All Saints, Martock is a big church and it was standing room only last night so I would estimate the audience at over 600. I was about the last to arrive so I had to sit at the front in the choir. It was a good debate conducted in a civilised polite manner although one dark haired lady near the front had the temerity to give Paddy a hard time, obviously a Tory plant. The questions were pre-selected which I don't like. I prefer the QT approach where the chairman chooses members of the audience hopefully at random. I don't trust those who do the screening. Its the technique Farage's UKIP uses to ensure no dissent but that did not happen last night and I thought there was only one hopeless questioner chosen.
Paddy was long on rhetoric but short on fact. Rees Mogg was more balanced with more facts and left the rhetoric to the end, the right place for it! Both men made a good attempt to answer the questions in as straight a manner as full time politicians can manage. Paddy only resorted to the better, stronger safer mindless mantra once. It comes into the category of propaganda lie and is best left to Cameron's collection of useless parroting women, Soubry, Rudd, Truss and Morgan.
Paddy was strong on emotional appeal but poor on economics. He obviously does not understand where credit ratings come from and how to interpret them. His worst gaff was to imply weak sterling which he wrongly attributes entirely to Brexit is a bad thing. Its actually very good for the UK, is mainly caused by the increasing UK current account deficit, and will lead to the rebalancing of the UK economy towards manufacturing and possibly some inflation. This is something the British people by embracing Euro scepticism has produced which the Bank of England despite numerous efforts has failed to achieve. So much for economic expertise.
For public engagement I compare the event to the Scottish Referendum in 2014. I went to Edinburgh for a month to participate. The high spot was my being interviewed for Japanese TV, twice, and Catalan TV once!. Last night's event seemed to be filmed but will not, I suspect, achieve international coverage.
The difference from the Scottish referendum was in the make up of the audience. Last nights audience had an average age over 65. The Scottish events were dominated by people under 25.
Paddy did invoke the prospect of a second Scottish referendum and possible break up of the UK if the UK as a whole votes to leave the EU. That was pure project Fear from the Cameron book of failed Panamanian PR. The 2014 Scottish referendum was the high water mark for Scottish nationalism. It may be surpassed but not I opine anytime soon even if the UK votes to leave the EU.
It was a good evening and proves when an issue is important to ordinary people they will turn out and listen to political debate as they did in Scotland. I doubt they will get the 80%+ turnout the Scots managed but give it time, let Cameron panic and let him Corbyn and Fallon repeat the three amigos show and we might see a 50% plus turnout.