Last night I went to the BBC South-East recording of their Election Debate, at the Kino Teatr in St Leonard’s – it was a very hot night. It is being shown tonight at 10.45pm – past Battleaxe’s bed time!
Philosopher didn’t want to go, but I had the company of Kelvin, one of our neighbours. It had been an oppressive and sultry day – quite headachy, so I nearly didn’t go at all, but kind Philosopher gave me a lift down there and fetched me and Kelvin back.
We’d been asked to submit questions in advance – I chose two topics. Firstly, imagining you were a first-time voter from one of the most deprived estates in Hastings. What key thing could the key parties offer to secure their vote? Secondly, about the cost of Brexit. However, in the end they only chose 5 questions (from 120 people), and mine were not among them – nor was Kelvin’s, about transport.
The eventual panel consisted of Tory Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe), our own Hastings Peter Chowney, Caroline Lucas, Kelly-Marie Blundell (Lib Dem, Lewes), and Piers Wauchope (UKIP, Dover), with Natalie Graham as presenter (in the inevitable BBC SE over-tight body-con dress).
We had been told to get there by 6, but in the event we waited outside the Kino until about 6.30, were then let in to mill around with tea and biscuits, then sat for ages in the hot auditorium. It was really hot too – no air con, all those lights…. The actual recording did not start until at 7.50. I should know from experience how much time these TV folk spend fiddling with a grotesque amount of equipment that never seems to work properly – see post about our day with Phil Tufnell at the Jerwood. This time, it was worse – Norman Road was clogged with huge lorries, wires snaking everywhere, and earnest young people in black running around shouting ‘I can’t hear you’…..
Anyway, cut to the action. There were plenty of supplementary comments/questions from the floor, but I said nothing. There was far too much, predictably, on immigration and terrorism. I did stick my hand up to tackle Damien about the ridiculous Tory target of ‘tens of thousands’ but Natalie asked him about it first. On the whole, however, I think the least said about those topics the better. Then there was the NHS – people will insist on the ‘my mother was waiting six hours on a trolley’ line. It reminds me of being at work, trying to ’empower’ housing association tenant board members…. ‘my grass hasn’t been cut for six weeks’…. ‘yes, Alvina, that may be so, but what might that tell us about the effectiveness of the grounds maintenance service’ yada yada….
Natalie irritated me very much. All presenters these days try to copy the confrontational style of a Paxman or an Andrew Neil – the result is that they hardly let anyone finish a sentence before they butt in. Predictably, too, she seemed to be especially snappy with Peter Chowney, who has even grown a Corbynistic beard – I have told him to keep that beard under strict control already on Facebook – it won’t be going down too well in Rye and the villages….. I’m not a Corbyn fan, but how much longer can people bang on about ‘links’ with the IRA? Natalie just wouldn’t let it go.
So, how did they all do? Caroline Lucas, needless to say, didn’t even have to get out of first gear. What a fantastic operator that woman is. I’d certainly vote for her if we lived in Brighton. The young Lib Dem woman was also extremely impressive – sadly, wasted on the Lib Dems. Tory Damien was typical of his breed – red-faced, sweaty and blustering, struggling to make his points to a predominantly left-wing audience. The UKIP bloke was, thank goodness, at least sane and didn’t make a fool of himself or make embarrassing remarks about Muslims.
Peter? He turned in a perfectly respectable performance. However, also like Corbyn, I think he is compelled to be a bit ‘well, I have thought long and hard and it is very difficult…. on the one hand, but on the other….’ etc. All he says is true, and right, but people expect sound-bites from politicians. (Why should they expect such meaningless stuff anyway? Strong and stable? I don’t think so). However, I think he would be an excellent MP for Hastings and has the real interests of the place at heart. If our seat was just Hastings, I think he would win easily, but unfortunately, he has to win over Toryland too…..
You can gather from this that Battleaxe has made up her political mind. I am not voting for the leader – the idea of Corbyn’s gang running things is still appalling – but must vote in line with my own values around fairness etc. The Tory gang are no better anyway….. Boris Johnson anyone? The Tory manifesto/campaign is dreadful. Here, in Hastings, we have our chance to get rid of nasty Amber Rudd – we have to give it the best possible chance.