Good morning Lemmings and welcome to yet another instalment of the UK’s most popular blood-sport-disguised-as-middle-brow-gum-flapping-contest, a beast that is otherwise known as Question Time. Now, despite having gorged itself senseless on topics featuring the word ‘referendum’ in the past few weeks, the monster’s appetite remains apparently undiminished and this week finds us heading north in search of fresh plebiscitary morsels. What’s that you say? You’re all referendumed out? Well too bad because we’re off to Scotland and they’ve got a whole load of crazy new referendum flavours to get your chops around. Tonight Lemmings, we dine in Stirling.
We’ll be seeing more of Hamza Yousaf…
So this is only the second QT appearance for the SNP’s Minister for External Affairs (an appointment that sounds suspiciously like ‘Minister for Guttering and Drainage’ in my book) but I’ve got to admit that this guy’s already showing some impressive form. Let’s start with the basics: First off, this guy’s got a really good QT face that hangs well off his head and naturally defaults to a look that’s just on the right side of the Relaxed/Cavalier line. That’s a big advantage from the get-go, but a face alone will only get you as far as the kettle – it won’t get the milk out of the fridge. Luckily for Yusaf, he’s had plenty of time to watch the master of the Relaxed/Cavalier line – Alex Salmond – at work and he seems to have taken plenty of notes.
Take the first question for example: This was the one on the Mid-Staffordshire Trust and he did that classic Salmond thing of pressing the right populist buttons (that whole ‘SNP as the True Defenders of the NHS Faith’ thing always seems to work quite well) but doing so without pleading or shouting. As an opener it worked a treat and he continued to rack up the points with the ‘should Huhne do time?’ question by slipping in a cheeky little dig at bankers without getting too carried away with it. So far, so good. However, the real test was the referendum question and here we saw that he’s still got a thing or two to learn from his sensei.
Clearly, this was a question from which there was no easy way out: Your party, whose reason d’être is to win independence for Scotland has finally secured a referendum yet only a quarter of Scots are behind you on leaving the Union. What gives? Now, had it been Salmond up there, we would have been treated to one of politics’ most splendid creatures – the Knowing Blag. This is where Salmond would blather some things that held no real consequence whilst giving you this look that says ‘Yeah, you know as well as I do that I’m just playing for time, but the fact that we both know makes it kind of fun doesn’t it?’ to which I’d agree and subsequently let him off the hook. Hamza’s not got that down yet and when he’s playing for time he just looks like, well – he’s playing for time. Not the best of looks, all told. Having said that though, these are minor quibbles and last night was a largely valiant effort that should cement his position as the 3rd Carpenter to Alex’s Richard and Nicola’s Karen.
On the subject of QT faces…
…Michael Moore (God’s gift to lazy photoshoppers who don’t want to think too hard about an actual premise… See Fig. 1) has a pretty unfortunate one. That’s not to say he’s bad-looking or anything, it’s just the way he scrunches up his eyes when he’s thinking really spins me out. Is he confused? Is he cross? Is he cross and confused? Is he cross at being confused? This is so confusing that it’s making me cross! Anyway, I feel sorry for him on this front as he’s actually pretty good when he finally hits his stride but that look combined with his rather halting delivery is just a little too jarring for me. It makes me scrunch up my face in a confused and cross looking manner.
I get nervous watching Brian Souter…
Ok, Question Time, I see what you did there…. It’s the week in which gay marriage is all over the news so why not get the guy who spearheaded the campaign to keep Clause 4 in Scotland on? On any given week, I’d happily get behind this logic and chuckle heartily at the inevitable carnage that would ensue unfolded but this time around? I don’t know, there’s just something a little frightening about Brian Souter. Most of it’s in the eyes: They look like they’ve seen things they shouldn’t have and can never again return to their normal state. Then there’s the twitchiness, the impromptu confession that he’d tried to get his wife to take his speeding points and the entire glass of water he chugged in a microsecond – not to mention the fact that the crowd had his number and pre-emptively shouted down any funny business before he had a chance to get busy with it. All of this says to me that Brian Souter and Trouble have history and that history has a funny habit of repeating itself. If it’s all the same to you Brian, I think I might just quietly let myself out the back before Trouble turns up…
My long thaw with Charlie Falconer continues…
We’ve never been on the same page, Lord Falconer and I. His style of delivery has always been heavy on insistence and as he was generally insisting on things I wasn’t too keen on I can’t say that it was a match made in heaven. However, over time I’ve found myself mellowing on him and while he’s still very insistent, at least he’s actually quite good at explaining things (particularly lawyerly things) while his distance from power has taken some of the sting out of his tail. One day Charlie, one day we’ll be wed…
Mary Macleod wisely followed the Four Steps to Tory Survival in Scotland…
Step 1: Make no sudden movements.
Step 2: If forced to defend anything, make sure it’s the Union.
Step 3: Conserve energy: There are no votes to be chased here.
Step 4: Don’t eat the yellow snow.
Pro tip: Buckfast isn’t actually wine.
Well done Mary, you live to fight another day.
(Squeezed his eyes together too) Tight(ly)
(Did well to stay out of) Sight
(Didn’t) Indict (Souter for crimes he failed to commit)
(Looked like he was going to throw a) White(y)
The Crowd: 7/10
(Were high as) Kite(s)?
Well, whaddayaknow? A merry little Highland Fling that made a modicum of sense despite my non-modicum of understanding for all matters Scottish. Let’s all have a referendum to celebrate!
Next week Lemmings, next week…