Questionable Time #135


qt 135

Next time: all change (?).

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #134


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Barnett formula: for dry and greasy locks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the scores!

Hague: 7/10

Cheeky

Harman: 5/10

Peaky

Nuttall: 5/10

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

Swinney: 7/10

Squeaky (wheels but thankfully didn’t crash)

Bennett: 5/10

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

The Crowd: 7/10

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

Next time: the big guns are unloaded.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #133


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

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

Please pray for Dimbleby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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

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

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

Piggy bank responsibility lock

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

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

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

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

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

Right to cry (deeply and at great length)

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

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

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

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

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

Shapps: 6/10

Sneer

Cooper: 6/10

Austere

Swinson: 6/10

Deer (caught in the headlights)

Robertson: 6/10

Veer(ing left)

Carswell: 6/10

Veer(ing right)

Moron: 5/10

(New presenter of Top) Gear(?)

The Crowd: 6/10

Jeer(ed at ’em all)

Next time: Natalie Bennett disguised as Caroline Lucas.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #132


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

Ed Milibanter

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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

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

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

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

Always use a non-dom

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

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

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

A Blair scare to raise your hair

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

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

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

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

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

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

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

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

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

She knows.

Time for the scores!

Truss: 5/10

(Up for a) Trussle Tussle

Alexander: 6/10

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

Cable: 6/10

(About to get his) Bus (pass)

Lucas: 7/10

(Eager to) Discuss (the merits of disarmament)

Stanley: 6/10

Rus(tled some feathers)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Not in the mood to) Trust

Next time: Piers Morgan. Oh God no.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #131


qt 131

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another irrelevant edition of Questionable Time! Yes, seems like nobody cares about poor lil’ QT shambling on after the big, flashy Leaders’ debates…but that’s what I’m here for, to look after the muck nobody else wants to clean up. The debates themselves were as predictable as predicted: Cameron looked foreheady, no1curr about Clegg, Nigel Farage and Leanne Wood got into a fight, Nicola Sturgeon cried for FREEEEDOM, Natalie Bennett was Australian, and Ed Miliband did okay I guess, unless you’re reading the Sun or Telegraph, in which case he shat himself on stage.

But we’ll show those popular kids and their popular kicks. Let’s have a debate of our own. Let’s Questionable Time.

Are you sitting comfortably? No neither am I

Michael Gove starts off by dissin’ Ed too, although that technically is his job. He declares that because Ed Miliband is still a geeky dork then mean old Nicola ‘n’ Alex would be able to trample all over him with their big Scottish feet. A snarky beardy man in the audience points out that the Tories didn’t even win overall in 2010 so why should we believe that a prospective Tory government would be any more stable? Gove brushes this off in a Govey way while a Scottish lady also goes in for him and Dimbleby makes strange noises.

At this point, Anime Andy Burnham makes his move. The right-wing media are being proved wrong, he says, and Ed Miliband is actually “a man full of warmth and conviction” who he’d like to snuggle and play Manic Miner with. Not for the first time this night, it sounds like he’s about to burst into tears, which he does a lot. Oh, to be a living, eyelash-fluttering manga character!

A man in audience says they’re all fake except for lovely Nigel who is definitely not an ex-banker from a public school and is a MAN OF THE PEOPLE. Apparently. Peter ‘Jeremy Clarkson is a left-wing BBC conspiracy’ Hitchens agrees, aggressively tongueing Farage’s anus. Meanwhile, Danny Alexander/Brian the snail is back (already? Wasn’t he on only a few weeks ago?) and looking increasingly baggy and fleshy. “You need to have Liberal Democrats in the mix!” he says, like they’re a winning toy/stray rusty nail (delete according to political position) in a box of Coco Pops.

Somehow this all, mainly thanks to Peter, devolves into an argument about the break-up of the UK again. I had to deal with months of QTs about this in the run up to the #indyref, please don’t let me go through this hell again.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, thankfully, interrupts to practically scream UP THE WOMEN! The wimmins in the audience predictably cheer. This is great as I have been eagerly awaiting the feminist takeover of Question Time for some time now. Yasmin continues in this vein, basically shouting G’ARN NIC’LA at every opportunity. I mean, regardless of what you think of her policies, it’s nice to have a woman (Nicola Sturgeon) on the centre political stage who looks so much like a mum on the school run, but could probably punch you out (being Scottish, after all).

I’m not sure what’s going on now. Govey Wovey hates the SNP, Yasmin doesn’t, Andy’s making faces, Peter is making exactly one face for the entire duration of the programme (a mix between constipated/vaguely annoyed/braindead), and Danny is calmly staring into the abyss of the Lib Dems losing all their seats in Scotland and most of them in England. Uh…hooray?

Then something incredible happens. The subject of a Tory-UKIP coalition gets brought up, and Michael, squirming uncomfortably in his seat, can’t rule it out. Andy pounces.

The hysteria comes loud and fast. Can’t rule it out! Can’t rule it out! “We’re listening, Michael!” Andy squeals cutely. Gove panics and says something about rainbow coalitions but by this point it’s too late. Andy Burnham has transmogrified into his unstoppably manic alter ego: ANDY BURN ‘EM. And he is possibly the best source of reaction images ever. Goveing Tree, needless to say, is not amused.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

A man in the audience sums everything up with a question on why everything is breaking apart. The answer, of course, is that YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!

Danny begins to actually answer this point but out of nowhere is interrupted by BURN ‘EM, who passionately starts to cry about collectivism. He just has a lot of feelings. Then even Gove gets #REKT by Hitchens. This isn’t a great night for the Govester! He sniffs, planning Hitchens’ method of death. Don’t worry Mike, you’ve got the entire second half of the show to make up for it…execution-style.

While Peter explains the difference between debt and deficit because, five years later, nobody still knows what they mean, and threatens to destroy both the Labour and Conservative parties in a bloody civil war (what is wrong with this man), there’s an equally absurd kerfuffle over what the hell a ‘formal’ or ‘informal’ agreement actually means. Andy struggles to make his voice heard while Gove tapdances away gleefully, because even though Labour ruled out a coalition with the scary Scots they might still play tag with them in the playground occasionally. Or whatever. This is getting so confusing that Dimbleby is now making the same face as Peter Hitchens. A worrying sign indeed. Let’s move on.

Fresh baked United Kingdom filled to the brim with jammy goodness

Is the country full? Well, Peter says yes – unless we clone Peter Hitchens, in which case things would be different around here. To summarise, immigrants are BRAVE but the EU is EVIL. Danny looks shocked and appalled. Hitchens adds another emotion to his grand arsenal: smug. However, Gove’s spirited defense of immigration seems to put the damper on a possible UKIP coalition, to the extent that Yasmin wants to hug him. Maybe they could form a coalition. Andy joins in and it’s all a big cuddlepile with Hitchens not invited to the party. Aww, this is nice. Even more coalitions!

But it can’t last forever. Andy breaks out of the cuddlepile by extremely subtly reminding us he’s werking-class with a reference to Auf Wiedersehn, Pet, and gets teary about the NHS as per usual. Dimbles sighs and has to intervene once again.

“We’re not talking about the NHS,” says he.

YES WE ARE, cries Andy, an unrepentant repeat offender of the Getting Emotional Brigade. Dimbleby reassures him that they’ve scheduled the NHS discussion for the last five minutes of the programme, but first they have to spend five minutes talking about ISIS, because both of these issues can surely be comprehensively covered in such a sumptuous amount of time.

Maybe if we didn’t spend so much time talking about debates then this wouldn’t have happened

Saudi Arabia suxxx, says Yasmin out of nowhere. And so do religious schools. Gove fights the urge to reply CALM DOWN DEAR and instead says something about spiritual nourishment. Mmmm…nourishment.

The others waffle some waffling crap but the crowd wants to know what they’ll actually do about these horrid scoundrels. Nobody knows as we only have five minutes and time is already up. Best…scheduling…ever. Next question!

Why not all work together on the NHS? Well, unimpressed audience lady, because people have very different plans for the NHS. Some people want to lovingly caress it, others want to hit it with a hammer.

Andy Burnizzle makes this exact argument to the extent that he is probably about to explode. His beautiful eyes are starting to pop out of his handsome skull as he clutches his trembling fist to his heaving breast, reinstating the main, most important point again and again: that he hates Tories. He frickin’ hates Tories. God damn does he hate them. Wait, what was the question again?

The others cycle through their equally predictable soundbites. Danny is moderately moderate and praises Holy Cleggus. Yasmin hates privatisation. Peter thinks the NHS is the only thing Labour hasn’t ruined and that they and the Tories are being squabbling babies about it. Both Andy and Michael then unite to pull a joint face of disgust. COALITION CONFIRMED?

I don’t think impressed woman was impressed, honestly.

Time for the scores!

Gove: 6/10

(Missed an open) Goal

Burnham: 8/10

Troll(in’)

Alexander: 5/10

(For whom the bell) Toll(s)

Alibhai-Brown: 6/10

(Middle of the) Poll

Hitchens: 6/10

(Had a leisurely) Stroll

The Crowd: 6/10

(On a) Roll

Next time: [inaudible screaming]

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #130


qt 130

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kiss kiss fall in love

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

“No,” says Jim Murphy.

…Oh.

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

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

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

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the scores!

Morgan: 5/10

(Run off the) Rails

Murphy: 6/10

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

Wood: 7/10

(Did it for) Wales

Woolfe: 5/10

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

Street-Porter: 5/10

(What) Ails (you, Janet?)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Wants the) Details

Next time: who even knows?

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #129


qt 129

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

Can’t budge it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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

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

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

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

Look at this beautiful bunch of bastards

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

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

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

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

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

Hice are nice

Next up, controlling rent prices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the scores!

Javid: 6/10

(Will die another) Day

Umunna: 8/10

(Did surprisingly) Okay

Williams: 5/10

(Not much to) Say

Chakravarty: 5/10

(Easy) Prey

Self: 6/10

#Slayyyy

The Crowd: 7/10

(Hear them) Bray

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

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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