The BBC recently held a live recording and broadcast of the Radio 4 programme Any Questions? on Friday 13 October at the Wellington Church on University Avenue.
The programme was hosted by Jonathan Dimbleby. The panellists were the leader of the SNP at Westminster Ian Blackford MP, Times columnist Iain Martin, Conservative peer Lord Forsyth and Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy Chi Onwurah MP.
Three primary questions were posed to the panel by audience members during the recording: whether the government “[had] a clue” about how to proceed with exiting the EU; whether Nicola Sturgeon was wiser or luckier than Carles Puigdemont regarding Scotland and Catalonia’s independence referendum, respectively; and finally, whether placing a cap on energy or utilizing non-profit government energy would be better for consumers.
The first question saw all panellists, aside from Lord Forsyth, criticising the government, with Iain Martin comparing the Conservative Party’s current incarnation to “a school that knows the headmaster has lost control”. Forsyth, meanwhile, accused Brussels of conducting “the politics of Al Capone”, labelling the Prime Minister’s treatment as “disgraceful”.
The second question saw Ian Blackford call for calm dialogue and mediation over the issue of Catalonia and Spain. He made the case for Scottish independence, citing Scotland’s tax receipts of £340 billion, and argued that Scotland should have an input into the final Brexit deal like every other EU country. Chi Onwurah acknowledged that the British constitution allowed for an independence vote, which was not the case in Spain. Iain Martin attacked the SNP’s record on education, while Lord Forsyth criticized Nicola Sturgeon over her usage (or lack thereof) of Scotland’s shale gas.
The third and final question asked what was better for energy consumers: putting a cap on prices or making use of non-profit government energy? Chi Onwurah responded that both options could be pursued together, stating that a Labour government would initiate a price cap as well as reform the ‘broken’ energy market by bringing in local non-profit suppliers. Iain Martin argued that nationalisation would not improve the situation, and instead suggested utilising regulators as a way to put pressure on companies.
An additional, more light-hearted question – “if you went guising would you tell a joke, recite a poem, or sing a song?” – was asked towards the end, which led into Ian Blackford’s singing of the first few lines of The Banks O’ Doon by Robert Burns, prompting some of the audience to join in. Jonathan Dimbleby remarked that it was “the most unusual end to Any Questions? as far as I can remember, and a rather lovely one”.
A recording of the event can be found on BBC iPlayer.