Questionable Time #115


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Good morrow lemmings and today we’re in Boiminghem! But nobody will care by Friday because of the inevitable new UKIP MP tomorrow and the fact that a member of the shadow cabinet has resigned over a freakin’ tweet. We live in interesting times, my friends!

“UKIP more like POOKIP” – Nigel Farage’s liberal comedy conspiracy

We begin with a question about UKIP, I guess, except that it flies all over the place and by the end people are crying. I was crying. In fact I’m crying right now.

Putting Ken Clarke on QT this week was a stroke of genius, I must admit. Well done whatever person from Toryville thought that up. If you had picked some snicker-worthy IDS figure, for example, or Michael Gove (don’t worry! He’s next week!) then the Tories might as well have put their hands up and conceded the match to Yasmin and Andy, or to Douglas Carswell exchanging knowing looks with moustachioed men in the audience. As it happens Ken Clarke has an inherently sensible aura, and most people tend to like him at least a little. He’s Ye Olde Mastre. He’s been around the block a few times. He’s seen young turks come and go, and isn’t the least bit impressed by any of them.

Meanwhile, as slouchy Ken’s polar opposite, Andy Burnham runs on nothing more than unfiltered earnestness. He’s either smiling benignly or pouting at someone (in this case, generally Douglas). Last time he was on the panel he got an extremely easy ride because he was on his home turf, but this time he had to wibble and grin and emote until he practically exploded to get through the programme unscathed. He just about managed it, due to his sheer sincere outrage at anything and everything. He even swore! Andy will not be stopped. It doesn’t even matter what question he’s asked, he’ll answer with WHATEVER HE DAMN WELL LIKES. Which is mainly the NHS. Or Everton football club, but sadly that didn’t come up.

Also, I’m not just saying this because I think he’s cute. Don’t look at me like that! I’m not biased. (I am incredibly biased.) (Seriously.) (My mum heard who was on QT and immediately exclaimed “oh it’s your boyfriend!”. I am just that biased.)

And yes, he still looks like an anime character. Cue the pictorial evidence.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Anyway. Douglas Carswell waxes lyrical about the virtues of the Australian immigration system, but Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is baying for his blood. Maybe it’s due to her sitting next to him, but she would just not stop biting his leg like an enraged pitbull throughout the entire programme. When asked about Reckless’ repatriation rumble – no need to worry about it, Douglas, I suspect quite a few of your voters chirpily cheered his comments – he cited tiredness as an excuse, and then said something #sorandomlol about Europe. Ken, even now, slowly shakes his head, like a disappointed owl.

Our last panellist, Dia Chakrathingy, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, is another UKIP representative apparently. She speaks at approximately 10,000 words per minute and constantly employs a mock-confused little girl voice. In fact, her tone of voice is probably the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard on television. It’s not even her opinions – but the way that she tuts and tilts her head and chatters on and on and fricklin’ fracklin’ ON and oh look my skull just cracked open. Look what you’ve done, Dia. Look at this mess. It’s all over the carpet.

“MASS DEFECTIONS,” interjects Douglas. Dimbleby sighs. It can’t get any worse than this.

Apparently it can

What do failed reality stars have to say about taxation? Well, Yasmin ain’t having any of that, whatever it is, and derides the Klass Kwestion for coming from a “pretty” millionaire. Dia is disgusted! Diasgusted, in fact! How dare you be so patronising, Yasmin, she says, patronisingly.

She’s not done yet. Then she rounds on Man-Candy Andy. I feel sorry for you, she patronises. You’d be a good leader. Better than Miliband. Pity you’re out here, she almost-flirts, answering questions on Ed’s blustery blunders, when you could be back at my place…hot stuff…with those pretty eyes of yours…

Andy looks embarrassed and afraid.

However, things aren’t even halfway done yet and Mangaman wants to talk about the NHS. During his answer about the mansion tax, he gets into a scuffle with the chair himself – something very rarely done! – and it goes a lil somethin’ like this:

I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE NHS bellows Andy.
But…Andy, stop…that’s not the question…says Dimbles, head in his hands.
YES IT IS says Andy, ripping open his suit to reveal his I LUV NHS t-shirt which he wears at all times.

The audience are getting heated. They round on Dia McMean Girls. YOU KNOW THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING AND THE VALUE OF NUFFINK, they cry. Regina George/Dia is appalled, and tilts her head a little more to the right. It’s going to fall off if you don’t watch out, Dia.

What’s the deal with NHS food

When there’s an actual question about the NHS, Burnham explodes.

“After you,” smirks Carswell, knowing that this means Anime Andy has less time to think.

“Oh boy! The NHS sure is great,” sighs Andy wistfully, or words to that effect, swatting away pesky doctors and people at meetings who allege that he said the exact opposite of what he says every minute of every day, even at home, even while asleep, where he constantly chants “compulsory tendering must die” while his wife no doubt cries herself to sleepybobos every night. He finally understands what that one woman was trying to say later in the programme, and everyone laughs at him, and the Seinfeld bassline plays in the background. Or inside my tortured mind, anyway.

Douglas has got him now! UKIP has the plan. They also have the Man with the Plan, Nigel Farage, who will lead us to a glorious new revolution.

What’s up with that video then, says Dimbles. You know the one I mean. Yasmin is now so baffled that her baffle-ometer has reached 100% and she launches into another pummelfight directed at Douglas’ face. She’s baffled about what he and UKIP have and haven’t changed their minds on! But Douglas remains serene. All he needs to do is lie back, think of England and wait for the MPs to flood in. They can change their minds a hundred times and it wouldn’t matter. He’s surrounded by a circle of members, all throbbing and alert to ejaculate their worthy opinions on to an eager-faced public.

Ken Clarke remembers to wake himself up to verbally slap every panellist round the chops (take that Dougie! Take that Andii-chan!) praising Blair as he does so. Honestly, Ken has more in common with a lot of Labour politicians than most of his own party these days. They should skip off together and form a hot sexy new party. Or join the Lib Dems – haha, only kidding, they do have some sense.

Then it’s the final countdown, or rather question, and everybody joins together in peace and harmony to rightly condemn a nasty, nasty man. Hooray! Even Dia is on-side! Well done everyone, we got there in the end.

“I’m a dad :3,” Andy reminds us with his emoji-like face.

Time for the scores!

Clarke: 7/10

(Speaks) Sense

Burnham: 7/10

(Was) Incensed (About Every Conceivable Subject)

Carswell: 6/10

(Wants to fix up the) Fence (the fence meaning ARE BORDERS)

Alibhai-Brown: 8/10

(Get thee) Hence(, Carswell!)

Chakravarty: 5/10

(Did not want to spend her) Pence

The Crowd: 6/10

Tense

GOVE NEXT WEEK and smooth buttery Chuka and weird Norman and…Jo Brand? I leak enthusiasm.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #114


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Good morrow lemmings, or should I say bore da? We’re in Cardiff, so let’s hope Dimbleby doesn’t get swallowed up by the space/time rift in its centre! And can someone please get rid of that ugly rug on the floor of the studio? I want it burned. Thanks.

Milidammerung

Our first question is, as it seems to be every week, about the continuing trials and tribulations of Ed Miliband. Gosh, they just never end! Panellist number one is the up-and-coming young heartthrob Stephen Crabb. So far the only thing I’ve actually heard about him is the fact that he has a immaculately well-groomed beard. Every article and profile about him is required to mention his facial hair by law. In fairness, it is incredibly mesmerising. He’ll do fine, just as long as he doesn’t mime the Welsh national anthem.

Anyway, he’s pleased as punch with Ed’s performance. Keep on keepin’ on, Ed! He’s “not ready” to be Prime Minister, apparently, which raises the question – when does someone become ‘ready’ to be PM? Do you have to win a race, or an arm-wrestling contest? Is there phasing involved? The paddling of the swollen ass, with paddles?

Kirsty Williams, the superheroically boring leader of the Welsh Lib Dems (must be a lonely job) says Labour is responsible for ruining everything. I think she’s trying to be a poor man’s Leanne Wood, but we’ll get to her later. Rod Liddle replies that Labour is fine, it’s Ed who is the problem. He’s a nice guy, but basically a hopeless nerd. This whole ‘doesn’t he look weird!’ guffawing about poor Eddie is somewhat cruel, methinks. Yes, let’s all point and laugh at the nerd! Not that I would know how that feels or anything…Rod says that he voted for Andy Burnham for leader, presumably because he is much prettier and has a dreamy ~werkin’ class~ accent.

‘Cuddly’ Carwyn Jones interrupts to shake his head like a sad grandpa. It was the world that was in depression, not just the UK – the credit crunch wasn’t merely the result of Gordon Brown’s miserable face making us all cry ourselves into an economic slump. Meanwhile, taking her cues from the grumbly Welsh audience (in Welsh, even grumbles are melodic) Leanne Wood is yelling from the left. She’d quite like to hook up with Alex Salmond for a glorious new revolution. All these beautiful Welsh accents make you want to start singing and shouting florid oratory, don’t they? No? Just me? Well screw all y’all.

Moving on, our next question is on convicted rapist and general shithead Ched Evans. Leanne, who is eager to assume the role of national hero for the night, says that while she generally supports giving people fresh out of prison second chances – this guy? Gross! No way! We should be thinking of the victim instead. Sage nodding from the crowd.

Then Rod Liddle makes a complete arse of himself by sticking two fingers up to being sensible. Citing ‘political correctness’, he throws a whiny baby temper tantrum and generally looks like a dick. Yeah, taking rape seriously is pretty politically correct! Pshh, rape, it’s not a big deal. You’ll be out of prison in a jiffy, if you even get there in the first place, and back to your old job in no time! Perhaps the fact that footballers get away with drink driving and manslaughter should be taken seriously, too, Rod, not used as an excuse. But whatever, what do I know, it doesn’t matter! He only plays in the third division!

In response, Kirsty Williams screeches at Rod like a enraged bat in a lump of guano. I guess you could say she’s got Rod Rage.

Inquiryception

Next question: NHS Wales! Stephen suavely and somewhat predictably claims, while sadly not stroking his beard, that it’s gone tits-up. How dare Labour claim to be the party of the NHS. It’s not as if they created it or anything. Carwyn counters comprehensively by stating that budget cuts are down to the Tories slashing all the d0lla bill$$$. But Stephen isn’t going down without a fight – he wants an inquiry into the Welsh NHS! Where’s the inquiry, Carwyn? Carwyn punches back! Jeremy Hunt is such a…Hunt. Wait, where did this question start again?

The crowd is braying for someone’s, anyone’s, head. They want the panel to listen to the oiks. At that precise moment, Leanne descends from the heavens, places her hands on her true believers’ heads and whispers that…she cares. No…Plaid Cymru cares. With their cute little flower logo. Such caring. So listening. Wow.

Also she really is complimenting Scotland tonight. Leanne Wood/Alex Salmond OTP.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Kirsty is trying to construct a tiff with Stephen. She hates the ‘language of Westminster’ tending to diss the NHS – instead, let’s all work together in a lovely coalition! But you still all suck. Nothing personal.

Stephen won’t be stopped. “David Cameron speaks with nothing but respect and he values the people on the front line -” and then there is the most derisive laughter I have ever heard on this programme thus far. Rod is laughing the hardest. His main role in this edition has been that of ‘internet troll’. Thanks Rod. You’ve done the job.

Crustgate

As for the final two questions? The first is about sandwiches. It is so ridiculous I didn’t even bother making any notes on it. The word ‘sandwich’ has been used more in five minutes than it has in the rest of Question Time’s 35 year history. There’s also one about devolution – some of the panel, and the audience, are thoroughly sick of all these referendums, and especially the diddly dang West Lothian question. The consensus is for Wales to get some of the sweet, sweet nectar that Scotland enjoys, and Leanne will fight and fight again until she can fall into its honeyed embrace. And presumably Alex Salmond’s embrace. England can go heck itself. Mic drop, walk away.

Then the show ends and a cameraman is bewitched by a statue. #aesthetic

Time for the scores!

Crabb: 5/10

Beardy

Jones: 5/10

Smeared-y

Williams: 5/10

(At least she) Appeared-y

Wood: 7/10

Revered-y?

Liddle: 4/10

Sneered-y

The Crowd: 7/10

Weird-y (it’s the accents!)

Next time has…Andy Burnham! And the first ever UKIP MP I guess. But more importantly, Andy Burnham!! Only squealing fangirls allowed in!!!! SQUEEEE!!!!!!!!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #113


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Good morrow lemmings and a wet and windy welcome to this week’s edition of Questionable Time! One hopes the weather hasn’t spoiled your excitement for today’s event! So, without further ado and in the spirit of Bonfire Night, let’s set this place on fire. Flame on!

Behold the non-ginger DAlex

Dimbleby’s got his goldfish tie on this week so the answer to our first question – are we in crisis/a big lump of doggy doo-doo – is clearly yes.

First on the floor is Chazza Kennedy. How dare he get the show off to a great start by being sensible and likable. I won’t stand for this, on this show, my show, where one demands that all panellists be eye-twitching at least and vomit-inducing at most. But Charles ain’t into that. He thinks there’ll be another hung parliament, perhaps wishing it into being by sheer force of will, and tries to mention Nick Clegg as little as he possibly can. Excellent job Charlie. I have a feeling you’ll go far, you young rapscallion.

As Charles is busy being so rational, Dimbleby gets bored almost immediately and we jump straight to Douglas Alexander to ask him why Ed Miliband is so crap. Ed’s been having a tough week and election strategist Douglas is his first line of defence against the critics. However, this is rather spoiled by Wee Dougie being the most boring man in the world. If you were lucky enough to have seen his infamous Powerpoint at the Labour conference this year, you’ll know what I’m talking about. People were rolling in the aisles! Unfortunately, this was due to them all falling asleep at the same time.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Dougboy asserts that Labour is still the best party out there, but Dimbles keeps rattling on about the whole Miliband issue. While Douglas attemps a comeback, Brandon Lewis, Conservative housing and planning minister, is on the scene. #Poppywatch: he’s got possibly the tiniest poppy in existence on his lapel. Careful Brandon, or you’ll get the Sun on your back for being a traitor! He rattles off some Tory achievements and says they’re working very hard in Rochester – I should think so, considering Michael Gove is relentlessly hounding Conservative MPs who don’t pay a visit like an awful Telltale Heart living under your floorboards.

Meanwhile comedian Matt Forde says that the fact that everyone is so moderate nowadays is all thanks to his hero, Tony Blair. Also, people should learn from Farage! I wonder if Nigel considers him part of the liberal comedy conspiracy? Then he does an impression of Ed Miliband and everyone stops for a moment to boggle in amazement and horror.

Oops, and here comes trouble – you see, there’s been a bit of a controversy relating to the lovely UKIP gentlemen in the front row. Turns out that the BBC invited three UKIP Parliamentary candidates into the front of the audience and took multiple contributions from them without mentioning the fact that they were candidates! The internet is in uproar, of course. I’m not sure how often PPCs from other parties are in QT audiences – can anyone verify? I don’t know, it just seems sketchy to me! #butthat’snoneofmybusiness

But really, what’s the difference when you have Melanie Phillips on the panel? Last time I saw her, she disappointed in not being particularly repellent in her views, possibly because she had been asked to tone it down due to shenanigans. And for now, she hasn’t unleashed the beast…yet. But do not fear, my sweets. Some prime-cut ridonkulousness is a-coming…

Finally, when asked about who would be a better Labour leader than Ed, a confused young man in the audience answers with this beautifully dignified reply:

“There’s, er…Chucka Oomanna…?”

The audience softly groans, like someone would when they hear a favourite TV show has been rescheduled for a different timeslot (although not their ultimate favourite, don’t want to get too exciting here). Looks like poor smooth Chuka’s out of the running then. (What about ‘anime eyes’ Andy Burnham? He’s definitely the prettiest and cutest, so he’d win the One Directioner vote. And Yvette Cooper happens to be a woman – they’re in vogue now.) Wow boys and girls, isn’t this exciting?

Kipper Klusters: rich in vitamin D

Now for some immigration talk and Melanie kicks the door down outta nowhere. Multiculturalism?! she rages. No! Not multiculturalism! National identity! We’ve always been Celts! And then Saxons! And then Normans! Damn, look at all that national identity! It’s okay if they’re from similar cultures…but weird ones? Weird to Melanie Phillips, that is? Oh no!

I’ve had enuff of this anti-EU guff! bellows Matt in return, and Brandon bravely fights back by sitting on the fence. Charles takes the always-popular line of dissing Thatcher (well, except in, like, Finchley) and, secondly, that UKIP guy in the audience. Then the rest of the audience also rounds on the front row Kipper Kluster, and chaos ensues. Fight! Fight! Fight!

Luckily, Douglas Alexander puts us all to sleep before someone can get hurt.

The next question is on the clusterfuck of an abuse inquiry that probably should have started by now. A big neon sign flashing ‘TREAD CAREFULLY’ practically lights up above the panel’s heads. Thankfully, all there is to report is some respectful discussion about appointing the right chair, and the nature of the establishment, but then…Melanie Phillips steps up in her own very special way. This inquiry is nonsense, apparently, because all sorts of terrible things happen all the time and nothing gets done about it. Then she points out that sexualisation of children is a societal problem – true, true – but then.

But then.

Sex education is apparently causing a ‘paedophile society’. That is literally what she said. Let it settle in. Let it marinate.

Yes, teaching kids about where babies come from and to respect their boyfriends and girlfriends – unforgivable! It caused Savile! No, hundreds of Saviles, dancing in a line! Well hand me a cigar and call me Jim’ll. The panel snorts in derision as they very well should.

Now let’s all listen to Charles Kennedy instead. I’m not even a Lib Dem or anything but…luv u Charlie 5eva (that means I luv him more than 4eva). Kiss kiss.

I apologise for Questionable Time’s institutional anti-North bias

Final question: should there be an elected assembly for the North East? I’m swiftly losing the will to live, so let’s make this quick. Sorry, Northern-types.

The crowd, who have already been extremely rowdy tonight, use this opportunity to hector with all their might. Melanie thinks this will all end in tears. Don’t we know it. Douglas drones on about how George Osborne needs to sod off. Don’t we know it. Charles Kennedy mentions Mags Thatcher for a third time this edition. Don’t we…know it?

In the end, nothing of any value is said and we all go home crying and snotty. I guess Melanie Phillips was right after all.

Time for the scores!

Kennedy: 9/10

Reign(s over QT like a pudgy ginger king)

Alexander: 5/10

(Did not have much to) Gain

Lewis: 5/10

Plain Jane

Phillips: 4/10

Bane (of one’s life)

Forde: 5/10

Pain(ful impressions aside…)

The Crowd: 7/10

Again, again!

Next time: WELSHYYYYyyyyYYYYyyyy

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #112


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Good morrow lemmings and a very Happy Halloween! We’re in the Wild West this week – Taunton, that is, but I don’t see any cool zombie cowboys roaming around (or even any sheep farmers). Later this evening my house will inevitably get mobbed by screaming children, so let’s enjoy a moment of calm before the storm…or not, because this is Questionable Time, Questionable Time night, and no-one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike.

I also heard hemp makes great shampoo

The first question is appropriately scary, at least if you’re a politician: drug legalisation! Caroline Lucas has an open goal today, what with Labour imploding in Scotland, faced against a Tory ex-Cabinet minister with an obsession with badgers moving goalposts, some random Lib Dem and some other guy who’s written a series of good children’s books at least. Not to mention the Beeb refusing to put the Greens in the Leaders’ debates because nyeh nyeh pfffthblflfbh. Sadly, none of these points actually come up on the show. She could have raised them herself, of course, but that would just be gauche.

So, the Green mean protesting machine is up to bat, this being one of her specialist subjects (and who knows, it might get her votes from the stoner demographic, if they can manage to lift themselves out of their Dorito nests to get to the polling station). Incredibly, she’s wearing not one but two paper flowers, one being a #swaggy white peace poppy. Whatever your view on the gratuitous use of poppies, surely you must agree that’s a pretty swagalicious flimsy flower thing. Anyway, Caroline wants the personal use of drugs legalised and isn’t a fan of Dave and co sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming “JUST SAY NO! JUST SAY NO!”

Owen Paterson, who wants to position himself as Caroline’s nemesis even though she probably wouldn’t lower herself to that level, rattles off some statistics. Dimbles has already mentioned he was sacked (not reshuffled, sacked – damn Dimbleby, that’s cold) from Cabinet and Owen is extremely eager to play the martyr figure in this edition. If there’s a question about wind farms, it’ll happen. At the moment, though, he’s bombarding the panel with facts and figures until they all die of an overdose.

Now for the appearance of the man with a face like a loaf of bread: Tristram Hunt! Wearing the exact same tie as Owen. Worrying. He’s a shower of charisma as usual: “this is an interesting piece of work”, he drones, and shakes his head at how bad the drug problem in prisons is and rounds up by concluding that Labour saved everything. I think. I’ve already forgotten what he said. ‘Yeah, the poors can’t handle it’, Owen nods along. Tristram and Loaf-face are performing a nice little double act here. Ooh yeah baby, you be the bread…I’ll be the baker.

Then Baroness Kramer interjects that we should be targeting the traffickers and kingpins, which is a sensible if blindingly obvious point. Similarly Anthony Horowitz points out the cost to the state from drug-related offences that could be more easily tackled with better treatment in a different system. Woah, things are getting a little too smart around here! Can’t have that. Time to descend into anarchy again.

Can’t pay, won’t pay

Next question! Should Britain pay up? Nope, we’re broke! Seems like that’s really the case, as there’s a lot of shrieking about how unfair the whole situation and that the poor deprived little UK needs that money to buy jumbo sausage rolls at Greggs. Tristram has the explanation, of course: Dave shouldn’t have thrown all those darn wobblies. Now you’ve broken all the posh china and the EU wants us to pay them back. The ‘No Daves Club’ strikes again. Incidentally, doesn’t Loaf-face sound like the ‘Gap Yah’ guy? It’s not just me, right? Right…? Then he gets pissy with Susan Kramer, as you do. Maybe he’ll chunder all over her.

Owen Paterson isn’t going to take this lying down. He’s already machine-gunned statistics at a terrified audience – time to put his mastery of cliches into action. It’s all Labour’s fault! The mess Labour made! Labour trashed the economy! Even the audience is getting sick of it by this point, groaning out a decisive boo, and they already looked pretty sickly to begin with what with the drug problems and all.

A question arises on ISIS/ISIL/IS/DoYouReallyLikeItIsItIsItWicked, and Owen is already off pointing fingers at ‘alien entities’. I’m not sure what he’s been up to since he left Cabinet, hopefully it’s not like when Robbie Williams took some time off to go hunt UFOs in the desert. Caroline wants to rehabilitate the penitent, and Loafy doesn’t want to glam the sitch up by using the word treason. Then he says something about the Spanish Civil War because Tristram can’t resist an opportunity to be a history nerd.

Suddenly, Anthony Horowitz kicks the door down. Stop them from leaving in the first place, ffs! Dimbleby is shocked that anyone would be so blunt and just…unrambly on this programme. How dare you. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done (which also happens to be the current treatment scheme for drug users!)

Down on the wind farm

A question on benefits, and Baroness Kramer concludes that that Calais mayor woman was a right cow. Owen thinks lack of free trade is the problem, like when teachers ban kids from swapping Pokemon cards in the playground. Yeah, says Caroline Lucas, but that’s no reason to ignore immigrants drowning to death. Owen explodes and accuses her of “grotesque” distortion. He uses that word approximately 10,000 times. I am falling asleep. Meanwhile, Loaf-face drones on about whatever. I’ve given up on listening to him, unless as a sleep aid, and I’m already feeling snoozy.

One last quick question on blackouts! Are we facing a three-day week? Probably not, says Caroline, because luckily we have…guess what…wind farms! Owen snorts in derision. Pshh, the Climate Change Act. Who needs it. Caroline is indignant and plants her flag firmly on the table. Unlike nuclear, which, as you will all know if you have seen The Simpsons, is the cause of mutated three-eyed fish, you can store wind and solar – but Owen shoots back with an enraged roar. We generated so much energy that we had to turn the wind farms off! he bellows, sending Caroline flying. …Wait, hang on, you’re saying it was so effective, that we had to stop it? I thought we needed ninety thousand new wind farms, Owen! Ninety! Thousand! New! Wind! Farms! Maybe the Jolly Green Giant has had the last laugh after all.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

While Horowitz shrugs noncommittally, Loaf-face leaves us with a lovely, droning anecdote of the Stoke-on-Trent ceramics industry and Dimbleby winds up the programme pretty hastily after that. Thank you, Dimbles. For all our sakes, thank you.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 5/10

Yeasty

Lucas: 6/10

(Would rather be back in the South) East(y)

Paterson: 6/10

Beastly

Kramer: 5/10

(The Lib Dems’ poll ratings have) Decreased(y)

Horowitz: 7/10

Last but not least(y)

Nobody knows who’s on next time. It is a mystery.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #111


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Good morrow lemmings and it looks like the most wonderful time of the year has come around once more. That’s right – it’s poppy season, and everyone’s got one on their lapel despite it being not even the last week of October. It starts earlier every year, doesn’t it? Soon we’ll be fully emersed in the Poppy Wars, where politicians try to out-poppy each other by pinning bigger and bigger paper flowers to every inch of their bodies in an attempt to be the most sincere.

Anyway, as you may have noticed, the Big Man has come to town. Actually, several big men. Alex Salmond’s admission that he may be getting back into the ring of Westminster politics was headline news, but Len McCluskey was also on hand to metaphorically punch his enemies into the stratosphere. All standard for a Liverpool edition of QT. Let’s do this shizzle.

This is a local panel for local people. There’s nothing for you here

Dimbleby starts us off by addressing a cameraman who’s wandered behind the stage, and then leads on to a question about life sentences.

Alex Salmond isn’t here to talk about this. It’s England’s fault, wotevs. So we move on, knowing that Alex’s time in the sun will come (on this particular edition I mean, since he’s been basically everywhere the past two years – I’ve got Salmond fatigue/Salmondella). Meanwhile in the blue corner is Mark Harper, who is clearly doing this show as a punishment for sinning in a former life. He simply must have got in trouble somewhere along the line – maybe he accidentally kicked Michael Gove’s dog – because no Tory with half a survival instinct would willingly go on a Liverpool Question Time. Five seconds off the starting gun and he already looks like he’s about to pee himself. I mean, for goodness’ sake, he’s the minister for disabled people and he’s being trotted out immediately after ol’ Freudy put his foot in his mouth! But ah, what the hell, that was one whole week ago. Everyone’s got over it now, right? Well apparently so because it doesn’t get brought up once. The cosmic ballet goes on.

His trundling dullness is interrupted by Louise Bours. Life should mean life, she says. Okay, the audience nods along. Nod. Nod. Nod nod nod. N- wait, what the hell did you just say? Bringing back capital punishment? I turn up the volume on iPlayer because things have suddenly got a whole lot livelier. The audience is groaning! Louise is struggling to be heard! Kill a cop, get your head chopped off!

“Is that UKIP policy?” Caroline Flint asks, baffled. Louise responds excellently. UKIP don’t have a policy. And the crowd goes wild! This is great fun.

The next question is even more fun. It’s about Hezza lamenting the state of the North and London trampling all over it. Len McCluskey’s ready for this one. He was born ready. We need regional banks! Regional jobs and growth! There’s money but the dirty Londoners are sitting on it having cocktail parties. The Tories don’t understand because “there are no Tories north of Birmingham”. This gets a predictably ecstatic reaction from the crowd, including some whistles (take it off, Len!) and Mark continues to pee himself. He does his best, pointing out that Len wouldn’t mind if Ed Miliband fell under a bus. Seems like the audience wouldn’t mind either. Mark valiantly rattles off some statistics but what he really needs to do is bring out his owl.

Caroline agrees with Hezza, unlike those mean old Tories – ignore the fact that Tarzan is also a Tory. “Mark is living in fantasy land”, she says, and then a member of the audience echoes her: “you’re living in cloud-cuckoo land!” This is quickly turning into the gang-up-on-Mark Harper show and it’s only about to get worse for him.

“The Labour Party doesn’t have an economic plan!” he squeaks (Mark, please speak up, I can barely hear you). Then he gets thrown into the dumpster by King of the School Alex, who proposes we run over George Osborne instead. More applauding. Gosh, this is a worryingly violent programme.

Louise smooths over her earlier brush with unpopularity by supporting “true localism”, health workers on boards etc, which is nice I guess but then she gets steamrolled by the audience, who appear to be preparing to join Len in storming the government and unleashing the glorious revolution. Len’s on a roll now: he only needs yell the words ‘zero hours’ and a great wave of emotion rolls across the studio drowning all in its wake. Alex suggests Liverpool and Scotland skip off into the sunset together. This is beautiful. I’m having a great time watching this, although I do feel a bit sorry for poor Mark.

I’m never gonna dance again (though Alex Salmond apparently will)

Next question: it’s the election-winning issue, the NHS! Out of nowhere Louise turns into a killer robot. Destroy all managers. Destroy all managers. No, we need health and social care brought together! says Caroline. She’s not letting Dimbleby interrupt her, she’s roundhouse kicking all who stand in her way no matter what the question and/or answer actually is. DESTROY ALL MANAGERS, blasts Louise.

Mark now comes to the crux of the matter. The report vindicates us, he says, and we need a strong economy to achieve a strong NHS. Mark, for a small, shining moment, believes he’s on top of this one, but then he gets pushed in the lockers by Big Alex again. It’s almost sad. Caroline is enjoying watching Owl Man get beaten up. She doesn’t even need to intervene. Just lie back and enjoy the bloodbath.

Len’s leading his troops – let’s get the elite to pay their taxes! Yeah! Just grab ‘em in the street and steal their wallets. The audience wolf-whistles their approval and for a moment I’m scared Len really will start taking it all off. Alex and Len then share an intimate moment of mutually gazing at each other. The saxophone solo from Careless Whisper plays sexily in the background. This edition of QT is too much for me. I’m literally dabbing my sweaty forehead right now.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Nite Owl bristles at Len’s accusation that he’s posh. How dare you call me posh. I’ll tell you whose fault it is, it’s Labou- DESTROY ALL MANAGERS! comes the cry from…the audience? Oh.

Then Alex drops the bombshell covered in the opening paragraph. Maybe Liverpool can adopt him? He’s certainly tried to adopt Liverpool.

I could only think of two bold headline thingies

Final question is on Scotland and whether they’ve been given the middle finger or not. Caroline says yes, Mark says no. All pretty standard. What does Alex think? Could he possibly be a little bitter? Surely not! He does, however, come out in favour of Liverpudlian votes for Liverpudlian people, and disses the “three amigos” that make up the world’s worst boyband – Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. All popular with the audience, as is Len’s admission of “positive neutrality”. Louise crests the wave by gleefully continuing Alex’s diss verse. Things have gotten out of hand again. Time for Dimbles to wrap it up.

One thing’s for certain though: this debate ain’t ovah, although I think Mark has finally finished weeing himself.

Time for the scores!

Salmond: 7/10

Here’s (Alex!!)

Harper: 4/10

(Almost broke out in) Tears

Flint: 6/10

(About average level with her) Peers

Bours: 5/10

(Unlike ol’ Nige, not someone you’d want to have a couple of) Beers (with)

McCluskey: 8/10

Fierce (shut up that rhymes)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Exploring new) Frontiers (for the coming revolution)

Next week has that fountain of charisma Tristram Hunt, and hopefully a crowd full of angry teachers.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #110


qt 110

Good morrow lemmings and this week we’re in Newbury! Despite this there are sadly no references to the nearby Greenham Common which I could have made an amusing ‘shop out of. Oh well. We’d best get stuck in.

Jeremy Hunt’s NHS pin: secretly a ninja shuriken used to dispatch his enemies

Can Dave pull an emergency brake on immigration? Well, I don’t know, but let’s ask the fine folks of the panel. Angela Eagle is first up and, as she shakes her head ruefully, I rub my hands in anticipation of her performance. If you closely watched last month’s Labour conference like a complete nerd (aka like me), you’ll know that she was an effective, funny chair during the debates/speeches/general flailing and panicking, and as such I was expecting great things from her.

I was let down. It’ll become apparent why later, but let it be known that I’m so betrayed that I’ll never love another human being again.

Anyway, for now she’s just shaking her head at Jeremy Hunt and sighing. Net migration is the same as it was in the beginning of the Parliament apparently, and ol’ Cammers has been a complete dodo in Europe. Remember when the cool Eurokids dissed him by going off in their own little gang and not letting him in the treehouse? It basically became the ‘No Daves club’. (“But you let in David Glumplich!” “It’s no Daves. We’re only allowed to have one.”)

Jeremy disagrees the only way he knows how – terrifyingly. If anyone can do it, it’s ARE DAVE, he slurps. Thank you Dave for my Chinese wife. I’m not sure this is relevant, Jeremy, but he gets away with it because Jeremy gets away with everything. He may well be the luckiest and/or slipperiest man in Parliament, and I strongly suspect he oils himself down every morning so he can pencil-roll along the corridors at top speed and knock down dawdling Labour MPs in a game of human ten-pin bowling.

He’s even wearing an NHS pin on his lapel, so you know how sincere he is, and is doing his best ‘mild, constipated with truthiness’ voice. This is undermined slightly by the fact that occasionally his eyes widen even further apart than they already are (a trait he shares with a certain Ed Balls) and bore a smoking hole in the direction of his next victim. He’s a true believer, that’s for sure, absolutely confident that The Plan is good, The Plan is working, all hail the great Plan, and how dare you assume I’m one of those people that admitted to having no idea what the hell Andrew Lansley was smoking when he put together the Health and Social Care Act.

I must confess I’m somewhat scared of Jeremy.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Suddenly, Giles Fraser, your one cool Sunday School teacher amidst a sea of ennui, punches through the wall with a mighty cry to STOP PANDERING, aiming straight for the jugular. People from other societies enrich our society, he bellows (like my Chinese wife! nods Jeremy), and do not disagree with me FOR THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD!

Meanwhile, Menzies Campbell is playing the traditional role of ‘the sensible one who you want to patronisingly pat on the head’, which he has done on various other occasions to great success. He’s not as amazing at it as the Nice Old Man from last week, however, as Ming doesn’t look like he really understands what’s going on. Why can’t you be nice to Europe, Dave? Audience? You’re not going to get anywhere by throwing a hissy fit. The audience revolts by immediately throwing a hissy fit.

Here Stella Creasy’s evil clone speaks up – Isabel Oakeshott, best known for entrapping Vicky Pryce and probably cackling about it. She’s also third cousins with Lord Oakeshott, who you may remember as the perennial ex-Lib Dem troublemaker. Dave was crap in Europe, she says. No he wasn’t, says Jezza H. Then there’s some meaningless back and forth around this topic for five-ish minutes, none of which is very interesting apart from a lady in the audience spitting acid about her village uncontrollably expanding, which reminds me very much of the current storyline on Downton Abbey.

Where have all the nurses gone, long time passing / Where have all the nurses gone, long time ago

The next question is on the NHS, of course. Jeremy is champing at the bit to wave his pin around but Dimbleby elects to go to the non-politicians first. Isabel is all doom and gloom – the NHS can’t afford a 1% pay rise (although MPs can afford themselves one), she says, with a smirk. Something drastic has to be done, she says, with a smug. Yeah, smug is a verb now. Jeremy Hunt is staring murderously at her and if she weren’t protected by a mystical barrier of smugness I’d be in legitimate fear for her life.

Giles is on the offensive again. Everyone’s going to have to pay more taxes, and they’re going to like it. Don’t be so negative, replies Jeremy – we’ve saved the NHS, and it’s all thanks to me.

“You know nothing about nursing!”, cries a nurse. Jeremy’s wistful voice about how much he wuvs the NHS falls away and he’s back to staring. Isabel is saved, at least. Meanwhile, Angela’s got an open goal, but nursey man is hot on her tail. What about all these new nurses, is the question, but unfortunately NO! WE NEED THE OLD NURSES! is the answer. And – woman down, woman down! Angela’s on the floor. Oh, what a shame. But patience, lemmings: her humiliation isn’t over yet.

Dimbleby decides to move on, because he’s falling asleep and Isabel’s ever-widening grin has started to engulf the entire table.

A few more moans

So, the leaders’ debates. Where’s the Greens? Ah, who cares about them. They’re not polling highly, smugs Isabel. I mean, how are you supposed to become popular unless you’re relentlessly invited on to Question Time panels? Hey, here’s an idea, Respect have an MP, let’s put George Galloway in the debates! What could possibly go wrong? (Can you imagine? You’d only have a smoking crater by the end of it.)

Dave is “up for it”, says Jezza. It won’t be a Punch and Judy show. (Also, look audience man – PMQs isn’t ‘increasingly’ ridiculous, it’s been that way since the 60s. Trust me, I’m a scholarist.) Then Giles metaphorically punches him in the face again. Appropriate for a Punch and Judy show! Wow Giles, maybe calm down a little.

Funnily enough, not much time is spent mulling over the plight of the Greens, as people want to move on to diss Lord Freud’s Freudian slip. And this is where Angela’s troubles truly begin.

“Resign!” demands Angela.
No, don’t, people yell back.
Now she’s yelling at them.
Now they’re yelling even more at her. She’s been playing political football/jumping on the bandwagon/drowning puppies/take your pick. It’s not a good look for a politician to be so relentlessly dismissed. It seems impossible, but Freudy appears to have gotten away with it. Angela, let it go. Let it go. Don’t hold it back any more.

It finally takes Giles to calm everyone down again, which considering he’s been firing on all cylinders for the rest of the programme is quite remarkable. Now we can all listen to Ming the Merciless’s snoozy voice to soothe us off to sleep once more. “He’s on probation,” apparently, but all that means is a naughty finger wagging if it comes from Mingity-Ming. At least Lord Freud’s not on Jeremy’s shit list. You’d be better off dead than there – caught in his line of sight, staring, forever.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 5/10

Leery

Eagle: 3/10

(The reaction to her was) Jeery

Campbell: 5/10

(Surprisingly) Cheery

Oakeshott: 4/10

Sneery

Fraser: 8/10

(More than he first) Appear(…ed…y)

The Crowd: 6/10

Sincere…y?

Len McCluskey’s going to pick some serious fights next time, so that should be fun, I guess?

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #109


qt 109

Good morrow lemmings and it seems that the rapture has come at last. By the time you read this we will most likely be in full swing of The Kippening. How will the world keep turning with its first UKIP MP? It is a time of desolation, chaos, and uncertainty. Brother pitted against brother. Babies having babies.

The end is nigh. Or perhaps, it is merely…the beginning? Or somewhere around the middle or something. I don’t know. Here’s Questionable Time, live and alive from Clacton, high five!

Chasing Carswell

Dimbles has exchanged his pink shark tie for his turquoise frog tie, and reminds us that another by-election is also happening, but since that won’t be referenced any time later in the show that doesn’t matter. The first question is about UKIP, of course, and nobody cares exactly how it’s worded as they’ll use it as a stepping stone to discuss absolutely everything relating to UKIP for the majority of the programme.

Harriet Harman, that QT stalwart, is up first, and is trying very badly to diss the Kippers while simultaneously not pissing off the entire audience. She’s off to a rocky start but Harriet very rarely gets hit with a knockout blow in situations like these – the Labour wranglers, no doubt, often opt to shove Harriet on with her metaphorical umbrella to take shelter against the shower o’ shit during unpleasant and turbulent moments in the politisphere (and the coming of a first MP for the purple team certainly counts as one of those for the Labs.) She’s alright at keeping the umbrella aloft, even though there’s nothing you can do other than cower beneath it, if you catch my drift and I’m not spreading this metaphor too thinly.

However, what about our peachy purple representative himself? The very first response he gives gets a playful “don’t curry favour with the chair” from Dimbleby, and that ought to tell you a little about where Patrick O’Flynn is going to pitch himself. I have a strong suspicion he was a last minute replacement as all the other Kippers are out screaming on the battleground, and also because he may actually be the smarmiest man in existence next to Grant Shapps. Maybe that’s just due to the answer he’s giving, which basically boils down to a badly edited UKIP party political broadcast. Come on Patrick, now we just need the soft focus stock images of ~ordinary people~! Talk to the producers, for goodness’ sake!

No, no, that’s being unfair. It’s not a PPB, not really. They’d have to have Nigel Farage on again for that to be true.

It’s always disconcerting to hear a Yorkshire accent coming out of Eric Pickles’ ’18th century MP for Dunny-on-the-Wold’ face. Also, he sounds a little hoarse – or is that just normal? He’s oddly soft-spoken. Maybe he’s trying to entice floating ex-Tories over to his side with his charm and masculine virility. He attempts to crack a joke about hoarding Ralph Lauren scarves or whatever, but UKIP dropped that potential source of hilarity like it was hot before any comedic capital could truly be made of it. Shame, as it’s probably too ‘radical’ for a lot of Labour MPs.

(Incidentally, why does Patrick have a permanent half-smile on his face, like the Joker? Why does he sound like Jeffrey Archer? Surely UKIP have representatives that don’t terrify me stashed away somewhere, maybe at the back of a cupboard?)

Jeanette Winterson takes this opportunity to opine that if Nigel Farage died tomorrow then UKIP would die alongside him. The panel doesn’t get too excited at this prospect – they know that Nigel has already survived a plane crash and is thus unkillable. He is the Terminator. And he’s coming for your seats. (P.S.: remind me to Photoshop Nigel Farage as the Terminator the next time he’s on the panel. It must be done.)

On a side note, away from UKIP, Malcolm Bruce – the Deputy Lib Dem leader guy – has a cute Lib Dem phoenix pin. That’s all I can say about him so far. He seems like a nice old man. A little confused. A kind face. Didn’t really get angry or upset or anything other than ‘pleasant’ for the whole show. It’s…kind of soothing? Reassuring? Maybe all Question Times should include a token ‘nice old man’ to offset the shrieking and poop-slinging going on on the other side of the table.

I…I’m so conflicted. I don’t even care about his policies any more. Questionable Time, I have a confession to make: I need this man to be my new grandpa.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

“Could I ask for some clarification on the health service?” pipes up Eric, sweetly yet suddenly. He asks, with a soft, offended tone to his voice, if the health service would be broken up and sold off under UKIP rule. Perhaps Eric is unaware of the chainsaw noises and maniacal laughter routinely coming from the Department of Health, but Jeffrey Ar- I mean, Patrick O’Thingy doesn’t point it out for him. He says that UKIP want the NHS exempted from TTIP, which not even Labour has committed to, despite the fact that…Labour did commit to that. Oops.

…Wait a second, Harriet, why didn’t you jump on that like a starved and goaded monkey? Too busy holding the smelly umbrella? No, for Harriet is too busy ignoring earlier calls to avoid taking the moral high ground by…taking the moral high ground, and warning against division. Yes, let’s all be the same, and all wear tasteful giraffe jackets. It’s the best kind of freaky cultish uniform.

By this point I swear more audience members have spoken than panellists. In fact, let’s drop the panellists altogether and arrange a giant general public brawl-out, still chaired by Dimbleby. It’s what we all really want. One such eager-to-wrassle participant enters the ring with this doozy:

“If ol’ Dougy Carwizzle is re-elected,” they smartassedly smirk, “how long before a leadership election?”

Wry laughter breaks out, but Patrick is on the case. Nigel was only just re-elected and guess what – he, Patrick O’Archer himself, was his campaign manager! The sound of slurping is only drowned out by the barks of even more wry laughter. Thank the Lord we’re finally escaping this tenth circle of Hell.

Obligatory NHS screeching

The NHS and competition shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence, begins Jeanette. I mean, competition? This isn’t a school sports day sack race. Luckily, Malcolm is here to win the sack race. Here’s some extra money we won’t get to deliver, because the Liberal Democrats are doomed and feeling kinda okay about it all things considered! Mental healthcare? Well, a lot of Lib Dem MPs are going to be in need of that come 2015, do ho ho! “We’ve just had a referendum in Scotland, by the way,” he says. NO, REALLY? I HADN’T GUESSED.

Finally Eric Pickles gets another chance to speak. He says that everything is running smoothly on board the good ship Coalition, and the following conversation goes as follows.

“But what about blah and blah?” says Malcolm.
“I’ve been working with Danny Alexander on blah and blah so [flips the bird].”
“No, but we still say blah and blah.”
“Well gee I’m SORRY you’re being pissy little bastards about blah and blah! Hmph!”

There, I saved you five more minutes of your life.

Eric isn’t living in reality, says Harriet. He’s in an alternate dimension. The Picklezone. With extra ketchup. Pickles fights back and there’s a predictable NHS scuffle, being the most emotionally charged issue of them all. The solution is for big companies to pay their taxes, yells Harriet triumphantly and vaguely, and that gets a convenient round of applause to allow her to suplex Pickles and move on.

“I don’t understand why you’re obsessed by this!” boggles Pickles as he is suplexed. Jeanette then asks him six times for an answer on…something? Profits before people, people before profits, I don’t know, it all got a bit muddled in the confusion, but it was very entertaining nonetheless. Pickles got in a bit of a pickle! I bet that pun has never ever been made before!

Ebola-ing for Soup

The next question is on foreign aid, and we’ll keep this short: foreigners can suck it! yelps Patrick. Or at least corrupt governments can. But not Ebola, we need to stop Ebola or we will all definitely die horribly by the end of the week. It is known. I read it on the internet.

Harriet disagrees. Foreign aid is 100% cute as it’s less than 1% of GDP, and we shouldn’t be mean, narrow-minded, Scroogey bastards. (Like a certain purple team she could mention.) Pickles agrees with her. It’s like all their past disagreements have melted away. Aww.

What does Nice Old Man think? Well, all these foreigners are “our brothers and sisters” and we should help them and hug them close, of course! Aww, again. I’d like to hug Nice Old Man too. Jeanette joins in with the agreeing! We’re all nice people with an obligation to be nice to each other, apparently! Aww, once more!

What a lovely conclusion to a bitter opening – wait, there’s another question?!

Ah, it’s only on MPs’ wages and there’s five minutes left so you bet your sweet bippy that there won’t be any sort of deep discussion going on here. Absolutely no MP who doesn’t want to get egged, stoned, and/or tarred and feathered in the street will say they won’t take their pay rise and will shake their head vigorously at any potential increase proposed. What about MEPs’ pay, Harriet almost giggles at Patrick. The panellists try to out-frugal each other as I grumble about the lost fuzzy-cuddles ending that could have been – but then Dimbles asks how many audience members have voted, and…guess what…it’s all of them! It just goes to show that the QT audience isn’t as ‘normal’ as they’d have us believe: they’re closet political nerds too. Thank you, Saint Dimbleby, for showing us the light.

Time for the scores!

Pickles: 5/10

Befuddled

Harman: 5/10

(Standing in a) Puddle (Under her umbrella)

O’Flynn: 5/10

(In a threatening) Huddle (with the rest of the East Side Kippaz)

Bruce: 6/10

(Deserves a) Cuddle

Winterson: 6/10

Ruddle (is apparently a red ore used in dyeing and marking, yeah she was alright)

The Crowd: 7/10

TROUBLE!

Chazza Kennedy had better come covered in phoenix pins next week if he’s to keep anybody’s attention these days.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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