some quite hostile questionning from the audience) that they just obeyed the rules at the time. (I seem to recall that people claimed that after WWII.) Lembit Toothpick went on to say one MP can't slam another on this issue and the others answers seemed to bear this out! He also said it was all Thatcher's fault anyway 'cos she didn't want to be seen to be giving pay rises so gave carte blanche on expenses. So that's OK then isn't it? None of them could see that that is no excuse. Effin Cloud did say that he expected to see three or four politicians in prison over this in due course. Now, for some reason I'm thinking this will never happen, nor do I suspect does anyone else. There's your credibility gone then Mr Cloud.
After sliding under that one we moved into recession mode. Good old Jacqui, 'we must build our way out of this'. Has she not been listening to Gordon and Alistair lately? Two great comments from the audience about how Thatcher paid back the national debt and that it's the poor wot gets the blame just flew by the panel. Then 'Dancer' Sergeant showed that his brain dances no better than his body when he said we must not stop spending! He advocates more borrowing to maintain our way of life, even if it takes decades to pay it back After all that's how long it took after WWII he said. Alright for him, he'll (hopefully) be dead by then. He doesn't want the wearing of hairshirts, we must spend as before to create demand to move the economy on he droned. So when Mr and Mrs Smith run out of room on their credit cards and cannot pay it back, should they borrow and borrow to keep the economy going? What is it about perpetual growth that so drives the political classes and commentators?
They finished off by talking about drugs, but some of the panel must have been on them because they were totally oblivious to the undertones of anger and concerns of the audience. At least Cheryl Gillan gave a brave and honest support to Jacqui Smith on this matter, so showing a welcome non-party political stance (about the power of the government to totally ignore the experts they bring in if it doesn't fit their political plan that is).