Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Straight talk

I spent Sunday afternoon back in the UNITY FM studios. This time to take part in a debate with Steve McCabe (Labour MP for Hall Green and standing in the new Selly Oak constituency); Andrew Mitchell (Conservative MP for Sutton Coldfield) and John Hemming (Lib Dem MP for Yardley).

The show was produced and presented by a team of 16 year olds who were not in the mood to suffer politician-speak, and wanted to cut to the chase! Quite right too.

There were lots and lots of questions from the community covering foreign policy, education, policing, the economy and more besides.

Some of the replies were predictable. John Hemmings did his squirming routine, saying he was against the war in Afghanistan but supporting military action.

Steve McCabe couldn’t even bring himself to condemn Israeli actions towards Gaza – thought it would be ‘uneven’ to condemn them.

But Andrew Mitchell surprised me. He had been a banker himself and he responded positively to the Robin Hood tax proposal which I highlighted.

All the others agreed over the necessity of cuts – I was only one to speak out against them and point to an alternative.

And all were agreed that education funding had to be reduced – I put forward an alternative on principle and a practical solution – and pointed out that all had benefited from a free university education as had I, and now wanted to withdraw it from others.

It was a lively afternoon and kept the politicians on their toes. It was an especially uncomfortable afternoon for those who didn’t want to talk straight.