The answer might surprise you
It was the Question Time to beat all Question Times.
Billed as Russell Brand vs Nigel Farage, it was the most-hyped instalment of the panel debate programme for a long time – or maybe ever.
Question Time routinely attracts around three million viewers, but going by the level of debate on Twitter, it’s fairly safe to say the programme in Canterbury could have doubled its audience last night.
But who won?
Let’s take a look at the evidence.
Tory MP and ITV’s Splash! contestant Penny Mordaunt took a hammering from Brand over firefighters’ pay and conditions.
“Old Penny there is presiding over legislation that means firemen are going to have to work an extra five years,” Brand said.
“They’re really tired from going into burning buildings and they want them to do another five years.
“This is an agenda that is not met by politicians as we understand them.”
Mordaunt, who was criticised recently for a speech in the Commons where she repeatedly used the word “cock” as part of a navy dare, attempted to defend herself but was interrupted by Brand who called her “love” and then apologised.
Shadow international development secretary Mary Creagh appeared to come across well on the panel. She received a lot of praise on Twitter for her coherent points.
“There’s a big choice facing us at the next General Election. I still think politics really matters,” she said, perhaps hinting at the fact personalities outside Westminster, such as Brand, have been becoming more vocal in recent years.
“The question now facing us at the next General Election is – who do you want the country to work for? Do you want it to work for a few people at the top or for everybody in this country so that everybody has the chance to get on? The ideological divide and the choice at the next General Election could not be clearer between Labour and the Conservatives.”
Creagh pointed out that her father was an immigrant from Ireland and worked hard. She also said that the country needed to invest in public services, adding Labour would repeal the coalition bill which is seen as privatising the NHS.
Arguably the least well-known panellist, Times journalist Camilla Cavendish was possibly the most well-received, at least by the live audience, who gave her some hearty applauses.
She argued the UK was actually pretty friendly to foreigners compared to other nations adding: “I don’t think anyone in this country wants to shut the door, but… people want a sense of control.”
Commenting on the privatisation of the NHS, Cavendish said: “This word ‘privatisation’ is so misleading. It means ‘selling off’ to the private sector. If we did that it could lead to the end of the NHS as we know it, and the most precious thing about the NHS is that it is free at the point that we need it and we have to keep it that way. But that’s not happening; nobody’s talking about selling it off.”
While it’s not uncommon for a comedian to be given a seat on the panel, his appearance still puzzled a lot of viewers.
Why is Russell Brand on question time? I cant stand him.
— John Hyman (@Jonnyboy841) December 12, 2014
It appeared as though Brand had prepared a few insults for Farage which seemed to go down well. In fact, the “poundshop Enoch Powell” jibe was so successful the name Enoch Powell began trending on Twitter, much to the confusion of people who weren’t watching the programme.
Brand’s easy target was the adversarial nature of British politics and how people had easily become disillusioned. This is fairly safe territory for the entertainer, who has spoken on this subject a lot in the past. But even so, an audience member left him speechless.
“Stand,” the man said. “Stand for Parliament. If you’re gonna campaign, then stand, OK? You have the media profile for it.”
Brand responded: “My problem would be mate, I’d stand for parliament but I’d be scared that I’d become one of them,” and was treated to boos from the audience.
That segment of the programme is worth a watch, particularly as it features the blue-haired woman, who we’ll come to in a moment.
Nigel Farage was the only one who really appeared to have solid supporters in the audience.
The UKIP leader, of course, was the first one called upon to discuss the first question – a question about immigration. He made the comments we’ve all heard before, with the discussion passing on to Brand.
“I think the answer to this question is a very big yes. Social mobility has declined. It’s like we’ve gone back 50 years… One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made is the destruction of grammar schools.”
Brand used the panel as an opportunity to say this about Farage:
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) December 11, 2014
If you thought Canterbury wouldn’t provide a lively studio audience you could not be more wrong.
A special mention needs to be said for the impassioned blue-haired woman who shouted “HE’S A RACIST SCUMBAG, TRYING TO BLAME IMMIGRANTS FOR THE CUTBACKS BECAUSE OF HIS RICH BANKER FRIENDS!” in the general direction of the panel, but of course directed at Farage.
“I live in south Thanet and I’m coming for you, Farage, don’t you bloody worry!”
Even those who hated her, loved her for entertainment value.
Twitter was wild during the debate.
So all in all, there was a lot of lively audience participation, some salient points from the women on the panel and the usual from Farage and Brand.
But, as a viewer, I’d say we failed to gain anything worthwhile from the experience.
Let’s perhaps agree nobody won and just forget the whole mess.
Did you watch it? Who won? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.
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