Wendy Chamberlain on QT tonight

Wendy Chamberlain, Lib Dem MP for North East Fife, is on the Question Time panel tonight. The programme is being broadcast from Weston-super-Mare on BBC 1 at 10.35pm.

With her will be Maggie Throup (Conservative MP for Erewash), Thangam Debbonaire (Labour MP for Bristol West), Professor Peter Openshaw (Professor of Experimental Medicine at Imperial College) and Theo Paphitis (retail entrepreneur and Dragon’s Den regular).

Expect questions on asylum seekers, No 10 Christmas parties and the impact of the Omicron variant.



* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • Remember not so long ago , Weston Super Mare was a Lib Dem seat, now!. How we shot our-selves in the foot with the coalition.

  • @theakes – your comment is a complete non-sequitur. Lib Dems held Weston from 1997 to 2005, so the coalition had nothing to do with losing the seat, which was marginal anyway.

  • Barry Lofty 2nd Dec '21 - 10:27am

    Mary [email protected] Thanks for putting the record straight, whatever one,s thoughts are on the coalition it was a far better example of good governance than the present shambles!

  • But what a vote slump by 2015, did we fall to third!

  • Looks as if Labour are doing well at Bexley

  • nigel hunter 2nd Dec '21 - 10:45am

    The trouble with winning seats is that the ‘big boys’ then target us to get us out. The infrastructure and support network has to be built up.We have to equally work harder to keep the seat. Yes,the coalition was a far more STABLE govnt than the shambles today.If we are not the govnt we should support the policies that we agree with to get those policies enacted.In coalitions we will always make friends AND enemies.

  • Mary is correct. Weston Super Mare was lost in 2005 five years before the Coalition.

    But Theakes’ comment on the Coalition effect is also correct. In 2010 WSM was a target seat and resulted in a close Lib Dem second place on 39.2%. In 2015 it became fourth place – the vote dropping by nearly three quarters to 10.4%.

    The people had spoken. Lib Dems need to listen and take note.

  • You make fair points Nigel. From what I’ve heard, the local party in North Shropshire were already building up, making progress at the local elections earlier this year and prior to the announcement of this by-election, which is why they were so keen to take on the challenge of a full campaign to win. From what I’ve heard, we’re gaining new local members and a lot of great data during the course of campaigning too. So even if we do fall short on 16th December, the local party will be much stronger as a result.

    A win would be fantastic, but as you say keeping the seat would be a whole new challenge. I don’t think we should get ahead ourselves too much, but if it does happen, then I hope the constituency will be given extra support to firm up support long before the general election. I hope the same is already happening for Sarah Green in Chesham & Amersham.

    Perhaps next Spring/Summer we can make plans so that facilities are in place so that members from other parts of the country can spend a few days helping out. These are both nice parts of the country to visit, so leafleting/canvassing of the more rural areas could be treated as a variation on a walking holiday!

  • Apologies for the double post – I got distracted from what I intended to say. Which is that I have actually set my recorder for Question Time tonight and there’s a decent chance I’ll watch it. Wendy is a great asset to the party who I’m sure will talk a lot of sense, and I’m pleased to see that she seems to be doing more high profile media appearances.

    Going back to your point Nigel about keeping up the momentum once candidates have won these tricky seats, I think it’s telling that Sarah (to the best of my knowledge) has not been given a specific portfolio, presumably to allow her to focus her energies on being a great constituency MP for the time-being. It’s a small detail, but while Sarah has built up a decent number of Twitter followers, her account is not yet verified and her contact number on our website is still ‘coming soon’.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Dec '21 - 12:23pm

    David, you say, “The people had spoken. Lib Dems need to listen and take note.”

    The Lib Dems have taken note! Surely!

  • Barry Lofty 2nd Dec '21 - 12:49pm

    [email protected] Sorry, but how long must the Lib Dems keep taking stick for the “Coalition” what is being done to our country since 2019 is beyond comparison and extremely worrying.

  • @ Chris Moore & Barry Lofty. Unfortunately chaps, a large section of the electorate still seem to accept that old fashioned common sense nostrum that the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.

    For many of those of us who campaigned for this party as a radical force (in my case since 1962 as a five times Councillor, as a parliamentary candidate, and latterly outside party politics as chair of a food bank) this still remains the case, especially outside the prosperous Home Counties.

    For the record, Johnson and Co appal me.

  • Hopefully Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens have learnt what happens when they attack each other instead of attacking the Tories – the Tories win.

  • John Marriott 2nd Dec '21 - 1:52pm

    Say what you like (and the usual suspects will) I know which half of the last decade I would be prepared to relive, and it certainly wasn’t the second half.

    As for Question Time, it will be interesting to see what Ms Throup, the current Vaccines Minister, has to say. She’s been pretty quiet so far. Mind you, Mr Zahawi was a hard act to follow. I see he’s now Secretary of State for Education. Had his children educated privately, apparently. Says it all.

  • Jenny Barnes 2nd Dec '21 - 2:44pm

    nigel hunter “.In coalitions we will always make friends AND enemies.”
    mm. it’s probably best not to make enemies of one’s own party, though.

  • Chris Moore 2nd Dec '21 - 7:17pm

    I agree, David, that electorally the Coalition was a disaster with serious mistakes made.

    But since then we’ve spent five years alienating more of our traditional electorate by not accepting the Referendum result. We melted down to our core vote of well-heeled right on well-educated liberal internationalists. You may remember, this was a deliberate strategy. Party leadership and a large majority of membership imagined this was going to work.

    We have suffered from a lack of serious political and psephological strategists.

    We have to widen our appeal beyond the blessed core. And put together a coalition of the liberal-minded who come in many shapes and sizes.

    I believe we are beginning to do this. Thankfully not a single mention of PR or going back into Europe prontito at the by-election.

    Also some party rising stars really marking out bread and butter issues as their territory.

    Cheer up!

  • Barry Lofty 2nd Dec '21 - 7:48pm

    Chris [email protected] Reading your description of the present day Lib Dems, I must be in the wrong party??😊🤗

  • @John Marriott: “Had his children educated privately, apparently. Says it all.” What on Earth does that mean? Are you trying to imply there’s some problem with paying for private education?

  • Christopher Moore 2nd Dec '21 - 8:05pm

    Barry, are you not a well-heeled internationalist with right on views about the environment and gender?

    Then you are not part of the blessed core. That’s great news. I feel even more optimistic about the party’s future.

    Being serious for a moment, we’ve got to widen our appeal, win back groups and categories we’ve alienated.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Dec '21 - 3:16am

    @ Simon R

    “Are you trying to imply there’s some problem with paying for private education?”

    There’s a problem for anyone with a modest income and two or three children! Except if they have some inherited family wealth perhaps.

    For those who can afford it, it is a way of perpetuating the class system. The children of the upper classes are educated at expensive public schools to be Judges, Top Civil Servants, Cabinet ministers etc. Oher children don’t.

    That’s the way it is. Some take the view this is a good thing but not everyone!

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Dec '21 - 9:14am

    “For those who can afford it, it is a way of perpetuating the class system.”

    “Some take the view this is a good thing but not everyone!”

    Definitely a bad thing in my view.

  • I have to say, I find that attitude towards people who pay for private education rather worrying. Isn’t one of the points of liberalism supposed to be to let people build their own lives as they wish? Realistically, if you want to let people build their own lives, then you have to accept that some people will use that opportunity to earn lots of money – and it’s then up to them how they spend that money. Some people who have money will spend it on expensive cars. Some will spend it on luxury holidays. Some will spend it on on nice houses in the country. Some will spend it on alcohol or drugs. And yes – some will spend it on trying to get the best education they can for their children. It’s not really our business to judge or restrict how people spend their money – provided, obviously, they are not causing undue harm to others (or in a few cases, such as with addiction, to themselves). And for what it’s worth, personally I’d have thought trying to get the best education you can for your family is one of the more constructive ways that you can spend money.

    And if you do disapprove of people getting a private education, what about people who hire private tutors for their children? Is that bad? (Good luck with alienating most of the middle class vote if you go down that route)!

    I appreciate that there is an issue that you don’t want kids from poorer families to be unduly disadvantaged, but I would think the best (and most ‘liberal’) way to address that concern is to ensure that the state school system is good enough to provide everyone with a reasonable opportunity, not to start judging or restricting how other people choose to live their lives and spend their money.

  • Barry Lofty 3rd Dec '21 - 10:16am

    All I would say is, what sort of message is sent out when the Secretary of State for education sends his children to private schools, not a very reassuring decision for the majority of the population?

  • Chris Moore 3rd Dec '21 - 10:38am

    @Simon R :

    Neither Peter Martin nor Nonconformistradical are saying they would stop people paying for private education. They are simply pointing out the negatives for the rest of society.

    Liberalism means you let people make their own decisions, especially when you disagree. It doesn’t mean agreeing with everything everybody does.

  • Nonconformistradical 3rd Dec '21 - 10:45am

    “Liberalism means you let people make their own decisions”

    And taking into account the effect of your individual decision on others in society is pretty important.

  • According to the ICS (the private schools lobbying organisation) over the past 10 years, average annual private school fees have increased by up to 50% to £33,000 for boarders and £15,000 for day pupils.

    Would Simon R please tell us,

    1) how many ordinary people (not to mention those referred to in the Alston Report on povertyand inequality in the UK) can afford to shell out such huge amounts of money.
    2) why the rest of us through our taxes should subsidise all the charitable tax breaks (latest estimate well over half a billion per annum -not counting lost VAT) enjoyed by such private schools ?

    Being ‘independent’ means standing on your own feet, paying the true cost of something, and not expecting those less fortunate to subsidise you.

  • The reason I waded into (and – sorry @Mary Reid – slightly derailed 😉 ) this discussion was because up-thread someone posted something that appeared to sneer at Nadhim Zahawi because he’d (allegedly) paid for his children to go to private school. And I don’t think that sneering at people is something we should be doing.

    Now to be clear, if @David Raw’s figures are correct, £33K a year is a lot of money – I certainly couldn’t afford that, and I’d agree most people couldn’t either. But just because I can’t afford something, I’m not going to start sneering at other people who can, and who choose to pay for (what they believe to be) the best education they can for their children. Nor am I going to start making out that there is something wrong with people who do, or that people who do shouldn’t hold Government positions. It rather worries me that, in all this discussion, it seems no-one else is willing to acknowledge that there’s a problem with sneering at people. Surely the LibDems aspire to be better than that?

    I haven’t said anything one way or the other about tax breaks, so I’m not sure why @David Raw expects me to justify them.

  • Neil James Sandison 3rd Dec '21 - 12:45pm

    Well i watched Wendy Chamberlain MP on Question Time much more coherent than the ramblings on unrelated items in this column .

  • I don’t agree with sneering, but if someone does send their kids to a school with fees in excess of the median household income then they aren’t even trying to give their kids a rounded education. They aren’t preparing their child to be part of society and I wouldn’t expect that person to be in any way qualified, or motivated, to make the state education system work.

    I’m not for banning private schools, but with very few exceptions, their existence harms wider society.

    As for tax, my approach would be to require all fees to be subject to VAT on the portion that is in excess of what is spent per pupil in state schools. At least that way there might be a vague incentive for those who pay for private education to take an interest in the state of state funded education.

  • Peter Martin 3rd Dec '21 - 1:34pm

    @ Simon R,

    “Sneering” was your word. I don’t see any evidence of that.

    I agree with Fiona. Private education shouldn’t be banned but charitable status and tax exemptions should be removed. How can an elitist education for the children of the wealthy be considered ‘charitable’?

    That’s unlikely to happen. Labour, Lib Dem, SNP and Tory politicians alike want to send their own children to fee paying schools.

  • Very impressed with 4 of the 5 ‘guests’ and felt a little sorry for the 5th..Maggie Throup MP had drawn the short straw and tried, and failed, to defend the indefensible..

    At times it seemed like the Wendy&Thangam show with them agreeing on everything (including Labour’s latest re-organisation)..Theo Paphitis eviserated the government on their lack of any business strategy and Professor Peter Openshaw went about as far as a scientist could on political decisions whilst leaving the viewer in no doubt about his frustratioin ..

    In short, IMO, one of the better QT’s..

  • Denis Mollison 4th Dec '21 - 9:57am

    I went to a good private school, and I’m grateful to the half-dozen excellent teachers I had there. But in the nearly 60 years since I haven’t wavered in my belief that they should be phased out. Alan Bennett put the case eloquently in his 2014 sermon in Kings College Chapel – https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v36/n12/alan-bennett/fair-play

  • Mary Reid, A bit of a waste of time posting this thread..It seems that almost no-one bothered to watch, or comment, on her performance..Like on so many other threads, private hobby horses seem to dominate..

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