Questionable Time #146

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Good morrow lemmings and welcome back, after an unpredictable absence, to Questionable Time. I won’t go into the details that, well, detail said absence, only that I’ll slowly be getting back into the swing of things from now on. So yes, expect my churning out of QTs to gradually accelerate by each passing week until I start posting them before the actual episode airs.

A lot has happened in politics over the summer, but I don’t need to tell you that! I’ll merely let this picture I made a couple of months ago do the talking for me:

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

So yes. Anyway. On with the show, comrades.

Mayday! Mayday!

Our line-up for this week consists of Priti Patel, noted padawan of Iain Duncan Smith, wearing a hip pair of nerd glasses, Lisa Nandy, the up-and-coming soft-lefty, who seems scared of said nerd glasses, Tim Farron, leader of the Lib Dems, who are now so irrelevant that QT can easily get their dang leader on the programme, Stewart Hosie, Deputy Leader of the SNP, probably known as Big Ears (and one of ~the 55~, Dimbleby states – because you’re one down, remember? Remember that, SNP? Eh? Eh? Eh? Dimbleby does), and Melanie Phillips/Noddy – a woman who needs no introduction! So let’s leave it at that.

Our first question hits like a freight train and oh boy oh boy I wonder what it could ever be after my long, long absence. Something new and fresh? Appropriate for the changing world of politics in the year of our Lord Labour leadership upset 2015? Nope, you gets your immigration question and youse are gonna like it. Glad those few weeks we had to pretend to care about drowned children are over. Anyway, let’s all debate Theresa May dissin’ them good.

Tim Farron, aka Owen Jones’ secret dad, calls Theresa the forthcoming leader of the ‘nasty party’ she once so criticised, and accuses her of stoking division. As a completely unrelated side note, you can’t have a leader of a political party named Tim, it’s just not right. Meanwhile, Pretty Polly Patel is tasked with defending AMayzeballs. She says the last generation of immigrants were cool dudes, but in these scary modern times of ours Labour has ruined immigrants and made them all lazy scroungers. Tch, you had a better class of immigrants back in the day! Lisa hits back saying that Theresa hands out jolly, candy-like contracts to private companies willy-nilly who don’t even curr about integration – and that she’s offensive, for that matter, like a dog that’s pissed on the carpet. Priti stares through her glasses menacingly. To be fair, they are very nice glasses. Then a man with a Union Jack pin on his lapel talks about ‘swaths’ so that’s where we are now. Then another man and a woman argue about whether immigrants ‘mix’, like a tasty smoothie.

I’m astonished by the ‘vituperation’ heaped on Theresa, says Melanie. I’m not sure what that word means. Anyway, she agrees with her, and sticks a metaphorical Melanie-style middle finger up to the IoD, as well. You can’t trust them and their dirty lies. Lisa Nandy slowly, ever so slowly, shakes her head. Then makes peculiar motions with her mouth. Then furrows her brow. She’s going to jump over the table and punch Melz in a moment.

Stewart ‘Hose-down’ Hosie says May’s speech was a pitch to be leader. Ain’t nuthin’ worse than that. Priti goes off on a tangent praising Jeremy Hunt, possibly angling for promotion herself. Stay tuned folks! In this topsy-turvy world of ours, anything could happen. Even Tim Farron himself could lead a (formerly) major political party. As a completely unrelated side note, doesn’t Tim look like a hobbit?

“If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” – Iain Duncan Smith, shortly before being replaced as Tory leader, predicting his own resurrection

Next: cutting tax credits – yay or a big horsey neigh? How, tuts disapproving audience lady, can we believe baconcrotch when he says wants to take people out of poverty? Why is Priti, pointy-pointying her hand around, wearing what looks like a friendship bracelet? Judging by her answer I certainly don’t want to be friends with her. But the living wage will replace those phony tax credits, she argues. Well, Pritt Stick, it’s not a ‘living wage’ for me, a poor struggling young person! But she presses on regardless. Use the force, Priti, the disembodied voice of IDS tells her…

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Lisa gets heated and says that 200,000 people will be pushed into poverty, like when some snot-nosed kid in the playground pushes you down a dirty slide. Tim sits primly with his fingers clasped, not wanting to get involved. They’re telling us we don’t work hard enough, says Lisa, trying to act statesmanlike (stateswomanlike? Statespersonlike? Stateslike?!) in case Jez C accidentally gets pushed down an open manhole tomorrow afternoon.

ABSOLUTELY I WILL ANSWER THAT barks Priti. We have to make savings on welfare and difficult choices. DIFFICULT FOR WHO interrupts Lisa. Stewart tuts and looks like he’s angrily sketching something. Tories neverrr make society fairrrerrr says he, in a lovely accent which I love. He then calls us ‘friends’. Super. Priti gives him a death glare, magnified through her glasses, and refutes him. Then Melanie says something along the lines of that she wants young people to starve, but honestly I was paying as much attention to her as Priti was, who was turning a page and not even looking at Melz Bellz, her head leaning on her hand. As a completely unrelated side note, Tim is doing okay, I guess, but will anyone even care?

Lisa gets into a ””spirited debate”” with a woman in the audience who is jealous that her friends with kids have got more money than her. A man in a sharp suit sporting overly-groomed hair chips in to agree. The people who are being affected work as hard as you do, sir, says Tim. Ooh!

Then Lisa and Priti argue about what or what not constitutes a living wage. What is a living wage? We just don’t know.

Jeremy Corbyn/Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been/Lives in a dream

Will we have to side with ASSad and POOtin to win in Syria? (Childish nicknames both! Coincidence? I think not!)

Putin is not going to defeat ISIS because he’s weakshit, says Melanie, weakshit that’s in love with Assad. Or thereabouts. Stewart sensibly adds that any action has to be approved by both Parliament and the UN, and involve an actual plan this time, or we’ll just be inviting more shit in our face. Lisa concurs and says that only a good plan will gain support and not just lmao bomb everything lol!!!! Tim rambles on in a similar vein to Lisa but I’m currently more terrified by Priti gritting her teeth and rolling her eyes at him. RIP hobbit, we hardly knew ye.

Next! Is Jeremy Corbyn a ‘Britain hater’? Well, he’s not showing patriotic tendencies, insinuates Priti. When you add ‘tendencies’ to that phrase, it sounds oddly dirty. Lisa sweeps back her hair with a look that could shatter glass. I’m loving the antagonism between these two, in case you couldn’t guess. David Cameron demeans his office, ooh, burn, she paraphrases. Melanie states Jeremy wants to change everything that makes Britain…Britain. What, you mean like the crap trains? Tim sticks up for Jezza a bit…but draws the line when it comes to a wishy-washy attitude towards Europe. Reminder: Lib Dems wuv Europe, in case you’ve forgotten who they are and are in need of a refresher.

Dave was in the wrong, adds Stewart, so why doesn’t he and Jezza just have a nice sit down and a cup of tea. New politics and all that. And with absolutely no spitting, punching and/or egging. I’ve got my eye on you two.

Time for the scores!

Patel: 6/10

(Doesn’t want you on the) Dole

Nandy: 8/10

(In favour of green energy and not) Coal

Hosie: 7/10

(Rides high in the) Polls

Farron: 7/10

(You could the) Whole (Lib Dem party in a single minibus,) lol

Phillips: 7/10

(Exists to make you stop) Scroll(ing)

The Crowd: 5/10

(Many seemed to lack a) Soul

Next time: UKIP returns…with a vengeance.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #145

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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to the last Questionable Time of the season. It’s time to kick off our dancin’ heels and take a lounge in the hammock, perhaps while enjoying three jugfuls of Pimms and watching UK athletes fail at tennis, football, and indeed every other sport in existence. Alternatively, it’s time to make jokes about Anna Soubry. Again. It’s this blog’s preferred mode of entertainment. Let’s hustle!

We are the 43%

We start with the news that Question Time has had 43% female panellists this season, its highest ever percentage! Yay! I, for one, am all in favour of women being allowed to make fools of themselves just as much as the men. Equality to be an embarrassment! On a surely unrelated note, Anna Soubry was actually drafted in as a replacement for Ken Clarke in this episode, thus lifting the total even higher. I doubt, however, that he would have given quite such a scrappy performance as dear old Chortles, because…well…we’ll talk more about her later.

First up! “Is the Chancellor’s living wage pledge as good as it sounds, given tax credit cuts will make people worse off?” Chuka Umunna has been given an open goal and somehow still manages to saunter away from it because it might get his shoe muddy. I like some things in the Budget, he says, but if you’re below 25 you’re screwed. DCam broke his promises at the Leaders’ Debate and is a disgrace. Despite cheers (unusually loud due to the weird echoey hall they’re in) and using the snoutpuncher of a word ‘disgrace’, he still approaches every subject as if he has yellow rubber cleaning gloves on. Chuk-a-Cheese very rarely raises his voice about anything, even the impending doom of the youth of the country. Anna Soubry, on the other hand…

Chortles blurfles her jowls. Dave didn’t break no promise, man! she flubbers. He’s getting the deficit down, which is, of course, “the right thing to do”. How would you “balance the books” to “live within our means”, eh, Chuka? Faced with a barrage of three cliches in a row, Chuka looks concerned and hunky. They both get clapped again, and the ear-splitting echoes of the lost art of political debate resound off the dusty walls forever.

Louise Bours of UKIP is all about the social mobility. Without tax credits she couldn’t have fed her children or got through university, so that’s out of the question. What should we cut, then? Ah, yes…it’s all so simple in retrospect. The bloody international aid budget! This gets a mixed response, but either camp is a loud one due to this frickin’ frackin’ un-soundproofed hall.

Tommy Sheppard, an SNP new bug, looks like a skunk who’s been given an electric shock. He says it’s profoundly crap that the Tories are trying to rebrand themselves the new “workers’ party”. They don’t even own any flat caps that could give them awful hat hair, like he so obviously is victim to. Dimbles then cuts in to ask Rachel Johnson, “as the only non-politician on this panel”…yep, she’s really unconnected, isn’t she? Can’t think where I’ve seen her face before…but anyway. Gorgeous George (not Galloway, Osborne – the new one) had to cut something, she pleads! So he threw a dart at a board and came up with tax credits. Anna looks strangely outraged for some reason, as if Rachel daring to be not 100% supportive is a crime against humanity/Toryism (to Anna, there is no difference) and even now is planning a coup with her blustery brother to unseat the blessed Cammerz.

“We have to support our economy!” Chortles interrupts. Rachel looks genuinely confused. Please, Anna – she’s on your side. Maybe you should take after Dave himself and chillax a little.

You could…not cut those taxes for millionaires, says Tommy innocently, like a small toddler encountering a cruel and unforgiving world, as I admire his bushy, permanently-worried eyebrows.

Then a man says something about maintenance grants but we’re all distracted by his colourful hat. He gets into an altercation with Chuka, though, which is just embarrassing for all involved.

Greece joins the 1p Club

Next, the exact same question but not asked by rainbow hat guy: “is the scrapping of maintenance grants the death knell of social mobility for this generation in the UK?” Well, as a young’un under 25 myself, I’m currently enjoying a particularly terrified shit. Don’t know about you, fair reader. You’re probably older than me, in which case I hate you.

Louise says yes. There are too many university places, meaning lots of loans. The solution to this is to ban ‘David Beckham studies’ (does this exist?) and that nurses shouldn’t go to university. RUBBISH says Anna, loudly and proudly. Told you she was in prime fightin’ mode tonight. Chuka merely smirks and nods, clearly enjoying himself.

Rachel meeps that children won’t go because of the piles of debt. Anna brushes her off and says her figures are wrong. Chuka disagrees, saying what Labour would do if they were in government, which is kind of irrelevant. These poor shmoes, or rather mini-shmoes, can’t pay off their debt, and the taxpayers will end up saddled with it, says he. This all sounds awful, says our Scottish representative – good thing I’m in Scotland. Louise and Anna get into a fight again. I am already tiring of this and Dimbleby looks like he wants to go on holiday. Let’s move on.

Was Greece right to “show two fingers to the EU”? Louise larfs and calls the EU (more like pee-yoo, amirite?)…Wonga. (If you listen closely, you can hear Stella Creasy screaming in horror in the distance.) What episode of Deal or No Deal are we on now? adds Rachel helpfully, which only succeeds in conjuring up horrifying images of Angela Merkel as Noel Edmonds.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

In any case, the EU has not “covered itself in glory” re: Greece, says Tommy, and has alienated its lefty supporters. Chuka counters this with the aural equivalent of a wibbly-wobbly hand gesture, but we all know he would (smoothy, suavely) tear his hair out if he had any. Anna classily compares Greece to Labour’s OVERSPENDING OMG. Referring to Chuka’s calls for restraint, she smirks that he’s “talking like a Tory”. He offers no concrete comeback for me to go on in response to this, so the jury is still out on whether he thinks this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Louise wants to go on, but we have to move ever forward like the march of time itself. Dimbles says she’ll still be able to say everything she likes “regardless of the question”. Ooh, bitch, you did not!

The real reason Chuka dropped out of the Labour leadership contest was because he didn’t want to take part in the ceremonial cage fight at the end

“Who, if anyone, can lead the Labour Party to success in 2020?” Cue much concern-trolling for Chuka’s chances. I was sad when he withdrew so soon, wibbles Rachel. Chop Socky Chuka offers a small smile in response, but it’s okay – he already knows he’s smokin’ hot. Then things get weird, with Rachel refusing to comment on Tory leadership plans…despite bringing it up in the first place. And mentioning Boris’ name in the first place. Okay, Rachel. You do you.

Meanwhile, the Blairite honking continues. Tommy steps up, at this point, to be the SNP voice of reason/smug superiority (delete according to political position). The Labour Party needs conviction, he convicts. Chuka rises to the challenge and ends with a pitch for his future leadership bid. Louise guffaws once again and says she’d like to see Chuka in a working men’s club. Can yer imagine it?!?!?!?! Anna smugly smugs that Labour is doomed because of the lefties in silly hats infiltrating it. Liz Kendall will save us, says Chuka. She won’t win, smugs Anna smugly, and also snugly, because everyone is starting to fall asleep at this point. Oh well.

Time for the scores!

Soubry: 6/10


Umunna: 6/10

(Used a deft) Sleight-y (of hand)

Sheppard: 7/10

(Nicola Sturgeon is) Aphrodite

Bours: 5/10

(Luvs dat) Blighty

Johnson: 5/10


The Crowd: 7/10

Lord Almighty!

Next time: we’ll be back in September, in WEMBLAYYYY. Mark it in your diaries! …You know, if you’re a sad person.

Next series Lemmings, next series…

Questionable Time #144

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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a Questionable Time sweltering spectacular! Yes, unless you’ve been trapped in a freezer all week, you can’t have failed to notice the fact that it’s got a little warm outside as of late. Let’s just hope that our brave panellists aren’t feeling the heat when they butt heads in this edition (presumably over the last Calippo).

Fallout: New Labour

We come to you from Grays (in Essex), which reminds me of those big-eyed alien things. We don’t have any of those, but we do have the next best thing: Jeremy Hunt! He’s first off the starting line as we’re given our first, sombre question: can we prevent an atrocity like that in Tunisia from happening again? Jeremy stares blankly into the camera. Isil can’t stop and won’t stop, he says. Are we going to let them walk all over us? He doesn’t think so. He’ll stab them all with his NHS pin if he has to.

The panel isn’t lacking for Jeremy representation as the Labour left’s leadership lad takes his place among the QT alumni. In 32 years as an MP, this is Jeremy Corbyn’s first time appearance on Question Time, and I suppose he would look chuffed if his brow didn’t also seem so deeply furrowed about everything. He sensibly responds that we have to stand with and help Tunisia to prevent people from getting disillusioned (by austerity, no less!) and turning to terrorism.

The topic drifts off course slightly as Douglas Murray of the Economist…wait, no, the Spectator…no, the Econospectamist appeals to stop all the silliness about calling Islamic State by any name other than the one it calls itself. “It’s very Islamic and claims to be a state”, he lisps, confidently. Ah, yes. Bombing mosques during Ramadan. Very Islamic. His Spectateconomistor chum Anne McElvoy agrees and declares that we need to bomb the shit out of Isis/Isil/Islamic State/Daesh/those really nasty bastards. After all, they’re only a “raggle-taggle army”! Shappi Khorsandi, on the other hand, squeaks sadly that senselessly bombing bits of desert left, right and centre out of revenge will create a never-ending loop of hate. Which, if taken literally, would make for a great Groundhog Day-esque film, at least.

Dougie Murray continues to practically chortle that Labour are responsible for the rise of Isis due to shrugging their shoulders and sitting bombing Assad out, and that only by bombing a completely different target this time (with, presumably, Assad on our side this time) will world peace be achieved. Jeremy Corbyn has no time for this egregious lisping. He sits, with a face like death warmed up, judgementally judging all. He’s the last man standing in a post-apocalyptic studio set. All he needs now is a lovable dog companion.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Well, I guess we’ll be at war by next week! See ya then!

Crawling in my skin

Next: should teachers be responsible for monitoring their students for signs of radicalisation? Ah, a civil liberties question! If only we had one of the few, constantly crying Liberal Democrats on the panel! That said, Shappi sounded like she was about to cry for the entire duration of this programme. Schools should be a safe space to “grow your personality”, she says – her argument basically being that most kids are shits who are eventually going to grow out of their dark ‘n’ edgy phase. Heck, I had a dark ‘n’ edgy phase. I even got sent to the dreaded Student Services, but I turned out OK! Look, now I’m running a Question Time reviewing blog! Well, then again, none of my edgy phase involved running off to join a terrorist organisation, which is, let us say…slightly more problematic.

Jeremy Hunt explains that this is something we can tackle by sniping it early, e.g. getting young, disillusioned Muslims to talk with older people in their community. It’s something we can come together as a society to sort out with rainbows and love and cake. Jezza 2 says that we’ve got to be nuanced – is some kid yelling homophobic slurs also worthy of investigation, or just the Muslim ones? Moreover, some wise wags in the audience raise the question that if these young radicals’ parents can’t detect it, how are teachers going to? They have too much marking to do to be bothered with little Abdul reading Bomb Making 4 Dummies in class.

Then the two journalists, Heffy and Jeffy, make concerned noises and use the words “a real concern” approximately ten million times. Groundbreaking stuff being aired here tonight, folks.

Brie brings glee but feta is better

Would it be a good idea to charge for missed appointments at the doctor’s surgery? Heffy and Jeffy agree with each other in turn, because we need to reform the NHS to protect it from lazyarses. Jezza Huzza beams and says this issue is incriddblee impohrtehnt. We need to take “personal responsibility”, he trembles with ecstasy, which is fine because his personal responsibility involves making a killing from shares in private healthcare. He also reveals the ‘medicine bottles with labels saying the amount paid for by the UK taxpayer’ policy a bit early. OMG SPOILERS JEREMY!!!!

“Are you going to embroider that on the Queen’s hat?” says Shappi. Well, Shappi, you don’t know that. There’s always a small chance that the Queen could have sneaked out in a parka and gone to Primark.

Then a GP goes off at “Mr Hunt”, as she so passive-aggressively calls him. Where are you getting the clinicians from, Mr Hunt? Answer the question, before I shine this light in your big, staring eyes! Seriously, stop staring, it’s freaking me out.

Finally…and we’re back to a rather important issue in the last five minutes. (Although to be fair, at least there weren’t any filler questions this time.) Why does it matter to us if Greece votes yes or no on Sunday? Jezza Corzza says we should stand with Greece, because they fall, we fall, if they rise, we rise. He believes we can fly. He believe we can touch the sky. He thinks about it every night and day. Public sector workers didn’t crash the economay.

Ginger Anne says that Greece needs to get its shit together, and Shappi implies that the IMF, being non-democratically elected, is trying to push a democratically elected government into the bin. Jeremy Hunt actually gets his sympathetic face out and says that they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Poor Greeks. He won’t say what they should do. Except turn up to the doctor’s on time.

While all the other panellists are, to be fair, being (or at least pretending to be) varying degrees of sympathetic to the people of Greece’s plight (the regular folks being a different matter than the powerful folks, as any two-month-old baby would be able to tell), Douglas Murray doesn’t give one miniscule damn. Syriza is far-left “anti-reality”, he snoots, and because the foolish Greeks democratically elected them, they deserve every last moment of their pain. Thanks Douglas. You have won the empathy wars. Bravo, you colossal shit.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 6/10

(Should have waited for the press) Release

Corbyn: 7/10

(Pleaded for) Peace

McElvoy: 7/10

(Wore a weird green) Fleece

Murray: 4/10

(Really hates) Greece

Khorsandi: 5/10

(Nearly in) Piece(s)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Used a bit of elbow) Grease

Next time: one more week! One more week!

And btw, here’s another plug for our glorious webmaster’s new YouTube channel. Amuse yourselves aplenty!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #143

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Good morrow lemmings and let us continue our weekly trudge through the fetid wastes of what is known as summer Question Time. What with the election hype and fallout, this has been a right marathon season and I for one am crying quietly in a corner. Still, only two more shows to go! Is it silly season yet? Don’t worry – ’round these parts, it’s always silly season.

Mr Manga-orium’s Wonder Emporium

Our first sick burn of the evening hisses into being: how can the Tories justify calling themselves the ‘real party of werkin’ people’ when they’re set to stamp on tax credits? Andy Burnham is called to the stand first, and is on prime indignant form. As predicted, he’s now the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest – however, if he wins it would be a real loss for Question Time (which is the truly important issue at hand), as I’ve always held a soft spot for Andy’s performances here or in the Shadow Health brief. He is a man fuelled by pure wibbledom – by which I mean, he does seem 100% committed to being outraged at anything the Tories do. He is possibly one of the most outraged people in politics today. When he smiles it looks like he’s holding back his tears. His big, doelike eyes sparkle with righteous rage. His Scouse accent trembles and wavers and he looks like he’s always just about to deck Jeremy Hunt. He is, on all other occasions, an over-emotional manga character come to life.

But not so much today. Today we are introduced to ‘srs bsnss’ leadership material Andy. He is staid. He is solemn. He is a lot more boring. He sombrely states that the Tories don’t have a man date – I mean, a mandate. They’re “frightening” people because of this lack of man date. They ought to get a man date, before it becomes too late. (Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!)

Meanwhile Amber Rudd, a generally unknown entity (but then again, David Cameron is probably an unknown entity to the majority of the public five years in to his premiership), scribbles down her notes furiously like an angry exam invigilator. She then makes her own pitch, and appears to be the sternest woman I have ever come across, like a less charismatic Theresa May. We’re making work pay, she says, tunelessly. A lady in the crowd who’s never “had a day off in [her] life” is enraged at this droning! Then again, that’s a bit extreme. You mean you’ve never pulled a sickie? Never? Not even a little cheeky one on a Friday?

Suzanne Evans wastes no time going ‘tf’ in, accusing Amber and the blue team of not being “transparent”. You know what’s not transparent? Whatever the hell is going on with UKIP right now. First you’re fired! Then you’re not fired! There’s a power struggle, then there isn’t! It’s the story that’s gripped the world. However, this never gets brought up once during this episode, so Suzanne comes out of the whole shebang rather well, including shoehorning in an appeal to abolish the bedroom tax. Boy, Nigel must be fumin’!

Fraser Nelson of the Speccie says that the tax credit system needs “urgent reform” and it’s overall confusing and silly. Andy glares at him sassily. Then an even sassier presence arrives on the scene. Giles Fraser (yes, it’s Fraser 2! There’s a sitcom in this, shurely?) intervenes to demolish everyone and everything and talks up tax credit as if it were an adorable kitten. Giles 4 Labour Leader?

Then Amber suggests that we all wait for Ozza to clear this mess up ;) ;) ;) ;). Anime Andy is offended again, and she calls him SAH GRAPES. In return, he tells her she’s a dirty Tory liar who needs to get in the sea. Pru, it’s kicking off! Thank goodness it’s time for a change of question…

You can leave your tie on

What would you do about Greece? Sadly, Yanis Varoufakis was not available for this edition, due to the small distraction of being whacked in the head with a baseball bat by Angela Merkel. Giles is here in his stead, and, as Dimbleby rightly points out, is also not wearing a tie! You’re still “glamourous”, says Dimbles. I’m liking this new direction for Question Time. How to Look Good Nerked.

Giles continues his excellent impression of cool tieless Yanis by calling the Troika utter bastards. The other Fraser says that Greece needs its own currency, then we could all go there on holiday! Glad to see that we haven’t lost sight of the real issue here, the need to stuff our faces with kleftiko. Then Giles and, oddly, Suzanne extol the virtues of Tony Benn. I’m not sure how the Big Bennster would react to this, but it does give me an excuse to post this clip again of him nearly causing Roy Jenkins to explode.

Andy, in contrast, has got a tuff job sticking up for a Yes vote. It’s not a “failed experiment”, he says, but he’s suspicious of a right-wing economic plot. The spirit of Benn continues to smile down upon us, puffing his pipe benignly. Then the crowd go absolutely bananas, one man laying the blame at the feet of “one woman”. Gasp…Nicola Sturgeon?! Sadly, no. Fraser sums up by saying that you can’t turn Greeks into Germans. Not even if you force them into Lederhosen.

I’m not even going to mention the audience lady who goes off on one, blubbering that we must be a beacon of light and love and Christian values (take that, Muslims!) and we should bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles and we could all eat it and be happy. I’m not going to mention that. Except I just have. Oops.


The scenes at Calais are “heartbreaking” says Suzanne, with her own attempt at a wibbly voice, but we have to show “tough love” as well. She’s like a mildly disapproving school nurse. A girl in the crowd who looks like Nicola Sturgeon’s Mini-Me pleads for the panel not to target refugees with their laser eyes, and another wayward youth gets into an shouting match about mosquito nets with Ambuh. Please, Lord, let the summer break come soon.

Giles welcomes the new immigrants with open arms, and to be fair I’d rather take Giles as a revolutionary leader over Russell Brand. Put him up against Farage next, maybe? Meanwhile, Andy just about gets away with appealing to the unwashed masses who don’t know their forrin pollysee by jam-packing his speech with super smart (S-M-R-T!) sounding words. ‘Mechanism’…’Schengen Agreement’…’Gateway Agreement’…he’s on a roll here, folks! And that roll isn’t about to stop rolling any time soon. And(y)omination continues as we hit two novelty questions in a row – looks like it really is silly season.

Sugar, oh honey honey

First novelty question: something about…sugar tax? Giles campaigns for fat rights, Andy gets into a debate about what “children’s food” is with Dimbledore, who doesn’t believe it exists (excuse you Dimbleby, you’ll never take my dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets away from me), and apparently Fraser Nelson once called Mangaman the FROSTIES KILLER. This is incredible. That should be his tagline. AB4LEADER: heart of frickin’ murdering Tony the Tiger to death. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and here I am: stuck in the middle with food.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Second novelty question: is the last Labour manifesto the best they’ve ever had in their history ever or was it the worst they’ve ever had in their history ever? According to Alan Milburn, who is tragically still pretending he’s relevant in the year of our lord 2015, it was the latter. Fraser, Suzanne and Amber proceed to concern-troll like it’s nobody’s business, Fraser from Cheers especially. Andy Burnham grins widely, but you can so clearly see that deep inside his heart he knows that he’s going to go home that night and murder Milburn to death. First Tony, now Alan, Andy? When will the killing end?!

Finally, Giles shrugs and reveals himself a member of the Milifandom. And with that, we’re blessed with sweet relief.

Time for the scores!

Rudd: 6/10

(Failed to) Wow

Burnham: 8/10

(Nice eye)Brows

Evans: 7/10

(Not a fan of) Frau (Merkel)

Nelson: 7/10

Plow(ed ahead)

Fraser: 8/10

(His little red book will replace) Mao’s

The Crowd: 7/10

And how!

Next time: I begin to hallucinate. Also, did you know that our glorious webmaster – and previous QT-er supreme – has set up a cool new YouTube channel for his project Noobminster? Well, you do now. Go visit it and get educated on all matters political, in a thoroughly amusing fashion. Go on. Click the link. Click it, damnit!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #142

qt 142

Good morrow lemmings – we’re currently taking all bets on how crap Melanie Phillips is in this edition. Let’s find out, as we dive right into…Questionable Time: in Scientifivision™!

Let’s get ready to r…easonably debate!

Our first question, and it’s a belter: is it right to blame the security services for not stopping them there three sisters and their families from travelling to Syria or ‘owt? At least some bright spark on the production team has decided to allocate the serious questions first this time, instead of leaving five minutes to spare at the end for such matters. Good! Well done, Question Time! You get a freshly-baked cookie.

As a result of the trade-off for sensible debate (as opposed to the usual pointless squawking), things do get a lot more dour and less…well…squawky. David Davis, libertarian Tory extraordinaire and rival of Paddy Ashdown for the title of Squinty-Eyed Champion of the World (does he also have a hat to stuff in his gob?) says that it is right to ask how this tragedy happened but not to slap the blame on anyone willy-nilly. Meanwhile, Alex Salmond is equally sensible, his broad Scottish tones curiously hushed as he asks what the appeal is for vulnerable women to go abroad into a warzone with their children and fight for hatred. Melanie Phillips actually agrees, which is promising, urging the need for a better counter-radicalisation strategy and that the ‘danger’ is part of the appeal for impressionable youth.

Caroline Flint, current Queen of Question Time (appeared the most during the 2010-2015 period – will she retain her crown until 2020?) and Labour deputy leadership contender, says that we don’t hear enough about accounts of the atrocities coming from people who want to get back, and how the situations of adults and children going is markedly different. Other Guy AKA Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, pleads that people in MI5 are not appreciated enough! Stop being mean to them! Melanie goes full student politics by declaring that we purely see the world through a Western, colonialist lens, and Salmond says the Western world is not immune from religious fanaticism – such as that for the SNP! Ayy! …Ah, just kiddin’ youse guys.

Overall, very mature, very sensibly-debated, and even the applause was sombre. Good job everyone.

It’s not to last.

More like Snoreway

Next up: bloodsports time! Would it really be so bad to find ourselves out of Europe, the next question-askerer says…as we are “Great Britain”, after all! Woah, never thought of that one before.

Lionel launches a sick burn in his whispery monotone – we may be Great Britain, but we’re not “Little England”. Then he goes on and on about m-muh roaming charges. M-muh sovreignty, says Melanie in response. Apparently, we put more in than we take out, and shake it all about.

Alex Salmond is then pressed on his solidarity with the people of Norway. This show gets weirder by the minute. No, says Big Al, any relation between this oil-rich solitary nation and a certain other landmass is purely coincidental. Anyway, he goes on, both England and Scotland are members of Europe, and he hopes that he can join forces with other sympathetic parties in Europe to rid his country of the Labour scourge once and for all. Well, that was the gist of what he was saying, at least. Caroline Flint tuts and shakes her head. Oh Alex, you card!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

David Davis declares that the nasty bullying of Greece due to its falling on its face and getting poked by long pointy German sticks represents a “failure of democracy”…sounding pretty Bennite there, double D! Caroline, on the other hand, goes all-in for a Yes vote (while encouraging m-muh reform) and states that the EU is a great trading partner. Melanie brushes this off and pretty much gives the entire country of America the middle finger while doing so. Oh Melanie, you card!

“Let’s leave the EU for the moment”, says Dimbleby, and everyone laughs. Indeed, why not put a ‘lol’ option on the ballot paper? I’m sure it’d attract a surprising amount of support.

Girls don’t cry

Nexty-wexty: should Tim ‘women are crybabies’ Hunt have fricked off? Melanie, while acknowledging Hunt as “bonkers”, claims that he is a great eccentric and that his magisterial free thinking on the role of women in STEM fields should be encouraged! He’s a trailblazer! Free expression! Love and peace, man!

Caroline pointedly points out that some women might be a little miffed that this behaviour from an already highly regarded and wealthy man should be protected, but then the women in the audience have their say. Their opinions vary due to BBC guidelines but seem reasonable enough either way. Most people seem to agree that while what Hunt said was terrible and should be widely mocked, sacking him was more iffy territory. Then again, apparently he didn’t mean it as a joke and didn’t apologise, so…shruggie. Thank goodness we have Alex Salmond to steer us on the right course, by means of…wibbly-wobblying somewhere in the middle of the argument, something he does very rarely.

Also, David Davis misquotes Voltaire, and damns the ‘Twitter mob’ that has struck terror into his heart. Even though he doesn’t have a Twitter. Okay, D-Dubs.

We wrap up with another well-answered question (damnit, Question Time, you need to be viler!): do we have a responsibility to help immigrants fleeing from Africa? Salmond says 65% are refugees and we have to help them as the government in the 1970s helped refugees fleeing Idi Amin. Also we screwed up most of their countries so, y’know…what goes around comes around!

Lionel and Caroline argue the need for a “moral obligation” to help those in danger of drowning – Melanie argues that while economic migrants should be scrutinised, what we really need to do is hit the PANIC BUTTON on the whole Middle East in general. David Davis shrugs his shoulders and wonders how life would be different if he was Tory Prime Minister right now.

Final, rhetorical question: what are the chances of some chubby guy living to see the conclusion of the Chilcot Inquiry?

The world may never know.

Time for the scores!

Salmond: 7/10

Nor(way, twinned with Scotland)

Davis: 7/10

(Showing mean old Twitterers the) Door

Flint: 7/10

(Didn’t quite) Score

Barber: 5/10


Phillips: 5/10

Pour(ed a slight amount of fuel on the fire)

The Crowd: 6/10

War (what is it good for)

Next time: the return of Mangaman.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #141

qt 141

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a sweltering, summery Questionable Time! We’re predicting light rain showers and intense humidity caused by sudden extreme emissions of hot air. Remember to stay hydrated, and watch out for shifting and sweating in your seats!

Fractional reserve wbanking

As the evening June light bursts into the studio through great glass windows, the entire audience is blinded and unfortunately unable to sit through the rest of the show. Oh well, guess we’ll all have to go home. Bye.

…Or perhaps not. Question one, then: is the Chancellor right to sell off RBS shares at a loss to the taxpayer? Ooh, burn. Sick burn. Ice burn. We’re off to a no-nonsense start, you’d think, but then Chris Bryant, supreme Gingerbonce and chief trollererererer of John Bercow in the House of Commons, as well as a renowned purveyor of entertaining nonsense himself, steps up to the plate. He’s seen a challenge and he’s rising to it in his own special way. He leaps upon this question like an angry weasel, which he also resembles. The Chancellor, he says, should go back to his original position and prepare for government! We have a deficit to be dealing with, remember? Although it looks like, in the aftermath of May 7th, we’ve all temporarily forgotten about that/ceased to care. Hooray!

Matthew Hancock, the blue team representative, obviously disagrees. He has a weird round forehead that doesn’t fit on his chin. Remember Northern Rock, he weedles? Eh? Eight years ago? Under the previous government? The one before the coalition, that is, so not technically the previous government, but whatever? Anyway, this is all for the greater good and will mean that RBS performs better, says he. What about Royal Mail, dude, Chris squeaks, outraged.

Douglas Carswell gets off to a flying start with a withering comeback about ‘fractional reserve banking’. Riveting. I understood less that 7% of what he said. Even Dimbleby needed help with it, and he’s been running this shebang for years. Christina Odone puts it more simply: we need lots of little banks running around like chihuahuas, instead of a few big ones like scary rottweilers. However, much like the dogs themselves, will they merely do the same amount of shit? The Gateshead audience seems to think so, so it’s up to new SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh to play to the crowd. She says it’s a bad time, what with the continuing austerity – also, Gordon Brown sucks, she mentions off-hand. Just throwin’ that out there.

Witness me!

Next up, should 16 and 17-year olds be able to vote in the #euref? (Is that the official hashtag now? See, I’m down with the kids too!)

Douglas says this is all very exciting, and the product of his life’s work (or his work ever since he defected to UKIP), but you know who can’t join in on the excitement? 16-year-olds. You suddenly become fully knowledgeable about politics at age 18 and that’s that. Also, you may be less likely to vote to stay in the EU the older and the more scared of the dirty forrins you get. So, y’know, swings and roundabouts.

Christina is in favour of this proposal, however, because the youngins “see the light”! They are the “agents of change” foretold in the prophecy! Matthias Handycock rebuffs her with a blunt ‘no lol’. Meanwhile, Tamsina says to look at the #indyref, and the huge participation of young, idealistic SNPers, and understand that angry young people can be easily moulded and twisted into an army of fanatics eager to lay down their lives for a cause, much like those albino pricks in Mad Max: Fury Road (out now in all good cinemas!). She also takes aim at Chris, alleging Labour voted against an SNP clause to give the yungins the vote. Chris says this was conveniently attached to an amendment that would block the referendum completely. She denies this charge, with a snippy “I think I know what I tabled”. “Nah,” replies Chris, even snipplier. Majestic debate!

Isn’t this debate great? Matty Handball raves, watching gleefully as Tamsina and Chris snip-snipe at each other. Finally, Bryant signs us off with an ultimatum: the age of consent is 16, and yet voting is out of bounds for these youngsters. You can legally be a parent, but you can also “FLY A GLIDER”, he proclaims, which is, quite obviously, far more important.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Up next, a somewhat related topic: Is DCam using dirty tactics to get his way in the EU referendum? Dougy C beams with pride, imagining himself to be a much less photogenic (or, like, paintogenic) Joan of Arc about to be martyred. At the same time, Chris admits that “I don’t like David Cameron very much”. The majestic debate continues! Christina claims that Cammers is slowly turning into John Major, scared of Eurosceptic ‘bastards’. Indeed, the ‘bastards’ have now gone mainstream. Matt Hackysack has a good reason for not being afraid of them, though – if we leave the EU/encourage UKIP, businessmen would feel too sad to come to the UK! Instead, just wait for DCam to come back from his negotiation. Then all will be well.

What about the EU nationals being excluded from voting, says Tamsina, her outraged tone growing ever more outraged. This never gets a satisfactory answer as we already have to move on. Don’t worry, Dimbleby assures us, we’ll return to this…”week after week”, according to him.

Oh Lord, save us.

Pants for the memories

Next, some quickfire questions. ‘Northern Powerhouse’: yay or nay?

For once, Chris ‘n’ Tamsina agree on something (side note, I keep misspelling her name as Tasmina, as if she comes from Tasmania, one would imagine). The North-East has been shortchanged! Luckily for Tazza, she’s in Scotland so she doesn’t have to worry about that shit. Matt Hanky-Panky repeats the the words ‘Northern Powerhouse’ approximately twenty more times until my ears start to bleed. Douglas, however, advises us to “follow the money” – putting on his shifty shades and looking smug. The North is saved.

Second: why are we becoming a surveillance state just like 1984 OMG!!!! #makesuthink. Possibly because y’all elected only eight Lib Dem MPs? That’s…you know, kind of their thing (maybe their only thing). The main parties on the panel squabble just as you’d expect them to, with a little addition of ~Ron Paul Revolution~ Libertarianism from Douglas, until Chris elects to remind us all of that whole phonehacking dealio that happened a while back, and how he felt so heavily violated by its intrusion into his life. Unfortunately, this just dredges up the memory of that infamous photo of him in his pants and nothing else into our expectant brainholes. I don’t want to post it, though…that would be an invasion of privacy, after all.

Finally, the traditional heavy-as-hell question in the last woefully inadequate few minutes. How do we stop ISIS fascism?

Christina says that young people aren’t being convinced by our own down-with-the-kids narrative. Well, do they have pizza in the so-called ‘Islamic State’? I seriously doubt it. #makesuthink. “A liberal democratic way of life is the best way of life possible,” says Douglas Carswell, summing things up. Well, yes, except possibly if you’re a Liberal Democrat. Tamsina says something about the Angel Gabriel, messenger of God (you mean Nicola Sturgeon?). Matt In The Hat urges us to show disaffected youths a ‘better way’, through the medium of his Cameron-alike forehead. And lastly, Chris splurts out some mouthwords as well. Although I wasn’t paying attention, because I was still too terrified by the memory of his pants to write anything down about it.

Time for the scores!

Hancock: 5/10

(Brows were) Knit(ted)

Bryant: 6/10

Pit(bull on the panel)

Ahmed-Sheikh: 6/10

Wit(ness her!)

Carswell: 6/10

(Comfortably sat…uh, I mean) Sit

Odone: 6/10

(Does not want to) Omit (youngsters from the referendum)

The Crowd: 6/10

(True) Grit

Next time: High Wycombe! My nan used to live there. Er…not much else to say about it, to be honest.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #140

qt 140

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another supercalifragilisticexpialidocious edition of Questionable Time! It’s such a lovely sunny day outside, and yet you’re reading this. Good choice, sport!

IPSA me, Mario

We begin by duly noting the four women/one man ratio of this Thursday’s panel, which is definite cause for a warm-hearted cheer at how far society has come (or teary sniff, or excessive blowing of your nose). Unless you notice the actual issues discussed, that is – immigration, Europe, petty Labour bickering – which are, of course, as old as time itself.

Our first question is one of great, fist-shaking import: is an MPs’ pay rise justified considering George Osborne even now cackling and waving about a giant pair of comedy scissors in the general direction of the public sector? Up-and coming young turk Justine Greening says…nah. Forget if it’s ‘justified’ or not, the public hate this proposal so damn much that anyone even attempting to take the rise will get hung, drawn, and quartered by order of the Queen. Why don’t you vote it down then, says Dimbleby. Because we need to…’deal with’…IPSA, Justine replies menacingly. She came into politics not for the pay – but for the free wine and nibbles at events! Don’t you just love those little sausage thingies?

Mary CREAGHEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA steps up to the plate (sadly a plate with no sausages on it). She’s running for the Labour leadership, obviously, not that you’d know because she has about, ooh, four nominations? And they each need 35 to get on the ballot paper. Poor Mary. I met her once, and she offered me some of her chocolate brownie. So I can’t totally slate her. Last time she was on QT, she accused Russell Brand of sexism, so let’s see if she can pull it out of the bag now…she goes on to state that if the government can reject the independent pay review board for nurses then it can reject this! She gets some applause, but it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile, Susie ‘Fleet Street Fox’ Boniface is rambling on about headmasters and nurses – you know, the ‘people that people like’, according to Spitting Image. Norman Lamb does similarly, fightin’ for the rights of the werkers – like his competitor Tim Farron, he’s also angling for the leadership of the Lib Dems. Yes, that’s right – that now-statuesque role. Honestly, what is QT going to do with the Lib Dems now – cycle through their remaining eight MPs for a season and then give up? Oh dear. I suppose there’s always Shirley Williams, eh?

At the same time, Jill Kirby, Theresa May’s twin, is protesting why the pay rise powers were farmed out to IPSA in the first place. Interesting that a Thatcherite policy wonk wants to centralise power and not take it elsewhere, huh? Norman is appalled and shouts softly (ever so softly…like a little white-haired, bespectacled mouse) about how no other workplace lets its workers decide their own pay increases. Except if you’re a banker awarding yourself a nice bonus, that is. Trebles all round!

Looking like a true survivor feeling like a little quid (as opposed to a NASTY EURO)

Next up: Europe, and what sort of renegotiation would you like to see Dave bravely wring out of Juncker ‘n’ co at the top table. Jill is at least blankly honest and admits that she wouldn’t be satisfied with any deal. If anything, those Europoors should be begging to do deals with us! They should be grovelling at our feet, she outright implies, and not trifling with failures like Greece. They’re not allowed at our cool pool party any more. “We should be standing alone,” she declares, and the siren song of Elton John bursts into my head.

B-but they’ve given us cheaper roaming charges! says Susie ‘Fleet Foxes’ Boniface, helpfully forgetting everything else Europe has ever done at the worst possible moment. Way to go, Suse!

Then some people in the audience get into a fight about Romanians, or whatever. A Romanian doctor protests scapegoating, causing another man to blurt out that he has…wait for it…a Romanian friend. People around him chuckle merrily like medieval bards. “Why are you laughing?” he splutters. Oh Question Time, what a tangled web you weave!

As the panellists bicker over immigration/the free movement of labour/inspecting the specks of dust on the table, another brave soul from the crowd pipes up to remind us all of the original question. It was about what changes you’d like to see before the referendum, remember? Well, oops, no time for that now! We spent all our time on pointless mumbling, and there’s already another question incoming…

North Korea hacked my Neopets account

Will further cuts to the defence budget leave David Dimbleby a hollow shell of a man, faced with the prospect of repeating these same few questions over and over for the remainder of all time in the universe? On the plus side: more usage of the word ‘helicarrier’, which you have to admit just sounds cool.

We have no way of knowing what kind of wars will happen in the future, so they are by definition cutting in the dark, says Susie, surprisingly sensibly. Norman knows, however. “Cyber terrorism!” he blurts out (slightly more loudly), obviously just remembering that his password is ‘12345’ and that North Korean hackers are going to take over his email account.

Mary and Justine begin to bicker about exactly how many dollarydoos have been/should be put into the defence budget. They’re both in favour of further spending on the front line, but it’s hard to know who wins this bout – only that I’ve just noticed that Justine Greening looks like a garden gnome. You could definitely imagine her sitting with a tiny fishing rod next to a pond. Am I the only one who sees this? Look at this comparison shot – coincidence? I think not:

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Next, a more sombre question. What legacy will Charles Kennedy leave British politics?

Well, for one, he was a perennial Question (and Questionable) Time favourite, as David Dimbleby rightfully points out. The Question Time website has put up a small compilation of some of his 42 (!) appearances, which you can view here.

The other panellists agree – Mary says he had “poetry” in his language (something I imagine a lot of people want more of from the Labour leadership battle). Susie says we mustn’t let any more potential be wasted by the tragic illness that is alcoholism. Jill notes that most people think he was right about standing against the Iraq invasion, arguably his finest hour. Norman, who gave an emotional tribute in Parliament, was his PPS for a time – and concludes that he’ll be missed greatly as someone who could be honest and sincere in any sort of debate.

Unfortunately, we don’t end on this genuinely moving note. Back to mud-flinging, everyone! With our last question: what is the point of the Labour Party now?

Justine gets a chance to gleefully gloat, although her expression doesn’t evolve further than ‘scary scowl’. Mary, in an attempt to scramble together a few more nominations, bombastically expresses her belief that WE WORK TOGETHER, WE DIE TOGETHER. And redistribute some power and wealth in a mild social-democratic format. Hell yes, she’s tough enough!

Jill and Norman shake their heads – Jill making a none-to-subtle jibe about a certain extravagantly-belashed contender and Norman disagreeing with the union link. Well Norms, it’s a good job you joined the Liberal Democrats and not the Labour Party, then, eh?

Finally, an old man hijacks the show and praises his true messiah Clement Attlee. Mary gives a thumbs up (she named her son Clement, after all). Justine continues to scowl. Better wrap up before she gets any scowlier.

Time for the scores!

Greening: 7/10

(Looks like a garden) Gnome

Creagh: 7/10

(Far from) Home (and dry re: nominations)

Lamb: 6/10

(Has hair the colour of) Foam (and I realise now I may be stretching these rhymes a bit)

Boniface: 5/10

(The EU gives you lower) Roam(ing charges! Wa…hey?)

Kirby: 5/10

(Reading blankly from the Thatcherite) tome

The Crowd: 8/10

(When in) Rome

Next time: the one before they go to High Wycombe!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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