Cristina Odone

Journalist, novelist and broadcaster

Question Time: live

October 11, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

23.06 Sports writer Jonathan Liew is here offering valuable insight:

I've been watching this on mute while I was on the phone to my girlfriend.
Based on visuals alone, Zephaniah is winning this by a mile.

23.04 Caroline Flint: "Give them the training, the access to jobs
and childcare to not rely on benefits. That is the answer." A ripple of
applause.

23.03 Cristina Odone: "I've got friends who are between 16 and 24
and they're saying this is not fair. They're saying I don't think I'm
entitled to have a home. Lots of kids are prepared to go back and live with
mum and dad."

23.00 "It's not a done deal across the coalition," says Simon
Hughes. OOH. "If we wanted a society where we pay off our debts let's
collect money from people who can afford to pay." Twitter is sceptical.

22.58 "Somebody's gotta pick up the tab for this, and it's the
taxpayer." says Shapps. "This is about fairness as a whole to the
taxpayer."

22.55 Zephaniah: "You can't keep putting pressure on them to get
jobs when there are no jobs. you can't push people into the swimming pool
when you have taken the water out of the swimming pool." The audience
applauds, sagely.

22.54 NEW TOPIC: Is George Osborne discriminating against the under-25s
by taking away their housing benefit?

22.54 Knighthoods expire when people die, notes Shapps. Good point.
Simon Hughes states the obvious. Audience remains unimpressed.

22.51 Parliamentary Sketchwriter Michael Deacon is glued to the social
networks:

Magnificent. Mere minutes in, "Michael Green" is already trending
on Twitter

22.49 Caroline Flint: "Wider than the BBC it's recognising that we
put people on a pedestal."

"we don't allow the powerful to take complete liberties with the power
they've got"

22.47 Seems to be a tacit agreement that Savile's no longer fit for his
title. One audience member makes a good point about posthumous allegations
that's also been picked up on twitter...

22.46 Next question: Should Jimmy Savile lose his title? Meanwhile, the
Shapps jokes keep coming...

22.44 Cristina Odone now: "There were two levels of trust that
were betrayed. One his victims, but also the licence payers - we feel that
we've been taken for a ride." She's calling for a very prompt and very
independent investigation, a very public apology, compensation for the
victims and "a thorough clean up of what looks like very filthy
practices".

22.41 Grant Shapps first up: "It day by day seems unimaginable
that people didn't know," he says, doing an admirable job of looking
credible.

22.40 First question: Is the BBC's reputation about to be blown away by
the Jimmy Savile debacle?

22.39 Right, we're away!

22.35 On a more serious note, Alan Robertson has this to say:

Quote
Joking aside regarding Grant Shapps, are ordinary grass roots Conservative
members not thoroughly embarrassed to have someone as (Co-) Chairman who
went around under a false identity? Genuinely interested to know, maybe you
could post it up and see what responses you get. Hardly seems like the sort
of arrangement which inspires confidence.

So what do we think about Grant Shapps's dual identity? Embarrassing, amusing
or both? Get in touch.

22.33 I mean, I have no idea if this tweet is true or not, but I'll do
whatever I can to help burnish the mystique of Shapps/Green:

22.28 The Michael Green anticipation is reaching fever pitch. A reader
writes...

Quote
Since Grant Shapps is going to be on Question Time shortly, and while we wait,
please can you link to Elvis Costello's wonderful song, Accidents Will
Happen ? Please ? Only a matter of time !!

Sadly I can't embed it, but I can
link to it
.

22.27 So tonight marks the first time the BBC will be introducing a
Twitter guest into the mix. How do we feel about this? Toby Young will be
tweeting from a privileged position on the @BBCExtraGuest account, and
although it's not quite clear how that's going to segue into the debate this
evening, it should make for an entertaining diversion. Not everyone's happy
about it, naturally:

22.23 *EXTRA TWITTER GUEST* - Toby Young - The self-styled underdog has
enjoyed a lively career that’s included numerous sackings and wince-inducing
moments, including getting thrown
off the set of a film about his own memoirs
. Today he’s better known
for his West London Free School, which offers children a classical liberal
education in keeping with Young’s own beliefs. This week Young will be the
first Twitter guest on the show, and will be tweeting from the @BBCExtraGuest
account. He’s expecting “unbelievable levels of abuse”.

22.20 Grant Shapps - The man, the myth, the legend. So much has already
been written about international man of mystery Grant Shapps, and yet so
many loose ends remain. The moon-faced Conservative Party Chairman lives a
double life as ‘multi-millionaire’ web guru Michael Green, whose corporate
self-help guides and software packages have helped net him a fortune of
£17m. He reckons he knows what it takes to build a business up from scratch,
but is he thick-skinned enough to absorb the barbs of tonight’s audience?

22.17 Caroline Flint is perhaps most memorable for her resignation
after the 2009 Cabinet reshuffle, when she claimed Gordon Brown was running
a "two-tier government", and that she’d been treated as "female
window dressing". She's been Shadow Climate Secretary since 2011 and an
MP since 1997. Weirdly, there was also once a
bed
that bore her name.

22.12 Deputy leader of the Lib Dems, Simon Hughes has twice run
unsuccessfully for leadership of the party and also for Mayor of London in
2004. Somewhat optimistically, he told
the Telegraph
last week that despite single-digit polling figures
the party “is in a much happier position now than when we left for the
summer holidays.” He also revealed recently he's been swapping
texts with Ed Miliband
on how to give the economy a boost.

22.08 The Telegraph’s own columnist Cristina Odone joins
the panel tonight to inject a little of her erudite criticism into
proceedings. She has enjoyed an illustrious career as a journalist, editing
The Catholic Herald straight after leaving university, and going on to
become TV critic for the Daily Telegraph, deputy editor of the New
Statesman, and a columnist for The Observer. Sharp, forthright and always
opinionated, her presence is likely to ruffle a few feathers.

22.05 So on to tonight's panel. First up we have Benjamin Zephaniah.
Zephaniah’s always an interesting guest on Question Time, which has few
guests on its roster with a CV to match his. The quick-witted creative has
lived an intriguing life, coming to London at 22 with the intention of
becoming a professional poet and rising through the ranks to become one of
Britain’s most well-known writers. He turned down an OBE in 2003 and now
divides his time between China and a quaint village in Lincolnshire.

21.58 Hello and welcome to our rolling coverage of Question Time. Last
week's show was a pretty pedestrian affair punctuated by barking outbursts
from Willie Walsh and an engaging end segment where a blase Janet
Street-Porter dished the dirt on Jimmy Savile.

However, tonight we have a balanced panel of established politicians,
prestigious pundits, a Telegraph columnist, a man who turned down an OBE and
a Walter Mitty-type who’s curiously desperate to escape his “stinking rich”
alter-ego. Let’s just quickly remind ourselves exactly how Grant Shapps
reacts when you bring up Michael Green:

Send me your tweets, email your thoughts and as I blitz my way through an hour
of furious coverage I’ll do my best to weave them into the mix.

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