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Question Time comes to Gravesend

The Question Time panel in Gravesend
The Question Time panel in Gravesend

by Danny Boyle

It usually hosts all manner of stage productions, but Gravesend's theatre was home to a different kind of drama last night.

The BBC filmed its flagship political debate show Question Time at the Woodville Halls.

But unusually there was no minister on the panel, as Downing Street apparently protested at Alastair Campbell's appearance.

The Government was said to be outraged that Tony Blair's former spin doctor was Labour's representative on the programme.

Mr Campbell called it "extraordinary" that there was no member of the government on the show in the week of the Queen's Speech.

At the end of the show, he held up a picture of Lib Dem Treasury Chief Secretary David Laws, joking that he had found a cabinet minister.

The other guests were Conservative MP John Redwood, former Liberal Democrat MP Susan Kramer, and journalists Piers Morgan and Max Hastings.

Among questions fielded by the Gravesend audience were:

*How will the £6bn spending cuts affect jobs and the economy?

*Why are Labour leadership contenders Ed Milliband and Ed Balls criticising the war in Iraq?

*What steps can the leaders of our government take to stop the inflexible and die-hard backbenchers from derailing the coalition?

*With reference to the News of the World's Sarah Ferguson story: Is entrapment journalism in the public interest?

However, according to Question Time chairman David Dimbleby, the question asked by the most number of audience members was: Will the government's proposal to award outstanding schools academy status create a two-tier system?

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