I missed Question Time last week having been stuck on the A1 in a huge traffic jam. Fortunately for me the program invited me down to Llanelli to take part in this week’s program.
There I was on the panel with the cream of Welsh politics. First Minister Carwyn Jones, the Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb and the leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Wood. The BBC could not have found a higher profile Welsh panel.
But by the end of the program I was convinced that Wales needs better. On question after question they simply wouldn’t face the facts.
South Wales has always relied heavily on its steel industry, both production and fabrication.
The slow down in the Chinese economy has led to a colossal dumping of steel on the world markets to a level that has seen thousands of jobs in steel manufacture lost across the UK including 1,000 redundancies recently in Port Talbot.
And yet. When the question was asked of the panel, “what can be done,” they all blathered on about helping the steel industry with their fuel costs.
Not one of them could face up to their own impotence. That to stop the dumping of Chinese steel with a short term tariff barrier cannot be done by Westminster or Cardiff or any British politician. It is the EU which has sole responsibility for this and shows no desire to act.
As for cheap energy, the panel seem to think that the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon was a good idea. That would believe it or not produce energy even more expensive than we get from those God awful wind turbines.
A steel worker in the audience who asked a question looked wholly exasperated at his Welsh political leaders as well he might be. They are clearly not fit for purpose.
On the broader issue of the U.K. Referendum a woman in the audience asked a wholly sensible question of “was Brexit the way to control immigration numbers?”
Off the panel went on a long discourse about all the marvellous benefits immigration had brought to the United Kingdom. Carwyn Jones said that everybody in the room was the descendant of an immigrant. Contributions to the arts, our public life and the diversity of modern Britain were lauded and it was said that those that argue against mass open door immigration do so with a deeply unpleasant tone.
Not one of the politicians answered the question about control. And it took a member of the audience to ask “why is Nigel Farage the only member of the panel to say that we can only control numbers post-Brexit?”
The politicians sat there in response to this man’s intervention with their mouths moving like goldfish, with nothing coming out. But the comedian on the panel Romesh Ranganathan, who clearly had been put on the panel to hate me, agreed that it was important to have control.
For the first time in twenty-nine Question Time appearances I applauded another member of the panel.
If our political class cannot even attempt to answer the questions put before them roll on the referendum campaign. But in some ways it’s even worse than that. People watching these programs expect for the panel to be knowledgeable, to back up their assertions with some simple facts.
In the case of Carwyn Jones, as I saw in my previous head to head debate with him, there is a total absence of knowledge. He claimed that one of the reasons Welsh steel was suffering was the strength of the pound. I tried my best to point out that the pound is falling which helps Welsh exports, but to absolutely no avail.
This is what comes from a career political class who between them have precious little knowledge or understanding of the world of commerce or indeed virtually anything outside of the little game of politics.
They are all reduced to issuing a whole series of meaningless threats as to what would happen to the United Kingdom outside the EU.
The Question Time audience were not convinced by any of it. And this in my opinion bodes well.
Nigel Farage is the leader of the UK Independence Party