ASHFIELD was thrust into the national spotlight last week when its MP Gloria De Piero appeared on BBC1’s Question Time programme.
Ms De Piero, now a shadow Home Office Minister, appeared on Thursday’s show alongside Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, UKIP MEP Nigel Farage, Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson and Julian Fellowes, the writer of hit TV drama Downton Abbey and a Conservative peer.
Much of the debate centred on the issue of the European Union following last Monday’s House of Commons vote against holding a referendum on the UK’s EU membership and the agreed bailout of the struggling Euro currency.
Ms De Piero told the audience that the issues around the European Union were not the priority for Ashfield residents, with only around 1 in 100 bringing it up when she knocked on their doors.
She said folk are more concerned about the economy and jobs market.
Other subjects included the capitalism protests currently taking place outside St Paul’s Cathedral and the scrapping of indeterminate prison sentences.
On this topic, Ms De Piero said she feared this would lead to criminals being released from prison too early and fewer people being imprisoned for committing crimes.
The final question brought up the matter of increased university fees resulting in a drop in the number of young people applying for university.
Ms De Piero said that, having been the first member of her family to attend university, she hopes the fees will not mean folk like her will be put off from going into higher education - something she said ‘changed her life.’
Speaking after the show, Ms De Piero said that although it was her second time on Question Time, this did not make it any easier.
“It is the hardest programme to do as you have absolutely no idea what the questions are going to be,” she said.
“All the panellists are quite nervous beforehand - Nigel Farage dealt with his nerves by drinking a very large glass of red wine!
“I’m really glad I managed to get through it and name check Ashfield a couple of times too.”