Now, Danny overall did splendidly on the programme. He had by far the most difficult job and having Nadine Dorries as his coalition wing man was a bit like being chucked into the Thames with a rucksack filled with lead on his back. You probably couldn't have imagined two worse people to be up against in terms of their general humour, personability and charm than John Sergeant and Ken Livingstone. Danny stayed calm, focused and made some good points even when all the heat was turned on him.
What was very clear, though, was that people just don't get internal Liberal Democrat angst. They can't understand why someone who believes in a policy would abstain rather than vote for it to make life easier for their party colleagues. Frankly, people don't want to hear about it. The audience reaction to Danny was pretty hostile on that point and I hope he got the message loud and clear that this group abstention nonsense is just not going to sit well with people.
It doesn't even sit well with the party. If nothing else, the idea that Danny and Vince would abstain rather than vote for has united Liberal Democrats from both sides of the argument - those who think that there should be no fees payable by students and those who never supported it in the first place.
If the Question Time audience isn't enough, then the Parliamentary Party should watch former Lib Dem Communications guru Olly Grender completely disarm Andrew Neil on This Week last night, saying that she thought that the abstention policy wasn't the way to go and suggesting that we could have handled it better.
The only thing I could really have asked from Danny last night is that he could have been a bit tougher on Labour, could have reminded us with more vigour that it was Labour who'd gone back on pledges not to introduce tuition fees in the first place and had somehow managed to introduce them without incurring the rancour of NUS. That a graduate on a lower income of £21000 would actually, under the new scheme, pay £74 LESS a month than they would under the scheme Labour introduced. That's a lot of money. And that the scheme proposed by the Coalition is virtually the same as that proposed by NUS, except the Coalition's is fairer and not retrospective. If you want to see more of the detail, the Elephant has it all here.
And, just as an aside, Nadine Dorries, who, on a previous Question Time appearance, said that Trident wasn't a weapon of mass destruction, stated that MP's should never abstain on votes because that wasn't the job that they were supposed to do. My immediate reaction to that was to ask on Twitter for someone to check out her voting record to make sure she'd voted in every single division. Funnily enough, as Iain Whiteley quickly discovered:
@NadineMP Since you've been an MP you've voted 887 times out of a possible 1429 votes thats 542 abstentions #bbcqt#dorriesThere's a surprise.
I don't often watch either Question Time or This Week live because I need my sleep. Last night's was possible because Anna's school is still closed so I didn't have to get up early. If you didn't see either programme, check out Danny Alexander and Olly Grender on the iPlayer. They are worth watching.
Pity Question Time only managed to get one woman on the panel, too. I see its gender balance is not improving.