Good morning Lemmings and you all owe me a big one. Remember how I said I was going on holiday in search of this mysterious ‘Sun’ business? Well I found it, hacked off a small chunk and successfully smuggled it back through Leeds-Bradford Airport at great personal risk because that’s the sort of selfless guy I am. It’s in the sky right now and I have to say I’m rather taken by it. Anyway, if you can take your squinting eyes off it for a second, here’s what happened on last night’s Question Time...
I had high hopes for Margot James…
Given the rolling hullabaloo that is the Tory party’s attitude towards gay marriage it’s probably not the easiest job being the Blue Team’s first openly lesbian MP, let alone one that’s also against an EU referendum and has the ability to come across as a vaguely normal person. As it happens, Margot James is all these things and very bloody good at them she is too, what with her bopping a series of less-than-touchy-feely True Blue noses on the Commons’ floor in the past few months. So, she’s got QT-Pro-In-The-Making written all over her, right? Well, not quite.
James’ first problem is a common one for QT n00bs and mainly relates to how far you throw your punches. For some it’s a case of over-extending yourself too early, lunging at your opponent with an elaborate spiel only to find that you’re now totally overexposed and taking kidney punches from four separate directions – think Warsi a few years back or Dories when she’s been at the catnip and you’re on the money. However, this isn’t the case for James and if anything, she suffers from the polar opposite of this syndrome: She’s not throwing them far enough. Take for example the first question on Labour’s new welfare duds. Here’s an open goal with oodles of potential for mischief yet Margot let it slip by with only a cursory jab at her opponent that may well have stung but certainly didn’t result in any real damage. It was the same with the bulk of her other responses too: Short range, compact little affairs that while conforming to the spirit of our weekly political Fight Club failed to show off any real taste for blood.
However, I will give her this – she dealt with the ambush on lobbying rather well for a first timer. Some of this is purely circumstantial as Yaqoob inadvertently threw her a lifeline by blathering over the top of the really dangerous moment but I was heartened to see a well-timed deployment of the Knowing Smile. This came after the failure of her Dear Sir, Imagine My Concern escape plan and sort of amounted to an unspoken Fair Play Guv, Banged To Right’s. Granted, it’s not the best way to lead your life but it did the trick of disarming the crowd and moving matters along before they got really fraught.
So a mixed bag then. On the one hand James has already proven that she’s able enough to avoid going fully-n00b but there’s definitely room for improvement – like checking the Register of Members Interests for your own culpability before appearing on a Lobbygate-heavy edition of Question Time.
I’ve finally figured out what Douglas Alexander’s superpower is…
…It’s Acoustic Camouflage, a deft little trick where the timbre of your voice is just so dry that the listener is baffled to the point where the content is indecipherable. It happened throughout last night’s show and is so effective that I don’t actually have a clue as to what he said about anything (which is just as well since the same also applies to Labour’s new stance on benefits) nor did I find myself caring much either way.
On top of this, Wee Dougie also has a supplementary power which I call Emotional Muting – a sort of internal dampening mechanism that makes it really hard to discern what he’s actually getting at. For example, he had numerous to-do’s with Margot James where the way his lips were flapping and the few words that registered said ‘this guy is angry’ yet the overall impression was of a slightly fidgety man who was trying to work out whether he set Holby City to record or not. Sure, neither of these powers are up with flight or ESP, but they’re certainly useful if you’re in the market for making people slightly perplexed and nonplussed.
Yaqoob showed us how this QT lark is done…
Remember when the Respect Party resembled something slightly more nuanced than a ramshackle vehicle for conveying George Galloway’s supersized ego into everyone’s faces? No? Well I do and that was largely down to Salma Yaqoob, the party’s Adult-in-Chief before she got so hacked off with Galloway that she threw herself out of the passenger seat and set up a makeshift camp on the hard shoulder. Anyway, it’s Respect’s loss as last night she proved just how good she can be: Measured, passionate and in it for the right reasons whilst never straying into the territory of shrill. So top marks then? ‘Fraid not as the waffling over James’ Oh Bugger moment applied a portion of fly to an otherwise immaculate ointment but seeing as no-one’s ever got top marks on Questionable Time I wouldn’t complain.
Lord Oakeshott: He does exactly the opposite of what it says on the tin…
What the tin says: A Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords who represents the interests of a party in government.
What he actually is: Some guy who hates the House of Lords, hates the government and probably hates his party as well.
Love it, love it, love it.
And A. N. Wilson?
I’ll level with you, I thought this guy was going to be a train wreck but in actual fact he was pretty good fun. Ok, so all the banging on about ‘Debt this, debt that’ was a little predictable but he was clearly having a blast and the way his sentences were constantly in danger of ending with a phrase like ‘Whoopsie-daisy!’ was all rather jovial. I just wish he’d worn his Hogwarts/Accelerated Decrepitude get-up to really seal the deal (see Fig. 1).
(Has a way to) Go
(Exactly what he said I do not) Know
(Is my new) Beau
(Will) Kowtow (to no man)
(Probably lives in something that looks like a) Chateau
The Crowd: 7/10
(Like eating Play) Doh
Speaking of the crowd, they were a colourful bunch weren’t they? Now, before you all get on your high horses and accuse me of casting aspersions about cross dressers who aren’t very good at cross dressing I’d just like to say a) he really wasn’t very good at cross dressing and b) I was more shocked by the lad with the Skrillex haircut/facial piercings who went to all the effort of putting on a suit. The overall look was a little… disjointed.
Right, that’s me. Enjoy the Sun that I’ve so generously provided.
Next week Lemmings, next week…