As a politics student I was enthused at the prospect of participating in an active discussion with leading political figures such as Harriet Harman MP and the animated Nigel Farage MEP, especially as it was to be held in my home constituency of Corby and East Northamptonshire. Therefore I applied for a Question Time ticket in the hope that I’d also be able to apply any knowledge gained as a first year Politics student at Nottingham.
On being told that I would be part of the audience (which in itself was an accomplishment as two of my friends had been declined) I was inspired by the lofty ambition of interacting with the panel and asking colourful questions. However, the reality was rather different; at around 200 to 300 people the chances of my question being selected was always slim. On reflection I believe that most of the questions asked were clearer and more concise than my convoluted and long-winded attempt. In spite of this I thoroughly enjoyed being an audience member; the people of my local steel-producing, Glaswegian migrant town produced an entertaining and lively discussion with the panel. Many audience booed and cheered to such an extent it felt like I was sitting through a pantomime at times.
I had, earlier in the day informed my Politics seminar groups that I would appear on the programme and thus felt an obligation to try to actively engage by raising my hand to comment and interject in the conversation. I did not want my friends watching at home to waste an hour looking out for me on the TV. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on my alternating moods of nervousness and intrigue, David Dimbleby declined to pick me out of the sea of hands. Maybe like many in the audience I should have abandoned my self-restraint and blurted out my question during a period of silence.
The most poignant memory of my brief flirtation with fame came during the discussion on corporate tax evasion and the morality of multinationals. Starbucks’ name was mentioned. An impassioned member of the audience delivered an emotive rebuttal to the panel’s condemnation of the coffee chain. The man was a local Starbucks franchise holder, a small businessman trying to make ‘ends-meet’ and forced to witness the televised crucifixion of his business brand. I could not help but feel extremely sympathetic for him as the panel degraded his business, only metres away.
Overall I thought the experience was very satisfying and would recommend Question Time to any social sciences student: choose your location carefully and you could be in for an emotive and fiery exchange.
Lewis Holdcroft is a first year History & Politics student.
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