Adam Smith 300: A Boris bombshell that stole the show at Kirkcaldy theatre
and live on Freeview channel 276
After a spontaneous round of applause had broken out - this was after all a Kirkcaldy crowd with Gordon Brown in attendance - the question hung in the air. Mr. Peston, visually taken aback, asked for it to be repeated not once but twice.
“I was saying,’ the questioner repeated, “that it’s just come on the news that Boris Johnson has resigned. I was wondering if you had any immediate reaction?”
“Is it fake news?” the official interviewer asked.
“No, it’s from the BBC.”
“Well,” Peston said, half to himself, his fingers tapping away on his phone, “I’m definitely in the wrong place.” The pigeons were flying in Westminster and he was more than 400 miles away.
Mr Peston had come to deliver the annual Adam Smith lecture in the newly refurbished theatre. In a wide-ranging talk he discussed topics such as the calibre of today’s politicians, the rise of AI, the importance of education reform and the cost of living crisis. Mr Peston spoke of the abandonment of workers when industries were shut down in the ‘80s, and how that sense of abandonment pervades today, and of how national economic statistics about avoiding recessions mean nothing to people who can’t afford to pay their rent or their electricity bill. It was a well-received talk. As I was leaving, I heard someone say something to the effect that he had spoken about things in a way that made sense to ordinary people.
After three long years of closure, the Adam Smith Theatre can hopefully resume its role as the cultural heart of Kirkcaldy. The cool modernistic interiors felt a bit soulless to me, but the sound quality from the new audio system was excellent.
Tonight’s event was quite fitting - recognising Adam Smith, Gordon Brown present and opening proceedings, and an excellent speaker in Mr Pesto – but it was the news about Boris that was the evening’s bombshell. Once again the ex-PM had managed to steal the show. Gordon Brown looked rather pleased from where I was sitting.
Robert Peston was still on his phone in his chair on stage as the audience was leaving and the spotlight above him dimmed. Was he texting Boris himself, asking for a comment?