A BBC Debate

On Monday, I participated in a debate at BBC Radio Northampton.  Designed to focus on the Corby Constituency, it featured the incumbent MP and Minister Phil Hope, a nameless Lib-Dem, and myself.  I was standing in for our candidate Louise Bagshawe, who preferred to campaign in the constituency.   A BNP candidate was featured later, as the three main party representatives declined to share a studio with him.

I have to admit that this was not my finest hour.  The questions focussed either on Corby issues, where despite some efforts in advance I found that I was not adequately briefed, or on questions about UK welfare and social programmes — SureStart, child tax credits — with which, as an MEP, I am not particularly familiar.  So I was unable to answer Mr. Hope as a robustly as I should have liked to do.

Nevertheless, a very clear and alarming pattern emerged in Hope’s message.  Continuing regeneration of Corby?  “We’re gonna spend more money on it”.  Sure Start?  “We’re gonna spend more money on it”.   Child tax credits?  “We’re gonna spend more money on it”.  I reminded Mr. Hope that his own Labour Chancellor, Alistair Darling, had promised spending cuts “deeper than under Margaret Thatcher”.  Hope threw a predictable hissy fit at the mention of the Great Lady, but made no attempt to answer the substantive point.  Labour are going into this election on a false prospectus.  Ministers like Phil Hope are going around promising to keep right on spending, when they know they can’t do that — and they criticise other parties for suggesting spending cuts.  Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war, but it also seems to be the first casualty of General Elections.

Not for the first time, I found myself wondering if the editorial policy of the BBC was entirely neutral.  The questions could have been chosen  to give Hope an easy ride.  One was clearly asked by a Labour activist.  I happened to see a handwritten list of e-mailed questions handed to the Presenter by the Producer.  The first one was simply two words: “Euro Referendum?”, which would have been grist to my mill.  But of course it didn’t get asked.

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7 Responses to A BBC Debate

  1. EU, Debt, Immigration. I say again, EU, Debt, Immigration. Why are they not being properly debated in this faux election by the labconlib cabal? Mustn’t frighten the voters?

  2. Roger Helmer says:

    Alfredtheordinary: You know Alfred, I agree with you. But I’m doing my best to talk about them!

  3. Sean Lever says:

    As a member representing Irthlingborough, which is in the Corby constituency, local people tell me “Corby gets all the money”. On the ground it’s obvious to any observer this is true. Whilst some areas do need a boost to help regenerate needy locales, it’s the disproportionate nature of spending across boundaries that concerns local people. It’s no coincidence that Corby is a Labour marginal seat and other parts of Northamptonshire are largely Conservative held. Guess where the tax pounds are spent? The shocker, when you explain this to electors, is that it’s not local Councillors or Council officers who decide where the money is spent it’s unelected regional government offices (GOEM, in our case) and development QUANGOs (NNDC WNDC EMDA etc). They are just the superannuated agents of Labour’s central command and control structure, gerrymandering tax payers cash into areas that have previously voted Labour.

    The flip side of the coin sees the housing and density targets fostered on local councils in planning policy guidance and statements that have resulted in unwanted blocks of flats being built across our towns. Of course, the population rises this causes is not mitigated by funding for local infrastructure or services, for schools or roads – no these problems are left for local councils to mop up with whilst the treasury pockets all the tax receipts from growth.

    This is why we must get back to a localised decision making regime, where accountable, elected people can truly represent their electorate. For the record, East Northamptonshire council recently refused to adopt an unacceptable planning policy from GOEM that meant more winds farms, more flats and no infrastructure money. No council has ever done this before, but the feeling of members was so strong we were prepared to take the Labour medicine, if they ever get back into power.

    Cllr Sean Lever.
    Irthlingborough John Pyel Ward.

  4. Cliff Williams says:

    If democratic countries do not stop uncontrolled immigration then the very freedoms that currently remain could be limited or erased. I say this because burgeoning populations from immigrants can legally elect their representatives, ideas, religious law as main stream.
    In America, for example, the Constitution is supposed to be the supreme law of the land but with the proper pressure even the Constitution can be amended through vote to change the laws that protect us.
    To this end, the UK must throw off the shackles of the EU. If Greece’s failure has shown anything, a catastrophic economic failure could be terribly detrimental to the remaining members.

  5. Sean: This is magnificent! A clarion call for localism. May I publish it more widely, please? Well done for blocking the wind farms!

  6. This is a widespread problem, well articulated by Cllr Lever. My town, gets disproportionately low rate support grants, it would seem because it has a Conservative council and two marginal Labour MPs. It should get similar funding that towns of 200,000 inhabitants get, but instead, gets rural grants, which are much lower. This is clearly partisan.

    and then there is government heavy financial support for the Unite Union, which, incidently, pays large contributions into the Labour party, and so on and so on.

    All this used to be known as corruption, but it seems that that word has been removed from the political dictionary.

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