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UKIP makes its voice heard on the BBC's Any Questions?

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UKIP Cambridge & SE Cambs branch were rather excited to be offered five tickets for the BBC’s Any Questions? at Jesus College, Cambridge on Friday 10th May. The panel was chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, and the guests were Suella Braverman MP (Conservative), Ed Davey MP (LibDem), Richard Burgon MP (Labour), and Liz Saville-Roberts MP (Plaid Cymru).

It was quite a fun affair, beginning with bumping into Jonathan Dimbleby in the loos beforehand where I warned him UKIP was attending in strength. He chuckled and said “well you must be outnumbered here in Cambridge!”, which is true of course.

The format of the show is that the audience are invited to write down questions they would like to ask the panel in advance of the show and post it in a box. These are then quickly processed to a shortlist of 10. The ten audience members then sit in a semi-circle of chairs in front of the panel and pose the questions when prompted by Dimbleby, although usually not all ten questions have time to be asked.

We sat to the right of the panel in the lecture theatre. It was a highly entertaining 50 mins and we made sure our voice was heard in the room whenever the three left-liberals on the panel said something outrageous. We had been told that the microphones were range-limited so those listening on the radio would not be able to make out any heckling or shouted interjections but actually if you shouted loud enough you could be heard as we were closer to the mics than most.

So when the Plaid Cymru MP said Brexit was depriving the Welsh people of a future and Wales should have a referendum on staying in the EU, I shouted out twice – “Wales voted to leave the EU” (which it did by a good majority). That was picked up by the mics and heard by people listening to the programme.

Saville-Roberts, Burgon and Davey naturally demanded a second referendum when the inevitable question was asked. Cue boos from UKIP! Another question was what did the panel think of the rise of nationalism and populism (or similar)? Davey piled in and said he was a patriot but abhorred the 'ugliness' of nationalism. Similar sentiment from Burgon, but Braverman - heavily pregnant now - got our applause with her response. This question put Saville-Roberts, in a conundrum. She too criticised nationalism but as was pointed out to her, Plaid Cymru calling for Welsh independence made her an ardent nationalist. What a hypocrite. My colleague Ian shouted out that Nelson Mandela was a nationalist. That's a ‘a different sort of nationalism’ we were told!

The show ended without much more drama and it was a great experience to be on live radio and experience a political debate. The Cambridge audience were definitely made aware that UKIP is alive and kicking in this Remoaner, left-wing city.