Morning Lemmings. It’s going to be a super short QT Report tonight for two reasons: First off, remember how I said that last week has been completely mental? Well, somehow this week has cranked up the inexplicability by a fairly substantial number of notches. Seriously, I had moments this week where the world just stopped making sense and the only thing to do was either burst into tears or laugh like a maniac. Consequently, I’m conscious of the fact that for my own sanity I need a bit of downtime otherwise I will find myself writing a referral for my own services and talking myself into an inpatient unit. Secondly and in a rather more mundane vein, this week’s show was quite frankly crap and even if I was on top of the world right now, I’d still have trouble making much out of it. With this in mind, let us make haste and surge forth into the bowels of a rather non-episode.
Q1: Is yesterday’s riot the beginning of the public fight back against the cuts?
Q2: Are IDS’s welfare reforms an attack on welfare dependency or necessary to stop our culture of worklessness?
Q3: Is George W Bush right to say waterboarding saved UK lives? If so, does the end justify the means?
Q4: In the light of the backbench mutiny, are Labour MP’s right to back Phil Woolas?
Q5: Has the Prime Minister been spineless by putting profits before human rights in China?
In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Theresa May, Home Secretary and fashion mentalist.
Prior to the election, I wrote many a scathing report about May and I stand by them as she was truly awful, repeatedly spouting shonky slogans with precious little regard as to whether they were relevant or not. As a result, I was a little surprised to see just how calm she was last night, especially given that oiky students had just smashed up her teams HQ and she’s the one in charge of ensuring that things like that don’t happen. It turns out that I’m not alone in this assessment and others have also noticed that May has so far managed to keep quite a steady hand on the tiller at the Home Office. That’s not to say that this was a brilliant performance, but it was certainly a world away from her previous form and she managed to look like she’s actually quite comfortable in power. I’ve also noticed that she has taken to wearing a top that looks like a space suit of late (see Fig. 1) and for reasons unknown, this pleases me. So well done Theresa, I believe you are at Junction 2 of the Road to Redemption, headed south but with a moderate prospect of congestion in the near future.
An above personal par 6/10
In The Red Corner: Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Shadow Minister for Fruitiness.
You’d be surprised how much traffic I get from the search term ‘Caroline Flint hot’. Clearly, there is many a man (and possibly many a woman) who hold a torch for Ol’ Snaggletooth and I think it’s only right that she now gets to bear the moniker Shadow Minister for Fruitiness. Anyhoo, aside from such implied innuendo I must also concede that Flint did quite well last night, especially in comparison to her pre-election form. Back then, while it was always clear that she’s a very able player, her performance was usually slightly marred by an innate crotchetiness and a rush to the offensive. Now that she’s in opposition, Snaggers seems to have mellowed somewhat and appears much more able to play the long game of giving the government enough rope to hang themselves. I think some of this is slightly incidental and down to the fact that Labour don’t really have a coherent policy base at present, but a lot of it is also down to her exercising a little more restraint of late. Sure, she’ll still get a little all up in your grill when anyone has the temerity to mention Labour’s record, but there was also a smidgen of contrition when she did admit that they could have done better on benefit reform in Q2. So not bad Snaggers… You’ve come a long way and it would be nice if you and May could hook up for coffee on the Road to Redemption Services. I believe it’s just off Junction 4.
A pleasingly mellow 6/10
Diplomats can usually be divided into two categories: Your Fererro Rocher good times ambassadors (see Fig. 2) and your hard-bitten Graham Greene style shadowy instruments of nefarious statecraft. The reason why I find Cowper-Coles so interesting is that he manages to straddle both of these worlds with considerable aplomb. Take for example his name and the fact that he is referred in Bridget Jones’ Diary: The Edge of Reason (not that I’ve read it. Honest): Both of these are clearly points towards the Fererro Conjecture. But, if we take a closer look, we can also see that his postings (Afghanistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan amongst others) and some of the things he said in memos that were leaked both paint a picture of someone who is very much a sharp end sort of guy and has probably seen/done things that belong in a netherworld that few of us will ever be able to comprehend. All of this makes Sherard a very interesting man and also as it turns out, quite the QT panellist.
Of particular enjoyment last night was his ever so diplomatic chiding of the LibDems in Q1 and his sparring with Douglas Murray on the matter of waterboarding. What made it so interesting though was how understated it all was. There was no ‘on his high horse’ showboating or overuse of the ‘expert’ card, just a quiet yet assured performance that left you in absolutely no doubt that this guy really knows what he’s talking about and should be listened to. That’s a hard act to pull off, but he made it look easy, landing significant punches on other panelists whilst appearing to be totally non-threatening. So Sherard Cowper-Coles, I may disapprove of your name (as it makes keep flicking over to Firefox to make sure I’ve spelt it right), but I very much approve of your style. Have yourself an extra Rocher for your efforts.
A iron fisted yet velvet gloved 8/10
In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Clive James, TV bod of yore and notable bald man.
I really don’t know what to make of this, just in the same way that I’ve never really known what to make of Clive James. One problem I have with him is that I’ve never quite understood what it is he does. I remember that he used to be on TV on a Sunday night in some ‘slightly more highbrow than Chris Tarrent’ context, but I’ve never been able to understand why as the shows never seemed to hang together properly. Anyhoo, this was a pretty ropey performance and it also resulted in two excruciating tumbleweed moments where the audience generated a deafening silence after points that I think he intended to be funny. It was also really hard to see what his angle was as on the one hand he seemed to be playing everything for laughs (he did get the odd chuckle here and there) but yet he could suddenly flip into quite snappy and very scathing criticism (usually of Labour) in the blink of an eye. That sort of left me feeling off kilter and as a result, I could never get behind him and almost ended up feeling sorry for him which is not something I want to do when I’m watching Question Time. Love or hate, mockery or acclaim, that’s the currency I like to spend on QT and as a result, I have to award him low marks. So sorry about that Clive, but do take heart in the fact that I didn’t mark you down for baldness.
A rather sad 3/10
In The Off His Tits Corner: Douglas Murray, Neo-Con headbanger and man with a permanently raised right eyebrow.
Usually, I’m fully behind Douglas Murray appearing on QT as he’s one of my favourite baddies, embodying both way-out-there extreme views and a ‘shut up, YOU ARE WRONG’ attitude. All of this usually makes for some ace fights, some suggestion to nuke a foreign nation and some stern rebukes, all of which are fun to watch. However, there was one vital ingredient missing last night and that was a suitable sparring partner who could give as good as they got and even though Cowper-Coles wiped the floor with him, it was done in such a low-key manner that we missed out on any real fireworks. As for the other panelists both Flint and May are too familiar with how QT works and have learnt to Never Feed The Troll while Clive James was so seemingly strung out that he couldn’t rise to the challenge. And that’s a shame because shorn of his talent for generating strife, all that Murray is left with is a clutch of unpalatable views and that doesn’t exactly make for good telly. So bad luck Douglas, but fingers crossed that next time you get a more appropriate adversary. Personally speaking, I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be Gorgeous George Galloway or maybe the Ghost of Marx. Now that would be good telly.
A disappointingly neutered 3/10
The Crowd: London.
Ok London, just what in the hell is going on here? Sure, the panel’s chemistry wasn’t exactly brilliant, but at least try to make a fist of it and only a few isolated boos for Murray is just not cutting it in my book. There were a few good moments here and there and I thought it was pretty interesting that no-one was buying the tabloid Anarchy On the Streets line when it came to the student protest, but by and large, the crowd seemed to be largely mute and with the exception of a bearded guy who managed to make a point about China into a point about the Middle East, no one really seemed to get hot under the collar at all. That, frankly, is a bit of a poor show in a week when people have been taking to the streets and as a result, you are going to get low marks. You could have turned it around if you had heeded my advice from the past few weeks and inserted a bow tie wearer or two into the audience but no, you thought you were cleverer than that. Well, I’ve got news for you London, you’re not and here’s you prize for not being clever.
A largely rubbish 3/10
Well, that brings us to the end and I apologise for the brevity, but let’s face it, it was a bit of a clanger. Still, if you’ve made it this far then I am indebted to you and by way of reward I give to you another picture of Beefy. Revel in it’s majesty.
Next week, Lemmings.