Question time

An open letter to the friend who dropped me after Question Time

I’ve put off sending a private email that’s been ready to go for weeks. Then last Sunday, I read Julie Burchill’s column in the Telegraph about the rigid ideological conformism amidst today’s purportedly ‘creative’ class, and it hit a nerve. Despite our sanctification of inclusivity and diversity, Burchill wrote, ‘exclusivity and groupthink still control the arts’. Because my own small experience of failing the progressive purity test this winter has been repeated up and down this country, it is not   small. Scaled up, the private becomes the public. So I’m finally sending my email as an open letter, allowing the Spectator readership in on a conversation germane to more than my

Labour, Question Time and the cult of youth

When’s the Question Time for over-60s, then? Or maybe even over-75s? After all, elderly people face specific social problems: pension issues, care, loneliness. And yet they aren’t getting their very own QT, unlike under-30s, who are. Tonight the BBC is hosting a special youth version of its flagship political show and in the process it is sending out a pretty disturbing message: young people’s views matter more than old people’s. Presented by Emma Barnett and featuring politicians from across the spectrum, tonight’s QT for millennials promises to be an irritating affair. It’s not that I have anything against young people — I was young myself, once. It’s more that self-consciously

Watch: Jo Swinson berated by frustrated Remain voter

The Liberal Democrat leader had an awful time on Friday night’s Question Time special. The audience was, at best, uninterested in her pitch. A notable moment was when a Remain voter criticised the Lib Dems for their policy of revoking Article 50, calling it ‘undemocratic’. You can watch the clip below:

Diary – 24 January 2019

Will I be allowed to take my dog to Europe after 29 March? A trivial question, you might think, in these feverish times, but one that might be an indicator of what the EU thinks of us and how/if they’re going to make us pay for leaving. I took Boss, my Battersea rescue, across France this Christmas and it couldn’t have been easier. The dog was barely noticed on the way out and given a fast, friendly check on the way back. Why should anything change? A pet on the road doesn’t get extra germs just because of the colour of its passport and yet nobody has any idea what’s

Watch: Anna Soubry speaks for the nation on Question Time… for once

These days Mr S rarely – if ever – finds himself agreeing with Anna Soubry on politics. The arch-Remainer has made it her mission to keep Britain in the customs union, the single market and ideally – Steerpike suspects – the EU. Yet, on Question Time this week, the Conservative MP managed to briefly strike a chord with many Brexiteers and Remainers alike: ‘Good Lord, no.’ That said, if Soubry does go ahead with her customs union rebellion on the EU withdrawal bill, things may get very fraught indeed…

Watch: Martin Lewis schools Labour MP on Question Time over tuition fees

In the flurry of excitement over the local elections, Chi Onwurah’s Question Time appearance has been cruelly overlooked. Happily, Mr S is on hand to right this wrong. The Labour MP’s attempt to criticise the Tories over student loans backfired last night. The Labour MP spoke of her apparent fears that a working-class student could be put off university by the amount they would have to pay back. But Onwurah didn’t account for a furious Martin Lewis, who was also on the Question Time panel, taking her to task for her comments: Astonishing scenes on #bbcqt as a furious moneysaving expert Martin Lewis destroys Labour’s Chi Onwurah over her attempts use student debt

Watch: Emily Thornberry booed on Question Time over Russia

This week Question Time moved to Chesterfield with a panel comprised of Liz Truss, Emily Thornberry, Vince Cable, Nesrine Malik and LBC presenter Iain Dale. However, the talk that proved the most newsworthy related to international affairs. Discussing the government’s strikes on Syria over an alleged chemical attack by the Assad regime, Thornberry suggested that the delay in inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) testing the site of the suspected chemical attack was the result of the United Nations and its ‘red tape’ – rather the Russian and Syrian governments not permitting their presence. Given that the OPCW were this week prevented from entering the site after a

Watch: Chris Williamson’s hostile reception on Question Time

Although Chris Williamson recently exited the Labour frontbench – by mutual agreement – the loyal Corbynista has vowed to do what he can for Jeremy Corbyn from the back bench. And this he did on Question Time on Thursday when he joining David Dimbleby for the weekly current affairs show. Speaking on a panel comprised of Michael Forsyth, Fiona Hyslop MSP, Maggie Chapman and Peter Oborne, Williamson did his best to fly the flag for the Labour leader. Only he soon ran into a spot of bother when an audience asked him why if the Labour party was so big and great, Jeremy Corbyn was the best they could come up

Viral Question Time audience member turns out to be a Labour council candidate

Here we go again. The stand out moment of the latest Question Time saw a young woman accuse a Tory minister of purposefully underfunding the NHS in order to  make the argument for privatisation. The exchange left Margot James, a DCMS minister, insisting that she was ‘not a liar’ and calling out the accusations as false. Since then, the clip of the young woman taking James to task has been widely shared online. Only all is not what it seems. It turns out that the audience member is not your average viewer. In fact, Rebecca Shirazi is a local Labour party candidate. Corbynista Laura Pidcock has been tweeting her praises:

Watch: Question Time audience member calls out Labour hypocrisy over Toby Young

This week Question Time moved to Islington. David Dimbleby chaired a panel comprised of Dominic Raab, Labour’s Dawn Butler, Gina Miller, comedian Nish Kumar and Piers Morgan. However much of time was spent discussing Toby Young, who resigned from the Office for Students this week. With various derogatory comments made about Young, it fell to an audience member to address the elephant in the room: Labour’s hypocrisy. He said that it was inconsistent of Labour to call for Young’s sacking while they had only suspended Jared O’Mara, the MP for Sheffield Hallam, while the party investigates misogynistic and homophobic comments he is alleged to have made online: ‘Labour and the Tories can

Watch: Question Time audience member accuses Nicky Morgan of treachery

This week the ‘stop Brexit’ campaign went into overdrive after the government suffered its first defeat on the EU withdrawal bill – with 11 Tory rebels voting to back an amendment calling for a meaningful vote on the final deal. The whips now have their work cut out trying to prevent a second rebellion next week on Theresa May’s own amendment to put the exit date in the bill. However, should Chief Whip Julian Smith’s charm offensive fail again, perhaps the government could look to last night’s Question Time for back-up. With David Dimbleby joined in Barnsley by a panel comprised of Nicky Morgan, Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey, Professor Robert Winston

Emily Thornberry fails the socialism test

Oh dear. After a fortnight of government shambles, Jeremy Corbyn can enjoy the weekend safe in the knowledge that his party is… still neck and neck with the Tories. On last night’s Question Time, Emily Thornberry offered an insight into why her party – and it’s plan for 21st century socialism – may be failing to catch fire. Asked by a member of the audience what country was the best advert for Corbyn’s brand of socialism, the shadow foreign secretary struggled to come up with an answer: QT audience member: I’d like to hear of an example where Corbyn and McDonnell’s economic ideas have worked. DD: Okay, you can name

Why artists should stay off Question Time

Do you have to be a boring lefty to enjoy the films of Ken Loach? The reason I ask is, the British Film Institute have just rereleased three of Loach’s finest films on DVD, and though I loved them when they first came out, when I sat down to watch them again, after twenty years, my heart sank. Why? Because nowadays, when people mention Ken Loach, I don’t think of his masterpieces like Kes (one of the greatest British movies ever made) so much as his dreary appearances on political discussion programmes like Question Time. Ken Loach is a socialist filmmaker – whatever that means. If you’re a socialist, maybe

Watch: Paul Mason says Kim Jong-un has ‘done the world a favour’

Oh dear. With North Korea threatening to detonate a nuclear bomb in the Pacific Ocean, world leaders are left scratching their heads over what to do about the rogue state’s penchant for nuclear weapons. But has North Korea actually just done the world a favour by threatening to bomb Japan, South Korea and the US? That’s the claim Paul Mason tried to peddle on last night’s episode of Question Time. The journalist-turned-left-wing-revolutionary argued that Kim Jong-un has ‘done the world a favour’ by putting Donald Trump ‘on the back foot’ through his nuclear game plan: ‘In a way, Kim Jong-Un has done – only in this metaphorical way – the world

David Dimbleby stays up past his bedtime

On last night’s episode of Question Time, David Dimbleby made his way to Burton upon Trent to chair a panel made up of Jacob Rees-Mogg, Richard Burgon, Caroline Lucas, Susie Boniface and (Sir) Craig Oliver. Unlike last week, the BBC anchor did not have to eject any audience members for rowdy behaviour. However, that’s not to say the programme was without interruption. Halfway through the episode, a phone went off. On closer inspection, it transpired out that it was Dimbleby’s phone: ‘This is my stopwatch saying it’s bedtime!’ At 78, are the late nights beginning to get to Dimbleby?

MSM wars: Nick Ferrari clashes with Canary founder on Question Time

Although Nick Robinson once accused the BBC of displaying anti-Corbyn bias, producers are keen to show that the Corporation is a broad church after all. On last night’s episode of Question Time in Hastings, Liam Fox, Stella Creasy, Economist editor Zanny Minton Beddoes and LBC radio host Nick Ferrari were joined by Kerry-Anne Mendoza, the founder and editor of the ‘alt-left’ site The Canary. With The Canary having earned a reputation for often only showing one very specific viewpoint, tensions between Mendoza and MSM (mainstream media) hack Ferrari boiled over when an audience member asked whether traditional media was now redundant. While Mendoza said publications like hers were the future, Ferrari took

Watch: David Dimbleby ejects heckling Corbynista from Question Time

Although the Conservatives won the most votes, most seats and increased their national vote share, many Labour supporters remain convinced that Jeremy Corbyn was the real winner of the snap election. On Question Time last night, one such supporter was so angry about the democratic election result that they had to be ejected from the building. As David Dimbleby chaired a panel from Plymouth – with David Lidington and Gina Miller among the panellists – an irate man in a striped shirt shouted that the Conservatives had ‘lost the election’: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has proven that anti-austerity policies are popular – the Tories and the Blairites lost that election.’ Lidlington attempted

Nicola Sturgeon given rough ride over IndyRef2 on Question Time special

After both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn received a rough ride on Friday in the Question Time leaders election special, tonight it was the turn of Nicola Sturgeon and Tim Farron. The pair faced questions from a live studio audience in Edinburgh. The location proved problematic for the Liberal Democrat leader who had to fend off questions on why he supported a second EU referendum but not a second Scottish independence referendum. However, it was Nicola Sturgeon who received the more hostile reception. Although the First Minister put in a confident performance, she was repeatedly quizzed by dissatisfied voters on her party’s poor record on education. One audience member put it particularly

Jeremy Corbyn hammered on defence in Question Time special

Tonight Jeremy Corbyn faced his toughest media appearance of the campaign as he took questions from a live studio audience in the Question Time Leaders Special. Although the audience appeared more favourable to him than Theresa May at first (with the Labour leader receiving a loud whoop as he entered the stage), the format actually ended up working against him. With audience members asking the questions rather than a presenter, Corbyn struggled to change the subject on uncomfortable topics and appeared rattled when pressed on his views on small businesses, Trident and the IRA. He also failed to alleviate Labour’s credibility problem when a voter asked him if Labour’s manifesto

Watch: Diane Abbott taken to task by furious Brexit voter

Diane Abbott suggested last year that some voters backed Brexit because they wanted to see ‘less foreign-looking people on their streets’. On Question Time yesterday, she finally got her comeuppance. A furious Leave supporter took her to task on the show by asking her whether she had any remorse for her remarks. The audience member told her: ‘You say you respect the will of the people, but do you have any remorse or any apologies to make for the disgusting lie you made against me and millions of innocent people that voted Leave – that because they voted Leave, they don’t like the look of foreign people and must be racist