Archive for February, 2011

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #38


question time david dimbleby 38

Morning Lemmings and don’t say I didn’t warn you. That’s right, a couple of weeks back I mentioned that the photoshops were going to become progressively weirder and this week I am coming good on that promise. Actually, there is some method behind the madness as they didn’t announce the lineup until very late, by which time I’d had to crack on and with no subject material at hand, I plumped for sticking a massive Mr. Whippy on Dimbleby’s head. Don’t ask me why, I just work here. Silliness aside, we find ourselves in Newport this week and also sporting a very busy six seat lineup, largely on account of its Welshness and the obligatory need to shoehorn in the Plaid brigade. So without further ado let us saddle up and march towards the sound gunfire.

 

Ok, so in theory the headline act of this week should be the Welsh Secretaries of Past and Present Face Off Extraordinaire, what with Cheryl Gillan (famous mainly for claiming dog food on parliamentary expenses) representing the Conservatives and convincing Umpa Lumpa impersonator (see Fig.1) Peter Hain propping up the Labour end of things. On paper, this should have been a good match up as both should have plenty of material with which to smite the other, but in actual fact it turned out to be terminally dull as neither participant really knows where they are at the moment. In the case of Gillan this is largely due to the fact that nobody’s really got a clue who she is despite years of lingering on the peripheries of power and that her very matronly, ‘look of disapproval’ manner endears her to precisely no-one. On top of this, she’s super clumsy (like when she admitted that she doesn’t live in Wales. You might not, but for god sake don’t volunteer that information for free) and appears to only be able to hold one line of attack in her brain at one time. That’s usually excusable but when that line of attack happens to be the hackneyed ‘blame the previous Labour government/deficit for everything including the Great Fire of London, Spanish Influenza, the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby and the Fall of Singapore’ it’s just lame. Naturally, given this method’s wanton overuse (or abuse as some may say) over the past nine months, there was little love for her in Newport and rightly so as frankly she was bollocks (especially when she just flat-out refused to answer a question about the number of jobs going in the NHS).

peter hain umpa lumpa

Fig. 1

Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that Peter Hain didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either but I do have a little more sympathy for his plight as I don’t think it was due to any pathological personality flaw, but more a by-product of not knowing who he is at the moment. Ok, so he is in the shadow cabinet but the feeling you get from him is that he’s not quite sure what side he’s batting for: Does he defend Blair despite their frequent fall outs or does he hitch his wagon to the new boys in town despite the fact that they really don’t seem to give two hoots about him? A conundrum indeed. On the show, he tried to straddle both these positions but the upshot of all this was a very jerky and skittish performance where he kept tripping himself up and being lured into entirely avoidable ambushes (like the ludicrous ‘we wouldn’t sell them weapons again’ line. Sorry Peter, but you deserved your licks on that one) that made him look like a right kipper. Granted, he wasn’t as awful as Gillan and I do have a slight soft spot for him but his finest hour this was not. So Peter, I’m sorry to say that you are destined to continue wandering in the political wilderness like a lost antelope just waiting to be mauled by a pack of lions. How tragic nature is….

 

Completing our Westminster trio we have the ever elemental Shirley Williams who at her best is like one of those majestic autumn gales that sweeps in from the south west in a dramatic and not-to-be-messed with fashion. However, now that she’s got to pay lip service (or at least-biting-her-lip service) to the coalition she seems much less like a thunder laden force 9 and more like a damp squall which can’t work out which way she’s supposed to be blowing. You could see that there were times when she really wanted to let rip and batter some sea walls with a good old-fashioned 6 foot swell (like when she looked like she might have a proper go at the NHS reforms), but the circumstances of her situation seemed to make her pull her punches and we were left with a drizzly mélange of worthy intentions nixed by an unhappy reality, all of which is a shame because I do like it when she cranks that Beaufort to scale up to the double figures.

 

Our final political candidate this week is the ever avuncular and reassuringly ordinary Elfyn Llwyd whose name is still causing me to use google autocomplete as a spellchecker despite repeated appearances on Question Time. Out of all the party bods on the show, Elfyn clearly carried the day, largely by being the only voice of dissent that didn’t sound like a rat being rubbed against a cheese grater (JSP, I’m looking at you) and generally holding positions that are a million miles away from Westminster. Ok, so I kind of zoned out when it all got very Welsh but by and large he was like an old but well maintained diesel locomotive: Reliable, endearing and with the ability to conjure up memories of a simpler and happier time. Also like a locomotive, he’s utterly relentless but without being arsey with it and that’s quite a trick to pull. So well done Elfyn, this might not have been your best performance to date but it certainly blew the competition out of the water.

 

All of which leaves us with the two non-politicals, Fraser Nelson and Janet Street-Porter. The first thing that struck me about Nelson was how much he looks like the product of a diabolic and probably drunken one night stand between Douglas Murray and Niall Ferguson. Luckily for him, he seems to have escaped inheriting Ferguson’s arrogance or Murray’s flat-out madness and generally speaking, he seemed OK-ish, even if his politics aren’t my cup of tea. Also, kudos to him for being honest about not giving a toss when it comes to a Welsh referendum and further plaudits for his line about teenagers, car keys and bottles of whiskey. That was pretty good for an otherwise generally humourless episode. Speaking of humourless, next up is JSP who sets my nerves a-jangling the moment I lay eyes on her. While I’m inclined to put some of this down to the fact that her answers were all over the place (one minute she’s spitting feathers at possible NHS cuts, the next she’s tilting at the windmills of local government pay scales) the truth is that just listening to her is akin to being assaulted by an army of drunken cats wielding bagpipes and angle grinders. I’d like to write a bit more about what she actually said I can’t because every time she opened her mouth I found myself too busy fighting the urge to tear my own ears off to take any notes. So let us not dwell on this unhappy interlude and move swiftly on to the crowd who at least managed to make the Libya question slightly more exciting than the one on Egypt a few weeks back. They also got fairly boisterous at the end when Gillan tried (and failed spectacularly) at dodging the jobs cut question and I’m more than happy to award an extra mark for the name of the poser of the child poverty question, Sarah Chicken. Admittedly, they could have garnered a full extra 10 points if she had looked and acted a little more like a chicken but still, a point’s a point right?

 

Tl;dr

 

Gillan: _

2/10

 

Hain: :-(

4/10

 

Williams: :-/

5/10

 

Llwyd: :-)

7/10

 

Nelson: :-}

5/10

 

Street-Porter: :-s

3/10

 

Right, that’s all you’re getting. Sorry it seems a little rushed this week but there was a lot of them on the show and I’m supposed to be at a works do so time has been of the essence. However, I can just about find the time to engage in my bi-annual and largely futile plea to follow my Post Question Time Reports on either Twitter or Facebook (or both if you’re a true masochist). I can pretty much promise you now that you won’t get much of a return on your investment as I still harbour a visceral hatred for Twitter (what with all it’s #’s and @’s and general sense of smugness) but what the hell, it’ll pad out the numbers a bit. Oh, and before I forget, there will be no Match Report next week as I’m going on holiday (properly this time…. unlike last weeks flaky ‘lets call it a holiday and hope no-one notices’ stunt). That’s right, I got fed up with sub-zero temperatures, brutalistic concrete architecture and a pervading sense of grimness so I booked a flight to… Poland! Say what you want about me but I sure know how to holiday.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Loudribs Lack Of Gumption Corner #3


Morning Lemmings and apologies for the Lack of Gumption but I have unilaterally declared it to be half-term. Basically, I’m knackered and although I watched the show last night, I can’t quite muster the energy to keep my brain switched on for a further three hours. Should you be looking for someone to blame for this sorry state of affairs, may I suggest that you start at the door of Eric Pickles and take it from there. A word of warning though: Take a thermos and a folding chair as I’m sure there will be a queue of disgruntled and possibly pitchfork wielding local government/voluntary sector workers whose lives he’s just monumentally buggered up.

 

Bitterness aside, you can take solace in the fact that you won’t be walking away from this post completely empty handed as I did manage to prepare a brand new Farage gif in expectation of damn good Faraging. Behold, more animated Farage!

nigel-farage-gif

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #37


question time 37

Morning Lemmings and a word of warning: From here on in the photoshops are going to start getting really weird. Think about it this way… I’ve been doing this for about a year and as has become apparent, Question Time is littered with repeat offenders (Dianne Abbott, I’m looking at you) who seem to be on every other week. As a result, I’ve pretty much scoured Google Images in its entirety for fresh raw materials with which to poke topical fun at the great and the good, but it has become clear that this seam has been mined to the point of exhaustion and I will have to fall back on the absurd to make ends meet. I blame Labour. I wouldn’t have had to make these cuts if they hadn’t been running up such an astronomical Google Images deficit in the good times and clearly we don’t want this blog to go the way of Greece, Spain or Ireland. This is me taking us out of the Danger Zone.

 

Anyhoo, on to the show which this week (for the most part) seemed to have been filmed two years ago in an era where old certainties held true and our heads were not spinning from the unpredictabilities of coalition. In many ways, it was like the Cold War but with slightly different belligerents, full Technicolor and a very different outcome. Allow me to explain.

 

First in our trip down Memory Lane is Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who by rights should be playing the role of post-war America (confident, powerful and marching to the beat of inexorable progress) but is, in actual fact, now portraying the sorry vision of Hoover era America (unsteady, insular and without a song in its heart). He got the ball rolling by falling back on some good old Tory Values of Yore with the prisoners question and lost little time in throwing round words like “repugnant” before doing his best to divest himself of any substance when it came to multiculturalism. After this less than promising start, he then collapsed into a fug of isolationism as he toed the current Western line on Egypt (‘complex stuff, best not rock the boat and all that’), all of which ultimately amounted to very little. Little did he know that he was about to get hit by his own personal Great Depression, but a little more on that later.

 

Next up we have Jacqui Smith, filling the shoes of an increasingly warped, probably-evil and definitely mad dictatorship who has just lost its patron state. Think North Korea or Albania. Again, she seemed to be still rooted firmly in the past, believed she was still Home Secretary and capitalised handsomely on the opportunity to remind us of all the things we didn’t like about Labour by getting all ‘tuff on crime’ when it came to prisoners, muddying the waters with a bucket of terrorism on the multicultural question and then pretty much sidestepping Egypt in the same way Maude did, all of which was crap. Again though, there was drama just around the corner, but be patient… we’ll get to that soon.

 

Last on the list of our Cold Warriors is Menzies Campbell who, by all appearances, has been asleep since last April and has to yet to be informed that his party is in government with the Tories. This is probably for the best as I can only imagine what he’d like to do to Nick Clegg if he ever found out what he’s been up to of late (see Fig.1) and given his advancing years, I’m not sure if that would be good for his blood pressure. In this scenario, Ming takes the role of the out-there, edgy, and possibly-progressive regime that fires up the spirits of young revolutionaries everywhere, sort of like an only-just-post-revolution Cuba or Nicaragua just after Somoza fell. Hoisting the banner of Liberty, Ming took to the barricades on the prisoners issue, staunchly defended multiculturalism and at least venturing a solid opinion on Egypt, all of which reminded us why we used to like the Liberal Democrats and made me positively yearn for the days when wouldn’t even dare dream of power.

 

Fig. 1

More on him later, but as we all know, a Cold War needs an ideological struggle to underpin the narrative and aptly fulfilling this need are Mehdi Hasan, our alternate history’s Rabid Pinko Commie and Douglas Murray, our Pig Dog Capitalist Lacky. Now, these guys were much more fun than the geopolitical players and were at each others throats when ever the opportunity presented itself. For the most part, Hassan emerged the victor as he managed to maintain sufficient anger to come across as passionate, but keeping it just about in check enough to stop him looking like a nutter (something which has dragged down his score in past episodes). Murray, on the hand, actually looked quite ill and a little dishevelled, but if he was feeling worse for wear, that didn’t stop him from coming out all guns blazing. The best bit was on the multiculturalism question where Murray kicked off by regurgitating an article he had written for the Wall Street Journal this week and generally damned the whole concept to hell and back. This drew a fair bit of applause, but he was then given the beat down by a pissed off Hasan who invoked the spectre of Nick Griffin and garnered an even louder round of claps. This went back and forth for a bit but eventually ended in almighty kerfuffle that Dimbers was forced to break up with assertive use of the word “Order!”. That’s some good Question Timing right there.

 

Now, as I said earlier, this Cold War had a slightly different conclusion from the one we know and love in that it went nuclear. Up until the last question, I had written off this episode as a bit of a damp squib, but everything changed when the voluntary sector cuts question turned up. This happens to be a subject close to my heart (or maybe a subject close to giving me a heart attack) right now as I work in the voluntary sector. If I get enough time and summon the will, I might write a piece about it in the near future, but for the time being, all you need to know is that we are in the middle of a genuine and frankly terrifying crisis at the moment. I won’t go into it now, but trust me when I say that things are not good. Anyhoo, back to the point:

 

It all started inauspiciously enough with Murray using the question as an excuse to bash the lazy and feckless around the chops while Smith used it as excuse to reel off a list of past Labour policies that no-one gives two hoots about any more. Then it came to Francis Maude and the first glimpse of a mushroom cloud hove into view as he blamed everything on Labour. Boom. That was it. The crowd, who had already been quite volatile got to the point of criticality and absolutely exploded. Hands down, this was the biggest boo-fest of the current run and despite some counter-booing from a few section of the audience, Maude was right at Ground Zero. Things got even worse when a psychotherapist set off some secondary explosions while Murray did his best to stoke the inferno by accusing the nation of being “morally obese”, further exacerbating the situation and forcing Dimbers to wade in again and break it all up. Despite his best efforts, the firestorm raged on and when the show ended, it seemed certain that we had been plunged into a nuclear winter for the next decade. Now that’s rattling good history.

 

TL:DR

 

Maude: 3/10

Should have ducked and covered.

 

Smith: 2/10

Should give up.

 

Campbell: 8/10

Looks like the skeleton from the Scotch Video Tape adverts.

 

Hasan: 8/10

Played a good Che Guevara

 

Murray: 6/10

Played a good Donald Rumsfeld

 

Bristol: 8/10

Appears to be made of plutonium

 

OK, that’s it. I’m absolutely knackered for reasons pertaining to the last question on the show and need to do something mindless. Time to fire up Just Cause 2 I think…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Morning Lemmings and a word of warning: From here on in the photoshops are going to start getting really weird. Think about it this way… I’ve been doing this for about a year and as has become apparent, Question Time is littered with repeat offenders (Dianne Abbott, I’m looking at you) who seem to be on every other week. As a result, I’ve pretty much scoured Google Images in it’s entirety for fresh raw materials with which to poke topical fun at the great and the good, but it has become clear that this seam has been mined to the point of exhaustion and I will have to fall back on the absurd to make ends meet. I blame Labour. I wouldn’t have had to make these cuts if they hadn’t been running up such an astronomical Google Images deficit in the good times and clearly we don’t want this blog to go the way of Greece, Spain or Ireland. This is me taking us out of the Danger Zone.

 

Anyhoo, on to the show which this week (for the most part) seemed to have been filmed two years ago in an era where old certainties held true and our heads were not spinning from the unpredictabilities of coalition. In many ways, it was like the Cold War but with slightly different belligerents, full Technicolor and a very different outcome. Allow me to explain.

 

First in our trip down Memory Lane is Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who by rights should be playing the role of post-war America (confident, powerful and marching to the beat of inexorable progress) but is, in actual fact, now portraying the sorry vision of Hoover era America (unsteady, insular and without a song in it’s heart). He got the ball rolling by falling back on some good old Tory Values of Yore with the prisoners question and lost little time in throwing round words like “repugnant” before doing his best to divest himself of any substance when it came to multiculturalism. After this less than promising start, he then collapsed into a fug of isolationism as he toed the current Western line on Egypt (‘complex stuff, best not rock the boat and all that’), all of which ultimately amounted to very little. Little did he know that he was about to get hit by his own personal Great Depression, but a little more on that later.

 

Next up we have Jacqui Smith, filling the shoes of an increasingly warped, probably-evil and definitely mad dictatorship who has just lost it’s patron state. Think North Korea or Albania. Again, she seemed to be still rooted firmly in the past, believed she was still Home Secretary and capitalised handsomely on the opportunity to remind us of all the things we didn’t like about Labour by getting all ‘tuff on crime’ when it came to prisoners, muddying the waters with a bucket of terrorism on the multicultural question and then pretty much sidestepping Egypt in the same way Maude did, all of which was crap. Again though, there was drama just around the corner, but be patient… we’ll get to that soon.

 

Last on the list of our Cold Warriors is Menzies Campbell who, by all appearances, has been asleep since last April and has to yet to be informed that his party is in government with the Tories. This is probably for the best as I can only imagine what he’d like to do to Nick Clegg if he ever found out what he’s been up to of late (see Fig.1) and given his advancing years, I’m not sure if that would be good for his blood pressure. In this scenario, Ming takes the role of the out-there, edgy, and possibly-progressive regime that fires up the spirits of young revolutionaries everywhere, sort of like an only-just-post-revolution Cuba or Nicaragua just after Somoza fell. Hoisting the banner of Liberty, Ming took to the barricades on the prisoners issue, staunchly defended multiculturalism and at least venturing a solid opinion on Egypt, all of which reminded us why we used to like the Liberal Democrats and made me positively yearn for the days when wouldn’t even dare dream of power.

 

More on him later, but as we all know, a Cold War needs an ideological struggle to underpin the narrative and aptly fulfilling this need are Mehdi Hasan, our alternate history’s Rabid Pinko Commie and Douglas Murray, our Pig Dog Capitalist Lacky. Now, these guys were much more fun than the geopolitical players and were at each others throats when ever the opportunity presented itself. For the most part, Hassan emerged the victor as he managed to maintain sufficient anger to come across as passionate, but keeping it just about in check enough to stop him looking like a nutter (something which has dragged down his score in past episodes). Murray, on the hand, actually looked quite ill and a little dishevelled, but if he was feeling worse for wear, that didn’t stop him from coming out all guns blazing. The best bit was on the multiculturalism question where Murray kicked off by regurgitating an article he had written for the Wall Street Journal this week and generally damned the whole concept to hell and back. This drew a fair bit of applause, but he was then given the beat down by a pissed off Hasan who invoked the spectre of Nick Griffin and garnered an even louder round of claps. This went back and forth for a bit but eventually ended in almighty kerfuffle that Dimbers was forced to break up with assertive use of the word “Order!”. That’s some good Question Timing right there.

 

Now, as I said earlier, this Cold War had a slightly different conclusion from the one we know and love in that it went nuclear. Up until the last question, I had written off this episode as a bit of a damp squib, but everything changed when the voluntary sector cuts question turned up. This happens to be a subject close to my heart (or maybe a subject close to giving me a heart attack) right now as I work in the voluntary sector. If I get enough time and summon the will, I might write a piece about it in the near future, but for the time being, all you need to know is that we are in the middle of a genuine and frankly terrifying crisis at the moment. I won’t go into it now, but trust me when I say that things are not good. Anyhoo, back to the point:

 

It all started inauspiciously enough with Murray using the question as an excuse to bash the lazy and feckless around the chops while Smith used it as excuse to reel off a list of past Labour policies that no-one gives two hoots about any more. Then it came to Francis Maude and the first glimpse of a mushroom cloud hove into view as he blamed everything on Labour. Boom. That was it. The crowd, who had already been quite volatile got to the point of criticality and absolutely exploded. Hands down, this was the biggest boo-fest of the current run and despite some counter-booing from a few section of the audience, Maude was right at Ground Zero. Things got even worse when a psychotherapist set off some secondary explosions while Murray did his best to stoke the inferno by accusing the nation of being “morally obese”, further exacerbating the situation and forcing Dimbers to wade in again and break it all up. Despite his best efforts, the firestorm raged on and when the show ended, it seemed certain that we had been plunged into a nuclear winter for the next decade. Now that’s rattling good history.

 

TL:DR

 

Maude: 3/10

Should have ducked and covered.

 

Smith: 2/10

Should give up.

 

Campbell: 8/10

Looks like the skeleton from the Scotch Video Tape adverts.

 

Hasan: 8/10

Played a good Che Guevara

 

Murray: 6/10

Played a good Donald Rumsfeld

 

Bristol: 8/10

Appears to be made of plutonium

 

OK, that’s it. I’m absolutely knackered for reasons pertaining to the last question on the show and need to do something mindless. Time to fire up Just Cause 2 I think…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #36


Question Time 36 Dimbleby Burnham Beards

Morning Lemmings and apologies in advance for the inevitable typos that are going to occur. My excuse is solid: My living room has been over-run by cackling harridans who are intending to watch Eclipse, which I believe is part of the Twilight Trilogy of Toss. Now, I’ve had my share of pain and discomfort in life. I’ve survived dengue fever, been held hostage and once sat through an entire episode of Hollyoaks (true story!), but I have to draw the line somewhere and right now, that somewhere happens to be anywhere even remotely related to Twilight. As a result, I have gone into self-imposed exile in the bedroom and am using my netbook to write this week’s Question Time Report… my netbook who’s keyboard was obviously designed for the hands of a tiny infant. Consequently, I’m expecting typos to flourish with wild abandon and make no apologies for this turn of events. If you were in my shoes, you’d do exactly the same. Right, on to the show.

 

Ok, so first up on last night’s show we had Damian Green, Minister of State for Immigration and the sole representative of the coalition present. Now, I’ve got a little bit of a soft spot for Green as he comes across as quite affable, doesn’t tend to say things that are too crazy and generally seems like an alright kind of guy. Like most of the panel, he spent most of the Egypt question conducting a grand exercise in fence-sitting (‘I just LOVE freedom and all that but let’s not get too carried away now’) and mostly pulled it off, hedging his bets without looking like he was downright evading the question. So far, so good. However, it all started going a bit pear-shaped when the matter of the coalition selling off all our forests came up. Clearly, this is a half-baked policy that will get itself a damned good u-turning in the weeks ahead, but since it’s not yet been through that rather undignified process he had little option but to defend the indefensible. Unfortunately for Green, I don’t think Christ himself could have assuaged the crowd’s lust for blood and he was battered about from all sides, mangling his words as he desperately tried to cling to whatever gossamer thin lifeline his lackies had provided him with prior to the show. It didn’t work and he ended up looking thoroughly bruised by the encounter. The following question on Lord Carlisle’s terror quotes provided a brief respite and he went straight back into fence-sitting mode with an extended version of the ‘it’s complicated’ defense, but by-and-large got away with it. However, this reprieve was short-lived and before long, he was back on the ropes, this time trying to explain the unexplainable in the form of the Big Society. Unfortunately, no one bought this and he finished the show looking thoroughly roughed up. All of the above sounds pretty bad, but I’m inclined to cut him a bit of slack as he was in the unenviable position of trying to make some of the most ill-conceived policies in modern history sound like they weren’t entirely made of crazy. Although he might not have achieved this end, he at least managed to not look like a complete prat and that’s no small feat, given the context.

 

Next in line we have Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Health. Now, before we get stuck into his performance, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to mention for quite some time: Burnham should grow a beard. Every time I see him on TV, he’s got this amazing 5 o’clock shadow that points towards the potential for some truly regal facial growth. I’ve even gone to the trouble of mocking up how he may appear by adding my own beard to his face (and Dimbers’) in this weeks title picture, a process that left me feeling a little weird, but there you go. As you can see, it clearly suits him and it is my opinion that if he had gone into the Labour leadership contest sporting a full, grizzly facial mane he would now be Leader of the Opposition.

Anyhoo, back to the show. Much like Green, Burnham chose to tackle the thorny issues of both Egypt and domestic terrorism by firmly planting himself on the middle of the fence but didn’t do it quite so well, largely because Green seems capable of looking quite comfortable whilst precariously perched while Burnham keeps having to shift his weight by babbling quite a lot in order to avoid crashing to earth. This manifested in his claims to LOVE freedom (Green got away with only LOVING freedom… just caps, no bold type) and it gave the impression that he was playing for time. However, he did find his stride later on with the forests question (despite getting caught out on Labour’s own record of forest sales) and especially in the Big Society car-crash where he got very Liverpool about things and looked like that might actually have some genuine anger building in him. Given the mood of the audience, this was received with open arms and it is tempting to say that he emerged the political victor. However, I am inclined to knock a point off as it was essentially like shooting fish in barrel whilst Green’s task was on a par with President Ahmadinejad trying to appear all nonchalant and groovy with everything at a Pride march. Not bad though.

Moving on, we have the Terrible Twins, Claire Short and Melanie Phillips, effectively cancelling each other out on all matters Egypt and terrorism (Claire Short sees your “Londonistan” and raises you a “don’t get rid of freedom to protect freedom”!). Now, both of these two have the potential to be annoying, but I must say that neither really wound me up. Granted, the bar is very low for Phillips as I’ve built up a rather worrying tolerance for her absolutely batshit crazy views and bulging eyed method of delivery, but by her own standards, she wasn’t as bad as she could have been. Ok, so by any other measure, that’s still pretty bad and it was uncomfortable enough for me to run this weeks topical pshop (see Fig.1) without feeling guilty, but it could have been worse and lets face it, watching her dig the knife into the nearest Tory present when it came to forests and Big Society was bloody good fun.

Melanie Phillips Fuckwit Opinions

Fig. 1

 

Similarly, Claire Short’s performances over the last 6 years or so have always seemed a little tainted by her record of ‘will she, won’t she’ resignations and her own awareness of this, but she was on pretty good form last night and started to look like she’s comfortable in her own skin again. Furthermore, at least the pair of them actually had a bloody opinion on the Egypt situation which is more than can be said for the rest of the panel. For that, they are rewarded with points.

Our final meat puppet from last night comes in the shape of economics bod Noreena Hertz, and I must say that I’m slightly at a lose as to what to make of her. On the matters of Egypt/terrorism, Hertz chose to join the big fence sit with Green and Burnham, but did so in an odd way, forcefully planting herself right in the middle and almost telling people off who ventured forth with an opinion. Even weirder was when she managed to big up the Internet in one sentence (it’s single-handedly liberating Egypt, dontchaknow?) whilst bigging it down only moments later (cyberterrorism will single handedly de-liberate the UK, dontchaknow?) all the while maintaining an air of peevish annoyance. So far, so not-so-great but things get even stranger when you look at her response to forests/Big Society questions. She was on fire, getting well stuck in to Damian Green and whipping the audience into to a right old frenzy of excitement! Seriously, I find it hard to recall a member of the panel being so well received. That in itself should warrant high marks but I find that I just can’t award them and I think I’ve figured out why: She reminds me of Gillian McKeith. Part of that is down to her somewhat washed out, could-do-with-a-pub-lunch look but I think it’s more to do with the way she just seems really pissed off with everyone for not taking everything she says ultra-seriously. It’s a shame because she came out with some really good stuff and the crowd obviously agreed with her, but there was just something that stopped me getting on board the Hertzwagon. Mind you, at least she didn’t examine the contents of anyone’s shit.

Finally, we have the Workington crowd who, as mentioned above, went frankly mental at times. However, the show itself was weird and I think that’s mainly to do with the fact that it was dominated by the Egypt question. Obviously, that had to be the first question as it’s a truly monumental event that deserves our full attention, but in terms of it’s Question Timeability, it’s an odd one as no one in the room could really do anything about it and as the situation is so fluid right now, nobody really had a clue what’s going on. As a result, the first half hour was a stilted affair that didn’t really go anywhere and a similar scenario unfolded with the terrorism issue. However, in contrast to these rather odd sections the questions that addressed coalition policies drew such a level of excitement/ire that I thought the assembled rabble may well take up arms against their Southern Overlords, jump on the next train to London and raze Tory HQ to the ground. Seriously, they were like people possessed (especially the oldish looking guy who like dressed like a twenty-something hipster) and if the coalition are in the market for bad omens, they need look no further than this episode.

So yes, this was quite an odd experience and one that wasn’t too different from sitting in a room with faulty fluorescent tube that spends half of its time stutter and flickering before finally bursting into blinding, retina burning light. In a word, ‘unhinged’.

TL; DR

Green: 6/10

A lucky non-escape

Burnham: 6/10

Should grow a beard

Phillips: 4/10

Annoying, but could have been worse

Short: 6/10

A timely return to form

Hertz: 4/10

Stay off the mung beans

Ok, that’s me done. I’m going to skulk off to the bath and try avoid going downstairs, lest I be asphyxiated by a fug of oestrogen and age-inappropriate crushes.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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