Being in the audience of Question Time – a few thoughts

I was lucky enough to be in the studio audience of Question Time in the RAF Museum in Hendon on Thursday. Although I wasn’t able to ask a question, it was really interesting to watch the panel live, being able to gauge their reactions to the various questions asked of them and read the rest of the studio audience’s reactions to the panel’s statements.

This week, the panel consisted of journalists Isabel Oakshott and Amol Rajan as well as Alex Salmond of the SNP, Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green and Shadow Foreign  Secretary Emily Thornberry of Labour. Overall, Thornberry probably got the most negative reaction from the audience, both initially and during the programme which is hardly surprising given various comments she’s made in the past. Also there where a couple of AWFUL comments during the show from her, most notably (I’m paraphrasing):

Audience member: I wish people would stop saying that Brexit voters didn’t know what they voted for. I voted to take back our sovereignty and be able to control immigration.

Thornberry: Yes, but did you vote to take your neighbour’s job away?

*Boos from the audience* 

Before the show

In contrast, I think that both journalists came across well, making sensible contributions and responding well to various questions from the audience. Green mainly got a positive response as well and although the audience felt a little hostile towards Salmond at times, as a Scottish nationalist in front of an English audience this wasn’t surprising.

A couple of important points

There were also several interesting comments by the panel which implied significant things for the future of politics in the UK. It was a good show in that respect, helped by a good panel, audience (!) and venue (there was a WW2 plane in the background!).

  • The Conservatives favour a ‘hard’ Brexit

OK, this was never explicitly said but Green at one point did heavily imply that this was the avenue that the Tory party are currently exploring. His comments went something along the lines of ‘we need to carry out the Brexit that the people voted for’. Surely people voted primarily to control immigration? That’s the biggest hint about Brexit that we’re going to get for a while.

  • Salmond expects a second referendum

Again, this wasn’t actually said but in referencing what he thought is going to happen he hinted that he doesn’t think that Theresa May will allow Scotland to remain in the EU, leading to a second referendum. What he did say though was that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon would only campaign for a second independence referendum if she thought that she could win it. Salmond didn’t make it a secret that he thinks that they can, referencing favourable opinion polls.

  • Corbyn is here to stay

Thornberry confirmed what we already knew here: Jeremy Corbyn is not going to resign. She said that he absolutely has a mandate to govern Labour and called for unity within the party. The Shadow Foreign Secretary skirted round comments about the opinion polls and said that Corbyn has her full support. At least she didn’t call the interviewer sexist this time…

David Dimbleby!

Question Time is on BBC 1 every Thursday at 10:45. You can watch this week’s episode on iPlayer here and apply for tickets for the next couple of shows here