Questionable Time #130


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a sad, sad edition of Questionable Time, direct from bright and sunny Bolton. By which I mean the Questionable Time that time forgot. You may not have noticed, but there’s actually been things called ‘debates’ going on, although the first one wasn’t really a debate, and – but I digress.

I must confess I actually forgot about Question Time’s existence for a while, hence why I’m late today, so caught up was I in Ed Miliband half-threatening to punch Jeremy Paxman in the face and claiming that, yes, he’s tuff enuff. I didn’t know it was possible to cringe and cheer at the same time, you’d think those would be opposite sides of the emotional spectrum, but Ed has shown me the way and now I feel a far broader range of human emotion than I ever did before.

Anyhow, this ought to be a short, perfunctory round-up, as will the dead-duck QTs for the next few weeks: but soon, friends. Soon. Something is coming. Something…relevant.

I’m late, I’m late, for a very important debate

Sure enough, even our first question is about – what a surprise! – the debates. This time – indeed, for the hundredth time – debating whether the debates should be debated. I mean, are worth it. Well, considering that 2.5 million people tuned in to the first double interview…don’t worry, Dimbles. Your time will come. In about a month, I’d say.

Anyway, everyone in the studio has apparently been watching the showdown and most likely eating pizza and yelling, as I did. Seems like because expectations for Miliband were so low, people were just impressed that he didn’t vomit on stage. Every little victory counts.

In any case, a somehow even less popular Labour leader shows up to annoy us all: Jim Murphy. The first real grilling comes quickly – are you going to spend all the mansion tax in Scotland? People are chuckling at whatever the hell he says, which may annoy that one lady who wants people to take the whole debates affair seriously, but I think everyone’s been at the bar at least once by now.

Janet Street-Porter warns about ‘attractive’ Clegg and the Cleggmania effect happening again. Don’t get burned again, people! Not like last time! She also complains about political cliches, which is in itself a cliche. Clicheception! Then a young man in the audience interrupts to show us all his many feelings on Ed Miliband getting bullied. ;______; The dude thinks that Ed should just act ‘the way he is’, although the problem is that many people want him to do the exact opposite. Still, at least he’s got some support!

He’s right to be bullied, warns Nicky Morgan, the Gove replacement that was presumably built in a lab somewhere. Labour’s dirty money is going to come from “people’s pockets”, warns she. Um, Nicky, isn’t there where all tax comes from? Meanwhile Leanne Wood goes straight in about Cameron fumbling on foodbanks, but also states that despite his protestations Ed still isn’t tuff enuff.

Steven Woolfe, the UKIP finance spokesperson, has such a monotonous voice that he’s threatening to even eclipse the rest of the panel (save Janet and Leanne) in the robot stakes, but he soldiers on to claim that it is the humble UKIP that will defeat the dreaded zero-hours contracts. Of course. They put it so highly on their list of top priorities. When people think UKIP, they think zero-hours contracts. They’re almost a single-issue party!

Jim Murphy also soldiers on, trying to give a name to every single member of the audience. Jim, please, it was awkward when Ed did it and it’s even worse with you. At least he’s not up in Scotland, where the more frightening crowd would no doubt have given him some choice examples. He goes for the predictable, but always hilarious, line of attack that Cameron was simply too chicken to face Miliband. Chick-chick-chicken. Bawk bawk bawk.

Nicky is outraged, her voice squeaking. How dare you call delicious Dave a chicken! Roasted in a thick wine sauce! Mmmm…Tory sauce. (I apologise for any brains broken during this QT edition.)

Kiss kiss fall in love

Next question, and we’re actually getting serious now, on where ~*~the money~*~ is coming from. Both the Tories and Labour have ruled out VAT and National Insurance increases. Will it come from further cuts in welfare? There’s only one way to find out…

“No,” says Jim Murphy.

…Oh.

JSP is here to generally rile people up, as usual. She thinks politicians saying that they’re going to cut benefits would be popular, thanks to the mean old media drumming it into people’s heads all the time. As a Media Studies student, I nod sagely, safe in the knowledge that my analysis of cultural hegemony is useful and accessible.

Leanne Wood is here too, of course. According to Dimbleby, she’s representing the SNP as well as Plaid Cymru, and that “you and Alex Salmond are like that” (with appropriate hand gestures). Leanne smiles broadly. Honestly, I ship it. (Look it up if you’re not sad, but want to swiftly become sad.)

We want austerity to burn, says Leanne, and if Plaid Cymru were running the campaign then everything would be better somehow. Well, what about this happiness index!! says JSP, getting hectic. While that’s all going on the UKIP dude continues to be disappointingly uneventful. It almost makes you miss Nigel Farage. At least you’ve always got…something…to say about him.

On the subject of coalitions/pacts, which inevitably comes up for no reason, Jim tries to emulate his boss by coming out fighting. Alex Salmond likes the sound of his own voice and is a poopyhead, says Jim, who probably is sick of the sight of the Saltire by now. Is that the Alex Salmond you recognise?, says Dimbleby slyly to Leanne. David, please, you make it sound like they’re married! Although…

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

JSP goes after Leanne again. Does she just not like her or what? It bothers people, these deals, she begins, before Nicky Morgan leaps in with some much-appreciated input of her own. Mainly about how she respects David ‘breaking the’ Laws and how coalition was hunky dory. When asked if she’d like another coalition, though, she frantically backtracks to great comic effect. She’d like a majority, duh, you guys! Whew, just avoided ‘doing a Pym’ there, Nicky.

If you say ‘Peter Mandelson’ three times facing a mirror at night, you wake up the rest of the house

Last(ish) question. Why is Ol’ Nigey Boy castigated for saying English jobs for English workers, when Greg Dyke said something similar about football at some point? Good one, Greg! You increasingly irrelevant man.

Leanne stops momentum to gush about trade unions for a bit. UKIP Steve takes to the stand instead. UKIP has nothing against immigrants, says Steve. When Gordon Brown said something similar back in the Noughties everyone loved him. Uh, no they didn’t, Steve. I’m fairly sure Gordon was hated 100% of the time. But apparently Nigel is being discriminated against. Steve talks constantly for about five minutes and to his credit sounds reasonably reasonable but I got distracted thinking about what would happen if Ed Miliband and David Cameron got in a punch-up.

Nicky reminds us of the existence of Peter Mandelson and we all cry. Screw Peter Mandelson, I’m proud people are coming here, replies Jim, or words to that effect. Everybody get in here! Get in the paddling pool! There’s room for everyone! Woo, getting a little crowded in there…says Steven while pointing and yelling in a low drone. (Don’t mention the British ex-pats!)

Someone from the crowd lowers the tone yet again. There’s too much positive discrimination, appaz. Whatever happened to getting a job on merit…says the white man. Thank you for your contribution. I shall now proceed to get trolled by angry white men on the Internet.

Finally: Jezza Clarkson. Should he have gone? Could he have got away with it if he’d only slapped, not punched?

To summarise, since I seem to be doing that a lot with the final ‘jokey’ question: Leanne brings up trade unions again, JSP throws a hissy fit again (this time about snobby BBC execs), Jim throws in a Hislop-esque ‘allegedly’ in there not again, and lastly, some guy in the audience asks for everyone to stop talking about this godforsaken topic.

Time for the scores!

Morgan: 5/10

(Run off the) Rails

Murphy: 6/10

(Trying not to think about Scottish Labour being a bunch of) #Fails (, lolololol)

Wood: 7/10

(Did it for) Wales

Woolfe: 5/10

(Why isn’t Nigel here to) Bail[s] (him out)

Street-Porter: 5/10

(What) Ails (you, Janet?)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Wants the) Details

Next time: who even knows?

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #129


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Good morrow lemmings and I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful solar eclipse earlier today. I didn’t, because a cloud was in the way. A cloud over my heart named Question Time, featuring Dia Chakravarty. So let’s plunge straight in, while I cry, and cry, and cry, and cry, and cry, and cry.

Can’t budge it

Damn, this hall is ugly. At least Chuka ‘Ooh, mama’ Umunna is there to lift our spirits and possibly pose for a shirtless calender. I don’t know what Shirley Williams is wearing though, it looks like a five-year-old’s pretty pink princess dress.

The first question is – duh – on Ye Budgete. Do we or do we not feel better off? Sajid gets us off to a flying start by saying…yes. Yes we do. The slow-cooked economic ham is twerking. We need to stick to the ham. Or words to that effect. However, Chuka slowly explains, as slow as wading through molasses, that the government’s triumphant dancing over their employment figures doesn’t mean jack as zero-hours contracts are undermining the very meaning of twerk. I mean work. I’m going to get that wrong all day now.

A shrieky warble pierces through the air as the entire audience holds its breath in overwhelming fear. Or at least that’s what I did. Yes, Dia Chakrathingy from the Taxpayers’ Alliance is back, and so is her infamous giggly yelp. She, of course, has the answer to all our ills. The cost of living crisis, she meeps, is due to – you’ll never guess – high taxes! Give us more tax cuts, you lazy crap-for-craps! If only those big ol’ meanieheads in Westminster would listen and not get their ears clogged up with blood from listening to my voice for longer than five seconds!

The others look blankly on, contemplating the mysteries of the universe.

Dimbleby turns to Shirley and asks her about the embarrassing spectacle that was Danny Alexander holding aloft a bright yellow lunchbox the other day to prove that he too can play with the big boys and their Budgets. Shirley, perhaps sensing that this was an inherently hilarious occurrence, deftly changes the subject to subtly imply Dia is an idiot. When you’ve been in politics as long as she has, you can get away with that sort of stuff, among other things such as flouncing out of the Labour Party.

Will Self, he of the artful navel gaze, agrees with Chuka on this one. Regarding the cuts to come, you ain’t seen nothing yet, he concludes, especially those to public services. Rumblings from the crowd follow and one angry lady rants about how nobody mentions the poor anymore, instead choosing to focus on that most insufferable and inferred middle-classish of archetypes: the ‘hardworking family’. But you don’t understand, continues Sajid, if hardworking families are happy then the poor must also be happy! It makes perfect sense!

Chuka smoothly slides over this topic like an ice skater, going for Shirley instead with ruthless abandon but she strikes back. This is like a (improbably attractive) teenager fighting with an old lady (about the NHS). Speaking of the NHS, David Dimbleby’s got a bad cough, hasn’t he? Maybe he needs to go and sit in A&E for eight hours too.

Sajid leaps to Shirley’s defence by yelling that Labour suck and have a bad record so don’t bully Nice Mrs Williams! Dia interrupts and squawks about cutting stuff like child benefit. Or perhaps not? I get so confused by this woman, she talks so fast and oft-nonsensically that it’s difficult to keep up with what her train of thought actually is. In fact I think her train of thought has derailed and hit a tree.

So you DON’T want to abolish child benefit?, asks Chuka. Dia replies that no, silly-billy, she actually wants to means-test it! Duhhhh!
“But it’s already means-tested,” he mutters, baffled, as if talking to a child who has shit themselves and is unwarrantably proud about it. Also, his face while listening to Dia LaBeouf rabbit on is possibly one of the top ten funniest things in the world.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Then there’s some nonsense about Wikipedia entries. A man in the crowd makes a jibe about how much Sajid earns, and Will is chuckling to himself like an trim, academic Santa Claus. It’s okay though. All is not lost. After all…Sajid has a snappy comeback ready.

“Don’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia,” he says, “Yours is longer than mine.”

Proving that one never really grows up, the entire crowd erupts in hoots. Sajid blushes like a ten year old girl.

“That didn’t come out right,” says he.
“Don’t make it worse,” says Dimbles, losing the will to live.

Look at this beautiful bunch of bastards

The next question succeeds in calming everyone down, due to being about a particularly unfunny event: the horrible attacks in Tunisia. Nothing like an unforgivable act of terror to make a Question Time panel suddenly feel sheepish about themselves for acting like six year olds.

Chuka claims that we should make sure people coming back from terroristin’ who may have done terrible actions should be subject to the rule of law. Will agrees again, but unavoidably goes off an a tangent about imperialism as is his wont. Shh now everybody, the white dude has to talk about Islamophobia! Meanwhile, Chuka is coming across well this episode, better than he did last time, sensible but finally getting a grip on his unnatural smoothness. Both he and Sajid are clearly angling for their respective party leaderships in the future, or at the least some higher-ranked positions.

At least Dia is always there to bring us back down to Earth as painfully as possible.

I THINK, JUST WHY, she screeches, giving her mature insight into the Middle Eastern conflict. LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL PANEL, she continues, out of nowhere. Sajid nudges Shirley while grinning, obviously pleased the good-looking youngish lady on the panel just called him a fittie.

(To be fair to Dia, she did at least have a good point about not giving terrorists celebrity status. As a proud and graceful Media Studies student, this analysis pleases me. Good job Dia. You get One Point.)

Hice are nice

Next up, controlling rent prices.

We need more houses! begins Dia, starting us off once again I know not why. Everyone nods sagely. Let’s build on the green belt! she continues. The nods stop faster than a crane game at a funfair.

“We don’t build on the green belt, that’s why it’s called the green belt,” says Dimbleby, as if to the same excited child that Chuka previously had to deal with.

Then a member of the audience reminds us what the question really was since everyone seems to have gone off topic again. Sajid thinks a rent cap would make things worse, quelle horreur. He and Chuka have a cat fight before Will Self finally throws down the gauntlet, in his distinctive sarky monotonous voice, by pointing out that it’s highly unlikely that rent controls will be introduced when so many MPs make money off being big greedy renty poopyheads.

Ooooh, goes the crowd. Way to lay down the law, Selfy Stick.

Last question, to massive and predictable applause – why can’t MPs be more truthful? Well, to sum up:

Will Self feels sorry for the poor powerless bastards, Shirley Williams tells us a bedtime story, Dia smiles blandly and chooses not to be cynical, and Chuka and Sajid make up and hug. And kiss. And possibly more. All of this to be continued in my 1000 page forthcoming fanfiction.

Time for the scores!

Javid: 6/10

(Will die another) Day

Umunna: 8/10

(Did surprisingly) Okay

Williams: 5/10

(Not much to) Say

Chakravarty: 5/10

(Easy) Prey

Self: 6/10

#Slayyyy

The Crowd: 7/10

(Hear them) Bray

Next time: Jim Murphy faces his public. Uh…good luck with that.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #128


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to Questionable Time, lackadaisical from Leeds! Not much else to say other than we’ll shortly be forming a coalition with Scottish Questionable Time. Look forward to our posts detailing the beauty of Glasgow. After all, they’ll be conveniently bite-sized!

Equip defence +2 shield

We get down to serious business straight away with a question on that most glamourous of topics: defence spending. Lucy Powell hesitantly takes to the stand. She’s Labour’s election campaign head honcho, so generally a behind-the-scenes person, and nice as she may well be you can definitely tell that she’s not entirely comfortable being in the spotlight to begin with. She stiltedly splutters out some stuff about ARE BRAVE BOYS and the whole mess being the fault of that nasty Georgie Porgie in Number 11.

Anna Soubry, on the other hand, comes out punching. Anna – Chortles or Miss Jolly Hockey Sticks 2015 to regular readers – is a QT regular and often seems to be experiencing some kind of perverse glee during her performances on the programme. At least, she did in this one. We’re the same, you and I, she says sternly, taunting Lucy while at the same time fending off occasional snarking from Ian Hislop, who is there to pull faces. Labour would only lead you down one road, she warns, in her fearsome turtleneck: the path of chaos! It’s got dog turds strewn all over it!

Ian finally forms a full sentence, warbling for the panel to stop with ‘the party politicals’. Pfuh, he pfuhs. This is basically the extent of his contributions tonight. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Private Eye and Ian too, but he is admittedly very easy to take the piss out of, looking like a frustrated adult baby who is perplexed by the corruptness of his rattle.

The deep and meaningful questions continue with everyone contemplating the meaning of the word ‘army’. Just what is the army for? What even is an army? We just don’t know. Possibly killing people, I’d wager. Then a sudden, worryingly Australian voice pops up from the abyss. It’s Natalie Bennett, still bruised from her disastrous interview that I don’t even want to think about anymore for more than five seconds for fear of cringing myself inside out again.

Get rid of the nukes! she says, apropos of nothing. Dimbles helpfully grills her on the most important issue at hand here, an old policy of army bases possibly being turned into nature reserves. Everybody laughs, but they could be on to something here. Why don’t we have both? Why not let ARE BRAVE BOYS frolic amidst the begonias while whacking passing deer in the head as combat practice? Meanwhile, visitors can have a picnic and enjoy the scenic sights and imminent threat of death. It’s the perfect plan.

(Meanwhile, holy shit, Charles Kennedy looks tired. Are you okay, Charlie? He must be worried about losing his seat. Poor thing. He’s like an endangered and lovable tapir.)

Gurnalition

Next up: would a Labour-SNP coalition be a betrayal to Eng-er-landers?

Chortles leaps into action – telling us that this would not just be a betrayal, but the end of the world as we know it. She looks disappointed in you, the audience, and Dimbleby himself, like your Nan telling you off for throwing up on the carpet. I must confess I am somewhat scared of Anna, especially after her being alleged to have sworn at Ed Miliband in the House that alleged one time. Allegedly. Please don’t sue me, Anna. Honestly though, she’s like Batman: the hero Westminster deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Who may put poor Lucy in a headlock.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Lucy ain’t here for that nonsense, however, and reiterates that she and her party want a majority.

“Everybody says that,” replies Dimbles. Ian Hislop leans back and gurns. Anna also gurns, and makes strange hand gestures to boot.

Ian is then kind enough to explain the history of that poster to us: the shadow of the disastrous yaoi manga couple David Owen ‘n’ David Steel looms large, and Ian’s possibly going to sue the Tories for nicking his idea. I imagine they didn’t use Nicola Sturgeon, the actual leader of the SNP, in the poster because Alex Salmond reminds voters of Shrek. He wants England to get out of his swamp.

Charlie, who hasn’t said much yet, finally gets to do a long speech. A Labour-SNP coalition, he says confidently, won’t happen because they hate each other. What, the Tories and the Lib Dems don’t? splutters Ian. A minority government may happen, Charles soldiers on, with a pact in place. I immediately think of the Lib-Lab pact of the 1970s. Then again, look how that turned out…

In conclusion: everyone’s getting betrayed! I’m betrayed! You’re betrayed! YAYYYY! Let’s get pizza.

Natalie pitches to ‘bring the railways back into public pants’. At least that’s what it sounded like, I don’t understand Australian. #no1curr #it’stheeconomystupid, hashtags Anna. Lucy looks into the camera in despair as Natalie keeps going, undeterred, slyly hinting that the Greens may support a Labour minority government on a vote-by-vote basis.

This is all too confusing. That’s why one should vote Labour and throw out any need for more confusion, nods Lucy. That’s the whole gist of her argument, to be honest. Aren’t you glad I summarised it for you?

Then a very rude man in a tosser-like suit attacks Natalie and the Greens for being DIRTY HIPPIES. He probably owns a fedora and posts libertarian memes on 4chan. See, ma, I can stereotype too! Meanwhile, according to other equally snitty members of the audience, it sounds like England and Scotland are on the brink of war. I don’t like where this is going. Let’s move on, to…

Somebody needs to tell these kids that there’s no pizza in Islamic State so what’s the point

ISIS! What fun. Thankfully most of the running time has been exhausted by now. The panel engages in a condemnation-off as opinions range from a) it isn’t up to us to baby your kids, or indeed tap their technology (Ian and Charlie), to b) these girls may have been groomed so be careful not to be too alienating (Natalie), to c) middle-of-the-road-ness (Lucy). Charlie asks what the question was again. I think we can all relate to that.

Thankfully, the audience fills us in as the panel are busy scratching their heads. A woman asks why were these girls, and others like them, not feeling involved and engaged as part of British society? Has it failed them? Uh, I’d guess so. Another woman cries that it’s all well and good to have a conversation about this subject but we need to start getting answers. Ian knows the answers: it’s because of the perception of good and evil. Black and white. Pizza and chips.

Anna surprisingly calms down and has a go at Nigel Farage (we almost managed a whole show without bringing him up!), but then both she and Ian unleash the wrath of another man in the crowd. “Please don’t nod, Conservative lady, because I’m not agreeing with you,” says he. And thus an internet hero was born. Maybe he’ll also get gifted $10,000 by Ellen DeGeneres like the girl who posted the dress meme.

Finally, JEREMY CLARKSON. But only for five minutes!

“Natalie Bennett, are you a petrolhead?” asks Dimbleby. This was a great use of our time. The most important information to arise, though, was Ian Hislop’s frankly alarming revelation that Clarkson drew blood by hitting him with a pen the last time he was on Question Time and Charles Kennedy was there to confirm it. This means that, yes, Jeremy Clarkson may be a vampire. I didn’t expect it at first but in retrospect everything now makes sense.

Chortles signs us off menacingly.

“No presenter is ever bigger than the show,” she leers, looking at Dimbleby. Ready to unleash her punishment.

Charles Kennedy has ceased to care. So say we all. Well, unless you’re one of the half a million who signed that petition, in which case…#chill.

Time for the scores!

Soubry: 7/10

Mean

Powell: 6/10

Wean(ed off her backroomer-ness)

Kennedy: 7/10

(Vented his) Spleen

Bennett: 6/10

Green (machine)

Hislop: 7/10

(Had a mischievous) Gleam (in his eyes)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Throwing eggs at the) Screen

Next time, probably more gurning.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #127


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a very deep-fried edition of Questionable Time! Now I don’t know much about Scottish politics, aside from the fact that everybody currently seems terminally pissed off at the Labour Party, like a cat that’s thrown up on the rug. With this flawless understanding of the political climate in hand, let’s dive straight in. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a piece of cake to debate a pretty cake

“Here we are in Glasgow”, begins Dimbledore with an air of desperate finality. For some godawful reason, we have six people on the panel instead of five. Why this nightmare is happening to me is never adequately explained, so I’m going to guess that it’s a trial run for the election debates (if they ever happen). Judging by this showing, it’s going to be a clusterscrew.

Speaking of the debates, our first question is whether everyone should start making chicken noises whenever David Cameron walks past. The Scottish Conservatives lady does not think so, but she has to be a bit mad (being a Scottish Conservative) so it’s safe to ignore everything she says. I don’t understand how anyone can look at David Cameron weakly wriggling out of a debate with Ed Miliband and not think he’s the biggest scaredy-cat to ever hawk a hairball. The same Ed Miliband who, the media will tell you, cannot eat a bacon sandwich unaided, and yet is too threatening an opponent for Fave Dave to match up to. Poor show David. Poor show. And poor show Ruth, thinking anyone is going to fall for this nonsense. Oh wait…looks like some of them have. Like Toby Young, who is here for some reason instead of down South in the warm. Well, takes all kinds!

In other news, why does Danny Alexander look so weird now? He’s suddenly not ginger, and his eyes are all bulgy! Ever since he gave up his glasses he hasn’t been the same and has been slowly morphing into some kind of frog person, perhaps in anticipation of losing his seat and returning to his previous life of living in a pond. He remains as dull as ever, though, the only man in existence to have both a non-sexy/non-hilarious Scottish accent.

Just put a plate of Eton mess there instead, says Humza Yousaf, and nobody will be able to tell the difference. If you have it next to a tape recorder repeating the phrase ‘long term economic plan’ that really would be eerily similar. But judging by this bite-sized nonsense it won’t be a very good debate anyway, no matter who decides to turn up. Humza and Kezia Dugdale are fighting, Val McDermid is appealing for an energised electorate, and the audience is responding in kind by mainly yodelling. I’m tired out already, but the fun is just beginning.

This is what happens when you remind Scottish people of the magic of voting

What will the result of the SNP pwning j00 n00bs be? The floor is open for screaming and crying. Kezia, the Scottish Labour deputy leader (what a job!), bravely climbs into the shame pit first. Kezia says it’s good news for DCam, but would rather not think about what it means for Labour. Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson tries not to seem smug.

Humza, akin to an angry and unstoppable robot, gleefully tears into anyone and everyone and disses Trident to great cheers from his posse. In response, Kezia huffs angrily about the SNP’s tax policies, but she is too boring to strike a fatal blow! Humza has her cornered before triumphantly making a mighty gaffe. “We’ll look at an issue-by-issue basis of working with the Tories – I mean the Labour Party!” he squawks. Yet more mass yodelling in the studio follows, as Dimbleby tries in vain to calm everyone down. But it is no use. This is merely the first step on the audience’s pub crawl tonight. Danny tries to intervene in his monotone voice, before being smacked down by a frustrated Dimbles, who reminds him that he probably won’t even have a seat after the election, so nyah nyah. Also he looks like Brian the snail. Double nyah nyah.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

After the right-wingers nod sagely amongst themselves about the break up of the union and the coming heat death of the universe, Val makes a point about dragging Labour to the left somehow. We don’t know how. By not voting for them, maybe? Yeah, that’ll work! Nevertheless, I think Kezia (and Jim Murphy, by extension) could morph into Tony Benn right then and there and Scotland would still act like a wronged wife whose husband has forgotten their anniversary, as evidenced by the audience grumbling at everything she says. Though she isn’t helping by being so terribly uninteresting. Still, as the old saying goes: you made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it. And it’s got itchy crumbs everywhere so, like, eww.

Toby Young isn’t being horrible enough, this displeases me

Next up, do we need stronger laws to prevent hate screeching/preaching on university campuses?

This question actually gets a pretty reasonable response from the panel. I beamed in pride, watching over them like an attentive mother hen. It’s so nice when people are advocating freedom of speech but not apologising for war crimes! It’s so great when even Toby Young surprises you! Indeed, banning these jackasses could just make them seem like a delicious cake, a cake that you are not allowed to eat. We need to have an open conversation about how shit they are, and how bad the cake tastes.

Incidentally, Dimbles mentions a spat between David Cameron and Grant Shapps – when pressed, Brian the snail says nothing about this important issue. I was disappointed. This is clearly what the people most want to hear.

Next: why is Scutlernd missing its targets? Well, it’s not a political issue says Ruth Davidson. Convenient! Suddenly, Kezia is squealin’ and reminds us that Labour is the bestest. And has a cool mansion tax. Dimbleby interrupts again (seriously, man? This is, what, the sixth time?), asking “how much will you raise in Glasgow?” Burn! As if Glasgow is so impossibly awful that OF COURSE one couldn’t raise any money with a MANSION tax, har har har! The audience hates Labour so much, however, that they’re willing to put up with David Dimbleby dissing their own city for a cheap laugh.

After a skirmish where Humza derides ‘creeping privatisation’ in the NHS while ignoring SNP flirting with Weightwatchers (which sounds like a much funnier story than it really is), and Toby claiming that Labour’s mansion tax must be magic while doing his best Paul Daniels impression (‘how much will it raise? Not a lot!’), Val, detached, wraps everything up the way only she knows how, presumably. This country has its own ‘historic health problems’, says she. The spectre of deep-fried Mars Bars looms large.

This gets the biggest applause of the night. I’ve given up trying to understand this edition.

I’ve given up in general, actually.

Time for the scores!

Davidson: 6/10

(Had her lines rehearsed down to a) Tee

Dugdale: 4/10

Plea(ded)

Yousaf: 5/10

FREEEEEEEE(dom)

Alexander: 4/10

(Crawling gooily up a) Tree

Young: 6/10

(Did not go on a killing) Spree

McDermid: 6/10

Gee, (what’s a left-winger to do?)

The Crowd: 9/10

(Will) Knee (you in the groin)

Next time, Ian Hislop gurning.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #126


qt 126

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to Telford-in-Shropshire and one of the most catastrophically dull editions of Question Time I’ve ever been unlucky enough to witness. Let’s just get this over with and get back to discussing the real issues – for instance, why has Ed Miliband claimed that the above dress is apparently white and gold? It’s clearly blue and black. Typical short-sighted Labour!

Slow-cook economic yam

As Nigel Farage, currently putting his feet up in a posh American hotel, rubs his hands with glee, we come first to a question on rising migration figures. Mark Reckless MP is the purple representative for tonight and blames the government’s incompetence and…recklessness (YEAAAAHHHH.mp3). The solution is obviously to leave the EU in a huff.

Grant Shapps, looking like a smug ten year old grasping his tuck shop purchases with clammy ferocity, parrots the Tory party line like a parrot. A parrot on crack. Also, everything is fine, he says! Hesitant applause for Grantyboy. Meanwhile Rachel Reeves, in a pink cardigan I would like to wear (not her one, that would be creepy, but a different one also probably made by Romanian orphans) is surprisingly decent on this particular issue, and doesn’t go for shock-and-awe tactics. Then again I think Rachel is fundamentally unable to raise her voice any louder than a drone, so getting hysterical about immigration is something that is pretty much closed off to her. Make her Home Secretary at once, the disgusting grey splendour of the Home Office would suit her perfectly.

Our courageous Lib Dem panellist, Tessa Munt, begins by talking about a promise that ‘couldn’t possibly be kept’. Er…good one, Tessa! Maybe immigration isn’t so bad, she says, gazing wistfully into space. Mark Breakfast remains serene, his featureless pink head jutting out from his suit like a placid tortoise. He wants investment to encourage the domestic workforce, and is okay with letting smart people in but not smelly people. That’s the gist of it. Put it on a poster. Or employ me as his election campaign co-ordinator posthaste.

The highlight of this section, however, was everybody laughing at the young Tory plant using the term ‘long-term economic plan’ which nobody, absolutely nobody outside of the Westminster bubble uses. Have you ever been down the launderette or Sainsbury’s or wherever and overheard someone talking about our long-term economic plan? Have you heard our long-term economic plan debated in the living room while eating Chinese takeaway? Have you heard it come up in any situation that doesn’t immediately make you want to fall asleep? Thought not. Also, the above was an interesting glimpse into my day-to-day life.

Camilla Long is here as well. I forgot about her for a minute there.

We just wanna make the world dance, forget about the price tag

Next: should MPs be allowed to have second jobs, comes the warbling cry. Rachel Reeves only gets the word ‘no’ out before she is greeted with rapturous applause. Nonetheless her voice still does not rise above a mumble, and she remains looking like a drugged rabbit about to be run over by Grant, the farmhand who has stolen the farmer’s tractor while cackling all the way. She points to how they do it in those forrin lands, with a percentage cap ‘n’ all. This isn’t good enough for some in the audience who seem to believe that MPs should only be paid in the shortlived 1990s fad Pogs.

DISGRACEFUL cries Tessa, helpfully.

Grant is on the other side of this debate. He’s all for MPs getting lots of lovely experience, and by experience he presumably means moolah. Camilla Long, however, has a groundbreaking solution! If we value our MPs we should give them more money, she says, which is terribly brave of her because airing this view in public is extremely dangerous and could possibly lead to her being attacked by an angry mob. Dimbleby looks concerned, as if to anticipate this.

Aww, heck…less admits that he abstained in the recent vote cos Nige has been too busy flying off to America to tell him what to do. Everyone laughs again. I could get used to this – ending each question with people collectively pointing and guffawing at the panel. Truly bringing the country together.

Next, there’s a brief discussion about those three girls who went to Syria to ‘live in a hole’. Camilla claims that any loser who wants to be crowned Little Miss Isis must already be a terrorist, or maybe just an arse. The panel falls over themselves to tut about how shocking and tragic this sad affair is. Mark Reckless, funnily enough, is quite sensible here, though: maybe it’s his bank manager aura. It worked for John Major, it could work for him. Watch out, Nigel, he’s after your job!

New Conservative manifesto proposal: polling stations in bingo halls

Last up…should we kick a rich pensioner?

Grant starts as he means to go on, sultrily licking the bums of the older folks who obviously vote en masse for his party. Why not, while you’re at it, just dictate that young people have to make a ceremonial offering to old people every month, like sacrificing a lamb or something? It would be a whole lot quicker and more efficient. So don’t worry, silver foxes who are (one would imagine) the main audience for Question Time – Grandpa Grant is ON YOUR SIDE!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Dimbles points out that this might possibly be considered electioneering. WHAT A CYNICAL VIEW gasps Grant, offended. This is all because of the EU, adds Mark. Thank you Mark. Thanks for that contribution.

“Why don’t we do more for young people to get them to vote?” squeaks an earnest young lady in the audience. To be this innocent again! Tessa, our fightin’ Lib Dem, appeals for the youth vote (well somebody has to), and Rachel murmurs that Labour’s policy is to kick some pensioners, but only the types that remind us of Mr Burns.

Grant spreads his palms like he’s Tory Jesus and sighs to the sky. How dare you, Tessa. How dare you, Camilla. How dare you, Rachel. Old people have worked hard all their life. Especially if they’ve had extra consultancy jobs.

It is at this point that Dimbleby cuts him off mid-rant and saves us all.

Time for the scores!

Shapps: 5/10

(LONG-TERM ECONOMIC) PLAN!!

Reeves: 6/10

(Wake me up before you go-go, as sung by the popular 1980s group) Wham (which is exactly what one needs to do whenever they hear her speak, that is to say, fall asleep, and thus need waking up)

Munt: 4/10

(Was brave to) Yam(mer on about certain subjects that could be very easily mocked as I have just proven conclusively)

Reckless: 6/10

(Got himself out a) Jam

Long: 5/10

(You want to give MPs more money?) Damn

The Crowd: 7/10

Grand slam

Next time, ever more surreal scores. Look forward to it!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #125


qt 125

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to sunny Stockton-on-Tees, and a silly and suspiciously Scottish specimen of Questionable Time! Not much else to say other than let’s boogie on down.

All I know is everybody hates me

Nicola Sturgeon looks mischievous, Norman Lamb has stolen George Galloway’s hipster glasses, and Duncan Bannatyne is wearing a ridiculous suit, the kind that Michael Heseltine – who is also present and sitting, slumped, akin to a elderly lion caged in a Chinese zoo – would wear in the 80s. Oh, and Caroline Flint is there as well. They’re gearing up to answer our furst kwestion: if everything is apparently hunky dory now, why does everyone still hate the Tories and enjoy egging them as a national pastime?

Nicola gets off to a shocking start as she argues that things aren’t actually hunky dory and strongly hints that everybody should move to Scotland instead. Caroline looks grumpy as Hezza retaliates. Everything, you see, is truly hunky dory after all. A standard Question Time skirmish, one that Hezza – as a veteran, and the first Cabinet minister to appear on the programme all the way back in 1979 – has no doubt batted away boredly many times before, but at least I’m pleased to see that he hasn’t lost any of his magnificent hair, or indeed his eyebrows, which have always appeared to be trying to escape from his face.

Caroline, however, is not dissuaded. She doesn’t think it’s an ‘equal recovery’, and is in fact a ‘race to the bottom’. She looks scared but overall pleased with herself for answering somewhat adequately. Things are calm so far…but that will all change later.

Duncan, meanwhile, has a nice accent. I imagine Nicola would swoon if he actually supported the SNP. As it is, he is merely a traitor. (Or rather, a TRAETAH!!) Oh, yes, and there’s a Liberal Democrat there as well. It’s the Lib Dems who are saving us all! says the Lib Dem. Well, thank goodness for that.

“Norman…” wheedles Caroline in response, like she’s your mum about to ask if you ate the last cookie.

Ten minutes in and surprisingly slowly (I had expected her to attack in the first few seconds), Nicola finally gets to the real issue at hand. Forget the Tories – it’s Labour who are the true enemies. Yeah! Them lot not in office! This is a promising preview of possible coalition talks.

Then Hezza risks igniting the fury of the ScotNats, as he calls them, by comparing them to Le Pen’s lot in France. Now I must confess that I am somewhat terrified of certain sections of the CyberNat army (not all of them, just the very loud ones with an Irn Bru addiction) and have currently been writing this post with a gun to my head – I mean, talking about how they’re all just marvellous! But even I wouldn’t go that far. Ssh Michael. You’re, what, a million years old now? It’s time for your nap.

Nicola Sturgeon then makes one of the most beautiful expressions ever seen on this programme.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

The Neverending Tory

Next question, since the Tories have apparently taken a beating so far (have they? I thought Hezza was doing okay, considering): why is Miliband so weird and why don’t Ant and Dec like him? Michael doesn’t know who they are. This is incredible. I propose we change the title of this show to ‘Michael Heseltine vs the Modern World’ and get him to comment on every single light entertainer of The Now. He’s a crafty one is old Tarzan, switching between appearing like a doddery, harmless old man, a respected elder statesman, and a completely batshit elderly army general directing his troops into battle despite not wearing any trousers at the time. Later he makes a Fifty Shades of Grey joke and I think in his mind he’s imagining he’s still up at the conference podium circa 1976, soaking up the rapturous applause. I hate him, I’m confused by him, but at the same time, I can’t help but love him.

Anyway, Ed Miliband is amazing and quite frankly I’m astounded we’re not being showered with shit in the street, says Cazza. And that’s the end of that discussion and there will definitely not be 10,000,000,000 more articles about this subject in the months ahead.

I’m still here, Norman Lamb reminds us.

Next up: Russia! Exactly how loud should we scream in terror?

The problem is Trident, concludes Nikki Nack. No it’s not! yells Solid Hezza (Guns of the Patriots edition), suddenly metamorphosing into his 1983-era self. Gonna bash some hippies! Gonna wear a flak jacket! We can’t leave France as the only nuclear power in Europe, he grimaces. After all, they’re bloody useless.

Putin is a bit of an issue, understates Caroline, Mumsying it up. That’s why we need DA NOOKS. Duncan Bananarama agrees and Nicola looks betrayed. Norman Lamby and Beefy nods in assent. It’s twagic, says he, continually leaving absolutely no impression upon anyone.

There’s a lot of figure-swapping, budget deliberations and arguing over where money should be spent – the army? The navy? A nice pair of socks for the homeless? Nicola attempts once more to propose getting rid of Trident but is soon drowned out. How dare you try and fail to get rid of the nooks, comes the reply! After a while she just gives up and makes that face again. You could put it on a billboard and the SNP would win in a landslide (although, er, they seem to be on course to do that anyway…nice one guys! Heh heh! [gun cocking sound in the background])

Next question: should we make young people pull up weeds for pennies?

Duncan is all in favour of having young people ‘help out in the NHS’…for no money…(although he at least points out the plight of dyslexic and other disabled people who don’t have the same opportunities as abled folks) but Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid) splurges out on a jobs guarantee. Since she’s so dull this unexpected act of splurging is quite welcome coming from her somehow both impassive-and-nervous-looking face. I’m not totally in favour of the Tories’ approach, says Norman, to limited applause, like he’s not part of the dang government or something. Come and work for Duncan instead, as he’s currently trying to recruit members of the audience.

Nicola says it’s exploitation. She’s really getting fired up now, although as a Scottish person I have come to understand that she must be fired up 100% of the time. Hezza is in favour because one imagines his massive garden does need a bit of weeding. Nicola is now making that face approximately every 30 seconds.

The audience are now arguing amongst itself. Dimbles is not intervening, however. This is great fun.

Glasgow smiles

Lastly, will Scotland be the shadowy figure pulling the strings after the election? Caroline, don’t mess up these potential negotiations! She says that she’d like a majority, thank you very much…but Dimbles is on her case right away. Could she, he asks, work alongside the SNP? VOTE LABOUR, she squeaks.

Nicola, on the other hand, would like to form a gang with the progressives. Maybe just loitering in a corner, glaring and muttering about everybody else. Or drinking and smoking by the bike sheds. Hezza then warns against this threatening crew stealing YOUR dosh, as taxpayers!

“COME OAN!” yells Nicola, as if gearing up to meet Heseltine in the pit. Before a fight can break out, however, Dimbles stops the madness.

“Ohh…” whines the audience. It seems, despite some strong opinions either way, everyone quite enjoyed that.

I know. Baffling.

Time for the scores!

Heseltine: 8/10

Swat(ted questions away like a bored, well-fed leopard)

Flint: 5/10

(A slight) Blot (on her record)

Lamb: 5/10

(I can) Not (remember what he said)

Sturgeon: 8/10

Scot(land forever!)

Bannatyne: 5/10

(You) Ought (to work for him, appaz)

The Crowd: 9/10

Hot to Trot

Next time, despair.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #124


qt 124

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to Questionable Time, coming to you from a pretty grand venue in Norwich! It certainly made me ooh and aah, probably ten times more than the panel itself did. Without further adURGH, let’s get started.

Tax solo

We’ve got a mangy lot in the ring tonight. Representing the yellows, Mr Davey is wearing a little Earth pin to show that he’s actually Captain Planet. In the red corner, we have professional Blunt Hunter Chris Bryant. Then there are two right-wing women with varying degrees of rightyness, and Armando Iannucci, who already looks fed up with everything.

The first questions reveals exactly why. Is ‘vanilla’ tax avoidance acceptable as ‘everyone does it’? Ooh, kinky. I suppose you could call it Fifty Shades of Fink. Or Finky Shades of Grey. Whatever, I’m not getting paid for this. In any case, Armando has a go at ‘dodgy’ business practices and gets a big old clap, quelle surprise. This is hardly an unemotional issue for the general public, or genpub as I don’t like to call them.

Sarah Wollaston immediately steals my joke about Fifty Shades that ten million people on Twitter have no doubt made already to tiresome results. You see, she doesn’t like aggressive tax avoidance. As opposed to gentle tax avoidance that pets kittens and picks wildflowers. Meanwhile, Eddy Davez is also fed up! Close the loopholes, says he! And if you don’t, I’ll do it meself. Thank goodness for that one brave Lib Dem in the Treasury fighting against the system. They had to go deep into the system to do it, but by golly, thanks to them there’s been absolutely no tax avoidance scandals since! …Er, apart from this one. And the other one. And the other one…

Chris, internet troll in chief, shrugs that there’s one rule for the rich and another for everybody else. Suzanne, surprisingly, agrees. UKIP would investigate tax avoidance like a bunch of Sherlock Go Homes. For UKIP, of course, is as clean as a whistle.

No, declares Chris, it is Labour that is as clean as a whistle! No, it is the Lib Dems, says Davey, via a disgruntled face scrunch! Armando is scribbling away, noting down sadly-not-too-ridiculous-to-be-true ideas for his next biting, fighting satire.

He admittedly has a lot to work with. Highlights include UKIP’s deputy leader professing not to know the details of an anti-tax avoidance bill that the party’s MEPs voted against en masse, Ed Davey basically admitting that everybody is terrible, dodgy, and united in terridodge, to much bafflement from Dimbus Dimbledore, Chris Bryant bellowing about Andy Coulson like he’s the big kid that kicked his legs in the sandpit, Sarah rolling her eyes to the skies and muttering about no good dirty Labourites in them hills, and an audience that for some reason doesn’t appear to trust any of them. Gee, I wonder why?

Deploy the ABBA

Next question: we need to talk about Russia.

Mr Davey argues that we are indeed being tuff on Russia, which I can’t really take seriously coming from him due to his face looking like a concerned potato. As a Libby Dibby, by the end of his answer he obviously turns it into a butt-licking for the EU. This, of course, rankles Suzanne from UKIP, who prefers to butt-lick NATO. Then she starts going on about impending war for some reason. I do not trust this woman with the nuclear button.

Suzanne is on a roll. “The EU has expansionist ambitions as well!” announces she, to much mirth. Ah yes, Suzanne! The EU is merely a cover for the New World Order, well, according to that strange website you once looked at anyway!

“I don’t see Ukraine as being part of Europe,” she continues.
“Shocking!” gasps a greatly offended Mr Potato Head, pointing and gawping like a sightseer seeing the Hindenburg explode above their heads.

Chris moves on. He posits that Putin admires strong people…like, for example, not a certain British Prime Minister he could mention. Although he does admire former Eurovision winners such as ABBA, so perhaps we should send Lordi on a peace mission.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

There’s then a big argument about sanctions (what are sanctions? We just don’t know,) with Sarah interjecting helpfully to tell us that Putin is a ‘bully’. I hadn’t thought of that new and revelatory argument before. Well done.

This is put cheerfully to bed by a man in the audience. To sum up: Putin don’t curr about sanctions, and everything is doomed. Hooray!

On the road you must be brave and tireless, on the road you can listen to the wireless

I once had a pink Barbie bus. I made it run over my Barbies. This is also presumably what Harriet Harman wants to do to certain sections of the press.

Suzanne, as an ex-tomboy, isn’t a fun of #pinkbus. Admittedly it does come off looking like a choice drawn up by a bunch of clueless male Oxbridge graduates, but then she goes too far and asks “What has the Labour party ever done for women?” and I think Chris’ head nearly explodes. He’s still smiling, but only in the manner of a deranged chimp who’s about to claw another chimp’s face off. He does this via an intense debate about the colour of his tie. Okay, and some good figures about gender equality – but that really is a fetching tie, isn’t it?

Somehow the topic wavers off course to become about young people’s interest in politics. Mr Davey goes off on a long spiel, conveniently forgetting to mention tuition fees before getting REKT by a young person who does just that. Everyone begins to squabble over trying to ‘seduce a young person’ by talking to them afterwards…ooh no, not in this political climate, guys!

Finally, briefly, deeply…no. Just no. We’re not going to start charging for A&E. Any politician worth their salt knows that even if they might privately support doing so, to even whisper it out loud is a career death wish. And by the way, audience guy, what’s so ‘trivial’ about self-inflicted injuries? I fart in your general direction.

“We’ve been talking for an hour,” says Dimbles, in a fit of despair, as Chris bickers with everyone and Suzanne attempts to be Maggie Thatcher. We’re done here. (That woman in the audience will probably attempt a quick getaway before all those panellists rush up to talk to her. Run, girl, run!)

Time for the scores!

Davey: 5/10

(Stopped to) Think

Wollaston: 6/10

(With a nod and a) Wink

Bryant: 6/10

(Tickled) pink

Evans: 5/10

(Slightly off) Sync

Iannucci: 7/10

(Not a fan of) Fink

The Crowd: 6/10

(Needs a) Drink

Next time, a Sturgeon versus a Lion.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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