BBC Question Time: open thread 14/5/09

Well, here’s irony for you – Lib Dem representative on tonight’s Question Time (BBC1 and online, 10.35 pm) is none other than Sir Menzies Campbell, former party leader and ardent cushion fan.

And joining Ming on the panel will be Ben Brogan, assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph, the paper which has led the news agenda over the past week by peddling stolen documents. Both were booked weeks ago – it’s simple coincidence tonight’s the night they spar.

Also on the panel are that great Labour survivor (well, survivor anyway) Housing Minister Margaret Beckett, Tory shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May (whose love of designer shoes perhaps exceeds even Ming’s passion for Roman blinds), and the CEO of McDonald’s UK Steve Easterbrook (who will perhaps be relieved that MPs not McDonald’s will be this week’s target for criticism).

Remember, if you’re tuning in, you can join the general debate on Twitter here at #bbcqt, or the LDV debate below. Meanwhile Lib Dem blogger Mark Thompson will be liveblogging events via CoverItLive at his own blog.

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  • Disappointed with Ming, Bad judgment.

    Why the hell did the party as a whole take internal action -to review expenses and repay where necessary – They knew this was coming months ago.

  • sorry – missed out the not!

  • I was just very disappointed with Mings’ performance generally, in my opinion he came across as looking guilty and I do not think that he should have re-paid any money. If we put this in context, at the time of the claim he was the leader of the third largest party in British politics and clearly a very busy man. He was living in a rented studio flat that he had been in since 1989 and not had re-furbished in nearly 20 years. I think it quite reasonable that he should have a comfortable place to stay (including scatter cushions!)when in London on Parliamentary business. I also think it quite reasonable that he should employ an interior designer/project manager to oversee the works, Mings priority was as a senior parliamentarian – not overseeing the decoration of his rented flat. This hardly seems like the actions of an MP ‘on the take’ or trying to profit from his allowances. He has not been claiming mortgage interest on a property that he will later sell, he has not been flipping properties or claiming back stamp duty or having his moat dredged. I think that his claim represents excellent value for the taxpayer and is wholey reasonable in order for him to carry out his duties. As far as I can see all of the allegations against our MPs seem to be either a genuine small mistake or quite reasonable allowance claims, surely we should be robustly defending them as such whilst jumping up and down about what appear to be (or would be regarded by most reasonable people to be) blatantly fraudulent claims by some Tory and Labour members

  • That’s the dullest Question Time I have ever seen. Can’t believe the whole programme was dedicated to only one topic. Half the people in the audience just turned up to heckle. It was kind of surreal seeing Ming get booed, never thought I’d see that happen!

  • I thought the Telegraph journo and the McDonald’s exec made some excellent points. The sort of thing I heard last night while canvassing in Swanley before i got home to my sardine supper and switched on the telly.
    What exactly is a scatter cushion? I was brought up on a council estate and I don’t think I am familiar with the term. As Andrew Neil said on the programme after, everyone is blaming the ‘system’. It was the ‘system’ that made MPs spend all that taxpayer’s money on what most people would consider to be luxuries. Ywan, yawn…Has anyone actually said ‘mea culpa’ yet!? I learned that phrase from a posh boarding school boy I once worked with.

  • I’m afraid Ming’s performance underlined why some of us were uncomfortable with him as leader. His frozen, rabbit in the headlights discomfort, reminded me horribly of Bob Maclennan who, under pressure, always sounded as though he was about to burst into tears!!

    Why on earth did he not start by saying:

    Look – bad week – two types of issue – a) minor oversights, errors and misjudgements like my engaging a designer. It was a mistake, shouldn’t have done it, have paid it back. I apologise.

    but b) serious abuse – flipping – couples claiming twice – claiming mortgages that don’t exist etc etc

    And I’m pleased that nowhere is the DT claiming that I or my colleagues are involved in that latter type of abuse.

  • crewegwyn is spot on. A clear distinction is emerging between the two kinds of claim. The former is “muddle” the latter is “fiddle”. Campbell should have made crystal clear that he is guilty only of the former.


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