Earlier this week I took part in the BBC Question Time Schools Competition. The Question Time team judge different schools wanting to host the programme and then pick the best to jointly produce an edition.
Last year I was invited by Holte School to be a panellist. They turned out to be one of the winning schools. This year I was invited by Camp Hill Girls School to be part of their effort. I was happy to oblige. I am a former student of Camp Hill, plus it is in the Hall Green constituency, so it was also an opportunity to speak to many parents.
The panel consisted of BBC broadcaster Ed Doolan, Emma Reynolds (Labour), Karen Hamilton (Lib Dems), Keely Huxtable (Conservatives) and myself. About 200 people attended.
Westminster sleaze, politicians lining their pockets, and whether it was even worth voting, took up the most time. And things got heated when it transpired that the Labour representative was an ex-adviser to Geoff Hoon! As you would expect, the economy also featured. I got a warm response from the audience when I outlined an alternative to the cuts agenda of the mainstream parties. And the Labour candidate got booed when she tried to interrupt and challenge me. Perhaps a little bit stung she justified by saying ‘Salma always likes to have the last word’, to which Ed Doolan retorted ‘there is a good reason for that – she talks sense’! Indeed, Ed and I were on the same ground on many issues. He spoke powerfully in defence of an education system that is free for all.
Congrats to the students and teachers at Camp Hill for their efforts. I thought it was a really well organised event and I predict they will do very well in the Question Time competition.