Posts Tagged 'Boris Johnson'

Questionable Time #66


 questionable time 66 david dimbleby goth

Good morning Lemmings and I hope you’ve brought provisions with you (sandwiches would be a start although booze will ultimately be of greater utility) because we’ve got an awful lot to get through today. Right, no messing about, let’s get cracking.

So Mel finally went off the deep end…

I was going to start with Brand but seeing how this site’s being absolutely hammered by people arriving from the search term ‘Melanie Phillips Question Time’ – not to mention the fact that my twitter feed has become a solid wall of people going on a Mel bender – I thought it prudent to bow to the wishes of the great unwashed. Anyway, prior to last night’s show I was feeling somewhat ambivalent about Phillip’s being on as she’s been relatively well-behaved of late. Granted, she’s managed to maintain an underlying level of bonkersness and there’s always some sort of societal windmill she’s been able to tilt at but compared to the uber-rabid Londonistan-era Mel, I rather feared that she was losing her teeth.

Nor did her answers early in the show do anything to dispel this feeling and in actual fact, most of what she came out with was pretty tame: On bankers she was so-so (although did manage to slip in an obligatory dig at nurses… well done there) while the drugs question saw her going through some hard-line motions but it was all the fairly predictable, doom-laden stuff that she routinely churns out. ‘That’s it.’ I thought. ‘The old girl’s finally cashed in her chips. Godspeed Mel, may you while away your days in crotchety grumpiness’. However that was before the question about Syria landed.

It all started innocuously enough – a dig at Cameron here, a failed state or two there – but then went sideways as she arrived at her two ‘I’s: Israel and Iran. The first sign that things were becoming unstuck was when she demanded that Iran be “neutralised” but that was just a warm-up. No, what really sent her over the edge was the bally gall of the audience to offer a collective tut at this idea. That was it. Out came the finger, jabbing away like a little spear of crazy as she laid into the “defeatism of the British people”. Naturally, slagging off 60 million people in one effortless little sentence did little to sooth the crowd and the tutting soon became the ominous rumble of boos, but Mel wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot.

HOW TRIVIAL OF YOU! HOW IGNORANT OF YOU!” was her next line and with it went any hope that the show might remain tenuously anchored in reality. The ominous rumble escalated, insults were traded and the good ship Question Time proceeded to turn turtle before finally disappearing beneath the unrelenting waves of farce that swamped its decks.

Twelve hours have passed since that incident and as I now peer at the fuzzy sonar scan of the show’s watery grave I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, this is the sort of thing that Questionable Time should thrive on – you know, bangs and crashes, bells and whistles, that sort of thing – and a part of me is quite pleased to see that Mel’s back and as unhinged as ever. Yet there was also something about the pure bitterness behind it all (from both Phillips and the crowd) that makes me feel a little queasy. Is this what we really wanted? The spectacle of a woman who’s essentially given up on humanity reaching snapping point in front of an audience of millions? The base, impulsive side of me says it is but deep down I can’t escape the feeling that we’ve traded in a stable, long-term relationship for a dirty little grope in a stationary cupboard.

You know something’s gone deeply awry when Boris starts looking like a voice of reason…

Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you by the above statement but I’ve got to admit that it’s essentially true: Boris was – in the main – actually pretty level-headed last night. True, he couldn’t sustain this new and rather disconcerting look for the entire show and by the end of the it he had assumed his more familiar form – that of a Rube Goldberg contraption brought to life (please click that link as it contains some pure brilliant). But still, I can’t deny that for the majority of it he actually resembled what can only be described as a ‘politician’ and when it came to the Syria, I was pretty much in total agreement with him. I know, I know… This is all a little difficult to take in but trust me, it happened and again, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s like the QT I know and love just got its ears pierced, bought a motorbike and told the kids that Daddy needs some time to go and ‘find himself’. In short, confusion is reigning in my head right now along with a troubling sense of abandonment.

Will the real Russell Brand please stand up?

My one great hope for last night’s episode was that I might finally be able to form a definitive opinion about Russell Brand, something that has so far eluded me despite repeated attempts to peg him down. Here’s the thing – behind all the sex and drugs and Dickensian wibbling you do occasionally catch a glimpse of a thoughtful, sensitive and actually quite vulnerable man. Remember when he gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee about drugs policy? That was one of those rare, fleeting glimpses and that’s the Brand I’d like to like.

But they are so rare and while you’re waiting for them you have to endure the contrived dumbing down, the ‘awight mate Mr Dimbleby sir me lord’ and the nagging feeling that his ego may be reaching the point where it can’t support its own weight any more. And that, frankly, upsets me off because he doesn’t have to do it. Yes, I get that this may all be part of a grand plan to make politics ‘accessible’ and ‘relevant’ but I can’t help feeling like I’m being stealthily patronised whilst simultaneously being force-fed a year’s supply of low-hanging fruit.

Fundamentally though, there’s a more profound problem I have with Brand and it’s about trying to work out where the persona ends and the real man begins. I hoped that last night might bring me a little closer to sussing that out but alas, it was not to be.

Reasons why I’m quietly falling in love with Ed Davey…

  1. I think he’s in politics for the right reasons. True, he doesn’t offer much in the way of thrills and that streak of inevitable careerism is hard to ignore but I genuinely get the feeling that he’s a sensible man who wants to make a sensible world using sensible means. We sort of need a few of them kicking about.
  2. He and Jowell were about that only things that reassured me that I wasn’t in fact watching a Year 9 drama group attempting to perform a parody of Question Time.
  3. When I take notes for the show, I refer to the panelists by their initials – Davey’s being ED. Pleasingly, whenever I read the notes back in my head his name always comes out as ‘Aer-Der!’. It’s the little things that count in life.

And just in case you were worried that Tessa Jowell might neglect to mention the Olympics…

…She manages to squeeze one in during the dying seconds of the show. Phew! For a second there I thought we were in trouble. Anyway, it was a good innings from Jowell last night, particularly as Dimbers did seem to have it in for her at the start of the show. It was also the first time that I’ve heard a convincing apology for Labour’s failure to regulate the banks coming from someone who was very much at the heart of that ill-fated project. And that dear Lemmings may even warrant an extra point.

Tl;dr

Johnson: 6/10

Odd(ly restrained)…

Phillips: 3/10

(Rode rough)Shod (over any sense of proportionality)…

Brand: 5/10

(Is a tricky) Sod (to pin down)…

Davey: 6/10

Plod(s sensibly on)…

Jowell: 7/10

(Gave a knowing) Nod (to Labour’s culpability)…

The Crowd: 6/10

(Did a good job at being the Awkward) Squad…

Right, this has to end because I’m way over my thousand words and need to sit in a darkened room for at least a week. Before I go there’s the small matter of this week’s pshop which I’ve stuck below (see Fig. 1).

boris-johnson-russel-rand-hair-swap-gif

Fig. 1

Yeah, it’s not my finest work but that’s probably because I wazzed all my pixels up the wall making this rather beautiful Farage design which may just be available in t-shirt form in the none-too-distant-future. Watch this space. So anyway that’s your lot and let’s hope that Daddy returns next week – minus that ghastly leather jacket of course…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #41


question time david dimbleby magrite 41

Morning Lemmings and praise be, I managed to stay conscious throughout last night’s Question Time, a titanic feat made easier only by the absence of Danny Alexander and his voice. So bully for me, bully for you and bully for everyone. In short, bully all round.  Right, let’s get on with this.

 

Ok, so the first (repeat) offenders in my sights tonight take the shapely form of Boris Johnson and Diane Abbott, both of whom are very much personality based politicians (although cut form very different cloth) and both of whom, I suspect, are sitting on the horns of a dilemma right now. In the case of Boris, it’s very much to do with the fact that he’s been slightly wildernessed by events and that his naturally ambitious streak is having to rub up against the cruel mistress of reality. If we cast our minds back to a few years ago, you literally couldn’t switch on the telly without being assaulted by some sort of Borisness and despite the occasional gaffe, this worked very much in his favour as he had carved a very comfortable little niche for himself as The Nation’s Favourite Posh Idiot. Sure, technically he was a shadow minister, but by having fostered a cult of personality based largely around buffoonery and bluster, he was given a very generous portion of latitude with which to clown about and cement his position as the only Tory who people could actually begin to relate to (I use the term ‘relate’ in a very loose sense, like in the way we instinctively relate to people who accidentally wet themselves in public or walk around with spinach stuck between their teeth for days on end). However, Boris is a man who never seems content with his current position and beneath all the red-faced boyish caperings, it was clear that he was desperately searching for a bigger fish to fry and that ultimately, the biggest fish would always be the leadership of the Tory party. Unfortunately for Boris, these ambitions were very much put on ice thanks to the ascendance of David Cameron and never being one to play second fiddle, he instead focused on becoming Mayor of London, something that he inexplicably managed to achieve.

 

On the face of it, this should have been a triumph and for a good two years, he was the only Tory in the country who actually wielded any power. However, this seemingly benign turn of events also contained some nasty, jagged reefs just beneath the surface and as time went on, it became clear that this probably wasn’t the cushy number he had hoped it to be. Sure, having some real power is nice and all, but it becomes increasingly difficult to arse about on Have I Got New For You when you’ve got to wake up in the morning and run one of the largest cities in the world and the brand of endearing klutzery that you peddled prior to being in office is no longer the Get Out Of Jail Free Card it once was. “Never mind though” thought Boris, “it’s only a matter of time before the right-wing of the party get fed up with Cameron’s Bodenocracy and as soon as he appears to falter, there I will be, ready and waiting to seize the reigns of power”. On the face of it, that was a pretty good plan but unfortunately, the right wing insurgency hasn’t seemed to have materialised, Cameron is proving to be much more resilient than many gave him credit for and Boris is still knee-deep in being Mayor and having to appear like he isn’t a total disaster. Worsts.

 

The upshot of all this is that Boris is now rather boxed in when it comes to shows like Question Time. In the past, he could happily play things for laughs, do that whole ‘look at me, using long words and getting in flap’ thing and still go home knowing that one day, the time would be right for him to go for the leadership. Now, he has to temper all the idiosyncracies with a measure of sensibility and present a picture of someone who might actually be capable of getting dressed in the morning, let alone be charge of the capital. That’s not to say that he didn’t have the odd flourish here and there on last night’s show and there were times when he made the odd funny, but I can’t help thinking that he just seems a little frustrated and lost at the moment. It’s also personally galling as I spent a fair bit of time making this pshop of him last night (see Fig. 1) in the certainty that he was going to drop a clanger when it came to the inevitable protest question, but he didn’t really go beyond the standard ‘oiks are bad’ line, much to my chagrin. So come on Boris, let’s just drop the façade. Yes, you were infuriating when you were knee-deep in your ‘Blimey, I think my flies are undone’ phase but I prefer outrage to muted ambivalence so buck up your ideas and stop being so damn…. so damn… not weird! Enough said.

boris johnson riot bike

Fig. 1

 

So, on to Diane who is also in a not dissimilar pickle having hewed her public persona out of the quarry non-conformism, an exercise that is pretty easy from the backbenches but much tougher when you’re having to at least make a semblance of toeing the party line. In actual fact, I think she came off worse than Boris did because she seems so unused to speaking anything other than what’s on her mind. At points, it seemed the two of them were engaged in a contest of who could apply the word ‘vindictive’ the most times to the other’s policies, but despite a late rally on the EMA question, Boris emerged the victor. Also, when it came to the questions about the protest march and Libya, it was pretty clear that she was really having to reign herself in and not just march headlong into a protracted rant about where Labour went wrong, a situation that lent an air of uncertainty to her performance. Not all of this is Diane’s fault as Labour itself is still grappling with the thorny issue of what they actually stand for and just what in the hell to make of the Blair/Brown legacy, but I very much got the impression that she was pulling her punches last night. For someone who made their name by having principles that went beyond the straight jacket of party politics, that’s not a good look, even if it is a look that inevitably comes with the territory. My advice Dianne? Just jack it in now. You were very effective at playing the role of conscience to the Labour party and I miss you trying to grapple with The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name between you and Portillo on the This Week sofa. In fact, I’ll pay you to go back on This Week because if I see Jacqui Smith on there one more time, I don’t know what I might do. Seriously, I could become capable of some horrible, horrible things if I have to go through that again. So, please Dianne, for the sake of the nation.

Up next we have Sarah Teather, a woman so geometrically round (not fat, just round) that she appears to be constructed from a set of interlocking circles (see Fig. 2) and is enduring a similar fate to that of Baroness Warsi; the post-election shunt to the political broom cupboard. Prior to last May’s WTF-ery one could be forgiven for thinking that Teather was the only Liberal Democrat in existence thanks to her seemingly endless appearances on shows like Question Time, but since then she’s been notable only by her absence. I’m wondering if some of this is actually of her own volition because she spent most of last night looking like a naughty school child in the middle of receiving the mother of all bollockings (much like Cable in the earlier post-election chapters of The Passion St. Vince) and given her generally hangdog demeanour, it was pretty clear that she wasn’t enjoying herself. Part of me thinks this is shame because when she was in heavy rotation, she was bloody good, harrying both Labour and the Tory’s in equal measure whenever the opportunity presented itself and you could occasionally see some of the residue of her past glory on last night’s show, like when she came out fighting about the proposed replacement for EMA. However, another part of me thinks that actually, this is a necessary part of the process: Watching people like Teather go from being some of the most persuasive proponents of genuinely progressive policies to playing the gimp in Osborne’s S&M Dungeon has been painful for me to watch and I can at least take a little comfort in the fact that these people still have a conscience left to punish themselves with. In that sense, we really are All In This Together.

sarah-teather-circles-gif

Fig. 2

OK, I’ve waffled about the first three quite a bit so let’s make it brief for Victim’s #4 and #5. First up is TUC bod Mark Serwotka who did a decent job at not being Bob Crow. Yes, some of it sounded a bit pious and soapboxy, but at least I didn’t have to hide under the covers through the fear that he might physically smash his way out of the TV screen and then punch me repeatedly for not going on the march (I am sorry Bob. I was at home playing Battlefield: Vietnam. I think that makes it even worse, doesn’t it?). But yes, he did pretty well and there was fairly broad (but by no means unanimous) support for the union position last night. I must say though, he does have a really weird accent, almost like it’s half Welsh and half Yorkshire. In purely geographic terms, that would place him somewhere around Congleton which is fortuitous because I happen to love the word ‘Congleton’. Try it. ‘Congleton’. ‘Congllllllllllleton’. Ace isn’t it?

Finally we have Clive Anderson and I must say that I was left a little confused by his performance (I think he was as well). I think it stems from the fact that his brain clearly works at a million miles an hour but isn’t very good at discriminating between the Relevant and the Only Just Sort Of Relevant, as was evidenced in most of last night’s responses. He’d always start by attempting to address the question but then keep jumping onto minor tangents as they popped into his head. As these tangents multiplied, he’d get further and further from the original point and would eventually end up in a position that was only very tenuously related to the topic in hand. The stuff itself all seemed to sound OK and he’s clearly not an idiot, but all the mental hop-scotch made him appear a little like a labrador chasing a plastic bag and I just ended up a little nonplussed by it all. The other thing I noticed is that he’d make a very good mascot. His face has a very mascot-like quality to it. If the showbiz work ever dries up Clive, give me a bell. You’d look great on my mantlepiece.

Final lap now. This is usually where I fob the crowd off with a few muttered platitudes and then leg it on to the scores so that I can get on with my Friday night, but not tonight Lemmings. In fact, I’m actually going to give the crowd a bit of a fairer do in this report because there was a marvellous little scene near the end that warrants a little extra attention. It started when the girl who asked the EMA question, Gladys, got offered a second bite of the apple by Dimbers. Pitching her tone just right (she sounded thoughtful but concerned), Gladys explained how EMA had really helped her and that she and her mates had used the money to buy sensible, education type things. Well done there Gladys, nicely put, have some claps. Then, out of nowhere came this proper foghorn of a woman in a red top who a gave it a bit of the old “I had a part-time job when I was a student”. BOOM! Half the crowd went mad for that and it looked like the Foghorn had delivered a match winning blow. But what’s this? It’s Gladys and she’s right back in there with a “So did I”! ZING! The other half of the crowd go mad as Gladys goes on to explain how she couldn’t have afforded books without EMA, unaware that she’s just exposed a flank for the Foghorn to exploit: “Go to the Library then” intones the Foghorn and the crowd now rips itself in two, half cheering, half booing. “But the libraries are all being closed!” says Gladys and KABLAMO! It’s all over. Bloody great. More of that please. And the rest of the crowd? Yeah…. whatever.

Tl:dr

Boris: Muted

6/10

Abbott: Uprooted

5/10

Teather: Refuted

5/10

Serwotka: Suited

6/10

Anderson: Rerouted

5/10

Gladys: Undisputed

9/10

So there you go, a LCCPQTMR first: A score to an individual crowd member. Truly, we are breaking new ground. Right, I’m done here and am going to get about the business of having a Friday night. Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #6


CHOO CHOO!

That's a Type 47. Don't ask me how I know...

Morning Lemmings. Before getting stuck into this week’s action, a few brief points on Wednesday night’s ‘First Time Voter’s Question Time’ on BBC3:

  1. First time voters are divs.
  2. Jamelia really doesn’t have a clue about politics (“Thatcher was for the working classes”. O rly?)
  3. Dermot is very nice, but no Dimbers.
  4. Throwing in a couple of off-beats to make the QT theme tune all ‘down wiv da kids’ is a very bad idea.
  5. According to the audience “Obama smokes weed, yeah?”

Enough of this sorry effort and on to Canary Wharf, scene of this week’s proper, grown up Question Time. No offbeats here, thank you very much.

In The Red Corner: Lord Andrew Adonis, Secretary of State for Transport, Minister for Nerds and possessor of a highly incongruous name.

Geek alert! Lock up you’re slide rules and airband radios because Lord Adonis is in the house! To the uninitiated, the cry of “Lord Adonis in the house!” should be met with the swoons of women, prostrating themselves before a heavenly vision of male perfection while the men scurry for cover, powerless against the radiance of his beauty. As it turns out, this is not the case and what you actually get is a wonky little man who never, ever got picked first for anything in PE and probably has a large collection of 1/72 scale Airfix kits (still in the shrink wrap). A man of my own heart then. I’m actually pretty pleased Lord Adonis is about as geeks are thoroughly under represented in government and although he looked at one point to be a bit of a Blairite nut, he’s actually turned out to be a very able, if understated, Transport Secretary who’s deeply, deeply into trains (I come from a family of unrepentant trainspotters and consequently feel very much at ease with them… they may be a little odd, but they are a people absolutely without malice). This week’s QT was quite a tall order for him as it was quite the gobby panel in attendance and for the most part he tended to stay in the background, fending off the odd jab here and there but very rarely venturing out of cover. He did have an early pop at the Ashcroft issue, doing his best to look shocked and indignant at the whole bloody mess, but there wasn’t any real fire there and he looked like a man going through the motions, fearful of what the rough lads from Millbank would do if he didn’t at least give it a crack. Most of the other questions were similarly muted affairs with some half-hearted parroting of the party line (plus a small outburst of squirming when pressed about why Alan Johnson had gone off message on the Venables case) and lots of staying out of the numerous Boris centred scraps that erupted throughout the show. However, something changed on the last question, the one about whether televised leaders debates are a good idea. Personally, I’m having trouble getting fired up about this issue but Adonis suddenly came to life, gripped by an enthusiasm that seemingly came from nowhere. And this is why I like Lord Adonis: He knows what he likes and when he does he’s positively evangelistic about it. While most QT fodder are willing to have a crack about things they know precious little about, Adonis isn’t, preferring to keep his powder dry and marshal his reserves for an all out push on stuff he thinks does matter. In today’s increasingly gladiatorial political arena, this is virtue that should be cherished as it belies a mind that’s not going to be sullied by the screams and clamour of the playground. Does it make for incendiary viewing? No. Does it give me much needed reassurance that Westminster isn’t entirely populated by dicks? Yes. And for that reason he gets points.

A mostly avoidant but occasionally irrepressible 6/10.

In The Blue Corner: Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Unreconstructed Shambles and Perennial Wildcard.

Oh Boris, has it really been 12 years since you first graced our TV screens? Shockingly, it has, but that just makes it all the more impressive that he can still be counted on to put his foot in whatever ‘it’ is, despite having had such long and extensive practice in trying not to. Anyhoo, it’s always nice to see Boris on. He may produce a lot more heat than light and his ‘jovial buffoon’ act is wearing gossima thin now, but the randomness that always follows him is something to be encouraged and he’s a bastion of hope to men with unconventional haircuts everywhere. On this week’s show, he was as phlegmatic as ever, seemingly unable to reel in his mouth and constantly being put on the naughty step by Dimbers. Rather than go too far into the nuts and bolts of what he said, I’ve picked out some of his choice phrases from the episode, handily displayed below…

  • Accused Labour and the Libs of being falsely “bathed in the odour of sanctity” on the Ashcroft question (a phrase that seemed to be in danger of becoming a full blown meme after it infected Williams and Dimbers).
  • Went on to call “Rhubarb!” on the issue (inducing a counter “Rhubarb!” from Williams).
  • Correctamundo!”
  • Accused Dimbers of being “very rude” to him during the televised mayoral debates (a very risky move considering that Dimbleby was spoiling for a fight with him).
  • Let out this little gem: “Elucidate the vacuity at the heart of Labour”
  • Codswallop!”
  • Further threw caution to the wind by jabbing fingers at Dimbleby and sweatily highlighting the Big Man’s Bullingdon past.
  • Got into a fight with pretty much everyone.

In terms of substance, it was an uninspired and muddled affair, ticking compulsory Old Tory boxes (choppers for the boys in Afghanistan, banging on about debt, pot/kettle accusations on Ashcroft) mixed with some ill advised bluffs and messy little skirmishes (with Shirley Williams and Will Self providing excellent breakwaters against the Great Blonde Tsunami). He did manage to sound semi-rational around the Venables questions, but on most issues he just ended up being steadfastly incoherent. And that’s the trouble with Boris. On the one hand, he represents much that ‘real Tories’ hanker for: Deep seated scepticism on anything related to the state (minus defence and law and order), a devil-may-care approach to most things dear to the left and above all, a personality. However, with all this comes a mind that’s averse to detail, easily bored and rarely thinking more than two steps ahead (pretty much the polar opposite of Lord Adonis). His presence in politics is generally a good thing (if only for the fact that his barely disguised desire for the Tory leadership and unabashed popularity amongst the Conservative rank-and-file is a complete headfuck for Cameron) and he’s not a man to be written off, possessing a mildly Churchillian air about him (Churchill was oft ridiculed and derided in his earlier days), but right now he needs to tighten things up and learn when it’s prudent to just shut up. But he is good viewing. And good viewing means points.

A harebrained but entertaining 6/10.

In The Yellow Corner: Baroness Shirley Williams, Lib Dem Peer and QT Stalwart.

After being shunted off most this series’ episodes, the Libs are back and who better to lead the charge than Shirley Williams, the Libs’ only real contender for the title of Big Beast (what with Ashdown being way too involved in other peoples wars and Ming’s tragic downfall at the hands of The Young Meh’s). Apparently, Williams has been on QT more than any other panellist and it’s easy to see why. Although nearly 80, she has this alert and steely manner, backed up with lashings of principal that make her a favourite with the crowd and tonight was no exception. Kicking off with Ashcroft, she made short work of sticking it the Tories whilst ably countering any assaults on the Lib’s position, aided in no small part by Boris setting the bar very low. The ‘Brown at Chillcot’ question was an equally impressive affair as she brushed straight through the Snatch and Choppers bullshit and went straight for the heart of the meaty principals (which the audience were very much into). The Venables issue had her in a less forthright but more nuanced mode that again, went down impressively while the leaders debates bought out a well reasoned lament at the superficiality of modern politics. All good solid stuff. However, it is her general manner and the way in which she deals with other panellists that really win her points, displayed throughout the show in her dealings with Boris. Far from being cowed by the onslaught of blabber, Williams always stood her ground, gave him enough rope to hang himself and then switched to the offensive (exclaiming at one point “I want my one minute, dammit!”). With the others she was slightly more generous, but still, this is someone who is not going to pushed about or bullied (the fact that she pulled off wearing some sort of Chinese tunic that would appear on most 79 year olds as a little batty is testament to this). Gravitas, my boy. They call it gravitas.

A thoroughly robust and dignified 8/10

In The Independent/Brainy corner: Will Self, author, ‘commentator’ and generally concave looking man.

I have trouble with Will Self. On the face of it, he should be right my street. He’s a talented writer whose politics chime well with my own and I admire the fact that he’s no-one’s man nor has trouble with speaking the unspeakable. But there’s something about him that gets stuck in my throat and after tonight, I’m pretty sure it’s the disdain he has for everyone and everything. Although I agreed with pretty much everything he said and was into him playing Devil’s Advocate on the Venables case, it was the way he treated other people that made me loses sympathy. Calling politics “seedy” and politicians “poor sad folk” is all very true, but saying it in a way that makes no effort to disguise the malice lurking beneath the surface doesn’t really help matters. Not even the audience were safe from his ire and his digs at them made him come across as a man who is terribly impressed with the sound of his own voice and not terribly impressed with the sound of yours. Then again, I did like it when he snapped at Carol Vorderman when she was being especially mental and maybe there’s just a little jealousy involved on my part. Come on, how much fun would it be to totally not give a shit about anyone’s feelings?

A technically correct but practically wrong 5/10.

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Carol Vorderman, Maths Nerd turned Maths Vamp turned Tory advisor.

OK, someone’s going to have to help me out here as something weird has been going on that I’m not privy to. One day you’re watching Countdown and there’s dowdy old Carol with her oversized glasses and book smarts. A couple of years down the line you switch over to Countdown again and Carol Vorderman is suddenly all sexed up although not entirely hot as it all just seemed a little wrong. I could cope with that change. I found it a little uncomfortable, but you know, she was doing her own thing so more power to her and all that. So anyway, I switch on QT last night and bugger me, there’s Carol Vorderman, still a little sexed up but now frothing with righteous indignation and kneejerk right wing posturing straight from The Daily Mail Field Manual. Now that’s just too much for my head to cope with and in future Carol, I’d like a little warning before you miraculous reinvent yourself.

ewww...

Making this wasn't nice. Carol 2.0 was just a bit....wrong

Anyhoo, what’s the cut of Carol 3.0’s new jib? Fairly rabid and very confrontational. Right from the start she was leaping down people’s throats, looking sincerely pissed off and invoking the weary touchstones of ‘think of the children’, ‘more choppers’ and ‘paedo-correctness-gone-mad’. Firmly taking the offensive line, she managed to make the Ashcroft issue all about Peter Mandelson and spent quite some time earbashing the poor Lord Adonis for not thinking about “The Families” more. Luckily, she was up against some pretty steady competition who generally didn’t rise to the bait, but I’ve got to say that I was a little shocked by this latest incarnation of what was already quite an odd puppy. She did get a bit of love from the audience, but then again, the 5th panellists usually do (unless you happen to be Douglas Murray…. not that he cares) so I’m not chalking this up as any huge victory. Instead, I’m giving her a piss poor mark, largely for freaking me out.

A shrill and from the middle of fucking nowhere 3/10.

The Crowd: Canary Wharf

This is always an odd audience as no one really lives around Canary Wharf so everyone looks like they’ve just rocked up from a board meeting. Suits were the order of the day and could be divided into three categories: The Posh (you can tell by their lips and teeth), the Wouldn’t Mind Being But Aren’t Really Posh (who seemed to make up the bulk of the crowd) and the East End Boys Turned Good Who Made It To A Trading Desk (one of their number had clearly borrowed his jacket from Deckard in Blade Runner). What was left was comprised of a lippy Northerner, a stoned looking guy and some fellow with a goatee who made the Point Of The Evening (a concise and blistering attack on the Tories for “giving people enough news to make them angry, but not enough to make an informed decision”. Kudos Sir. You are tonight’s winner). Oh, and there was a very preppy looking girl who would have made a lovely companion for Lord Adonis. By and large, they were quite vocal, a bit pissed off and seemed to be enjoying the rolling rucks that continued to flare up throughout the show. With the exception of Goatee Man, no killer points were delivered but they were up to the job and made for a pretty good show. So well done Canary Wharf, you may be an odd demographic, but you didn’t cock it up.

A well rounded 7/10.

So that’s that. See you next week for Dewsbury’s all-fem shit fest. I can’t wait.


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