Fireworks at Question Time

Question Time at Wigan Youth Zone
Question Time at Wigan Youth Zone

The BBC’s biggest political shows came to the borough last night ... and as expected there were quite a few fireworks!

The location of the programme had been kept under wraps in the build up to the programme, with only those securing tickets for the audience being told it was at the Wigan Youth Zone.

However, that didn’t stop a huge demand from Wiganers wanting to put questions to a panel, chaired by David Dimbleby, which include Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and Brexit minister David Davis.

Brexit dominated the early exchanges, with Mark Buckley opening the show with the question: “Do we need a difficult woman for Brexit negotiations?”

That sparked a wide-ranging debate, with Labour’s representative branding the Conservative position as “living in cloud cuckoo land”.

Audience members spoke out, saying Theresa May’s “difficult woman” comment revealed a lack of negotiating skills.

One claimed the prime minister had “never kept a promise in her life”. That statement was rebuked byTory Brexit minister David Davies who said she had reduced crime by 30 per cent during her time as home secretary, a claim which prompted jeers.

Other questions included one from Laura Pimblett, who asked: “Why does the media refuse to portray Jeremy Corbyn in a positive light?”, while Wendy Docherty asked: “As a country, should we be hanging our heads in shame that people are queuing to use food banks?”

That last comment prompted one audience member to claimed he knew of people in Wigan who used food bank but who continued to “smoke, drink and watch satellite TV”, a comment which drew boos and a rebuttal from another audience member who said he seen 10 people sleeping rough in Hindley.

No visit to Wigan by a political TV programme would be complete without the obligatory mention of George Orwell’s Road To Wigan Pier. That ‘honour’ was left to Labour’s Rebecca Long Bailey, whose Orwell reference prompted mild rumblings from the audience.

Other panelists included Labour shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, the leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood and chief executive officer of Siemens UK Juergen Maier.

Wiganers asked to quiz the panel on the most pressing issues on the day Greater Manchester goes to the polls to elect its first mayor.

The programme being filmed in Wigan could also have been given extra impetus since it was first announced by prime minister Theresa May’s decision to call a general election for next month, with voters potentially tuning in to gain an idea of which way to cast their ballot on June 8.

Audience members were picked to watch the show after applying through a process which asked them to write down the questions they would put to the panel.

The arrival of Question Time, one of the BBC’s flagship politics shows, is a major coup for the borough.

Wigan has previously hosted two episodes of the show’s BBC Radio 4 counterpart Any Questions?