Posts Tagged 'Anna Soubry'

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…

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Questionable Time #128


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Good morrow lemmings and welcome to Questionable Time, lackadaisical from Leeds! Not much else to say other than we’ll shortly be forming a coalition with Scottish Questionable Time. Look forward to our posts detailing the beauty of Glasgow. After all, they’ll be conveniently bite-sized!

Equip defence +2 shield

We get down to serious business straight away with a question on that most glamourous of topics: defence spending. Lucy Powell hesitantly takes to the stand. She’s Labour’s election campaign head honcho, so generally a behind-the-scenes person, and nice as she may well be you can definitely tell that she’s not entirely comfortable being in the spotlight to begin with. She stiltedly splutters out some stuff about ARE BRAVE BOYS and the whole mess being the fault of that nasty Georgie Porgie in Number 11.

Anna Soubry, on the other hand, comes out punching. Anna – Chortles or Miss Jolly Hockey Sticks 2015 to regular readers – is a QT regular and often seems to be experiencing some kind of perverse glee during her performances on the programme. At least, she did in this one. We’re the same, you and I, she says sternly, taunting Lucy while at the same time fending off occasional snarking from Ian Hislop, who is there to pull faces. Labour would only lead you down one road, she warns, in her fearsome turtleneck: the path of chaos! It’s got dog turds strewn all over it!

Ian finally forms a full sentence, warbling for the panel to stop with ‘the party politicals’. Pfuh, he pfuhs. This is basically the extent of his contributions tonight. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Private Eye and Ian too, but he is admittedly very easy to take the piss out of, looking like a frustrated adult baby who is perplexed by the corruptness of his rattle.

The deep and meaningful questions continue with everyone contemplating the meaning of the word ‘army’. Just what is the army for? What even is an army? We just don’t know. Possibly killing people, I’d wager. Then a sudden, worryingly Australian voice pops up from the abyss. It’s Natalie Bennett, still bruised from her disastrous interview that I don’t even want to think about anymore for more than five seconds for fear of cringing myself inside out again.

Get rid of the nukes! she says, apropos of nothing. Dimbles helpfully grills her on the most important issue at hand here, an old policy of army bases possibly being turned into nature reserves. Everybody laughs, but they could be on to something here. Why don’t we have both? Why not let ARE BRAVE BOYS frolic amidst the begonias while whacking passing deer in the head as combat practice? Meanwhile, visitors can have a picnic and enjoy the scenic sights and imminent threat of death. It’s the perfect plan.

(Meanwhile, holy shit, Charles Kennedy looks tired. Are you okay, Charlie? He must be worried about losing his seat. Poor thing. He’s like an endangered and lovable tapir.)

Gurnalition

Next up: would a Labour-SNP coalition be a betrayal to Eng-er-landers?

Chortles leaps into action – telling us that this would not just be a betrayal, but the end of the world as we know it. She looks disappointed in you, the audience, and Dimbleby himself, like your Nan telling you off for throwing up on the carpet. I must confess I am somewhat scared of Anna, especially after her being alleged to have sworn at Ed Miliband in the House that alleged one time. Allegedly. Please don’t sue me, Anna. Honestly though, she’s like Batman: the hero Westminster deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Who may put poor Lucy in a headlock.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Lucy ain’t here for that nonsense, however, and reiterates that she and her party want a majority.

“Everybody says that,” replies Dimbles. Ian Hislop leans back and gurns. Anna also gurns, and makes strange hand gestures to boot.

Ian is then kind enough to explain the history of that poster to us: the shadow of the disastrous yaoi manga couple David Owen ‘n’ David Steel looms large, and Ian’s possibly going to sue the Tories for nicking his idea. I imagine they didn’t use Nicola Sturgeon, the actual leader of the SNP, in the poster because Alex Salmond reminds voters of Shrek. He wants England to get out of his swamp.

Charlie, who hasn’t said much yet, finally gets to do a long speech. A Labour-SNP coalition, he says confidently, won’t happen because they hate each other. What, the Tories and the Lib Dems don’t? splutters Ian. A minority government may happen, Charles soldiers on, with a pact in place. I immediately think of the Lib-Lab pact of the 1970s. Then again, look how that turned out…

In conclusion: everyone’s getting betrayed! I’m betrayed! You’re betrayed! YAYYYY! Let’s get pizza.

Natalie pitches to ‘bring the railways back into public pants’. At least that’s what it sounded like, I don’t understand Australian. #no1curr #it’stheeconomystupid, hashtags Anna. Lucy looks into the camera in despair as Natalie keeps going, undeterred, slyly hinting that the Greens may support a Labour minority government on a vote-by-vote basis.

This is all too confusing. That’s why one should vote Labour and throw out any need for more confusion, nods Lucy. That’s the whole gist of her argument, to be honest. Aren’t you glad I summarised it for you?

Then a very rude man in a tosser-like suit attacks Natalie and the Greens for being DIRTY HIPPIES. He probably owns a fedora and posts libertarian memes on 4chan. See, ma, I can stereotype too! Meanwhile, according to other equally snitty members of the audience, it sounds like England and Scotland are on the brink of war. I don’t like where this is going. Let’s move on, to…

Somebody needs to tell these kids that there’s no pizza in Islamic State so what’s the point

ISIS! What fun. Thankfully most of the running time has been exhausted by now. The panel engages in a condemnation-off as opinions range from a) it isn’t up to us to baby your kids, or indeed tap their technology (Ian and Charlie), to b) these girls may have been groomed so be careful not to be too alienating (Natalie), to c) middle-of-the-road-ness (Lucy). Charlie asks what the question was again. I think we can all relate to that.

Thankfully, the audience fills us in as the panel are busy scratching their heads. A woman asks why were these girls, and others like them, not feeling involved and engaged as part of British society? Has it failed them? Uh, I’d guess so. Another woman cries that it’s all well and good to have a conversation about this subject but we need to start getting answers. Ian knows the answers: it’s because of the perception of good and evil. Black and white. Pizza and chips.

Anna surprisingly calms down and has a go at Nigel Farage (we almost managed a whole show without bringing him up!), but then both she and Ian unleash the wrath of another man in the crowd. “Please don’t nod, Conservative lady, because I’m not agreeing with you,” says he. And thus an internet hero was born. Maybe he’ll also get gifted $10,000 by Ellen DeGeneres like the girl who posted the dress meme.

Finally, JEREMY CLARKSON. But only for five minutes!

“Natalie Bennett, are you a petrolhead?” asks Dimbleby. This was a great use of our time. The most important information to arise, though, was Ian Hislop’s frankly alarming revelation that Clarkson drew blood by hitting him with a pen the last time he was on Question Time and Charles Kennedy was there to confirm it. This means that, yes, Jeremy Clarkson may be a vampire. I didn’t expect it at first but in retrospect everything now makes sense.

Chortles signs us off menacingly.

“No presenter is ever bigger than the show,” she leers, looking at Dimbleby. Ready to unleash her punishment.

Charles Kennedy has ceased to care. So say we all. Well, unless you’re one of the half a million who signed that petition, in which case…#chill.

Time for the scores!

Soubry: 7/10

Mean

Powell: 6/10

Wean(ed off her backroomer-ness)

Kennedy: 7/10

(Vented his) Spleen

Bennett: 6/10

Green (machine)

Hislop: 7/10

(Had a mischievous) Gleam (in his eyes)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Throwing eggs at the) Screen

Next time, probably more gurning.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #120


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Good morrow lemmings and…you know what, I’m not even going to try this time. We know what’s coming. We know the drill. We know what’s been squawked and squealed about on Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed, all the dank fetid corners of the internet. It is merely my job to further poke the weeping scab of depravity until it oozes more putrid, pestilent pus and gets the nice rug all dirty. That’s right…it must be a David Starkey edition of Question Time.

Ahmed, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes

The first question is on free speech, and thus everyone gears up to do some free-speechifyin’. Mehdi Hasan begins by solemnly pointing out the true meaning of Islam and seamlessly leads in to a string of fart jokes. Incredible. There should be more discussions about farting on Question Time, instead of the verbal farts that are usually uncontrollably spilled from panellists’ mouths.

Unfortunately David Starkey then jumps in, and Dimbles has to intervene to prevent a punch-up from starting. Alright then, what does Starkey apparently have an urgent need to say? Let’s at least give him a chance, shall we? Okay, I’m not a big fan of using the term ‘primitive’, but then he seems to have calmed down…talks about how feeling strongly about something doesn’t necessarily protect you from criticism…okay David, nothing’s gone tits-up so f- OH HE’S JUST BLOWN IT! You can literally feel the ‘I’m sorry, WHAT did he say?’ ripple through the studio as he refers to Mehdi by the name…Ahmed. Because, like, all brown people are named Ahmed. Ahmed A. Ahmed of Ahmedson, Ahmedland. Listening in, Anna Soubry vibrates her muzzle back and forth like a soggy basset hound.

Yes, that perennial Questionable Time favourite, Chortles – aka the Conservative Anna Soubry MP – so named for her jolly hockey sticks manner (she was gurning before the questions even began!) has jumped into the fray. She barely gets five words in before David Starkey interrupts her again. “Isn’t that free speech? Allowing somebody else to have a point of view?” she quibbles, but Starkey is undeterred. He’s on a roll now, and will interrupt as many women as possible throughout his reign of terror. #jesuisahmed, goes the joke that by now everyone else has already made.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Douglas ‘interesting’ Alexander hasn’t talked yet, thankfully, because he always puts me straight to slZzZzZz. He too disses Starkey in the most monotone mumble he can muster. Meanwhile, Baroness Sal Brinton (who I’ve never heard of up to this point), wearing a cool Liberal Democrat phoenix glittery brooch, recites that Voltaire quote which approximately one million people on the internet who know absolutely nothing else about Voltaire have already slapped across a Twitter status. What a groundbreaking discussion. Let’s move on.

Snoopers’ poopers

Here we have the obligatory Lib Dem civil liberties blubbering, because this is an important issue to them! You know, despite the whole support for the Lobbying Act and secret courts thing. There’s a warning against the tracking of web browsing history, which I can sympathise with as you probably don’t want to look at mine. A million sweaty nerds would probably turn out in protest against this prospective law, if they can manage to tear themselves away from their tentacle hentai.

Chortles isn’t chortling any more. One is sadly reminded that she’s a Tory after all, despite her ‘having time’ for the Lib Dem coffee-making drones in the government. Douglas says that this is an issue that is “far, far too serious” to be discussed on Question Time. Oh, sorry, he means bickered over in the coalition. But the first one is clearly what he really means.

Mehdi points out that our much-lauded right to ‘freedom of expression’ is actually being kicked in the bum. How does the state accessing ‘your most private emails’ help anyway, says he? Ooh, ‘most private emails’…tell me more, Mehdi. At the same time, Starkey says that “essential human goodness” is bull. Mehdi points out that is true due to the mere existence of David Starkey. This is turning into ‘laugh at Starkey’ show and it’s brilliant. If one can ignore the racism, sexism and general arseholery going on, then the entire experience becomes hilariously ridiculous. Hasan and Starkey sniping at each other will never cease to amuse. At least it won’t to me, but I am easily amused.

The next question is on the claim a judge made that a 16-year-old girl ‘groomed’ a 44-year-old man into having an affair with her. This is obviously a serious subject, and rightly most of the panellists condemn the judge’s remarks. Indeed, as pointed out, Anna and Douglas even used to be lawyers, so they do have experience of this kind of thing, maybe we should listen to th- NOPE DAVID STARKEY WANTS TO PLAY. He is as offensive as you can imagine. Can I use my freedom of speech to tell him to shut up and stop claiming that the girl seduced a pathetic dude who should have known better?

It’s about the abuse of power, Anna Soubry explains, as if to a particularly dense child.
“SHUT UP”, yells Starkey (really!). Soubry looks genuinely shocked that anyone could be such a bellend. As he blathers on about ‘sexually mature’ 13-year-olds, Soubry groans and moans in possibly physical pain. “Oh no…” she mumbles, “ohhhh noooo.”

Same here, Chortles. Same here.

Daffy deficit

Finally, next up is…the deficit. A dull and generic discussion compared to the exciting scenes that came before. Douglas is predictably soporific. “Thirteen years!” says Anna. I’m so bored of these endless back-and-forths that I can’t wait for the slightly different generic arguments that will come about after the election, whatever the result may be. Just think of the new, exciting buzzwords and catchphrases! Endless possibilities!

“We’ve got to start choosing,” says Starkey. I choose a world without David Starkey. Will that save us money?

We end with Chortles calling Mehdi a naughty boy, which I must confess I was slightly freaked out by.

Time for the scores!

Soubry: 7/10

(Will probably get a) Promotion

Alexander: 4/10

(Showed no) Emotion

Brinton: 5/10

(Going through the) Motions

Hasan: 7/10

(My) potions (are too strong for you, traveller)

Starkey: 3/10, 10/10 for sheer hilarity

Caused a (commotion)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Do the) Locomotion

Next time, Paul ‘get some nuts’ Nuttall. Who’s been hankering after ol’ Nige’s job, apparently. Bow down to your future king.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #104


questionable time 104 david dimbleby streaker wimbledon
Good morrow lemmings, Elizabeth here, filling in for Ye Webmaster, with one eye on the tennis, another one on Dimbleby’s horrendous blue toad-patterned tie, and another on my extensive 50,000 word text document ‘dedicatedtoandycoulson.txt’ which consists only of the words HA HA HA HA HA repeated over and over again.

I think we can all agree that it’s been a long ride, but finally the wait is over: journalists across the country have stepped blinking into the light as the trial of the century is finally over. No mention of the gloriously vindicated Madame Curly Wurly in this edition, but plenty of hand-wringing and harrumphing nonetheless.

Not-so-jolly hockey sticks

Last night Chortles was back and more Head Girl than ever. She shook her head at John Prescott in the manner of a disappointed sixth form prefect telling off a naughty new bug. She rigorously defended David Cameron from any abuse hurled his way, whacking great unanswered questions about Essex boy Andy back at the audience with her metaphorical hockey sticks of terror. Based! On! The! Knowledge! He! Had! At! The! Time! A perfect volley, which despite Prezza’s best efforts he was not quite able to break through.

Speaking of terror, was she deliberately channelling Maggie Thatcher or what? The pearls, the hair, the dead-eyed stare…the only difference was her choice of a red jacket, no doubt stained in the blood of visiting netball teams.

Later on, on the extremism question, she seemed to have calmed down. But then, out of nowhere, Paul Nuttall suddenly decided to go for her. “NUT ‘ER, NUTTALL!” the spirit of Nigel Farage, which permanently haunts the Question Time set, roared in a drunken stupour. From then, all bets were off. From testing out her variety of withering looks to artfully breathing the words “six hundred thousand?!” in disgust, Nuttall, despite having tried out the ‘no really, I’m a reasonable guy, please believe me’ tactic pretty well for most of the show (the ‘not-Roger Helmer’ approach, it’s no doubt called, complete with lack of spectacular moustache and more of a bargain bin Al Murray’s Pub Landlord aesthetic) was so thoroughly sent flying that Dimbleby had to stop the programme briefly to remind everyone to tweet in or whatever it is these young folks are doing these days.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Despite all this, the highlight of her performance was still the understatement of the century: “I don’t agree with Ken [Clarke] on this one”, referring to yet another edition of Ken-says-whatever-he-damn-well-likes. Not many Tories do, Anna. Not many Tories do.

‘Connecting’ with the public

Everyone’s out to get John Prescott. I am, you am, your mum probably am. But most of all, the bloody newspapers am. Prescott is always entertaining on Question Time, partly because his entire being bobs up and down in his seat like a boat wobbling in the harbour. Neil Wallis attemped to push the great beast back, but could only get into a yelling match over who was the most, and I quote, ‘bloody incompetent’, which basically went like this: “No you!” “No, you!” “Noooo, yoooou!”

It doesn’t matter if he was Deputy Prime Minister or President of the World, Prezza has passed the point of caring and can shake his head at Ed Miliband posing with the Sun all he likes. He also spent a lot of the time grinning as Soubry and Nuttall had a fight, like an excitable toddler waiting for his puréed banana at dinnertime. So really, in conclusion, he didn’t score any knock out blows, and indeed missed more than he hit last night. And yet I don’t mind purely because he still says the word ‘bloody’ on camera much to David Dimbleby’s general exasperation with everything.

Also, could Prezza take Suárez in a fight? Even if he is getting on a bit, I’m betting yes, and would pay gratuitous amounts of money for this epoch-making event to be televised.

I’ve covered Nuttall already, damn

Meanwhile, Neil Wallis had a bit of a tough job on his hands. He was there as the representation of all that is evil in the world – he knew that, and he hated it. He was greatly offended when Paul Nuttall declared that, rejoice rejoice, newspapers were SO OVER. He huffed and puffed as the audience, that judgemental bunch of fools, attempted to imply that Andy Coulson was anything less than a lovely chap who just lost his way, the poor love. He delicately described Damian McBride as ‘an interesting person’. He was everything you expected him to be and nothing less and/or more.

Maajid Nawaz, who I must say has some great hair, was much the same. Maajizzle was here as an outlier, an extremist, a dangerous ideologue – that’s right – …a Liberal Democrat. So for the first two thirds of the programme he adopted his party’s fail-safe tactic of sitting on the fence and being pretty dull. Let’s be reasonable here, guys. Everyone hates us already, so it doesn’t matter if we slag off Murdoch!

He also took the time to remind us that Muslims generally aren’t evil soul-sucking monsters. Thank you for this information. It is a sad world we live in that we have to be actually reminded of this fact.

I was hoping for more arguments but then the programme devolved into a pun-off. So here’s the scores.

Soubry: 6/10

Kept score

Prescott: 5/10

At one point almost swore

Nawaz: 5/10

Decent if a bore

Nuttall: 4/10

Euroscepticism galore

Wallis: 3/10

Please, no more

The Crowd: 5/10

Who cares about Juncker anymore?

Now clear off or I’ll hack yer phone.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #90


Good morrow lemmings and ‘welcome’ to sunny Newport for another edition of Questionable Time. I’m filling in short-notice for the Glorious Webmaster, although he did leave me with some lovely graphics to use. Now, I was looking forward to an exciting rant-a-thon this week, but unfortunately things didn’t exactly turn out that way. However, there was still a great deal of stuff to make fun of, which is what’s really important here. Let’s do it, let’s B&Q it.

(To the tune of the Batman theme song) Annannannanna Sou-bry!

Anna Soubry is a woman who reminds me a lot of my mum at my primary school sports day. That is to say, supportive, likable, eager to muck in, but with a hint of stony realism behind the eyes that betrays the crushing disappointment she truly feels in her heart of hearts and soul of souls. That was Anna Soubry last night. She was successful in maneuvering her way around a tricky audience: a grumbly shouty Newport audience (although I don’t think there is any other type of Newport audience), and ran rings around Rushanara Ali even on the topics you’d think she’d trip up on (AKA bankers’ bonuses). While the crowd was unforgiving, she managed to survive, even if she had to cling on by her nails and use that old chestnut “you had thirteen years to regulate the banks!” It worked though, and she wasn’t half bad on the other questions either. Her disdain for UKIP is endearing at least. Unless you’re UKIP.

ANNA-SOUBRY-LOL-GIF

Fig. 1

Overall, she seems like a woman who probably had an acutely embarrassing nickname as a schoolgirl, like ‘Chortles’, and the experience has made her ready for anything the world can throw at her. Also, her one slip-up did lead to the best bit of the show: responding “I’m sure I have!” when asked if she’d ever apologised. A warm and cynical laugh – two adjectives that don’t usually go so well together – emanated from the tough Newport stock of the crowd, and all was well in the world.

(To the tune of ‘Prince Ali’ from Aladdin) Ms Ali, mighty is she, Ali Rushanara

Rushanara Ali seems like a nice lady, but let’s just say the questions didn’t fall right for her this time around. It started off OK-ish: surviving the bonuses question, and even the IRA question, but when she got to Harmangate she was sadly bowled over, probably due to the fact that the rest of her party was currently running around like headless chickens over the subject and she didn’t have any option but to play goalie against a football the size of a double-decker bus. I’m not sure if that metaphor makes sense, but you know what I mean.

If I may put on my smartypants hat for once, this probably has to do with her inexperience. She wasn’t prepared for the focus on jolly old Wales, and it was telling putting her up against Anna Soubry, who easily knew how to counter her answers – Rushanara could only blink to herself like a rabbit in the headlights as the panel engaged in a routine that looked like it came out of a Brass Eye special – an anti-paedophile outrage-off.

“I’M SO DISGUSTED I’LL EAT MY SHOES!” said one, only not really.

“OH YEAH? I’M SO DISGUSTED I’M GOING TO VOMIT ALL MY INTERNAL ORGANS THROUGH MY NOSE! HOW’S THAT FOR DISGUST?!”

“THAT’S NOT NEARLY DISGUSTED ENOUGH, YOU PAEDOLOVER!”

If that wasn’t enough, then came the stock question about immigration (Question Time rule: when in doubt, ask about immigrants!) and the panel devolved into trying to out-foreign background each other. Dimbleby looked on, appearing, as I believe the yoof say these days, 500% done.

(To the tune of my terrified tears) Mel P, the other Spice Girl

Melanie Phillips has left the building.

No, really, I was disappointed! I was hoping that she’d really let loose, like a water cannon on a bunch of Ukrainian protesters. But where was she tonight? Aside from a brief cry against political correctness gawrn mad, where was this legendary splitter of Twitter, this column scrawler and socialist-brawler, that stuns the internet every time she opens her mouth? Has Katie Hopkins usurped her? Could it be…that she actually toned it down on purpose?

I mean, no, naw, nah, that’s impossible. It’s not as though she wants her job at the Mail back…or anything…or that her last performance cost her dearly…or anything…no, nothing like that, and I don’t really care. All I’m saying is, it makes for boring television, doesn’t it? Farewell, Melanie Phillips, we’ll always remember how much you look like an evil Jacqueline Wilson.

How do you pronounce ‘Elfyn Llwyd’?

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about Wales except from what I learned from Gavin and Stacey and a visit to the Green Man Festival in 2007. However, Elfyn Llwyd wouldn’t be that bad of an advertisement, with his cuddly face, fluffy moustache, and a voice that could send you to sleep. Yes, Elf-man (I’m calling him Legolas) was calm, collected, and utterly soporific. This was probably for the best as even when he was arguing for all of the UK’s banks to be hit repeatedly with a shovel, or perhaps an army of shovels, Melanie Phillips did not round on him and rip his moustache from his face with her mighty jaws. No matter what he said, people appeared to nod dreamily to themselves, drifting through the land of Nod. I quite enjoyed the sensation. In conclusion, well done, Legolas Lwywlwlywylwl…zzz.

Wake up!

What? I was having a nap. Oh yeah, there was another guy there, right…Jay Rayner, the food critic guy, who seems to be on this programme a lot for some reason. In contrast to Elfyn, Jay was downright morose. There’s no way to properly regulate the banks, he mumped. Gosh, this IRA business is a bit grim, he fumped. He did get more lively when the topic shifted to the Daily Mail’s coverage of Harmangate, and pointed out their slightly creepy tendency towards printing pictures of 12 year old girls in bikinis. Melanie Phillips shook her head in exasperation, which is more than she did against the actual politicians on this programme (apart from Rushanara, who at this point was staring into nothingness, hoping to get a nice question on kittens).

Scores time!

Soubry: 7/10

Tough

Ali: 4/10

Rebuff(ed)

Llwyd: 6/10

Fluff(y moustache)

Phillips: 4/10

(A bit) Rough

Rayner: 5/10

(Had) Enough

The Crowd: 6/10

Gruff

So it wasn’t a vintage question time, to be sure. Even Melanie Phillips didn’t reach her expected levels of bile. Oh well, next week has Hezza, and hopefully his phone will go off again.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #77


questionable time 77 david dimbleby

Good morning Lemmings and where do we find ourselves on the one week where I actually wanted QT to be in Scotland? Stranded in the flatlands of Lincolnshire, that’s bloody where. Still, considering this is possibly the first show in the current run where there’s been nary a mention of utility bills I shall suck this puddle of iniquitous happenstance up with good grace and go about my work without rancour. Alright, so there might be a little bit of rancour but that’s just par for the course. Off we go…

I don’t practice Santeria, I ain’t got no crystal ball…

…But if I was ever to need a conduit to the Land of the Dead it would be Anna Soubry who I’d turn to based entirely on the remarkable job she did last night in channelling the spirit of the late Margaret Thatcher. It was an eerie spectacle: Soubry, still smarting from her endearingly ramshackle tumble through the first question suddenly fell into a trance-like state as Farage was getting busy putting the frighteners about. Arguments and ill-tempered exchanges flourished with both panelists and audience taking umbrage with one another yet Soubry remained hunched in silence, eyes fixed on an invisible point in infinity. “Over to you, Anna Soubry” came the call and then a pause as her head slowly raised to reveal gaping black holes where eyes should have been before rotating through a full 360 degrees.

They come here to WORK. They come here to do JOBS”

A chill descended on the studio as that ominous, just-a-little-too-long pause at the start of each sentence, that crawling slow delivery, that emphatic emphasis on the last word started to fire off flickers of recognition in the minds of all those present. Wait a second… I know who that sounds like… It’s… Oh Jesus no… The Iron Lady has cheated death!

Alright, so that might have been a slight exaggeration as it was actually more like a plummy sounding woman trying to do an impression of a woman who went out of her way to sound very plummy but the similarities were unmistakable – uncanny even – and my suspicion is that this is what Anna Soubry does when she knows she’s in a tight spot: She shuts her eyes, clenches her fists as tight as she can and keeps repeating “What would Maggie do? What would Maggie do? What would Maggie do?” over and over until her inner-Thatcher comes and rescues her. Given that I’m not exactly a fan of the late-PM, you’d think I’d view this as an undesirable trait but in fact I’ve grown to quite like it because it’s like a self negating-prophesy. Think about it, what would Maggie do? Well, she definitely wouldn’t be asking anyone for advice because she’d already know with horrifying certainty exactly what it was she wanted to do in the first place. I also have to admit that weird as it was, Soubry’s little voodoo ceremony actually turned out rather well and that’s the thing about Soubry – although she quite often buggers things up on QT she has a knack of shambling through things in a pleasingly game sort of way… And that, dear Lemmings, is definitely not what Maggie would do.

I hear music when I see Emily Thornberry…

…Not celestial choirs or anything like that but there are two tracks that pop into my head when I see her. The first is Foghat’s Slow Ride and I hear this when she’s doing well – you know, like when her voice goes all buttery and everything she says sounds mellow and reasonable. The second song however is Screeching Weasel’s Breaking Point and I hear this whenever she starts to get grumpy – you know, like when she does the rolly eye thing and everything she says sounds sarky and sanctimonious. Happily for Emily I’m pleased to report that we had a full evening of Slow Ride – not least on account of the unspoken truce between Teams Red and Blue in the face of the Garish Yellow and Purple Team– but I won’t go quite as far in my praise as the author of this text I received during the show did (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

All those wishing to chip into the Bet Against Uglymonkey Fund, please make yourselves known by way of the comments box.

Nigel’s playing for keepsies…

So we’ve all become quite accustomed to the cock-a-hoop/waggy-tailed/I-can’t-believe-I’m-getting-away-with-it Farage of late and that’s been a fun exercise in both mischief and farce, not least because no-one (except Michael Crick) has got hurt and it all just feels like mid-term tomfoolery. However all good things come to an end and it appears we are now stuck with a much more hard-headed, composed and actually rather steely Farage who’s up to his old tricks of selling crazy to Middle England (see Fig. 2). The most worrying bit is how well he managed to keep it all together last night – no getting carried away with it all, no talking himself into a corner – not to mention the fact that there was clearly a big appetite for the rather bitter dish he was serving. It was also probably his least fun appearance to date and I’m wondering how long that can be sustained – could we tolerate a ‘sensible’ Farage and everything that entails? I suspect not.

nigel farage the shining

Fig. 2

And the remainder?

I should tell Benjamin Zephaniah off for never really answering questions and trading in the vaguest of vagaries but who am I kidding? Like I could find it in my heart to go to town on clearly the nicest man in the whole world. As for Vicky Pryce, well what to make of her? She likes numbers – that was made pretty clear from the outset – and she also likes swallowing very hard mid-sentence. However, the bit that got me was the anecdote about the woman in the burqa eating an egg and how much that totally blew her mind. An egg! Eating it! In a burqa! Vicky Pryce: She’s seen things you wouldn’t believe…

Tl;dr

Soubry: 6/10

(Is very) Game

Thornberry: 7/10

(Deserves modest) Acclaim

Farage: 5/10

(Managed to) Blame (the EU for just about everything again)

Zephaniah: 6/10

(Did the) Same (things as he always does in the same lovely way)

Pryce: 5/10

(Did) Exclaim (much bewilderment at eggs and burqas)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Are fans of so-hot-right-now Californian trio) Haim

Well, that was right old school, what with the wall-to-wall talk on immigration. I guess it makes a change from gas bills though. Now, just so you know, I’m not going to be here next week but in a Questionable Time first I will have someone standing in for me. Her name’s Elizabeth, she’s the brains behind the consistently chucklesome Cones Hotline and she’ll be at the helm for next week’s nautical little jaunt to Pompey. Bud-a-bup-bup-bup-budda-budda-budda-bup (to the confused, that’s the theme from Blue Peter… It just felt appropriate…)!

Sort of next week Lemmings… Sort of…

Questionable Time #63


questionable time 63 david dimbleby aliens colonial marine

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to a very hasty Questionable Time – hasty because I’ve got a plane to catch in a couple of hours and I’ll be damned if yammering on about dork stuff is going to derail my carefully laid plans to access the ‘Sun’. Apparently it’s this giant ball of burning hydrogen that appears in the sky and bathes those below with life-giving rays. I’m personally sceptical but you know… In for a penny, in for a pound. Anyway, I’m yammering and we haven’t even got on to the dork stuff yet so let’s get this road on the show.

Once a Labour Home Sec, always a Labour Home Sec…

Remember Patricia Hewitt? She was that very headmistressy Labour Health Secretary who had a rare talent for winding up health professionals and putting front line noses out of joint, something I can attest to because I worked for the NHS during the back-end of her tenure and found my nose to be as out of kilter as everyone else’s. Hewitt’s problem (other than having to aggressively push through some rather unpopular changes) was that she wasn’t good with people and often came across as cold, jagged and brittle – not really the sort of look you’re after when you’re the head of Britain’s caring professions – and when the news came down that she would be replaced by Alan Johnson you could hear a sigh of relief ripple across the nation’s health centres: Finally we were getting someone who actually seemed vaguely human.

And very human he was. Sure, the policies didn’t change much but we could put up with them because the person asking us to get our knickers in a twist about ‘patient choice’ (which was essentially code for ‘creeping privatisation’) had a warmth and normality to him that never made it seem like he was talking down to us. Fast forward a couple of years and Johnson’s getting promoted to Home Secretary. ‘Hmmmm’ I thought. ‘Maybe, just maybe this is the guy who can get the Home Office to chill out and stop acting like a bunch of heavy-handed paranoid yahoos’. Wrong. WRONG!

No, as we saw last night, Johnson was just as susceptible as any other to that strange disease that’s afflicted every Labour Home Secretary since 2001 and in even worse news, it appears that the affliction never entirely leaves its host – it just lies dormant until someone says the word ‘terrorism’. So it was that we opened last night’s show with Johnson displaying all the symptoms of Homesecretitis – a fever for surveillance, cold sweats of intercept evidence, a clammy sheen of national security clinging to his brow – and it wasn’t until mid-show that the spasms finally passed and he finally reverted back to his normal state of being a generally decent, reasonable bloke (decent and reasonable enough to fight Anna Soubry’s corner on the matter of Friday Deaths in hospitals). But still, it was rather jarring because I really do rather admire Johnson and to watch him suddenly become engulfed in this whole Tough Guy/If You Knew What I Knew act is a little heartbreaking. It also looks very odd when those sentiments come from the lips of a man who displays more than a passing resemblance to David Bowie (see Fig. 1)

alan johnson david bowie

Fig. 1

Soubry’s gradually growing me…

…Mainly because there’s something endearingly amateurish about her. Now, by that I’m not saying that she is an amateur as she appears to have a proper job and everything but it’s the way she’s got a very visible feedback loop. For example, when she sticks her foot in it (which is quite often) she can’t disguise that ‘Oh crikey, I’ve really buggered this up!’ look that flashes across her face and I quite like that as it makes her appear relatively normal. As it happens, she managed not to stick her foot in anything last night but the feedback loop was still very visible: It said ‘Golly gosh gal, you’re really doing rather well at this!’ and again, it made her look like an actual person as opposed to a locked down hack who’s playing it by the numbers. So, while I am a little disappointed that she didn’t let her jauntiness run away with itself and get her into all sorts of trouble, I’ll let her off on the grounds of human authenticity. Next time though I’d like to hear at least one ill-considered and inflammatory statement pass her lips… You know, just to keep her grounded.

I’m not sure if I can cope with a sensible Kipper…

Alright, what’s going on here then? A Kipper who spends 80% of the show not being totally harebrained and only gets marginally wound up about the EU in the remaining 20%? Something’s wrong. The plan has gone awry. Farage promised me clowns but has instead sent a vaguely competent individual who is largely in control of their faculties. I want my money back.

Medhi’s back on form…

I had a pop as Hasan last time for being grumpy (to which he kindly responded by declaring Questionable Time to be “mildly amusing if lengthy”… Fair play Medhi, fair play) but he gets a free pass this week because the terrorism question re-kindled all that passion that made him such a good read back when we were up to our necks in the stuff. It wasn’t just me either: The crowd were very taken with him and that made for a virtuous circle where they geed each other up and gave Johnson/Soubry a right good rollicking. So well done Medhi and if you wish to subsequently describe Questionable Time as “blisteringly funny and of entirely appropriate length”, that would be just fine with me.

And Fellowes?

Not a lot to say except that he harvested all the low hanging fruit and his sentences always sound like they’re teetering drunkenly at the top of a staircase, just waiting to topple over. It’s because he taaaaalks like thiiiiiiiiis.

Tl;dr (And no rhymes because I’m the bloody departure lounge)

Johnson: 5/10

Soubry: 6/10

James: 5/10

Hasan: 8/10

Fellowes: 6/10

The Crowd: 7/10

Hmmmmm, not a bad episode all told. Right, I’ve got to skiddadle for the boarding gate so sorry if it’s been a little slap-dash but normal service will resume in a week’s time.

Additional Note of Minor Import:

It recently occurred to me that I’ve been generating an awful lot of non-QT graphics type stuff and that it hasn’t had a proper home. Rather than watching it traipse forlornly around Twitter and Facebook I’ve finally got round to setting up another site in order to provide it with a modicum of dignity. If you’d like to check it out, you can find it here. On top of that, should you wish to buy the rather fetching Nick Cotton themed greetings card I knocked up, you can do so here.


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