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University venue for flagship BBC Question Time Leaders’ debate

Posted on 21 June 2024

The University of York was the focus of the General Election on Thursday 20 June as it hosted the BBC Question Time Leaders’ Debate.

l-r Dr Anna Sanders answers questions from Ros Atkins for the BBC News Channel and journalists gather in the Spin Room

The event, which was broadcast live from the University’s Ron Cooke Hub, was chaired by Fiona Bruce and featured Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Scottish National Party John Swinney, Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.

Intense questioning

The leaders faced intensive questioning from the studio audience one-by-one, for 30 minutes each with the event broadcast live on BBC1 and BBC iPlayer.

Afterwards, politicians, journalists and special advisors gathered in the Spin Room to give their take on the night’s debate. The special QT event also attracted student media groups who were invited to the Spin Room, interviewing key politicians including Wes Streeting.

The University’s political experts were asked to provide commentary to the national and local media on the day, with Dr Anna Sanders quizzed on her views on the election campaign so far by Ros Atkins on the BBC News Channel, as well as interviews with BBC Look North and BBC Radio York.

Professor Peter Bull and Dr Maurice Waddle, both leading experts in political communication, were also asked by Ros Atkins to give their take on how politicians evade difficult questions. 

The University has hosted similar BBC Question Time programmes in 2017, 2019 and 2023.

Diverse audiences

The University of York’s Director of External Relations, Joan Concannon, said: "We have a really engaged community of students, staff and alumni who are interested in, and keen to support, such high-profile events. 

“Events like this provide us with a really inspirational opportunity to excite our students about the significance of elections, democracy and the power of the vote. It also means we can offer insightful behind-the-scenes aspects on the relationship between the media and politicians and the democratic process.

“We were very proud to work with the BBC to host this flagship news programme again - the Question Time hosted by the University of York in 2017 was cited by independent research as the 5th most influential element in that electoral campaign.

“As a university for public good, we are passionate about using our convening power to draw diverse audiences into our community, and in doing so, demonstrate the power and relevance of universities to the UK."

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