Question Time in Mytholmroyd

"Enemies of the People" says Bernard Ingham of those who advocate renewable energy.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher consultant to the nuclear industry and former Hebden Bridge Times reporter, yesterday evening told a packed Any Questions audience at St Michael's Parish Church, Mytholmroyd:

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"Anybody who is relying upon renewables to fill the (energy) gap is living in an utter dreamworld and is, in my view, an enemy of the people."

Michael Meacher MP, and former Secretary of State for the Environment, was able to effectively rebut Bernard Ingham's outburst in what was probably the most lively debate of the programme. The fact that just two miles away, Hebden Bridge now has a thriving Alternative Energy Centre escaped the panel's attention. The programme was very professionally chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby.

But even his great expertise fell prey to the curse of Mytholmroyd which he mispronounced at the programme's beginning and end, much to the audience's amusement. When it went off air, he told the audience that when he saw the name he felt as if he were in Eastern Europe. He knew that the town's name had been mispronounced in the film "Sylvia" but had been wrongly reassured by the BBC's Linguistics unit that "MythOLMroyd" was the correct pronunciation. Bernard Ingham provided him with the correct way to say it. Perhaps next time the town appears in the media someone might get it right.

Well over 200 people were in the audience and asked questions to the panel which also included Greg Dyke, former Director General of the BBC and Sayeeda Warsi, Vice Chair of the Conservative Party. The programme was broadcast live and the panel were not told the questions in advance, although questions about the Palestinian election, whether the media was institutionally racist and the extent to which public figures should reveal their sexuality were predictable enough. As was the nuclear question, given the presence of Michael Meacher and Bernard Ingham.

In the warm up session before the actual programme started, the audience were encouraged to practise their applause, booing, cheering and giving a show of hands in response to Jonathan Dimbleby's questions to the audience.

A BBC spokesman also told us a little about the programme. It started in 1948 and Tony Benn has been on it 80 times. The programme has visited Mytholmroyd twice before, once at Calder High School and once at the Community Centre. The earliest mention of Mytholmroyd in the BBC archives is for the Pace Egg Play of 1952.

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