Archive for October, 2014

Questionable Time #112


qt 112

Good morrow lemmings and a very Happy Halloween! We’re in the Wild West this week – Taunton, that is, but I don’t see any cool zombie cowboys roaming around (or even any sheep farmers). Later this evening my house will inevitably get mobbed by screaming children, so let’s enjoy a moment of calm before the storm…or not, because this is Questionable Time, Questionable Time night, and no-one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike.

I also heard hemp makes great shampoo

The first question is appropriately scary, at least if you’re a politician: drug legalisation! Caroline Lucas has an open goal today, what with Labour imploding in Scotland, faced against a Tory ex-Cabinet minister with an obsession with badgers moving goalposts, some random Lib Dem and some other guy who’s written a series of good children’s books at least. Not to mention the Beeb refusing to put the Greens in the Leaders’ debates because nyeh nyeh pfffthblflfbh. Sadly, none of these points actually come up on the show. She could have raised them herself, of course, but that would just be gauche.

So, the Green mean protesting machine is up to bat, this being one of her specialist subjects (and who knows, it might get her votes from the stoner demographic, if they can manage to lift themselves out of their Dorito nests to get to the polling station). Incredibly, she’s wearing not one but two paper flowers, one being a #swaggy white peace poppy. Whatever your view on the gratuitous use of poppies, surely you must agree that’s a pretty swagalicious flimsy flower thing. Anyway, Caroline wants the personal use of drugs legalised and isn’t a fan of Dave and co sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming “JUST SAY NO! JUST SAY NO!”

Owen Paterson, who wants to position himself as Caroline’s nemesis even though she probably wouldn’t lower herself to that level, rattles off some statistics. Dimbles has already mentioned he was sacked (not reshuffled, sacked – damn Dimbleby, that’s cold) from Cabinet and Owen is extremely eager to play the martyr figure in this edition. If there’s a question about wind farms, it’ll happen. At the moment, though, he’s bombarding the panel with facts and figures until they all die of an overdose.

Now for the appearance of the man with a face like a loaf of bread: Tristram Hunt! Wearing the exact same tie as Owen. Worrying. He’s a shower of charisma as usual: “this is an interesting piece of work”, he drones, and shakes his head at how bad the drug problem in prisons is and rounds up by concluding that Labour saved everything. I think. I’ve already forgotten what he said. ‘Yeah, the poors can’t handle it’, Owen nods along. Tristram and Loaf-face are performing a nice little double act here. Ooh yeah baby, you be the bread…I’ll be the baker.

Then Baroness Kramer interjects that we should be targeting the traffickers and kingpins, which is a sensible if blindingly obvious point. Similarly Anthony Horowitz points out the cost to the state from drug-related offences that could be more easily tackled with better treatment in a different system. Woah, things are getting a little too smart around here! Can’t have that. Time to descend into anarchy again.

Can’t pay, won’t pay

Next question! Should Britain pay up? Nope, we’re broke! Seems like that’s really the case, as there’s a lot of shrieking about how unfair the whole situation and that the poor deprived little UK needs that money to buy jumbo sausage rolls at Greggs. Tristram has the explanation, of course: Dave shouldn’t have thrown all those darn wobblies. Now you’ve broken all the posh china and the EU wants us to pay them back. The ‘No Daves Club’ strikes again. Incidentally, doesn’t Loaf-face sound like the ‘Gap Yah’ guy? It’s not just me, right? Right…? Then he gets pissy with Susan Kramer, as you do. Maybe he’ll chunder all over her.

Owen Paterson isn’t going to take this lying down. He’s already machine-gunned statistics at a terrified audience – time to put his mastery of cliches into action. It’s all Labour’s fault! The mess Labour made! Labour trashed the economy! Even the audience is getting sick of it by this point, groaning out a decisive boo, and they already looked pretty sickly to begin with what with the drug problems and all.

A question arises on ISIS/ISIL/IS/DoYouReallyLikeItIsItIsItWicked, and Owen is already off pointing fingers at ‘alien entities’. I’m not sure what he’s been up to since he left Cabinet, hopefully it’s not like when Robbie Williams took some time off to go hunt UFOs in the desert. Caroline wants to rehabilitate the penitent, and Loafy doesn’t want to glam the sitch up by using the word treason. Then he says something about the Spanish Civil War because Tristram can’t resist an opportunity to be a history nerd.

Suddenly, Anthony Horowitz kicks the door down. Stop them from leaving in the first place, ffs! Dimbleby is shocked that anyone would be so blunt and just…unrambly on this programme. How dare you. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done (which also happens to be the current treatment scheme for drug users!)

Down on the wind farm

A question on benefits, and Baroness Kramer concludes that that Calais mayor woman was a right cow. Owen thinks lack of free trade is the problem, like when teachers ban kids from swapping Pokemon cards in the playground. Yeah, says Caroline Lucas, but that’s no reason to ignore immigrants drowning to death. Owen explodes and accuses her of “grotesque” distortion. He uses that word approximately 10,000 times. I am falling asleep. Meanwhile, Loaf-face drones on about whatever. I’ve given up on listening to him, unless as a sleep aid, and I’m already feeling snoozy.

One last quick question on blackouts! Are we facing a three-day week? Probably not, says Caroline, because luckily we have…guess what…wind farms! Owen snorts in derision. Pshh, the Climate Change Act. Who needs it. Caroline is indignant and plants her flag firmly on the table. Unlike nuclear, which, as you will all know if you have seen The Simpsons, is the cause of mutated three-eyed fish, you can store wind and solar – but Owen shoots back with an enraged roar. We generated so much energy that we had to turn the wind farms off! he bellows, sending Caroline flying. …Wait, hang on, you’re saying it was so effective, that we had to stop it? I thought we needed ninety thousand new wind farms, Owen! Ninety! Thousand! New! Wind! Farms! Maybe the Jolly Green Giant has had the last laugh after all.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

While Horowitz shrugs noncommittally, Loaf-face leaves us with a lovely, droning anecdote of the Stoke-on-Trent ceramics industry and Dimbleby winds up the programme pretty hastily after that. Thank you, Dimbles. For all our sakes, thank you.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 5/10

Yeasty

Lucas: 6/10

(Would rather be back in the South) East(y)

Paterson: 6/10

Beastly

Kramer: 5/10

(The Lib Dems’ poll ratings have) Decreased(y)

Horowitz: 7/10

Last but not least(y)

Nobody knows who’s on next time. It is a mystery.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #111


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Good morrow lemmings and it looks like the most wonderful time of the year has come around once more. That’s right – it’s poppy season, and everyone’s got one on their lapel despite it being not even the last week of October. It starts earlier every year, doesn’t it? Soon we’ll be fully emersed in the Poppy Wars, where politicians try to out-poppy each other by pinning bigger and bigger paper flowers to every inch of their bodies in an attempt to be the most sincere.

Anyway, as you may have noticed, the Big Man has come to town. Actually, several big men. Alex Salmond’s admission that he may be getting back into the ring of Westminster politics was headline news, but Len McCluskey was also on hand to metaphorically punch his enemies into the stratosphere. All standard for a Liverpool edition of QT. Let’s do this shizzle.

This is a local panel for local people. There’s nothing for you here

Dimbleby starts us off by addressing a cameraman who’s wandered behind the stage, and then leads on to a question about life sentences.

Alex Salmond isn’t here to talk about this. It’s England’s fault, wotevs. So we move on, knowing that Alex’s time in the sun will come (on this particular edition I mean, since he’s been basically everywhere the past two years – I’ve got Salmond fatigue/Salmondella). Meanwhile in the blue corner is Mark Harper, who is clearly doing this show as a punishment for sinning in a former life. He simply must have got in trouble somewhere along the line – maybe he accidentally kicked Michael Gove’s dog – because no Tory with half a survival instinct would willingly go on a Liverpool Question Time. Five seconds off the starting gun and he already looks like he’s about to pee himself. I mean, for goodness’ sake, he’s the minister for disabled people and he’s being trotted out immediately after ol’ Freudy put his foot in his mouth! But ah, what the hell, that was one whole week ago. Everyone’s got over it now, right? Well apparently so because it doesn’t get brought up once. The cosmic ballet goes on.

His trundling dullness is interrupted by Louise Bours. Life should mean life, she says. Okay, the audience nods along. Nod. Nod. Nod nod nod. N- wait, what the hell did you just say? Bringing back capital punishment? I turn up the volume on iPlayer because things have suddenly got a whole lot livelier. The audience is groaning! Louise is struggling to be heard! Kill a cop, get your head chopped off!

“Is that UKIP policy?” Caroline Flint asks, baffled. Louise responds excellently. UKIP don’t have a policy. And the crowd goes wild! This is great fun.

The next question is even more fun. It’s about Hezza lamenting the state of the North and London trampling all over it. Len McCluskey’s ready for this one. He was born ready. We need regional banks! Regional jobs and growth! There’s money but the dirty Londoners are sitting on it having cocktail parties. The Tories don’t understand because “there are no Tories north of Birmingham”. This gets a predictably ecstatic reaction from the crowd, including some whistles (take it off, Len!) and Mark continues to pee himself. He does his best, pointing out that Len wouldn’t mind if Ed Miliband fell under a bus. Seems like the audience wouldn’t mind either. Mark valiantly rattles off some statistics but what he really needs to do is bring out his owl.

Caroline agrees with Hezza, unlike those mean old Tories – ignore the fact that Tarzan is also a Tory. “Mark is living in fantasy land”, she says, and then a member of the audience echoes her: “you’re living in cloud-cuckoo land!” This is quickly turning into the gang-up-on-Mark Harper show and it’s only about to get worse for him.

“The Labour Party doesn’t have an economic plan!” he squeaks (Mark, please speak up, I can barely hear you). Then he gets thrown into the dumpster by King of the School Alex, who proposes we run over George Osborne instead. More applauding. Gosh, this is a worryingly violent programme.

Louise smooths over her earlier brush with unpopularity by supporting “true localism”, health workers on boards etc, which is nice I guess but then she gets steamrolled by the audience, who appear to be preparing to join Len in storming the government and unleashing the glorious revolution. Len’s on a roll now: he only needs yell the words ‘zero hours’ and a great wave of emotion rolls across the studio drowning all in its wake. Alex suggests Liverpool and Scotland skip off into the sunset together. This is beautiful. I’m having a great time watching this, although I do feel a bit sorry for poor Mark.

I’m never gonna dance again (though Alex Salmond apparently will)

Next question: it’s the election-winning issue, the NHS! Out of nowhere Louise turns into a killer robot. Destroy all managers. Destroy all managers. No, we need health and social care brought together! says Caroline. She’s not letting Dimbleby interrupt her, she’s roundhouse kicking all who stand in her way no matter what the question and/or answer actually is. DESTROY ALL MANAGERS, blasts Louise.

Mark now comes to the crux of the matter. The report vindicates us, he says, and we need a strong economy to achieve a strong NHS. Mark, for a small, shining moment, believes he’s on top of this one, but then he gets pushed in the lockers by Big Alex again. It’s almost sad. Caroline is enjoying watching Owl Man get beaten up. She doesn’t even need to intervene. Just lie back and enjoy the bloodbath.

Len’s leading his troops – let’s get the elite to pay their taxes! Yeah! Just grab ’em in the street and steal their wallets. The audience wolf-whistles their approval and for a moment I’m scared Len really will start taking it all off. Alex and Len then share an intimate moment of mutually gazing at each other. The saxophone solo from Careless Whisper plays sexily in the background. This edition of QT is too much for me. I’m literally dabbing my sweaty forehead right now.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Nite Owl bristles at Len’s accusation that he’s posh. How dare you call me posh. I’ll tell you whose fault it is, it’s Labou- DESTROY ALL MANAGERS! comes the cry from…the audience? Oh.

Then Alex drops the bombshell covered in the opening paragraph. Maybe Liverpool can adopt him? He’s certainly tried to adopt Liverpool.

I could only think of two bold headline thingies

Final question is on Scotland and whether they’ve been given the middle finger or not. Caroline says yes, Mark says no. All pretty standard. What does Alex think? Could he possibly be a little bitter? Surely not! He does, however, come out in favour of Liverpudlian votes for Liverpudlian people, and disses the “three amigos” that make up the world’s worst boyband – Cameron, Clegg and Miliband. All popular with the audience, as is Len’s admission of “positive neutrality”. Louise crests the wave by gleefully continuing Alex’s diss verse. Things have gotten out of hand again. Time for Dimbles to wrap it up.

One thing’s for certain though: this debate ain’t ovah, although I think Mark has finally finished weeing himself.

Time for the scores!

Salmond: 7/10

Here’s (Alex!!)

Harper: 4/10

(Almost broke out in) Tears

Flint: 6/10

(About average level with her) Peers

Bours: 5/10

(Unlike ol’ Nige, not someone you’d want to have a couple of) Beers (with)

McCluskey: 8/10

Fierce (shut up that rhymes)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Exploring new) Frontiers (for the coming revolution)

Next week has that fountain of charisma Tristram Hunt, and hopefully a crowd full of angry teachers.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #110


qt 110

Good morrow lemmings and this week we’re in Newbury! Despite this there are sadly no references to the nearby Greenham Common which I could have made an amusing ‘shop out of. Oh well. We’d best get stuck in.

Jeremy Hunt’s NHS pin: secretly a ninja shuriken used to dispatch his enemies

Can Dave pull an emergency brake on immigration? Well, I don’t know, but let’s ask the fine folks of the panel. Angela Eagle is first up and, as she shakes her head ruefully, I rub my hands in anticipation of her performance. If you closely watched last month’s Labour conference like a complete nerd (aka like me), you’ll know that she was an effective, funny chair during the debates/speeches/general flailing and panicking, and as such I was expecting great things from her.

I was let down. It’ll become apparent why later, but let it be known that I’m so betrayed that I’ll never love another human being again.

Anyway, for now she’s just shaking her head at Jeremy Hunt and sighing. Net migration is the same as it was in the beginning of the Parliament apparently, and ol’ Cammers has been a complete dodo in Europe. Remember when the cool Eurokids dissed him by going off in their own little gang and not letting him in the treehouse? It basically became the ‘No Daves club’. (“But you let in David Glumplich!” “It’s no Daves. We’re only allowed to have one.”)

Jeremy disagrees the only way he knows how – terrifyingly. If anyone can do it, it’s ARE DAVE, he slurps. Thank you Dave for my Chinese wife. I’m not sure this is relevant, Jeremy, but he gets away with it because Jeremy gets away with everything. He may well be the luckiest and/or slipperiest man in Parliament, and I strongly suspect he oils himself down every morning so he can pencil-roll along the corridors at top speed and knock down dawdling Labour MPs in a game of human ten-pin bowling.

He’s even wearing an NHS pin on his lapel, so you know how sincere he is, and is doing his best ‘mild, constipated with truthiness’ voice. This is undermined slightly by the fact that occasionally his eyes widen even further apart than they already are (a trait he shares with a certain Ed Balls) and bore a smoking hole in the direction of his next victim. He’s a true believer, that’s for sure, absolutely confident that The Plan is good, The Plan is working, all hail the great Plan, and how dare you assume I’m one of those people that admitted to having no idea what the hell Andrew Lansley was smoking when he put together the Health and Social Care Act.

I must confess I’m somewhat scared of Jeremy.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Suddenly, Giles Fraser, your one cool Sunday School teacher amidst a sea of ennui, punches through the wall with a mighty cry to STOP PANDERING, aiming straight for the jugular. People from other societies enrich our society, he bellows (like my Chinese wife! nods Jeremy), and do not disagree with me FOR THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD!

Meanwhile, Menzies Campbell is playing the traditional role of ‘the sensible one who you want to patronisingly pat on the head’, which he has done on various other occasions to great success. He’s not as amazing at it as the Nice Old Man from last week, however, as Ming doesn’t look like he really understands what’s going on. Why can’t you be nice to Europe, Dave? Audience? You’re not going to get anywhere by throwing a hissy fit. The audience revolts by immediately throwing a hissy fit.

Here Stella Creasy’s evil clone speaks up – Isabel Oakeshott, best known for entrapping Vicky Pryce and probably cackling about it. She’s also third cousins with Lord Oakeshott, who you may remember as the perennial ex-Lib Dem troublemaker. Dave was crap in Europe, she says. No he wasn’t, says Jezza H. Then there’s some meaningless back and forth around this topic for five-ish minutes, none of which is very interesting apart from a lady in the audience spitting acid about her village uncontrollably expanding, which reminds me very much of the current storyline on Downton Abbey.

Where have all the nurses gone, long time passing / Where have all the nurses gone, long time ago

The next question is on the NHS, of course. Jeremy is champing at the bit to wave his pin around but Dimbleby elects to go to the non-politicians first. Isabel is all doom and gloom – the NHS can’t afford a 1% pay rise (although MPs can afford themselves one), she says, with a smirk. Something drastic has to be done, she says, with a smug. Yeah, smug is a verb now. Jeremy Hunt is staring murderously at her and if she weren’t protected by a mystical barrier of smugness I’d be in legitimate fear for her life.

Giles is on the offensive again. Everyone’s going to have to pay more taxes, and they’re going to like it. Don’t be so negative, replies Jeremy – we’ve saved the NHS, and it’s all thanks to me.

“You know nothing about nursing!”, cries a nurse. Jeremy’s wistful voice about how much he wuvs the NHS falls away and he’s back to staring. Isabel is saved, at least. Meanwhile, Angela’s got an open goal, but nursey man is hot on her tail. What about all these new nurses, is the question, but unfortunately NO! WE NEED THE OLD NURSES! is the answer. And – woman down, woman down! Angela’s on the floor. Oh, what a shame. But patience, lemmings: her humiliation isn’t over yet.

Dimbleby decides to move on, because he’s falling asleep and Isabel’s ever-widening grin has started to engulf the entire table.

A few more moans

So, the leaders’ debates. Where’s the Greens? Ah, who cares about them. They’re not polling highly, smugs Isabel. I mean, how are you supposed to become popular unless you’re relentlessly invited on to Question Time panels? Hey, here’s an idea, Respect have an MP, let’s put George Galloway in the debates! What could possibly go wrong? (Can you imagine? You’d only have a smoking crater by the end of it.)

Dave is “up for it”, says Jezza. It won’t be a Punch and Judy show. (Also, look audience man – PMQs isn’t ‘increasingly’ ridiculous, it’s been that way since the 60s. Trust me, I’m a scholarist.) Then Giles metaphorically punches him in the face again. Appropriate for a Punch and Judy show! Wow Giles, maybe calm down a little.

Funnily enough, not much time is spent mulling over the plight of the Greens, as people want to move on to diss Lord Freud’s Freudian slip. And this is where Angela’s troubles truly begin.

“Resign!” demands Angela.
No, don’t, people yell back.
Now she’s yelling at them.
Now they’re yelling even more at her. She’s been playing political football/jumping on the bandwagon/drowning puppies/take your pick. It’s not a good look for a politician to be so relentlessly dismissed. It seems impossible, but Freudy appears to have gotten away with it. Angela, let it go. Let it go. Don’t hold it back any more.

It finally takes Giles to calm everyone down again, which considering he’s been firing on all cylinders for the rest of the programme is quite remarkable. Now we can all listen to Ming the Merciless’s snoozy voice to soothe us off to sleep once more. “He’s on probation,” apparently, but all that means is a naughty finger wagging if it comes from Mingity-Ming. At least Lord Freud’s not on Jeremy’s shit list. You’d be better off dead than there – caught in his line of sight, staring, forever.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 5/10

Leery

Eagle: 3/10

(The reaction to her was) Jeery

Campbell: 5/10

(Surprisingly) Cheery

Oakeshott: 4/10

Sneery

Fraser: 8/10

(More than he first) Appear(…ed…y)

The Crowd: 6/10

Sincere…y?

Len McCluskey’s going to pick some serious fights next time, so that should be fun, I guess?

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #109


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Good morrow lemmings and it seems that the rapture has come at last. By the time you read this we will most likely be in full swing of The Kippening. How will the world keep turning with its first UKIP MP? It is a time of desolation, chaos, and uncertainty. Brother pitted against brother. Babies having babies.

The end is nigh. Or perhaps, it is merely…the beginning? Or somewhere around the middle or something. I don’t know. Here’s Questionable Time, live and alive from Clacton, high five!

Chasing Carswell

Dimbles has exchanged his pink shark tie for his turquoise frog tie, and reminds us that another by-election is also happening, but since that won’t be referenced any time later in the show that doesn’t matter. The first question is about UKIP, of course, and nobody cares exactly how it’s worded as they’ll use it as a stepping stone to discuss absolutely everything relating to UKIP for the majority of the programme.

Harriet Harman, that QT stalwart, is up first, and is trying very badly to diss the Kippers while simultaneously not pissing off the entire audience. She’s off to a rocky start but Harriet very rarely gets hit with a knockout blow in situations like these – the Labour wranglers, no doubt, often opt to shove Harriet on with her metaphorical umbrella to take shelter against the shower o’ shit during unpleasant and turbulent moments in the politisphere (and the coming of a first MP for the purple team certainly counts as one of those for the Labs.) She’s alright at keeping the umbrella aloft, even though there’s nothing you can do other than cower beneath it, if you catch my drift and I’m not spreading this metaphor too thinly.

However, what about our peachy purple representative himself? The very first response he gives gets a playful “don’t curry favour with the chair” from Dimbleby, and that ought to tell you a little about where Patrick O’Flynn is going to pitch himself. I have a strong suspicion he was a last minute replacement as all the other Kippers are out screaming on the battleground, and also because he may actually be the smarmiest man in existence next to Grant Shapps. Maybe that’s just due to the answer he’s giving, which basically boils down to a badly edited UKIP party political broadcast. Come on Patrick, now we just need the soft focus stock images of ~ordinary people~! Talk to the producers, for goodness’ sake!

No, no, that’s being unfair. It’s not a PPB, not really. They’d have to have Nigel Farage on again for that to be true.

It’s always disconcerting to hear a Yorkshire accent coming out of Eric Pickles’ ’18th century MP for Dunny-on-the-Wold’ face. Also, he sounds a little hoarse – or is that just normal? He’s oddly soft-spoken. Maybe he’s trying to entice floating ex-Tories over to his side with his charm and masculine virility. He attempts to crack a joke about hoarding Ralph Lauren scarves or whatever, but UKIP dropped that potential source of hilarity like it was hot before any comedic capital could truly be made of it. Shame, as it’s probably too ‘radical’ for a lot of Labour MPs.

(Incidentally, why does Patrick have a permanent half-smile on his face, like the Joker? Why does he sound like Jeffrey Archer? Surely UKIP have representatives that don’t terrify me stashed away somewhere, maybe at the back of a cupboard?)

Jeanette Winterson takes this opportunity to opine that if Nigel Farage died tomorrow then UKIP would die alongside him. The panel doesn’t get too excited at this prospect – they know that Nigel has already survived a plane crash and is thus unkillable. He is the Terminator. And he’s coming for your seats. (P.S.: remind me to Photoshop Nigel Farage as the Terminator the next time he’s on the panel. It must be done.)

On a side note, away from UKIP, Malcolm Bruce – the Deputy Lib Dem leader guy – has a cute Lib Dem phoenix pin. That’s all I can say about him so far. He seems like a nice old man. A little confused. A kind face. Didn’t really get angry or upset or anything other than ‘pleasant’ for the whole show. It’s…kind of soothing? Reassuring? Maybe all Question Times should include a token ‘nice old man’ to offset the shrieking and poop-slinging going on on the other side of the table.

I…I’m so conflicted. I don’t even care about his policies any more. Questionable Time, I have a confession to make: I need this man to be my new grandpa.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

“Could I ask for some clarification on the health service?” pipes up Eric, sweetly yet suddenly. He asks, with a soft, offended tone to his voice, if the health service would be broken up and sold off under UKIP rule. Perhaps Eric is unaware of the chainsaw noises and maniacal laughter routinely coming from the Department of Health, but Jeffrey Ar- I mean, Patrick O’Thingy doesn’t point it out for him. He says that UKIP want the NHS exempted from TTIP, which not even Labour has committed to, despite the fact that…Labour did commit to that. Oops.

…Wait a second, Harriet, why didn’t you jump on that like a starved and goaded monkey? Too busy holding the smelly umbrella? No, for Harriet is too busy ignoring earlier calls to avoid taking the moral high ground by…taking the moral high ground, and warning against division. Yes, let’s all be the same, and all wear tasteful giraffe jackets. It’s the best kind of freaky cultish uniform.

By this point I swear more audience members have spoken than panellists. In fact, let’s drop the panellists altogether and arrange a giant general public brawl-out, still chaired by Dimbleby. It’s what we all really want. One such eager-to-wrassle participant enters the ring with this doozy:

“If ol’ Dougy Carwizzle is re-elected,” they smartassedly smirk, “how long before a leadership election?”

Wry laughter breaks out, but Patrick is on the case. Nigel was only just re-elected and guess what – he, Patrick O’Archer himself, was his campaign manager! The sound of slurping is only drowned out by the barks of even more wry laughter. Thank the Lord we’re finally escaping this tenth circle of Hell.

Obligatory NHS screeching

The NHS and competition shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence, begins Jeanette. I mean, competition? This isn’t a school sports day sack race. Luckily, Malcolm is here to win the sack race. Here’s some extra money we won’t get to deliver, because the Liberal Democrats are doomed and feeling kinda okay about it all things considered! Mental healthcare? Well, a lot of Lib Dem MPs are going to be in need of that come 2015, do ho ho! “We’ve just had a referendum in Scotland, by the way,” he says. NO, REALLY? I HADN’T GUESSED.

Finally Eric Pickles gets another chance to speak. He says that everything is running smoothly on board the good ship Coalition, and the following conversation goes as follows.

“But what about blah and blah?” says Malcolm.
“I’ve been working with Danny Alexander on blah and blah so [flips the bird].”
“No, but we still say blah and blah.”
“Well gee I’m SORRY you’re being pissy little bastards about blah and blah! Hmph!”

There, I saved you five more minutes of your life.

Eric isn’t living in reality, says Harriet. He’s in an alternate dimension. The Picklezone. With extra ketchup. Pickles fights back and there’s a predictable NHS scuffle, being the most emotionally charged issue of them all. The solution is for big companies to pay their taxes, yells Harriet triumphantly and vaguely, and that gets a convenient round of applause to allow her to suplex Pickles and move on.

“I don’t understand why you’re obsessed by this!” boggles Pickles as he is suplexed. Jeanette then asks him six times for an answer on…something? Profits before people, people before profits, I don’t know, it all got a bit muddled in the confusion, but it was very entertaining nonetheless. Pickles got in a bit of a pickle! I bet that pun has never ever been made before!

Ebola-ing for Soup

The next question is on foreign aid, and we’ll keep this short: foreigners can suck it! yelps Patrick. Or at least corrupt governments can. But not Ebola, we need to stop Ebola or we will all definitely die horribly by the end of the week. It is known. I read it on the internet.

Harriet disagrees. Foreign aid is 100% cute as it’s less than 1% of GDP, and we shouldn’t be mean, narrow-minded, Scroogey bastards. (Like a certain purple team she could mention.) Pickles agrees with her. It’s like all their past disagreements have melted away. Aww.

What does Nice Old Man think? Well, all these foreigners are “our brothers and sisters” and we should help them and hug them close, of course! Aww, again. I’d like to hug Nice Old Man too. Jeanette joins in with the agreeing! We’re all nice people with an obligation to be nice to each other, apparently! Aww, once more!

What a lovely conclusion to a bitter opening – wait, there’s another question?!

Ah, it’s only on MPs’ wages and there’s five minutes left so you bet your sweet bippy that there won’t be any sort of deep discussion going on here. Absolutely no MP who doesn’t want to get egged, stoned, and/or tarred and feathered in the street will say they won’t take their pay rise and will shake their head vigorously at any potential increase proposed. What about MEPs’ pay, Harriet almost giggles at Patrick. The panellists try to out-frugal each other as I grumble about the lost fuzzy-cuddles ending that could have been – but then Dimbles asks how many audience members have voted, and…guess what…it’s all of them! It just goes to show that the QT audience isn’t as ‘normal’ as they’d have us believe: they’re closet political nerds too. Thank you, Saint Dimbleby, for showing us the light.

Time for the scores!

Pickles: 5/10

Befuddled

Harman: 5/10

(Standing in a) Puddle (Under her umbrella)

O’Flynn: 5/10

(In a threatening) Huddle (with the rest of the East Side Kippaz)

Bruce: 6/10

(Deserves a) Cuddle

Winterson: 6/10

Ruddle (is apparently a red ore used in dyeing and marking, yeah she was alright)

The Crowd: 7/10

TROUBLE!

Chazza Kennedy had better come covered in phoenix pins next week if he’s to keep anybody’s attention these days.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #108


qt 108

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a controversial edition of Questionable Time! As you may have noticed, Question Time has got in a bit of a pickle today, and it’s not exactly a subject one wants to joke about – but that’s alright, because the reaction to every other subject covered ended up being ridiculous in the extreme. The cameras are on, Dimbleby’s wearing his legendary pink shark tie, and the panellists are raring to go. Hop on board.

Also, my scanner still isn’t fixed. Perhaps it will never be fixed. What a fart.

You know that song from Les Mis, ‘Who Am I’, where Jean Valjean sings about his identity crisis, well do you think Grant Shapps sings that to himself every day in the shower

A man named Crustle starts us off with a simple one: “will tax cuts save Dave?”

Stella Creasy is up first and I’m already blown away by whatever it is she’s wearing around her neck. It looks like a bunch of piano keys, or maybe some sort of ancient cosmic device to manipulate the universe to your every whim. Stella is so earnest, so sweet and gentle looking, like a small beige rodent, you can sort of forgive her for anything, no matter if she’s basically staying on the same ‘message’ as everybody else. No, Stella says, and I can talk you through in detail why it won’t work and why our plan will. Silly Stella, we don’t have time for nonsense such as ‘detail’ on Question Time! Why won’t Dave be honest?, she continues, like your chirpy primary school teaching assistant, or a rabbit caught in the headlights.

Meanwhile, Grant Shapps, or whatever his name is today, is here and disappointingly hasn’t brought along his army of Tory youth in matching jumpers. Nevertheless, Grant is pretty confident he’s got this one in the bag. The economy is booming, and judging by that one audience member’s plea to thank the coalition for everything they’ve done, it’s all thanks to Darling Dave and his Dangerous Dudes. Dimbleby pushes back by saying he has asked the Institute of Fiscal Studies for some figures to trip up Grant’s flow of bullshit. Stella is uncomprehending. She doesn’t understand how one man’s face can be so smug. BUT GRANT! she cries, but Grant, indeed, is unrepentant.

Susie Boniface, the Mirror woman, squeaks in that Dave is the human incarnation of a boot stamping on a human face forever. Or, apparently, your boyfriend who always lets you down. A horrifying image to be sure.

Suddenly an extreme Cockney voice pipes up. My God, is this a Cameron fantasy of a working class lad made good – or fiscally neoliberal – made real? No, it’s Charlie Mullins, the lovable chimney sweep, or perhaps I’ve got that wrong.

He goes after Susie and they have a little showdown between themselves while Stella is trying to fend off Grant to no avail. Julian Huppert, your beardy geography teacher, makes his entrance here, by still hoping for a Lib Dem government to much general jollity and chortles in the audience. Unfortunately, there isn’t one question this entire programme about Nick Clegg dissing Theresa May about civil liberties, and since that’s Julian’s (commendable, to be fair) area of expertise he must have walked off stage at the end and thrown his hat on the ground and stomped on it. Although he doesn’t have a hat. Maybe he ripped his beard off.

AT LEAST BE HONEST GRANT! BE HONEST!!!! Stella weeps. Stella is absolutely befuddled that someone wouldn’t explain themselves plainly and truthfully. The truth is that there’s an easy way that these tax cuts are going to be paid for: Dave’s gone to Wonga. Grant continues to act like a naughty schoolboy kicking your pushover teacher Stella’s legs, and asserting his obvious honesty.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Are you going to actually explain your plans at any point or just keep on rambling, says Dimbles. (I’m paraphrasing here, but this is 99% accurate.)
Oh, we will, says Grant, confidently.
No, now, says Dimbledore.
Er…in the Autumn Statement? says Grant.
Well done Grant, nailed it, says Charlie.

It appears that Stella has missed an open goal. A more forthright panellist would have exploded at this point, screeching “Autumn bloody Statement?! Yyyyou bastard,” but she’s just too…nicey-nice. What surprised me is that the Fleet Street Fox woman also missed it. Come on ladies, Grant and Charlie are working together, you need to form a girl power clique!

I thought I found a way to enter / It’s just a defektor / I thought I found the connector / It’s just a defektor

Then there’s a question on why Tory MPs are buggering off to UKIP, with a first MP most likely on the way. Grant knows the solution to this mess. Don’t vote for them, vote for us, since we have everything that they have, but with added me. Nailed it again.

Julian is noncommittal. He loves Europe, you see, and thinks the defectors are a bunch of what that Home Office source called Nick Clegg for throwing shade at Theresa May: wankers.

“It’s sad to see a party split up like that”, he mumbles…so sad…can’t do anything about it…

(Also, the Clacton edition is being trailed menacingly over this argument, like a great dark cloud.)

According to Susie, UKIP are probably going to knock the Lib Dems into fourth place. Julian shakes his head in disgust, then gets his name forgotten by a fierce-looking audience member. It’s not been a good night for Julian, through no fault of his own! That same audience member then rounds on Stella who attemps to placate her but to no avail – the wrath of a woman despairing of the modern democratic process cannot be sated! Stella is just too waffly and doesn’t have the urge to grab someone by the collar and yell in their face, or alternatively shrug her shoulders for the 1000th time and go “they’re a bunch o’ shits”. That is her struggle, apart from getting abused by trolls online.

Then Charlie says that voters could “go to bed with Farage and wake up with Miliband”, and that’s a pretty terrifying thought no matter which way you swing it, so let’s move on.

…On second thought, let’s not (also, pajamas!)

Question Time, as I mentioned before, has got in quite a bit of trouble for bringing up the horrific death of a young schoolgirl, her body only just found, and the inappropriateness of the resulting debate being chaired by a bloke in a pink shark tie. While the discussion was pretty restrained, as all serious, non-kick-the-opposition questions should be, and an apology has been issued, this does bring up an important question that tends to rear its ugly head whenever a sensitive issue like this comes up on QT.

Are we entitled to debate absolutely everything in the news, where it must be pored over inanely as commentators try to top each other’s outrage, and misspelt tweets abound, amidst the high-emotion of the Question Time setting? Sure, people may want to talk about it – but is that really the right thing to do, when they’d only be figuratively stomping on an already grieving family?

Thankfully, the next question is about the objectively hilarious story of the Mirror ‘exposing’ (ooh, missus!) Newt Brooksmark or whatever silly name it is he has. Susie, you’re from the Mirror. Looks like you’re up to bat. She regales us with the legal definition of entrapment, and concludes that it wasn’t that because Newmark was an enthusiastic perv-in-pajamas anyway, and the (fake) power imbalance was, like, hella skeevy.

Charlie responds that nobody wanted to hear about Newmark’s pajamas before this sad event and nobody wants to now. Grant follows up by immediately reminding us of them again with a grin like he knows exactly what he’s doing, even though he attempts to look disapproving, but sadly doesn’t have the kind of face for any emotion other than ‘smug’ and ‘delirious glee’. Stella is earnestly befuddled once more as she wonders how anyone could have believed the weird-ass messages being sent. Susie responds that it’s quite simple: Brooks Newmark is the king of being ruled by what’s in your pajamas instead of what’s in your noggin.

Then Julian raises what is probably the main issue, which is the nonconsensual usage of a woman’s photos. This has been apologised for, but he gets a point for bringing it up. However, now we’re on to our last question, about…GPs or something, I’m sorry, but I’m still curled up in the foetal position thinking about paisley pajamas and crying.

Stella has been shrugging her shoulders all night long and doesn’t stop now. It’s a white hot battle between her and Grant’s rival visions of chucking stuff at the NHS and seeing what sticks. Apparently all the GPs are getting the hell out of the profession and Grant’s solution is to gurn smugly at them until the system fixes itself. We’re screwed, replies Susie. Nobody wants to become a new GP, and in this climate, I don’t blame them. Why become anything? Why not just cry, like me. Julian says, welp, the problem is NHS privatisation, and this finally rouses Stella as she huffs and puffs and shakes her head in legitimate outrage.

“Are you kidding me?!” she almost screams, “What about the Health and Social Care Act that your party voted for? Ring any bells, Julian?!”

“Ain’t my fault, #yolo.”

Dimbles then quickly wraps up the show before Stella can leap over the desk and punch Julian in the beard.

Time for the scores!

Shapps: 4/10

(I break out in hives every time I hear him) Speak

Creasy: 4/10

(Mainly) Squeak(ing in a mouselike fashion)

Huppert: 6/10

(Unable to utilise his) Critique (of authoritarian policies)

Boniface: 4/10

(Justified the) Peek (we got of Newmark’s jammies)

Mullins: 4/10

Cheek(y chappy)

The Crowd: 5/10

Bleak

Now let us never speak of paisley pajamas again.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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