Political representatives were greeted by protestors in New Cross on Thursday, as this week’s BBC Question Time programme met for filming at Goldsmiths college.
A significant group of campaigners stood outside the university from around 5pm, carrying placards in support of Lewisham Hospital and criticism for the closure of Downham fire station.
Inside the main university building, audience members from the local community arrived with questions to grill the political panel. This consisted of Liberal Democrat Home Office minister, Norman Baker MP; Labour shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna MP; Conservative MP Nadine Dorries; Deputy Leader of UKIP, Paul Nuttel MEP; and journalist and popular blogger Susie Boniface, otherwise known as the Fleet Street Fox.
Questions raised during the programme covered the Mark Duggan shooting case, welfare cuts and issues regarding changes in immigration laws. The recent case regarding Lewisham Hospital was also brought to the floor by one particularly vocal member of the audience, who received supportive applause.
In response to the reference, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries confirmed that Lewisham hospital will not be affected by the ongoing programme of closures: “Lewisham is absolutely protected, and I have had confirmation of that from the department of health this afternoon.”
The news comes one year since the issue of Lewisham A&E’s pending closure was discussed with heated debate at the same venue.
Other questions raised included “should the young and poor pay for the living standards of rich pensioners?”, from audience member Daniel Reiss. This sparked comment from all panel members, including Dorries who surprised viewers by stating that she will not back her party by voting in favour of cutting housing benefits for under 25 year olds.
To this, Dimbleby remarked with humour: “We invited you here as a vague supporter of the government but clearly you are not!”
Regarding the same issue, Boniface suggested that one way to ease welfare costs would be to offer a voluntary opt-out system for the pensioners’ winter fuel allowance system, adding: “It would be a start”.