Over 180 people headed to Burnham-On-Sea’s Princess Theatre on Friday evening (May 27th) to watch a live broadcast of BBC Radio Four’s political debate show Any Questions?
The show, hosted by Adam Fleming, featured debate from Labour MP and Shadow Leader of the Commons Thangam Debbonaire, Conservative MP and Treasury Minister John Glen, staff writer at the Tribune magazine ‘Moët Marxist’ Grace Blakeley, and Martin Thatcher, who is Managing Director of Somerset’s Thatchers Cider.
The panel answered four questions from the audience during a lively 45 minutes of debate where the topics ranged from Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘cost of living’ relief funding; constraints on GP appointments; Number 10’s ‘Partygate’; and rural land being given up to solar panels and lorry parks.
Helen Hancock, a local nurse who said a friend had died during the Covid pandemic, asked the panel: “When will the Government accept they have lost the moral compass to lead – families were not able to go to funerals and wakes whilst this Government carried on partying.”
Martin Thatcher said we should be “celebrating” what front line care workers and nurses had done over the pandemic to help communities.
John Glen said that Helen “rightly feels let down.. and everyone feels let down by what happened and the Prime Minister has apologised. That apology will never be enough to make up for the distress he has caused in Number 10. I think we are in ‘yellow card’ territory but as a member of the Government I went to see him to tell him how I felt and he asked me to get on with the job of delivering financial reform.”
Labour’s Thangam Debbonaire responded: “You can’t just wake up one morning and say ‘let’s move on because the Prime Minister says so’. When you undermine trust in the office of Prime Minister it’s a lot harder for people to believe you next time you have to ask to do something hard. That spirit of the first lockdown has been betrayed by the Prime Minister and I don’t think anyone can trust him any more.”
Grace Blakeley said: “Boris Johnson quite clearly thinks he is a man that is above the law and above accountability. The Government has been mired in scandal after scandal.”
John Glen hit back, saying: “Your ‘Corbyn-ista ranting’ was rejected at the General Election. The Prime Minister won a majority and he has to deliver on that – I, and he, totally accept that things happened in Number 10 that should not have happened, and we need to make sure it never happens again.”
Grace responded: “You and Boris Johnson can try and deflect against the accusations all you want but he is a man that thinks he is beyond accountability and has treated this country with contempt.” BBC host Adam Fleming pointed out that Boris was fined and he has paid that and apologised.
After the broadcast ended, a Town Council spokesperson said: “It was great to welcome the BBC along to Burnham’s Princess Theatre to broadcast this long-running show.”
”The panel discussion was really good and hoopefully this may lead to further broadcasts here in the future. We always welcome the BBC.”
BBC Somerset’s Andy Bennett was the warm-up act to encourage participation from the crowd. They didn’t disappoint with cheers, clapping and occasional groans at various points.
The show also broadcast live from Highbridge in 2018, as we reported here.
Click here to listen to the whole show via BBC Sounds