Archive for July, 2015

Questionable Time #145


qt 145

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to the last Questionable Time of the season. It’s time to kick off our dancin’ heels and take a lounge in the hammock, perhaps while enjoying three jugfuls of Pimms and watching UK athletes fail at tennis, football, and indeed every other sport in existence. Alternatively, it’s time to make jokes about Anna Soubry. Again. It’s this blog’s preferred mode of entertainment. Let’s hustle!

We are the 43%

We start with the news that Question Time has had 43% female panellists this season, its highest ever percentage! Yay! I, for one, am all in favour of women being allowed to make fools of themselves just as much as the men. Equality to be an embarrassment! On a surely unrelated note, Anna Soubry was actually drafted in as a replacement for Ken Clarke in this episode, thus lifting the total even higher. I doubt, however, that he would have given quite such a scrappy performance as dear old Chortles, because…well…we’ll talk more about her later.

First up! “Is the Chancellor’s living wage pledge as good as it sounds, given tax credit cuts will make people worse off?” Chuka Umunna has been given an open goal and somehow still manages to saunter away from it because it might get his shoe muddy. I like some things in the Budget, he says, but if you’re below 25 you’re screwed. DCam broke his promises at the Leaders’ Debate and is a disgrace. Despite cheers (unusually loud due to the weird echoey hall they’re in) and using the snoutpuncher of a word ‘disgrace’, he still approaches every subject as if he has yellow rubber cleaning gloves on. Chuk-a-Cheese very rarely raises his voice about anything, even the impending doom of the youth of the country. Anna Soubry, on the other hand…

Chortles blurfles her jowls. Dave didn’t break no promise, man! she flubbers. He’s getting the deficit down, which is, of course, “the right thing to do”. How would you “balance the books” to “live within our means”, eh, Chuka? Faced with a barrage of three cliches in a row, Chuka looks concerned and hunky. They both get clapped again, and the ear-splitting echoes of the lost art of political debate resound off the dusty walls forever.

Louise Bours of UKIP is all about the social mobility. Without tax credits she couldn’t have fed her children or got through university, so that’s out of the question. What should we cut, then? Ah, yes…it’s all so simple in retrospect. The bloody international aid budget! This gets a mixed response, but either camp is a loud one due to this frickin’ frackin’ un-soundproofed hall.

Tommy Sheppard, an SNP new bug, looks like a skunk who’s been given an electric shock. He says it’s profoundly crap that the Tories are trying to rebrand themselves the new “workers’ party”. They don’t even own any flat caps that could give them awful hat hair, like he so obviously is victim to. Dimbles then cuts in to ask Rachel Johnson, “as the only non-politician on this panel”…yep, she’s really unconnected, isn’t she? Can’t think where I’ve seen her face before…but anyway. Gorgeous George (not Galloway, Osborne – the new one) had to cut something, she pleads! So he threw a dart at a board and came up with tax credits. Anna looks strangely outraged for some reason, as if Rachel daring to be not 100% supportive is a crime against humanity/Toryism (to Anna, there is no difference) and even now is planning a coup with her blustery brother to unseat the blessed Cammerz.

“We have to support our economy!” Chortles interrupts. Rachel looks genuinely confused. Please, Anna – she’s on your side. Maybe you should take after Dave himself and chillax a little.

You could…not cut those taxes for millionaires, says Tommy innocently, like a small toddler encountering a cruel and unforgiving world, as I admire his bushy, permanently-worried eyebrows.

Then a man says something about maintenance grants but we’re all distracted by his colourful hat. He gets into an altercation with Chuka, though, which is just embarrassing for all involved.

Greece joins the 1p Club

Next, the exact same question but not asked by rainbow hat guy: “is the scrapping of maintenance grants the death knell of social mobility for this generation in the UK?” Well, as a young’un under 25 myself, I’m currently enjoying a particularly terrified shit. Don’t know about you, fair reader. You’re probably older than me, in which case I hate you.

Louise says yes. There are too many university places, meaning lots of loans. The solution to this is to ban ‘David Beckham studies’ (does this exist?) and that nurses shouldn’t go to university. RUBBISH says Anna, loudly and proudly. Told you she was in prime fightin’ mode tonight. Chuka merely smirks and nods, clearly enjoying himself.

Rachel meeps that children won’t go because of the piles of debt. Anna brushes her off and says her figures are wrong. Chuka disagrees, saying what Labour would do if they were in government, which is kind of irrelevant. These poor shmoes, or rather mini-shmoes, can’t pay off their debt, and the taxpayers will end up saddled with it, says he. This all sounds awful, says our Scottish representative – good thing I’m in Scotland. Louise and Anna get into a fight again. I am already tiring of this and Dimbleby looks like he wants to go on holiday. Let’s move on.

Was Greece right to “show two fingers to the EU”? Louise larfs and calls the EU (more like pee-yoo, amirite?)…Wonga. (If you listen closely, you can hear Stella Creasy screaming in horror in the distance.) What episode of Deal or No Deal are we on now? adds Rachel helpfully, which only succeeds in conjuring up horrifying images of Angela Merkel as Noel Edmonds.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

In any case, the EU has not “covered itself in glory” re: Greece, says Tommy, and has alienated its lefty supporters. Chuka counters this with the aural equivalent of a wibbly-wobbly hand gesture, but we all know he would (smoothy, suavely) tear his hair out if he had any. Anna classily compares Greece to Labour’s OVERSPENDING OMG. Referring to Chuka’s calls for restraint, she smirks that he’s “talking like a Tory”. He offers no concrete comeback for me to go on in response to this, so the jury is still out on whether he thinks this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Louise wants to go on, but we have to move ever forward like the march of time itself. Dimbles says she’ll still be able to say everything she likes “regardless of the question”. Ooh, bitch, you did not!

The real reason Chuka dropped out of the Labour leadership contest was because he didn’t want to take part in the ceremonial cage fight at the end

“Who, if anyone, can lead the Labour Party to success in 2020?” Cue much concern-trolling for Chuka’s chances. I was sad when he withdrew so soon, wibbles Rachel. Chop Socky Chuka offers a small smile in response, but it’s okay – he already knows he’s smokin’ hot. Then things get weird, with Rachel refusing to comment on Tory leadership plans…despite bringing it up in the first place. And mentioning Boris’ name in the first place. Okay, Rachel. You do you.

Meanwhile, the Blairite honking continues. Tommy steps up, at this point, to be the SNP voice of reason/smug superiority (delete according to political position). The Labour Party needs conviction, he convicts. Chuka rises to the challenge and ends with a pitch for his future leadership bid. Louise guffaws once again and says she’d like to see Chuka in a working men’s club. Can yer imagine it?!?!?!?! Anna smugly smugs that Labour is doomed because of the lefties in silly hats infiltrating it. Liz Kendall will save us, says Chuka. She won’t win, smugs Anna smugly, and also snugly, because everyone is starting to fall asleep at this point. Oh well.

Time for the scores!

Soubry: 6/10

Fighty

Umunna: 6/10

(Used a deft) Sleight-y (of hand)

Sheppard: 7/10

(Nicola Sturgeon is) Aphrodite

Bours: 5/10

(Luvs dat) Blighty

Johnson: 5/10

Flighty

The Crowd: 7/10

Lord Almighty!

Next time: we’ll be back in September, in WEMBLAYYYY. Mark it in your diaries! …You know, if you’re a sad person.

Next series Lemmings, next series…

Questionable Time #144


qt 144

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a Questionable Time sweltering spectacular! Yes, unless you’ve been trapped in a freezer all week, you can’t have failed to notice the fact that it’s got a little warm outside as of late. Let’s just hope that our brave panellists aren’t feeling the heat when they butt heads in this edition (presumably over the last Calippo).

Fallout: New Labour

We come to you from Grays (in Essex), which reminds me of those big-eyed alien things. We don’t have any of those, but we do have the next best thing: Jeremy Hunt! He’s first off the starting line as we’re given our first, sombre question: can we prevent an atrocity like that in Tunisia from happening again? Jeremy stares blankly into the camera. Isil can’t stop and won’t stop, he says. Are we going to let them walk all over us? He doesn’t think so. He’ll stab them all with his NHS pin if he has to.

The panel isn’t lacking for Jeremy representation as the Labour left’s leadership lad takes his place among the QT alumni. In 32 years as an MP, this is Jeremy Corbyn’s first time appearance on Question Time, and I suppose he would look chuffed if his brow didn’t also seem so deeply furrowed about everything. He sensibly responds that we have to stand with and help Tunisia to prevent people from getting disillusioned (by austerity, no less!) and turning to terrorism.

The topic drifts off course slightly as Douglas Murray of the Economist…wait, no, the Spectator…no, the Econospectamist appeals to stop all the silliness about calling Islamic State by any name other than the one it calls itself. “It’s very Islamic and claims to be a state”, he lisps, confidently. Ah, yes. Bombing mosques during Ramadan. Very Islamic. His Spectateconomistor chum Anne McElvoy agrees and declares that we need to bomb the shit out of Isis/Isil/Islamic State/Daesh/those really nasty bastards. After all, they’re only a “raggle-taggle army”! Shappi Khorsandi, on the other hand, squeaks sadly that senselessly bombing bits of desert left, right and centre out of revenge will create a never-ending loop of hate. Which, if taken literally, would make for a great Groundhog Day-esque film, at least.

Dougie Murray continues to practically chortle that Labour are responsible for the rise of Isis due to shrugging their shoulders and sitting bombing Assad out, and that only by bombing a completely different target this time (with, presumably, Assad on our side this time) will world peace be achieved. Jeremy Corbyn has no time for this egregious lisping. He sits, with a face like death warmed up, judgementally judging all. He’s the last man standing in a post-apocalyptic studio set. All he needs now is a lovable dog companion.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Well, I guess we’ll be at war by next week! See ya then!

Crawling in my skin

Next: should teachers be responsible for monitoring their students for signs of radicalisation? Ah, a civil liberties question! If only we had one of the few, constantly crying Liberal Democrats on the panel! That said, Shappi sounded like she was about to cry for the entire duration of this programme. Schools should be a safe space to “grow your personality”, she says – her argument basically being that most kids are shits who are eventually going to grow out of their dark ‘n’ edgy phase. Heck, I had a dark ‘n’ edgy phase. I even got sent to the dreaded Student Services, but I turned out OK! Look, now I’m running a Question Time reviewing blog! Well, then again, none of my edgy phase involved running off to join a terrorist organisation, which is, let us say…slightly more problematic.

Jeremy Hunt explains that this is something we can tackle by sniping it early, e.g. getting young, disillusioned Muslims to talk with older people in their community. It’s something we can come together as a society to sort out with rainbows and love and cake. Jezza 2 says that we’ve got to be nuanced – is some kid yelling homophobic slurs also worthy of investigation, or just the Muslim ones? Moreover, some wise wags in the audience raise the question that if these young radicals’ parents can’t detect it, how are teachers going to? They have too much marking to do to be bothered with little Abdul reading Bomb Making 4 Dummies in class.

Then the two journalists, Heffy and Jeffy, make concerned noises and use the words “a real concern” approximately ten million times. Groundbreaking stuff being aired here tonight, folks.

Brie brings glee but feta is better

Would it be a good idea to charge for missed appointments at the doctor’s surgery? Heffy and Jeffy agree with each other in turn, because we need to reform the NHS to protect it from lazyarses. Jezza Huzza beams and says this issue is incriddblee impohrtehnt. We need to take “personal responsibility”, he trembles with ecstasy, which is fine because his personal responsibility involves making a killing from shares in private healthcare. He also reveals the ‘medicine bottles with labels saying the amount paid for by the UK taxpayer’ policy a bit early. OMG SPOILERS JEREMY!!!!

“Are you going to embroider that on the Queen’s hat?” says Shappi. Well, Shappi, you don’t know that. There’s always a small chance that the Queen could have sneaked out in a parka and gone to Primark.

Then a GP goes off at “Mr Hunt”, as she so passive-aggressively calls him. Where are you getting the clinicians from, Mr Hunt? Answer the question, before I shine this light in your big, staring eyes! Seriously, stop staring, it’s freaking me out.

Finally…and we’re back to a rather important issue in the last five minutes. (Although to be fair, at least there weren’t any filler questions this time.) Why does it matter to us if Greece votes yes or no on Sunday? Jezza Corzza says we should stand with Greece, because they fall, we fall, if they rise, we rise. He believes we can fly. He believe we can touch the sky. He thinks about it every night and day. Public sector workers didn’t crash the economay.

Ginger Anne says that Greece needs to get its shit together, and Shappi implies that the IMF, being non-democratically elected, is trying to push a democratically elected government into the bin. Jeremy Hunt actually gets his sympathetic face out and says that they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Poor Greeks. He won’t say what they should do. Except turn up to the doctor’s on time.

While all the other panellists are, to be fair, being (or at least pretending to be) varying degrees of sympathetic to the people of Greece’s plight (the regular folks being a different matter than the powerful folks, as any two-month-old baby would be able to tell), Douglas Murray doesn’t give one miniscule damn. Syriza is far-left “anti-reality”, he snoots, and because the foolish Greeks democratically elected them, they deserve every last moment of their pain. Thanks Douglas. You have won the empathy wars. Bravo, you colossal shit.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 6/10

(Should have waited for the press) Release

Corbyn: 7/10

(Pleaded for) Peace

McElvoy: 7/10

(Wore a weird green) Fleece

Murray: 4/10

(Really hates) Greece

Khorsandi: 5/10

(Nearly in) Piece(s)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Used a bit of elbow) Grease

Next time: one more week! One more week!

And btw, here’s another plug for our glorious webmaster’s new YouTube channel. Amuse yourselves aplenty!

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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