THE Canterbury edition of Question Time has been dubbed the best AND worst in the shows history. But the expected clash between left-wing comedian and campaigner Russell Brand and Ukip leader Nigel Farage was eclipsed by the behaviour of some members of the audience. Former Whitstable resident and campaigner Bunny La Roche, real name Sandra Scammell, hit the national headlines after yelling out comments to Mr Farage — and has since been the victim of vicious online abuse. The Thanet Stand Up To Ukip member was forced to change her mobile number and withdraw from Facebook following attacks and threats.
On Friday, she told the Times she was unrepentant. She said:
“I live in Thanet south. It’s a low-wage blackspot. People are worried — about jobs, housing, health – and those are all legitimate concerns, I’m worried about them too. When I heard Nigel Farage on question Time trying to blame these worries on immigration I just lost it.”
Mrs La Roche, who now lives in Ramsgate, said:
“When I saw Farage in his crisp suit daring to pretend that he’s not part of the establishment I couldn’t help myself. He doesn’t care about Thanet — he never comes here. He’s not interested in us, he’s only interested in getting to Westminster.”
She insisted she will continue campaigning against Ukip in the run-up to the general election. On the programme, subjects under discussion Included the NHS, the behaviour of politicians, and immigration. The other panellists were Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt, Labour MP Mary Creagh, and Camifia Cayendish, a columnist for The Times. Mr Farage came under fire from sections of the audience, and members of the panel, particularly from Mr Brand, who called him “a pound shop Enoch Powell”. Mrs Creagh accused Mr Farage of “petty political point-scoring” for referencing his 20 years’ work in London’s financial sector before becoming an MEP. But Mr Farage drew support from the audience with comments about “the open door” of the EU (which he described as “dull as ditchwater”), and overcrowding in the UK. He said:
“If you have a country in which the population goes up, as a direct result of immigration, what you find Is not a shortage of green fields; you find a shortage of primary school places. You find a shortage of OP surgeries.”
Mr Brand also came under fire from the Canterbury audience. One young woman said that problems in politics needed to be solved by more people getting involved, and “it doesn’t help when people are told not to vote. in my opinion”, while another man challenged him to stand for office, if he wanted to change things. The man, who was later identified as Robert Carver, the brother of a Ukip MEP, said:
“You are a campaigner; stand for Parliament. If you’re going to campaign, then stand. You have the media profile for it.”
Mr Brand said:
“I know a lot of people are frightened in our country I know a lot of people are feeling afraid and frustrated, and there is a sense that there is corrupt group In our country taking away our jobs, taking away our housing, not paying taxes, exploiting us. And there is: there is an economic elite. Immigrants are not causing the economic problems and suffering we are experiencing.”
The show attracted 4.6 million viewers — at the start, at least substantially higher than the previous week’s programme.
Herne Bay Times, December 17th 2014