Clarke Carlisle on ‘Question Time’ in Burnley - INTERVIEW

THE national spotlight fell on Burnley when it hosted a lively debate for the BBC’s Question Time programme.

The popular political debating show was broadcast from the auditorium of the new Unity College in Burnley’s Towneley Park and featured Clarets defender Clarke Carlisle – the first footballer to sit on the panel.

Subjects discussed included the Iraq war, health service reforms and education.

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The line-up of the panel made for a lively debate with Tony Blair’s head of communications Alastair Campbell involved in a heated sparring match with former Labour and Respect MP George Galloway.

Other guests taking answers from the public were Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes and Conservative Caroline Spelman.

Among those asking questions were director of UCLAN’s Burnley campus Martin Brown and Susan Hamer, a nurse from Burnley General Hospital. Burnley Labour group leader Coun. Julie Cooper and the Mayor of Padiham, Coun. Jean Cunningham, were also in the audience.

Much of the debate, not surprisingly, focused on Alastair Campbell’s role in advising Tony Blair in the run-up to the Iraq war and the ongoing Chilcott Inquiry, with Mr Galloway stating that “Blair and Campbell should be tried in the Hague for war crimes”.

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On the subject of the Iraq war, Burnley’s erudite defender Carlisle, a past winner of television’s Countdown, said: “I have a cousin serving in the armed forces. I honestly believe that the people responsible for sending our brave men and women to war should be held accountable if that war is found to be illegal.”

Interview by Darren Bentley