Questionable Time #138


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another beauteous edition of Questionable Time! It’s sure to be exactly as exciting as the Labour leadership race, which is to say not at all. Most likely, anyway. Let’s get ready to bumble!

Owen Jones leaves One Direction – 100k retweets

Our panellists tonight include Not Michael Gove, a kawaii manga woman, a child on his first day of school, Edina from Ab Fab, and a ginger egg. Hilary Devey, in particular, is described as a ‘former Dragon’, which brings to mind images of her burninating the countryside, burninating the peasants, and burninating their thatched roof cottages. I mean, sure, whatever you like to do in your free time is cool, I guess. Meanwhile, Owen Jones has a natty new haircut and is looking sharp ‘n’ serious. They may call him Babyface, but get on his bad side and he’ll kneecap you at twenty paces.

Our first question: “is it realistic to reduce net migration by under 100,000?” – it remains to be seen if this is just a random figure plucked from the air, or an actual target, written on an Excel spreadsheet, which gives all things gravitas. Nicky Morgan, Gove’s underwhelming replacement who looks constantly startled to still even be in her job, thinks it’s a great plan, and very fair and fairful in a fair fairness-y way.

Tim Farron – upon hearing his name, one can only think of that Malcolm Tucker rant about what kind of men are actually named Tim in this day and age – gets a big ol’ clap for saying immigration is more of a blessing than a curse. A rare event on Question Time! The Lib Dems, cut down in their prime like a cheeky hedgerow, are more than a little peeved that Davey C is updating his ‘mess we inherited’ line to target his former coalition partners. Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, is notably in the line of fire for blocking tougher immigration rhetoric. It’s incredibly obvious that Ginger Egg is gunning for the lefty vote in his leadership contest: the leadership of his eight MPs, including himself. Meanwhile, the SNP roar in agony that none of their bazillion MPs got picked to go on t’ telly. If they find the one that looks most like an egg, it might raise their chances!

Nicky disagrees that there was any sneaky demonisation going on, carefully ignoring the long shadow of those ‘go home’ vans that drove around a couple of years ago, looking ugly and not even featuring a novelty car horn. She goes on to say we need more control, reform, and most importantly: exit checks.

At this point, Owen appears, here to make the most retweetable comments of the night. This fear campaign is not bringing down numbers, says he. It wasn’t hard-working migrant nurses who caused the crash. It was the bankers. The bloody bankers. Put that on a t-shirt: the bloody bankers, innit? I’d buy it.

Hilary, ex-dragon, with a voice like an old motor to match, doesn’t see the problem if immigrants help the economy, it’s just that the infrastructure isn’t there to accommodate them. Stella Creasy bursts in, and my head promptly explodes from how earnest she is. Her pleading tones, sparkly eyes and appeals to common decency have been well-documented here at Questionable Time – she’s like a My Little Pony character with a degree (and a love of indie music). The Prime Minister, she says, is a silly-billy because he pledged to make “illegal working a criminal offence”. Everybody laffs/larfs/laurghefs. Nicky looks horrified and hits back. Didn’t you know, Stella? We’ve got this one. We’ve got Sajid Javid on the job.

A very loud man in the crowd begins to hector the panel about the EU. Tim is grossly offended and says that going on and on about keeping out the EU-ers makes Britain look like a “nasty” place. And, by extension, that means you, audience man. You’re a nasty ass. That can be Tim’s campaign slogan, by the way.

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living

Is a 7-day NHS really viable? Hilary wants to know where the money is coming from. As she croaks out her concerns, Nicky merely looks at this strange person, with her sparkly epaulettes, in utter confusion and shock. She says that it can’t be right that if you go to the doctor’s on Sunday you’ll drop dead in the waiting room. Saw it happen just last Tuesday. Tragic.

Stella agrees with the need for more MONAY but criticises the Tories for breaking everything up and selling it off so people are left running helplessly around trying to find a doctor like in a Scooby Doo chase scene. Owen Jones then goes on about the top-down reorganisation of the NHS, and the crowd loves this – goodness, this is quite a left-wing audience, isn’t it? Last week was Uxbridge, though, so it balances out.

Nicky is, frankly, hurt that you’re all doubting this cool pledge. This is just anti-Tory bias. Toryism. And she, for one, won’t stand for it.

Eggman, on the other hand, says that there is one way to solve this problem: a TARDIS. The Lib Dems have now gone so far over the edge that time travel has become one of their new policy pledges. Why not? It’s not like they have anything else left to lose.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Knowing me knowing EU

Next up: is the British economy strong enough to pull out of Europe?

Owen says that while he supports staying in the EU, Labour should have supported a referendum. Stella shrugs and argues her magnificent point: that we’ve got one now, so whatever lol. Hilary wants more education about the issue, and Nicky bites back by saying that we shouldn’t be frightened of what people think (especially when they’ve just thought they’d like to elect the Tories again).

Owen concludes by appealing to give UKIP voters hope. Perhaps he’s making his pitch for the Labour leadership? Which brings us on to our next topic (going through ’em quick today!): are trade unions the kiss of death for a leadership candidate?

Jonesy cracks his knuckles, ready for another Twitterstorm. He goes on about Keir Hardie, probably because he named his cat after him. The trade unions have done more with their little toe than most of the underwhelming SPADS that fill politics today, he says. Why is it that they are the ones demonised, when rich nasty dudes fund the rich nasty Tory Party? Take that, society!

Nicky says that she liked Jim Murphy (chief disser of Len McCluskey) very much, probably because he lost all those Labour seats in Scotland. Tim is in favour of collective bargaining but not the union link: good job he’s in the Lib Dems, then, and not the Labour Party! Stella praises the unions, tears practically glistening in her eyes, and Owen gets in a tiff with Hilary, who is shrugging at MAXIMUM SPEED and questioning why we even need trade unions in this day and age. We have Candy Crush Saga instead, which is, like, almost the same thing.

For some horrible reason, we still have a few minutes remaining. Therefore, we come to the most important question of the week, or perhaps even our entire age: IS THE GAY CAKE PROBLEMATIC?!

Everybody agrees that it was. Does that mean we could get an infinite money cheat out of it, says Dimbles, by forcing anti-gay cake bakers to repeatedly pay fines for eternity? The answer, Nicky says, is yes. w00t!

Stella, however, remains too earnest for he own good. What if someone did it to you?, she says, looking at Dimbleby with hope in her heart. In response, Dimbleby looks…shocked. More shocked than he’s ever been in his life – and chairing this programme, he’s seen some seriously shocking shit.

Stella valiantly continues. She keeps referencing his sexuality, which is something nobody needs to consider. NO HOMO, screams Dimbledore’s facial expression. Stella shoots a glare at people laughing. This is a serious issue! Just what exactly is so funny? Funny how? Funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to amuse you?! Huh?!

With that bombshell, I think it’s time to wrap up.

Time for the scores!

Morgan: 6/10

(Sitting stiffly in her) Seat

Creasy: 8/10

(Tooth-rottingly) Sweet

Farron: 7/10

(The Lib Dem to) Beat

Jones: 8/10

(Re)Tweet(ed)

Devey: 7/10

(Probably frightening to) Meet

The Crowd: 7/10

(In for a) Treat

Next time: maybe an SNP panellist? Incredible!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #137


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Good morrow lemmings, and welcome to the…UKIPocalypse? Or perhaps not, considering that Fightin’ Farage seems to hold on by the skin of his increasingly yellowing teeth every time. I must say, it’s rather admirable! Also on this show: Brian May. Because why not, right?

You’ve got to UKIP a pocket or two

Our first question is out of the gate and boy is it a doozy. “Is there a place in today’s politics for ‘snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive’ leaders?” – an obvious reference to Farage, who has dramatically unresigned in a daring twist of fate or perhaps existential crisis. I had one last week, and now Farage, faced with the prospect of not being everybody’s favourite pint-poser, scrabbles back to the leadership and the only thing he knows he’s good at. Naturally, opinion in UKIP is split – especially if you’re the ambitious sort looking to take up the cigar and pint glass yourself.

Lord Tristram McSnooty is first up to bat, sporting his outrageously hedge-like pile of hair and strange, bread loaf-like square face, and messes up in about five seconds. A new record! He ignores the question and goes on to his pre-prepared leadership pitch, although at the time of writing still hasn’t officially declared he’s standing. Dimbleby gently reminds him that he’s getting confused again. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s pointy-toed foot is twitching beneath the desk, ready to disembowel any who dares cross him.

Ol’ Nige throws his hands up, as if to say WHAT CAN YA DO. Not like I can help it, guv’na, just an ‘umble servant like m’self, ooh no. Dimbles asks him about possibly having a leadership election – would it “clear the air”? Nigel pooh-poohs the idea. Frankly, he franklies, it would increase the amount of hot air being dispelled by about 200%.

“Surely you’re in the Nick Clegg group now?” says grumpy audience man, referring to Oh-Nicky-You’re-So-Fine’s conspicuous habit of breaking promises, apologising, and crying a lot about it. B-but muh national executive, replies Nigel valiantly.

Then Jeremy Hunt enters the fray, still staring manically and wearing his little NHS pin as if that will make everybody spontaneously like him.

“We’re all human underneath…we’re pretty good at disguising it,” he whispers, in his soft, quietly menacing tones, like Norman Bates from Psycho talking about his mother. He continues with equally worrying lines like this which sound suspiciously like something an alien would say. Tristram Hunt, Hunt 2, chorfs and horfs and flails around trying to rebut Hunt and land a blow on Farage, but honestly I have more confidence in Hunt 1 (Jezza) being competent than Hunt 2 (Trissy), and that’s not a compliment.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

A wild woman appears! What will you do? >Fight >Bag >Poke >Run…I mean, ahem. This is Zanny Minton Beddoes, from the Economist, and she’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who writes for the Economist. I almost don’t need to write down anything she says, and instead throw copies of the Economist into people’s faces while they scream. It has the same effect. Anyway, she’s here to comment on how ridiculous this whole kerfuffle is (as does Brian May, in a slightly different way, hey-hey). True dat, Zanbabwe. True dat.

We need to discuss the future of our politics…starring me, says Loafy. “There’s an awful lot up for grabs,” he continues, for example, say…the leadership. Which leads us to:

Miss Labour Party 2015 World Tour

“Who is the best person to make Labour electable again?” comes the cry, and Tristram rises bumpily into the light like a drunken angel. Nigel smacks him down to terra firma by saying that Labour needs someone not from the metropolitan elite to lead them. Like Nigel! This is reasonable, except when you consider Nigel used to be a City banker, which isn’t metropolitan at all, of course.

Zanny Economizzle says that Labour needs to be in the centre. What the ‘centre’ means is a mystery, but to her it probably means taking baths in a big room full of MONAYYYY like in those old Scrooge McDuck comics. Everybody then rounds on Loafy, pestering him on his intentions: is he going to run, or is he just desperate for attention and love? Tristram explains that he’s not ruling myself in, he’s not ruling himself out, and neither is he shaking it all about.

Brian May sadly shakes his 18th century Georgian wig. ‘Aspiration’ is focused too much on monetary gain, he says, and Labour should become ‘the party of the working man’ again. Jeremy Hunt stares at him, uncomprehendingly, and explains otherwise. It’s frightening. Everyone, even Brian May, on this panel is a little frightening, actually.

Can you not tell house from electronica?

Next: “what concessions should the Prime Minister try and get for Britain from other EU member countries prior to the referenSHNRZZZZZ”. Sorry, fell asleep halfway through.

Zanny, the weird skinny woman, argues that she likes Europe – not the red tape, but rather the MONAYYYY it provides us. Jeremy merely mentions the word ‘benefits’ in the most mouse-like of whispers, and is drowned out by furious applause. It’s time for change in Europe, he says, and then makes this emoticon face: 0_0

Brian May is confuzzled. Why are we discussing this issue and not the far more adorable one at hand: fox hunting? Why not allow a referendum on that?

Jeremy Hunt continues to stare, programming his death. Foxes do not matter. 0_0 They are not humans. 0_0 They cannot hold the pencils in the voting booth. 0_0 Duh.

Farage suddenly explodes, bellowing about a “European army” ready to brainwash your children with fiendish Eurobeat music. When the topic of trading difficulties is brought up, he begins to yelp like a dog with a thorn in its paw. “NO! NO! NO! NO!” he yells, turning into Margaret Thatcher. Up yours, Delors!

Tristram bumbles and fumbles on, making his increasingly muddled pitch. He says that Labour overspent, and, shockingly enough in the constituency where Boris Johnson was elected, is greeted with a big cheer. He looks satisfied. Finally, people are beginning to appreciate him! The British people will decide, he grandstands, with new confidence – with help from the media, of course, and big donations of MONAYYYY!

Zaffy…Daffy…Dappy…whatever her name is, argues in favour of reform from within, to which Nigel is not satisfied and starts actually making some surprisingly decent points about Roy Jenkins’ valiant attempts to slap around the voting system a bit. Suddenly we’re on to another question about electoral reform, which is popular now apparently – the subject has been coming up all throughout this episode, so it’s somewhat difficult to know where to begin with such a complex issue. How about we begin with Tristram squareface breadhead messyhair parachuteseat poshguy talking about history and boring everyone? (Thought not.)

A man from the crowd, possibly an electoral reform hipster, asks where all these posers were during the AV referendum way back when. Nigel sighs and shrugs again, and then…makes the best burn of the night.

“Why Nick Clegg, after the Lib Dems campaigned for 40 years for PR, sold out for AV, I’ll simply never know.”

OOOOH, goes the crowd. OOOOOOOOH! GET IN! (The answer is, of course, because of coalitioneering, but nobody needs to know that.)

So it ends. For what appears like the 23rd time this year, Farage has gotten away with it. Or has he? Stay tuned, lemmings. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of this story yet…

Time for the scores!

Hunt (Con): 6/10

(Weirdly) Clean

Hunt (Lab): 5/10

Preen(ed and fell over)

Farage: 7/10

Keen (for this leadership stuff to just go away)

Minton Beddoes: 5/10

(Weirdly) Lean

May: 7/10

(Played for) Queen

The Crowd: 6/10

(Weirdly) Mean

Next time: not Farage.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #136


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to Hell.

Let’s get right to it, although this may be a somewhat late and truncated edition as I have spent a lot of my time in recent days either a) trudging around for ten hours straight following the campaign trail and getting attacked by dogs, b) bellowing like a harpooned whale at my television screen, or c) sleeping. I am currently in the middle of an existential crisis which has left me inhabiting no physical form to speak of. Nevertheless, I have typed this round-up for you…with my trembling, ghostlike hands.

You can leave your hat on

David Dimbleby is back from his nap and ready to rumble. Appaz UKIP was not available for this edition, so we’ll have to go on without them. Maybe they were locked out due to the voting system?

Besides which, we have to focus on the most pertinent issue of this election: Paddy Ashdown eating his hat. Though now an elder statesman, he has become an late game Twitter meme (replacing #EdBallsDay, RIP) when he promised to eat his hat if the now-infamous exit poll results were true. They were. If anything, they were even more shocking than we shockingly thought. Hatgate has been the sole highlight of a devastating night for the Liberal Democrats – and so, with the country having officially gone mad, Ashdown is presented with a confectionery hat live on television. Alastair Campbell is also presented with a chocolate kilt. Sadly, they do not scoff them down, and we can only wonder at their fates now. Did the audience have a party afterwards, or did the cameramen just nick them?

Honestly, I thought the hat would be bigger. Looking at the scale of the Lib Dems’ (and of course Labour’s) defeat, I was imagining Ashdown shoving an entire sombrero down his gob. There’s still time – some wag needs to do this and put the video on Vine.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Is Scottish independence now inevitable? With our first question comes the oily arrival of Francis Maude. Francis is a happy bunny, and cheerily (well, cheerily for him, which is to say a tad livelier than a corpse) says nah. The SNP fandom (#sturgeonfandom?) didn’t die down, it went TURBO THROTTLE, and the Tories never had a chance there anyway so it’s like…shruggie. Ruth Davidson was clearly having a great time, she never expected to win so just fed Soleros to people every day.

Alastair Campbell intervenes and says yeah probs. It’s Dave’s fault for stoking division. We should respect the SNP, most certainly fear them, but secretly envy them. What do they have that we don’t? Other than a charismatic leader, mobilised ground base, excellent organisational skills, and passionate policy prospectors? Like that’s a big deal!

Paddy says, sadly not with chocolate around his mouth, that we’re doomed.

John Swinney, the SNP dude, who appeared on this programme only two weeks ago but it feels like so much longer now, is having a nice day, now that you mention it. “I love living in Scotland,” he says. Everything is going super-duper for him. Until the Tories hit Scotland with their cuts, that is, but like that’s a big deal! Dimbles asks him to get to the point. Do you hope for fiscal independence? Well yeah, Swinney responds, but we, like, kind of want independence for everything. That’s sort of our ~thing~.

Julia Smugly-Brewer has her own strong opinions and unfortunately decides to air them. “Why are we always talking about Scotland? Why don’t we talk about England,” says she, and the answer to that point is because the question was about Scotland. Francis’ gloating continues, and John is offended and hates David Cameron for subtweeting about his beloved country that he loves to live in. Scotland, that is to say. Just in case you all forgot about it. Like that’s a big deal!

Labouring the point

Next up: is Labour too right-wing for Scotland and too left-wing for England? But where does that leave Wales? Everyone always forgets Wales ;_;

Campbell does his best and waffles a bit. He’s the official Labour Party damage control [insert Iraq joke here], plonked on when they’re having a particularly bad time of it, and nothing could be worse than living in The Now. He declares that people were afraid of JOHN AND HIS HORDE, and simultaneously Scottish people were tired of lazy Labour MPs havin’ a snooze. He sums up by stating that Labour needs to move away from Blairite/Brownite, New Labour/Old Labour divisions and go forward, perhaps crying a little bit, into the future.

‘Who is considering the interests of the poor, beleagured English?’ insinuates some judgey woman in the audience. She later interrupts and is generally annoying. I am short-tempered from electioneering and have no time for her sassy mouth. Paddy can’t even say anything worthwhile in response, his mouth is too full of hat.

Julia extols the virtues of David Miliband. But he is gone. And if he ever comes back, it will not be in time for the leadership contest. Class warfare that, suckas.

LABOUR RUINED EVERYTHING, gloats Francis, clearly enjoying himself.

MURDOCH DID IT!! says another shouty woman from the audience, this time even shoutier. (My ears hurt.) Don’t patronise me, huffs Francis, finally displaying some emotion. Julia interrupts to talk about the real issues. We’ve been talking about Scotland for 25 minutes of the scheduled hour…that’s why people are disillusioned! says she. Eh? What’s your problem with Scotland, Julia? Did Scotland kick your dog or something?

Why did the Lib Dems die in a ditch? Paddy audibly sighs. He mumbles that there are things they need to consider, and basically admits he’s too tired and sad to do that right now. People are a bit sympathetic. Julia tries to hug him but he rebuffs her, sinking a potentially beautiful ship before it even leaves the harbour. The Lib Dems were “honourable” and cool beans, intercuts Francis, perhaps also hoping for a hug.

“You didn’t say that during the election campaign,” Paddy bitches, obviously not in the mood for any kind of hug.

John Swinney places the blame squarely on Danny Alexander’s yellow budget box, saying it looks silly, and I think that’s the one thing we can definitely all agree on.

Europe all night to get lucky

Two UKIP-focused questions next, despite a representative not being there (nelsonmuntzhaha.mp3): Is UKIP’s performance fair, when they got a helluva lot of votes?

Don’t care, don’t like ’em, says John.

Don’t care, don’t like proportional representation, says Francis.

Don’t care, the public don’t care, says Julia.

The crowd disagree vocally. John says he is a beneficiary of FPTP, but believes in PR, as does Paddy. Well, that’s nice. Pity it’s not a big deal to the majority party, eh?

Secondly: can David Cameron keep Britain in Europe? Alastair says this is Bad News Bears. The debate for the next couple of years will be dominated by this, as will the press. We’re for a referendum, says Francis, sticking to the party line as ever (boo, I wanted more gloating, while irritating it’s at least 1% more interesting), but need a renegotiation. Also it distracts from all the other stuff we’re going to do, which is a bonus!

Y’all are arrogant, not letting us get a say, squeaks Julia. We have a right to say no! Just say no, kids! Paddy is offended by this, of course. In fact, you could even say that if Britain leaves the EU…

…he’ll eat his hat.

Time for the scores!

Maude: 6/10

Gloat(ing)

Campbell: 6/10

(Ready to grab you by the) Throat

Ashdown: 6/10

Bloat(ed from all the hats he’s had to eat)

Swinney: 8/10

(Pretty chuffed about his share of the) Vote

Hartley-Brewer: 6/10

Quote(d as saying Scotland LITERALLY killed her dog)

The Crowd: 8/10

(I’ll get me) Coat

Next time: five more years.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #135


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Next time: all change (?).

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #134


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to the last Questionable Time before utter armageddon hits next week. I speak, of course, of the Cameron/Clegg/Miliband threesome that will no doubt draw a lot of special attention to this blog and win it squillions of awards and so on. Or perhaps not. In the meantime, though, we’ve got a panel where bald men outnumber women three to two. Put your shiny heads together and let’s get started.

How do you solve a problem like migration? How do you stop a boat and let it drown?

We begin with the grim affair of hundreds of immigrants dying horribly in the Mediterranean. Cheerful! One would rightfully assume that this isn’t the best material for topical humour, so we’ll have to take the piss out of the panel instead. Thankfully, each and every one of them is a rich source of comedic gold.

Paul Nuttall from the UKIP zone starts us off. He’s wearing a St. George’s Day pin, and a frankly horrible tie. I know it’s the colour of the UKIP logo, purple and yellow, but it just reminds me of an ugly school uniform, and therefore of sitting in school eating lumpy mashed potatoes and ‘mystery gravy’. That’s what you are, Paul, to me. Mystery gravy.

Anyway, he states that to tackle this crisis the Med should become the most heavily policed piece of water in the world. Clearly he’s never been on Brighton beach on a Saturday night. To sum up, we must sort out them there migrants, separating those that are “true asylum seekers” and those we can just throw back in the water. Because #yolo. (Disclaimer: I am not alleging Paul Nuttall spends his spare time playing water basketball with immigrants.)

Nothing’s worked, shrugs William Hague. We did something once, then we tried something else, so, like, shruggie.

Harriet Harman interrupts to practically weep with sympathy. Think of all the proto-feminist women that are dying! By the way, why is she wearing an entire gigantic rose on her jacket? This is what Labour politicians used to do in the 1980s when they changed their logo as part of Peter Mandelson’s rebranding plan. I think this is a moth-eaten 1987 vintage jacket that Harriet’s taken out of her wardrobe and forgotten to take the twenty-five-year-old rose off of. At least it’s not her giraffe jacket.

(In the spirit of gender equality, I’d also discuss the male panellists’ wardrobe choices, except that I physically cannot tell Paul Nuttall and John Swinney apart. Only Hague’s caveman brow prevents confusion with the others. One has a slightly uglier tie and that’s about it.)

But what happens to the immigrants when they get asylum in Italy, Dimbleby asks. Will they make their way elsewhere? Because, like, who’d want to stay in a shithole like that, am I right? The panel does not know, but a hero emerges to cut through the nonsense. That hero is John Swinney, who may look generic but is actually Paul Nuttall’s good/bad (delete as appropriate according to political allegiance) Scottish alter ego like in that episode of Star Trek but with no evil beard. He pledges to restore the cut rescue services somehow and gives everyone else the middle finger.

The audience are not satisfied, though, and at this point Natalie ‘not Caroline Lucas but isn’t she great?’ Bennett finally gets her turn. I’m sure as an Australian immigrant who constantly has to hear about ‘Strayan PM Tony Abbott’s mysterious points-based system all the time, she takes grievous offence to being compared to that weirdo onion eater. She blusteringly repeats the word ‘rescue’ approximately one hundred and forty seven times and concludes that the Tories are evil. Nailed it, Natalie. Slow clap.

Hague is shocked and appalled at her gumption. It’s not true what you say, NatBen. We’ve been excellent at being Baywatch.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Barnett formula: for dry and greasy locks

Would the SNP be a catastrophe for Britain? Three guesses how this one’s going to go…

William grins cheesily and agrees enthusiastically. Hoho, laughs John, and indeed the audience, who are all amused by the frequency of this question. I am too, except I have to write about it. Harriet’s face is stony as Wllm excitedly says that the election of a Labour government would signal the end of the world as we know it, not only of the union but of other beloved-by-all institutions such as the Queen and Waitrose. The only thing to prevent it is a Tory majority. Yes! Vote for our posters of Alex Salmond nicking your wallet! It took five whole minutes in Photoshop to do, much like most of what I post!

John Swinney is mortally offended and is definitely about to post an indignant article on his blog about it and about how much he hates austerity. Harriet explains that the only way to get rid of the Tories to have a Labour majority. What the SNP claim and what their plans actually are is another matter. John is even more offended and we go round and round in circles forever until we die.

Natalie cites a total lack of respect for voters as the cause of all our ills. In response, the beleaguered crowd vow to show our hardy panellists absolutely no respect either. “Talking about getting rid of austerity is all very seductive,” says a man in the audience, which I was rather terrified by. The topic is abruptly changed, however, by Paul Nuttall roaring into action and loudly declaring that the only way to sort all this out is 1) English votes for English laws and 2) reforming the BARNETT FORMULA (yes, it’s that again!). Sounds like something Russell Brand puts on his hair.

Hague rattles off the Conservatives’ plan for an ‘English Manifesto’, but sounding like he’s either having too much fun or not particularly caring to make it as passionate as he’s capable of. He’s got two more weeks of this, and then he’ll be free. Forever. Away like a leaf on the wind.

With the topic hastily devolving into talk of devolution, the crowd grow even more restless. Talk about something more interesting, a guy in the crowd heckles! Like welfare spending plans! And funnily enough, that is exactly what the next question is about. Well, whaddya know! Employ this guy to predict the election outcome!

Money money money, must be funny, it’s a Dimbles’ world

Harriet patiently explains, for the twenty-thousandth time, Labour’s entire manifesto commitments. It’s online. You can read the whole thing. Nope, it’s still too vague!, responds Dimbles. Harriet’s voice wavers in exasperation. She has officially Given Up (in capitals so you know it’s serious). To be fair, literally no political party or indeed anyone ever would advertise themselves with the bad stuff they’re going to pull in office. That’s how they get elected, so appealing for transparency is pretty naïve.

Hague shrugs again and rattles off some examples of cutting benefits. That’s what you like, right? You like that? Mmmm, delicious welfare cuts. You want more of that? Well, how about this: Labour won’t tax squijillionaires: they’ll tax you, Joe Bloggs! William leans back and knows that it doesn’t matter if he gets away with this or not, soon he’ll be sipping margaritas in a hammock.

Slash foreign aid! adds Paul. And HS2! And…wait for it…THE BARNETT FORMULA!

Natalie, with a lead-in from the crowd, rounds on Hague. Your benefit boasting is illegal and gross, she says sternly, with the air of a substitute teacher who nobody listens to telling off a naughty, unapologetic child. You have a choice this election, she recites by rote: austerity, or Austerity Lite Max Protein Shake™. Harriet is still too despondent to whump her one, but claims there is a “trust deficit” among the public anyway, and if you don’t like it, she’ll run you over in her pink bus.

The panellists then try and fail to have a go convincing separate members of the audience to their cause, but nothing really changes until the klaxon sounds and we can all go home. As the last regular Question Time of this government, you’d think they’d go out with a bang, huh? Sadly not – except for Paul Nuttall merrily proclaiming the UKIP manifesto has been verified by an independent think-tank. Don’t worry, lemmings. Questionable Time is not one to be outdone. Next week, we’ll be the most verified ‘news’ organ in town. The mostest.

Time for the scores!

Hague: 7/10

Cheeky

Harman: 5/10

Peaky

Nuttall: 5/10

Cliquey (and the Scots and their Barnett formulas and not allowed in the treehouse)

Swinney: 7/10

Squeaky (wheels but thankfully didn’t crash)

Bennett: 5/10

(A) Freaky (Friday with Cazza Lucas would’ve been better)

The Crowd: 7/10

Leaky (with excitement for next week’s champion match, no doubt)

Next time: the big guns are unloaded.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #133


qt 133

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to an undisclosed location in London (and by undisclosed I mean yer bog standard BBC studio), and yet another episode of Questionable Time: Debates Edition! A roomful of poor unfortunate souls have been specially picked to watch an hour and a half of the ‘opposition’ party leaders debate each other, and straight afterwards get served another steaming heap of hot sweaty debatin’! Mmmm! Them’s good debatings!

At this point the word ‘debate’ has lost all meaning, so let’s get started already.

Please pray for Dimbleby

First up, who is the most dangerous party in Britain? UKIP, the SNP, or another gratuitous acronym? Douglas Carswell is on stage first, talking up the Kippers and predictably preening that they’re the best/around/nothing’s ever gonna keep them down. As it happens, his leader and fellow MP may be having trouble winning their respective seats – this guy’s one to watch. It appears he doesn’t want a coalition, rather a pact to enact proper change. EU-related, one assumes.

Angus Steakhouse Robertson, looking radiant as an entire glazed ham, disagrees and argues for more FREEDOM for Scotland. He wants to stand up for a different kind of politics, and would be willing to work together with other forward-thinking parties in order to do this. Like, for example, not Yvette Cooper.

Yvette, resplendent as queen of the goths in one of her formidable collection of dark purple suits, boldly speaks up to pretty much make chicken noises at David ‘no show’ Cameron. She and Angus get into an argument about numbers or whatever (I am no maths whizz and switched off halfway through), with Angus heartbreakingly trying his best to ‘do a Paxman’. I’m sorry, dude. You simply lack the requisite patronising sneer to do so.

It is at this point that Grant Shapps, or Michael Green, or whoever he is this week, slithers in. Wheedling that DCam ~*~wasn’t invited~*~, he bemoans the chaotic state of the debates and their participants as they are now – if only we had a certain leader to whip them all into shape! #where’sdave, counters Yvette. Grant responds to this by electing to have a go at the Scots. They’re scary, after all – you wouldn’t want to see them doing any deals, right, Middle England? (Unless they decide to do a deal with the Tories, in which case they’re lovely! But they said they won’t, so VOTE GRANT SHAPPS.)

Ah, and here comes Piers ‘Morgan’ Moron to enlighten us all on what we’re doing wrong. Apparently everyone is wrong except him, and you also can’t trust anybody except him. Watch Good Morning Britain on ITV now that my show’s been cancelled! He then goes ‘well in’, as I believe the yoof say these days, for Nick Clegg, calling him irrelevant and that no1curr about his ridiculous bleatings. Coming from Piers of all people, that’s gotta sting.

“I’m hurt,” says Jo Swinson, making a sadface :(

Piers brushes her aside with a remark about tuition fees, any single mention of which burns Lib Dems like water does the Wicked Witch of the West. Haven’t you heard our Nick Clegg apology remix :((((? asks Jo. Or words to that effect. (Don’t worry, she gets better later. A bit.) If only Nick Clegg had been on the guest list for the debate and hadn’t been visiting a hedgehog sanctuary or whatever it is he does now! You know what, screw whether they were invited or not, maybe Dave ‘n’ Nick just should have just turned up and sat on the stage and refused to move until they got let in if they felt so strongly about it.

Dimbleby is expressing a similarly devil-may-care attitude, his eyesight and will to live equally failing, having just spent an hour and a half shepherding around a group of squabbling schoolkids and now having to look after a whole ‘nother class of fools. He doesn’t even care who the questions are coming from or what they are, just that they get this over with as quickly as possible and he can go home and put his feet up. This will be the last general election he’ll be covering, so let’s all wish our great lord and saviour the best! (Apparently he’s now very popular on Buzzfeed, but I always have a soft spot for fashionable 70s Dimbleby.)

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

“Unlike the Westminster establishment parties,” says the man who originally became an MP through being part of a Westminster establishment party, “we’ve got a costed plan blah blah blah.” Now even ‘costed’ is becoming one of the phrases I never want to hear again after the election ends. Along with ‘Barnet formula’, which unfortunately has nothing to do with hairstyles.

Angus Young Robertson is back in black, standin’ up for the poor and bashin’ Trident. Piers is mortally offended by this lack of support for our brave nukes. He takes issue with Ed Miliband perhaps being a teeny weeny bit hesitant to smash his meaty fist on the button that could potentially end all life on Earth. This is a foul embarrassment for Piers. What a wimp, not wanting to gratuitously nuke people. Pfft.

I am fairly sure Piers Morgan is planning a bloody coup and I am terrified.

Piggy bank responsibility lock

Grant smirks punchably as he continues to attack Yvette. While her long-windedness does make it easier for him, every time he is asked a question, or Angus – accidentally or not – encourages him (nae man! Ye daen’t knergh wut ye doin!), a little rodenty smile spreads across his face, freaking me out immensely. Grant is also a strong contender for one of the best and most gleeful trolls of Question Time at the moment (along with Andy Burnham and anyone from the SNP). I don’t like the man, but this is intended to be somewhat of a compliment. Look at it this way: he may be a weasel with no name, but at least he’s an entertaining weasel with no name.

Then everyone jumps on the electoral reform bandwagon. Remember the AV referendum? I sure don’t! Douglas is in favour, and to be fair, Jo does a good bit about the merits of the STV system, which would make everyone very happy and contented forever. But we’re moving on quickly to other matters: namely, the NHS, which didn’t get covered in the second debate as it was heavily discussed in the first.

Piers is attacking Douglas now over HIV treatment and “scaremongering” re: health tourism. First Jo, then Yvette, now Douglas and all their respective leaders…the other panellists are looking nervous and in thrall to Piers’ unstoppable dismissal of absolutely everybody. Dimbleby asks Douglas why ol’ Nige chose to use such unfortunate AIDS-related phrasing that seemed to blame victims. “You need to talk to Nigel about that,” says Dugz. Groans abound. Don’t worry, he’ll be interviewed about it approximately every thirty seconds.

Anyway, we’ve got the most money for the NHS! says Douglas proudly. Jo finds her chance, saying the other parties are all promising pretty pink ponies and only the Lib Dems would properly regulate the nation’s piggy banks. Grant takes issue with this, saying that, ACKTCHUALLY, the Tories have the bestest plan of all. Jo brushes him off – attempting to appear as a future Liberal Democrat leadership candidate, I’d reckon…if she keeps her seat.

Then Angus Deayton Robertson rails against privatisation, but Jo, really riled up now, takes him to task for funding commitments during the #indyref campaign which may or may not have been a big mess/lovely and great with no complaints here. Dimbleby calms matters by saying we don’t want to “refight the referendum”. Tell that to Twitter.

Right to cry (deeply and at great length)

Lastly/briefly, right to buy – just because it’s popular, does it make it right?

“Yvette Cooper, let’s not be too long-winded on this,” says Dimbleby, speaking for us all. Yvette says it’s bad, Grant says it’s great, bears eat honey in the 100 Acre Woods. The crowd asks where the new stock of social housing is going to come from, to which the only available answer right now is presumably ‘idk lol’.

“It’s not the right to buy, it’s the right to bribe,” nods Piers, obviously pleased with himself for that devastating retort. Angus has the answer, though, and it’s to move to Scotland. Douglas disagrees: move to Clacton. Clacton likes the new Tory proposal, and so does he. Why, it’s almost as if he used to be a Tory MP or something!

So remember, kids, in conclusion: what’s good for Clacton is good for all.

With that bombshell (Piers’ ears prick up), it’s time for the scores.

Shapps: 6/10

Sneer

Cooper: 6/10

Austere

Swinson: 6/10

Deer (caught in the headlights)

Robertson: 6/10

Veer(ing left)

Carswell: 6/10

Veer(ing right)

Moron: 5/10

(New presenter of Top) Gear(?)

The Crowd: 6/10

Jeer(ed at ’em all)

Next time: Natalie Bennett disguised as Caroline Lucas.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #132


qt 132

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to the green, green grass of Questionable Time! I apologise unreservedly for the unsightly delay due to being forced into drudgery at my university library all day, toiling without reward. Still, considering the (mainly) weak panel, I don’t believe I missed much. Things are bound to get more exciting as we approach the day of reckoning, however…and Dimbleby should break out his most outrageous tie to celebrate.

Ed Milibanter

I always mistake Elizabeth/Liz Truss for the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss, but sadly she is not the author of a popular punctuation guide but rather the author of a book that I have no real desire to read named ‘Britannia Unchained’, which sounds like an X Factor winner’s debut song but isn’t. She begins, in response to a man in the crowd calling on politicians to stop slinging mud at each other, by immediately reiterating Michael Fallon’s criticisms of Ed Miliband being a bit dodgy-like…by slinging some more lovely mud. Comments about ‘stabbing the country in the back’, which definitely have no uncomfortable, sinister undertones to them, are super cool ‘n’ cute, apparently.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Wee Dougie Alexander looks agog, which is at least a step up from his usual expression/tone of voice – that of ‘gormless drone’. He even calls the comments “rubbish” and the Tories “desperate”, his surprise act of monotone passion garnering a round of applause from the audience. Unfortunately this leads to him being equally pressed about Labour mud-slinging (but dude, it was like, at PMQs, which is totes different yeah?).

Tim Stanley, the poshest man alive (of course he is named Tim) is, to his credit, pointing out that the Labour party does not practice primogeniture, possibly unlike the Stanley clan, and it is 99% unlikely that Ed Miliband is not a sleeper agent for the KGB out to kill us all. They said the same slanderous things about Harold Wilson, and look how that turned out! Well, er, he went mad, yes…but only after a while.

Vince Cable, once the country’s lovable, be-fedora’d uncle, but now a sad, tired shell of his former ballroom-dancing self, makes some reasonable points about Trident, but his affable mumblings are interrupted by that of Caroline Lucas, who the Greens are probably really regretting not having at the Leaders’ Debates now. Bristol is one of the places where the Greens are aiming to win another parliamentary seat, so Cazza Luzza goes full throttle on her party’s core pledge of getting rid of Trident and using the money on saving us all from Al Gore’s roving bands of PowerPoints (2006-era jokes! Timely!). Dimbles challenges her on the figures, but by that point Tim has started to go on about ‘submarines of death’, which is much more interesting. He doesn’t even care. I admire that in a man.

Then a beautiful thing happens – in response to people trotting out the old ‘they’re all the same’ line, a girl in the audience appeals for people to stop being such lazy schmucks and Google the party’s policies, dinguses. This will no doubt go over the majority of the electorate’s heads, who are perfectly content to continue playing Angry Birds while whining that politics is all the same. No differences whatsoever! Can’t be bothered with it! Wahhhh! I hope Joey Essex and his election crusade can show us all the light someday. That’s completely sincere, by the way – but we’re getting off topic.

Always use a non-dom

…Or not, according to Hunky Ed the Labour Lothario. Dimbleby interrogates Douglas about Ed Balls’ iffy support for the new Labour policy, to which Alexander responds that – conspiracy shock! – the Tories edited that one video and ya can’t trust nuffink. #staywokesheeple.

Liz snorts that it won’t make any money. Dimbles quotes Ed Miliband saying it’s a moral issue. BUT DEFICIT, replies Liz. Then Dimbleby, out of nowhere, references Caroline saying Vince could make “eating babies” sound palatable. (It was in a Guardian ‘Blind Date’ piece, and to be fair those are always weird).

Oh, no. Here comes Tim, riding in, defending the nondommers. I have begun to notice that he sounds somewhat like George Osborne, which is strange since apparently he was a member of the Labour Party in his youth. I’m going off him now, especially when he shows his immense love for trickle-down economics. A single tear now trickles down my face. Tim has been born into the wrong time period. He needs to be helping Ronald Reagan on his election campaign in 1980, not facing a manically grinning Caroline Lucas in the year of our Lord 2015. Poor Tim. Poor, loaded Tim.

A Blair scare to raise your hair

Next question: should Tony Blair have re’surfaced’, presumably from his coffin. Sinister.

Tim wants a referendum purely because Blair is terrifying. Vince, glowing Liberally, says a referendum would be an awful idea and we should, funnily enough, all listen to Blair because of that one time when he stepped down and Parliament applauded him. A lady in the crowd, who is a criminologist don’tchaknow, thinks it’s ~well dodge~ for Tonezone to come back, being as he is an (alleged, don’t sue me Tony) war criminal.

“Douglas!” exclaims Dimbleby brightly, why don’t you answer that? Douglas stammers but moves on hastily to make an impassioned (well, as impassioned as ol’ Dugs gets) defence of Europe. Innocent until proven guilty, he adds! (I wonder where the Chilcot Inquiry is now? Having a margarita in Barbados, most likely.)

Caroline wants to “CHALLENGE!” (her emphasis, not mine) the others on taking Euroscepticism for the left, flag aloft, presenting herself like a Joan of Arc who fights not with swords but with wind farms. To which the others respond with bickering about a possible referendum. She makes this face, seen below. I imagine it would be a very useful face for internet debates, and so I bequeath it to you all.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Why hasn’t there been a referendum already? Lib Dems, innit, says Liz. Nahhhh bro, you nasty, says Vince. Ain’t even bovvered, adds Dougie. I’m paraphrasing here. And then a man in the audience makes a simply stunning comment. Why weren’t the English and Welsh asked their opinions during the Scottish referendum? Because if anyone is really ignored in this Parliament, it’s the English. What? You mean the Scottish referendum should be for the Scots to decide? Pfuh – what a silly idea! Utterly laughable!

Liz finally gets a grip on things, and makes a good point about cases of direct democracy such as the #indyref getting people involved and actually debating about a certain topic. The problem is that particular topic drowning out everything else and getting other bad news swept under the rug. There needs to be a balance, although we’re not going to find it here. The melody of Questionable Time plays on…

Last up, why should students trust Labour’s pledge to cut tuition fees? Because they ‘won’t get fooled again’? Vince gets asked first, to much laughter, and says that Labour screwed it up first, so we’re all victims here! Douglas replies that this isn’t true, and that Labour will reduce fees by taxing the aforementioned rich because we don’t want the students on our back like rabid wolverines (any more than they usually are). Tim pooh-poohs this. Whatever happens, he says, we’re all “going to be living in a world of pain”. Except Tim, nice but dim. He’ll be swimming in his money bath.

Caroline rubs her hands with glee. She’s only got 10 seconds, but manages to shit-fling at everyone. An impressive result. Liz blurts out that awful ‘they’re all the same’ line in that same amount of time. Douglas shrieks about this being a lie, again, and Cazza shouts “anti-austerity party!” as loud as she can as the proverbial klaxon goes. Then she grins devilishly. She knows what she did.

She knows.

Time for the scores!

Truss: 5/10

(Up for a) Trussle Tussle

Alexander: 6/10

(On the) Plus (side, he was less boring than last time)

Cable: 6/10

(About to get his) Bus (pass)

Lucas: 7/10

(Eager to) Discuss (the merits of disarmament)

Stanley: 6/10

Rus(tled some feathers)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Not in the mood to) Trust

Next time: Piers Morgan. Oh God no.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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