It was great to attend the Total Politics question time at the City Inn last night. Chaired by Iain Dale, the panel comprised Eric Pickles, Tony McNulty, Tom Brake and Steve Richards. There’s nothing quite like looking politicians in the eye and gauging their response. It was a little light on substantive discussion and probably most notable for Steve Richards impressions of Tony Benn, Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson. I think that’s the way Iain liked it, he kept pleading for funny questions. Which reminded me that chairmanship is crucial on these occasions, the chair sets the tone, guides the discussion and eliminates the questions that lie outside of his chosen parameters. So when you’re considering your church hustings (which I hope is now heading for the top of the to-do list) think carefully about selecting the chair, or providing guidance for them. Don’t allow simply narrow focus discussions about Christian hobby-horses but deal with a broad agenda. Our commitment is to a whole range of issues including the economy, family policy, life issues and global poverty (to name but a few). And if the rumours of an earlier than anticipated election are true, we’ll all need to get our skates on.