Last night we had the extraordinary “Leaders’ Question Time” debate on the BBC.
In case you missed it, at prime time last night the three ‘leaders’ were questioned by an audience at the BBC.These leaders were of course the three stooges: Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, who had to stand in front of an audience and answer their questions, each one being given 30 minutes. Alone.
Because we the viewers, the payers of the BBC ‘tax’, made enough noise, the BBC had to arrange, quickly, an extra “Leaders’ Question Time”, with audiences dotted around the country, for the national parties SNP and Plaid Cymru (I wonder how many people watched that?) – and for our own Nigel Farage. (Ed: And if you missed it, it’s here.)
Something quite extraordinary happened at Nigel’s “Question Time”.
Myself, and a whole host of watchers who’d commented online, asked themselves privately and publicly “was that it?” when the broadcast was over. Frankly, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
Usually, one has had quite enough, thank you very much, after 30 minutes of our ‘main party’ politicians ‘speaking’ to us. Yesterday, on social media one noticed this impatience with these three leaders very well indeed, with posts about ‘has he finished yet?’ and ‘when’s Ed/Nick coming on?’.
Nigel’s “Question Time” in contrast seemed to be over so quickly, in spite of its being the same 30 minutes allotted to the others, it left us gasping for more.
The scathing or funny tweets during this main BBC event also showed that the audience out here was taking this questioning of the three stooges more in the sense of free entertainment than political information. Personally, I loved it when Nick Clegg said that we could have been Greece if we hadn’t been in the EU, and someone immediately tweeted an old photo of Greece winning the European Footie Cup!
But nothing like that happened during Nigel Farage’s “Question Time”. Even the usual Lefty tweets didn’t seem to happen.
The ‘leader of the debate’, Ms Jo Coburn, well known from the BBC’s “Daily Politics” show where her loathing for UKIP couldn’t be more plain, explained to us first how very carefully selected the audience was, and that all the main parties, even UKIP, were proportionally represented. So that got rid of the first five minutes or so.
Interestingly, and in contrast to the ‘main event’, Nigel’s audience was very much skewed towards the 18-24 age group – because, as we all know, it’s the oldies, the silver-haired part of the population who support UKIP. The young, the progressives, don’t, as we also all know, don’t we – and thus would provide a nicely hostile audience.
Well, funnily enough, that didn’t work. As the questioning went on, the applause, sporadic in the first instance, became more and more widespread.
Thank you, BBC – that wasn’t what you expected, was it!
A special mention must be made on Ms Coburn’s moderation of that ‘Question Time’. It felt as if she’d spoken more than Nigel Farage because she tried to stop him from finishing his points throughout, while at the same time trying to chivvy the audience to become, ahem, more hostile. At one point – in regard to remaining in the EU yes or no – she even asked the audience to show if they’d like to stay in or not! That got rid of another couple of minutes in which Nigel Farage could’ve made some more points, and she triumphantly decided that the majority of that select audience would like to stay in the EU – so there, Nigel
No, Ms Coburn, that’s not how a debate leader ought to lead an important debate!
This evening was like “A Tale of Two Debates”. It can best be summarised by the fact that the most tweeted ‘event’ was Miliband’s stumble, see here . Compare and contrast with Nigel Farage’s ‘exit’, here , which couldn’t have pleased the BBC at all!
Yes, the BBC and the establishment were hoist with their own petard indeed, especially since the MSM commentators were astonishingly unanimous in their verdict of that first leaders’ ‘Question Time’: the audience was the winner.
The cartoon by Adams at the DT, which adorns the opinion piece by Mr Hodges in that once illustrious paper, really says it all in a nutshell. (Editor: And for the benefit of those with poor eyesight, here’s a clarified version of the Adams’ cartoon)
How that escaped the censors’ scissors is beyond us …!
Finally, a round of applause is in order for UKIP’s online “Team Nigel”, which tweeted posters summarising and underlining the arguments and points Nigel made during his own personal Question Time. No spin needed here!
Thank you, BBC! That was not the outcome you hoped for – and serve you right