Posts Tagged 'Damian Green'

Questionable Time #88



Good morrow Lemmings, and a wet and windy welcome to this week’s edition of Questionable Time! I’m Elizabeth, the robot they programmed to stand in for the mighty webmaster. This week, in honour of Valentine’s Day, we’re in Scunthorpe, the most romantic place on Earth. Let’s get to it.

Damn, Green!

I always mix up Damian Green with Chris Grayling for some reason. Don’t ask me why, I just do. So considering the low impact Green has had on me thus far I went into this edition expecting very little, and by and large Green rose to the challenge as adequately as possible. He wasn’t appalling, just confused.

Confusion was the main theme of this week’s Question Time. What is this mysterious sky water? Who is to blame for it? And most importantly, does Scotland really exist? Or have we been greasily lied to all this time?

Dimbles, at least, knew the answer to the second question. ‘Mr Pickle,’ said Dimbledore accusingly, expecting Damian Green to cover for the hitherto-undiscovered new Mr Man’s interventions earlier in the week. Damian Green tried and failed. ‘Er, um, er,’ he said, confidently. Green seems befuddled by Mr Pickle, like he seems befuddled by most things. To be fair to him, when the (wet, angry) audience is throwing out suggestions such as building a massive wall around the country to keep out the water, the Vikings, and the roving bands of man-eating giants, it’s hard not to be befuddled.

Later on, he got more into his stride, uniting with Chris Bryant to disagree with Janice Atkinson on as many points as feasibly possible, including making a fairly reasonable argument for renewable energy and more long-term plans to stop sogginess in its tracks. Ahh, cross-party unity, don’tchajustluvit?!!!??!!!

Bryant is Tryant my patience

I was excited when I heard Chris Bryant was going to be on this week, even though up until the last minute the website displayed Alan Johnson’s name instead (who I found on This Week afterwards, cuddling up to Michael Portillo in the midst of Flappy Bird-centered VTs, which seems much preferable to Scunthorpe). But after viewing some of Bryant’s brilliantly realised tactics in the House of Commons, a strategy one can only describe as ‘annoy everyone then tweet about it’, I was looking forward to a devilish QT performance.

Sadly the questions didn’t deliver, and he had to look somber as someone mentioned the death of thousands of innocent chickens, and one dog. I henceforth dedicate this edition of Questionable Time to this dog. RIP Rover, may you never have to experience Scunthorpe again.

Anyway, Bryant was practically bursting to become all combative. He finally got his chance at the end, when the subject of Europe was raised: should we go the way of the Swiss and give the EU the double deuce? The very thought offended Chris to his core. He looked as though he’d just stepped on that dead dog. He was adamant that it was emotions that would decide the outcome of the Scottish referendum earlier on, and now his emotions were bubbling up to the surface, ready to burst the flood barriers of his heart.

How “pathetic”, he cries, that you would so cruelly insult fair Europe! How dare you, you scoundrel! Take that back or I shall challenge you to a duel. We shouldn’t snub the EU, he said – and at this point I was delighted to note a little wobble in his voice – we should “seize hold of our membership”! Yes! Seize hold of it! Seize it and kiss it! And smooch it! And ravish it! And [For more steamy Valentine’s Day Eurolovin’, please enter your PIN now.]

Winston pain

Considering all this excess water, you know what we need? A plumber. Perhaps…a mustachioed plumber. Yes, Mario would be perfect in this situation. But since Nintendo is being stingy and hogging him to themselves, we’ll have to make do with his looky-likey instead – Robert Winston.

Fig. 1

Mario here was killin’ it this time around. No-one really fought with him or had a bad word to say about him, because he seems like such a nice bloke – a kindly uncle foreboding horrible prophecies of doom. Climate change was the order of the day and according to the gentle, reassuring tones of Lord Winston, we’re all going to a watery grave unless somebody gets off their bottom and steps it up. His suggestion of Westminster being flooded to motivate the politicians prompted a cheerful shot of enthusiastic crowd members applauding. This week’s lively, annoyed audience appeared to mainly be on his side, but then again everyone did. Even Janice Atkinson sometimes, who attempted to channel the spirit of Lord Lawson to have a go at the clusters of wind farms springing up everywhere, unstoppable, destroying everything in their path.

In conclusion: we’re all screwed, basically, but Winston put it in such a nice way that nobody really minded. Also he made a joke about Bitcoins and that’s worth the license fee alone.

The wimminz

I feel kind of bad for lumping the others together, but whatever, they didn’t speak as much. I’m pleased that neither one of them were as blamey-shamey as I thought they’d be, with Cristina Odone making a surprisingly well thought-out point about otherisation, but then she had to go and ruin it by yelling about the smoking ban. At first it seemed the usual nanny-state argument, but an unfortunate turn of phrase made her position transmogrificate into ‘I don’t like laws that tell me not to harm my children! I have every right to harm my children!’ Could have played that one better, Crissy-mate.

As for Atkins Diet, she got into a heated argument about immigration with an audience member, scoffed at Brussels and nearly made Chris Bryant flip a table at her head, was the only person to disagree with Saint Super Mario and wore a weird snakey necklace that frightened me every time I looked at it. So a standard UKIP performance really.

(In the interests of equality, I will also comment on a man’s fashion choice here so I’m not just picking on Janice: cor, what was that pretty daisy tie Dimbles was wearing? Trying to remind us of Spring? Of terra firma? Of something that’s not water?)

Time for the scores!

Green: 5/10

Drippy

Bryant: 4/10 (7/10 for the voice wobble)

Blippy

Atkinson: 4/10

Snippy

Odone: 5/10

Trippy

Winston: 8/10

Quippy

The Crowd: 7/10

Zippy

I will leave you with one final point: hey, wouldn’t ‘Dredge’ be a great name for a band? Have that one on me.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #41


questionable time 41 david dimbleby bexhill on sea

Good morning Lemmings and what’s that I I smell? Fish and chips? Invigoratingly salty air? Old people and a strong Tory vote? We must be on the South Coast! So yes, it’s Bexhill-on-Sea this week and it’s a rather timely turn of events since we haven’t been to a Conservative stronghold since the last run of QT. Considering that the Blue Team vote has only twice dipped below 50% twice in Bexhilll’s and Battle’s 29 year history, this seems as good a place as any to redress the balance. Anyhow, enough prattle, on with the show.

Damian Green has the best I’m Somewhat Confused face ever…

We first got to witness this thing of beauty when David Blanchflower was laying his economic charge sheet at the feet of the government early on in the show. Now usually, politicians do the scrunched up Come Off It Mate face when someone cleverer than them starts picking holes in their nefarious schemes (in fact George Osborne does it all the time, to everyone, regardless of the situation) and I suspect that’s what Green was trying to do. However, something went wrong along the way and he ended up with the sort of pained expression you’d get if you a) tried to work out whether the cat in Schrödinger’s box is dead or alive, b) what exactly the lyrics ‘What is love? Baby don’t hurt me’ actually mean and c) why the alien invasion fleet in Independence Day were running Windows 95, all whilst faintly remembering that you might have left the gas on.

And it didn’t stop there. Despite a genuinely good joke about voting to keep Nadine Dorries in IACGMOOH it all came apart again when the matter of the PCC elections came up, except this time he actually had to talk as well. It went like this: Chuka Umunna made a point about how the money for the PCC elections would be better spent on actual policing and Green’s face lit up. ‘Ah-ha!’ it said, ‘I have you now!’. The money – according to Green – wouldn’t come from the policing budget and he visibly relaxed, safe in the knowledge that he’d dodged a bullet. Unfortunately, Dimbers rather unhelpfully interjected and asked just where it would be coming from. “The Home Office” he quietly spluttered. Well, that was it, everyone wanted a piece of him and he spent the next five minutes all over the place as he fended off blows from all directions. At this point, I did feel a little pang of sympathy as it was starting to look a little brutal but then I remembered that I have absolutely no idea who the PCC candidates are in my neck of the woods and that and the entire wheeze sounds like a huxter’s charter. My sympathy soon spoiled its ballot.

I’m fairly sure that Shirley Williams will outlive me…

Don’t panic, I’m not planning on a premature exit or expecting to die outside of the usual time frame, it’s just I have trouble envisaging what exactly could kill Shirley Williams. A speeding car? No, she would stare it down until its axles fractured and bearings crumbled. A disease of the body? Mother Nature is no match for the solidity of her 20th century values. Then how about the assassin’s callous blade? Well let me put it this way: Would you try to assassinate Shirley Williams? No, of course not, partly because your soul will have curdled if you ever got to that point but mostly because it’s clear that Shirley Williams will not quietly into the night. 82, Lemmings. Shirley Williams is 82.

Chuka Umanna does strange things to me…

I’m a straight man, but I have to admit that one look at Chuka and I go slightly weak at the knees – it’s like he’s been lovingly crafted out of pure unicorn’s tears by Christ himself or something. However, this in itself is a problem as I have an overpowering and automatic distrust of people who are ridiculously good-looking. Call it jealously, call it pettiness, call it want you want, I’m just very suspicious of things that look too good to be true. Having said that, he had a good night and it would be truly petty of me to say otherwise. Alright, so his dogged perusal of a single line of attack (‘bring ALL the things back to the Tory’s record on the economy!’) looks a little threadbare after a full hour but he was right on point for the bulk of the night. Considering that Bexhill-on-Sea really shouldn’t be his turf, that’s good going.

And the others?

I like David Blanchflower but sometimes he doesn’t make it easy for me. Generally speaking, I think he’s been one of the few economists who has broadly called most things right and I’ll always have time for his opinion. The thing is that when he writes about those opinions it’s a really disconcerting experience as he always starts his columns with a little round-up of what he’s been up to. They tend to look something like this: ‘Had lovely day, played golf, went out on a boat, THE WORLD IS GOING TO END IF WE DON’T INJECT MORE MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY’. It’s a just a little jarring. Anyway, he’s much better in person, even if he did try to shoehorn his American residency into the conversation in the hope that it could lead to a nice little recounting of his leisure time.

Conversely, I don’t like Jane Moore and I’m struggling to find a reason why that should change. Granted, she didn’t look as grumpy as she usually does last night (see Fig. 1) and she got a couple of good gags in (the one about Nadine Dorries claiming for a second home in Australia draw a genuine chuckle from me) but I just get a little riled when Moore tries to bring everything back to real dog whistle stuff (like that massive tangent she went on about sex offenders getting cautions during the PCC question). That, and she’s very right when she says “I am not an economist”.

things-that-make-jane-moore-grumpy-gif

Fig. 1

Tl’dr

Green: 4/10

(Looked) Pained

Umunna: 6/10

Remained (ridiculously good-looking)

Williams: 7/10

Maintained (an iron will to confound nature itself)

Blanchflower: 6/10

Refrained (from telling us what he’s been up to)

Moore: 4/10

Sustained (an air of iffiness)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Have all been) Ordained

So there we are, a so-so affair in which Phillip Schofield experienced the combined wrath of everybody. Now, just before I go I’d like to point you in the direction of a University of Cambridge project called ‘Voting Time’. They appear to be something scarily brainy with people’s QT opinions so if you have a minute, please check ’em out.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #36


Question Time 36 Dimbleby Burnham Beards

Morning Lemmings and apologies in advance for the inevitable typos that are going to occur. My excuse is solid: My living room has been over-run by cackling harridans who are intending to watch Eclipse, which I believe is part of the Twilight Trilogy of Toss. Now, I’ve had my share of pain and discomfort in life. I’ve survived dengue fever, been held hostage and once sat through an entire episode of Hollyoaks (true story!), but I have to draw the line somewhere and right now, that somewhere happens to be anywhere even remotely related to Twilight. As a result, I have gone into self-imposed exile in the bedroom and am using my netbook to write this week’s Question Time Report… my netbook who’s keyboard was obviously designed for the hands of a tiny infant. Consequently, I’m expecting typos to flourish with wild abandon and make no apologies for this turn of events. If you were in my shoes, you’d do exactly the same. Right, on to the show.

 

Ok, so first up on last night’s show we had Damian Green, Minister of State for Immigration and the sole representative of the coalition present. Now, I’ve got a little bit of a soft spot for Green as he comes across as quite affable, doesn’t tend to say things that are too crazy and generally seems like an alright kind of guy. Like most of the panel, he spent most of the Egypt question conducting a grand exercise in fence-sitting (‘I just LOVE freedom and all that but let’s not get too carried away now’) and mostly pulled it off, hedging his bets without looking like he was downright evading the question. So far, so good. However, it all started going a bit pear-shaped when the matter of the coalition selling off all our forests came up. Clearly, this is a half-baked policy that will get itself a damned good u-turning in the weeks ahead, but since it’s not yet been through that rather undignified process he had little option but to defend the indefensible. Unfortunately for Green, I don’t think Christ himself could have assuaged the crowd’s lust for blood and he was battered about from all sides, mangling his words as he desperately tried to cling to whatever gossamer thin lifeline his lackies had provided him with prior to the show. It didn’t work and he ended up looking thoroughly bruised by the encounter. The following question on Lord Carlisle’s terror quotes provided a brief respite and he went straight back into fence-sitting mode with an extended version of the ‘it’s complicated’ defense, but by-and-large got away with it. However, this reprieve was short-lived and before long, he was back on the ropes, this time trying to explain the unexplainable in the form of the Big Society. Unfortunately, no one bought this and he finished the show looking thoroughly roughed up. All of the above sounds pretty bad, but I’m inclined to cut him a bit of slack as he was in the unenviable position of trying to make some of the most ill-conceived policies in modern history sound like they weren’t entirely made of crazy. Although he might not have achieved this end, he at least managed to not look like a complete prat and that’s no small feat, given the context.

 

Next in line we have Andy Burnham, Shadow Secretary of State for Health. Now, before we get stuck into his performance, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to mention for quite some time: Burnham should grow a beard. Every time I see him on TV, he’s got this amazing 5 o’clock shadow that points towards the potential for some truly regal facial growth. I’ve even gone to the trouble of mocking up how he may appear by adding my own beard to his face (and Dimbers’) in this weeks title picture, a process that left me feeling a little weird, but there you go. As you can see, it clearly suits him and it is my opinion that if he had gone into the Labour leadership contest sporting a full, grizzly facial mane he would now be Leader of the Opposition.

Anyhoo, back to the show. Much like Green, Burnham chose to tackle the thorny issues of both Egypt and domestic terrorism by firmly planting himself on the middle of the fence but didn’t do it quite so well, largely because Green seems capable of looking quite comfortable whilst precariously perched while Burnham keeps having to shift his weight by babbling quite a lot in order to avoid crashing to earth. This manifested in his claims to LOVE freedom (Green got away with only LOVING freedom… just caps, no bold type) and it gave the impression that he was playing for time. However, he did find his stride later on with the forests question (despite getting caught out on Labour’s own record of forest sales) and especially in the Big Society car-crash where he got very Liverpool about things and looked like that might actually have some genuine anger building in him. Given the mood of the audience, this was received with open arms and it is tempting to say that he emerged the political victor. However, I am inclined to knock a point off as it was essentially like shooting fish in barrel whilst Green’s task was on a par with President Ahmadinejad trying to appear all nonchalant and groovy with everything at a Pride march. Not bad though.

Moving on, we have the Terrible Twins, Claire Short and Melanie Phillips, effectively cancelling each other out on all matters Egypt and terrorism (Claire Short sees your “Londonistan” and raises you a “don’t get rid of freedom to protect freedom”!). Now, both of these two have the potential to be annoying, but I must say that neither really wound me up. Granted, the bar is very low for Phillips as I’ve built up a rather worrying tolerance for her absolutely batshit crazy views and bulging eyed method of delivery, but by her own standards, she wasn’t as bad as she could have been. Ok, so by any other measure, that’s still pretty bad and it was uncomfortable enough for me to run this weeks topical pshop (see Fig.1) without feeling guilty, but it could have been worse and lets face it, watching her dig the knife into the nearest Tory present when it came to forests and Big Society was bloody good fun.

Melanie Phillips Fuckwit Opinions

Fig. 1

 

Similarly, Claire Short’s performances over the last 6 years or so have always seemed a little tainted by her record of ‘will she, won’t she’ resignations and her own awareness of this, but she was on pretty good form last night and started to look like she’s comfortable in her own skin again. Furthermore, at least the pair of them actually had a bloody opinion on the Egypt situation which is more than can be said for the rest of the panel. For that, they are rewarded with points.

Our final meat puppet from last night comes in the shape of economics bod Noreena Hertz, and I must say that I’m slightly at a lose as to what to make of her. On the matters of Egypt/terrorism, Hertz chose to join the big fence sit with Green and Burnham, but did so in an odd way, forcefully planting herself right in the middle and almost telling people off who ventured forth with an opinion. Even weirder was when she managed to big up the Internet in one sentence (it’s single-handedly liberating Egypt, dontchaknow?) whilst bigging it down only moments later (cyberterrorism will single handedly de-liberate the UK, dontchaknow?) all the while maintaining an air of peevish annoyance. So far, so not-so-great but things get even stranger when you look at her response to forests/Big Society questions. She was on fire, getting well stuck in to Damian Green and whipping the audience into to a right old frenzy of excitement! Seriously, I find it hard to recall a member of the panel being so well received. That in itself should warrant high marks but I find that I just can’t award them and I think I’ve figured out why: She reminds me of Gillian McKeith. Part of that is down to her somewhat washed out, could-do-with-a-pub-lunch look but I think it’s more to do with the way she just seems really pissed off with everyone for not taking everything she says ultra-seriously. It’s a shame because she came out with some really good stuff and the crowd obviously agreed with her, but there was just something that stopped me getting on board the Hertzwagon. Mind you, at least she didn’t examine the contents of anyone’s shit.

Finally, we have the Workington crowd who, as mentioned above, went frankly mental at times. However, the show itself was weird and I think that’s mainly to do with the fact that it was dominated by the Egypt question. Obviously, that had to be the first question as it’s a truly monumental event that deserves our full attention, but in terms of it’s Question Timeability, it’s an odd one as no one in the room could really do anything about it and as the situation is so fluid right now, nobody really had a clue what’s going on. As a result, the first half hour was a stilted affair that didn’t really go anywhere and a similar scenario unfolded with the terrorism issue. However, in contrast to these rather odd sections the questions that addressed coalition policies drew such a level of excitement/ire that I thought the assembled rabble may well take up arms against their Southern Overlords, jump on the next train to London and raze Tory HQ to the ground. Seriously, they were like people possessed (especially the oldish looking guy who like dressed like a twenty-something hipster) and if the coalition are in the market for bad omens, they need look no further than this episode.

So yes, this was quite an odd experience and one that wasn’t too different from sitting in a room with faulty fluorescent tube that spends half of its time stutter and flickering before finally bursting into blinding, retina burning light. In a word, ‘unhinged’.

TL; DR

Green: 6/10

A lucky non-escape

Burnham: 6/10

Should grow a beard

Phillips: 4/10

Annoying, but could have been worse

Short: 6/10

A timely return to form

Hertz: 4/10

Stay off the mung beans

Ok, that’s me done. I’m going to skulk off to the bath and try avoid going downstairs, lest I be asphyxiated by a fug of oestrogen and age-inappropriate crushes.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #23


Morning Lemmings and well done for having survived an entire week without me. The pain, I realise, must have been close to unbearable but you’re through to the other side now, basking in the warm glow of our shared love for Question Time. So kudos to you.

Anyhoo, I’m back and if I’m not mistaken, this appears to be the last episode in this series of Question Time. That’s right, the Series That Stubbornly Refused To End appears to have finally chuntered itself into a state of coma, leaving us all to twiddle our Thursday night thumbs for the next six weeks. So, with this in mind, let us gather round the hospital bed as the Good Doctor Dimbers makes ready to yank out the power cord from the life support whilst we mouth empty platitudes and extrapolate wildly on the contents of the will. This, dear Lemmings, is The End. At least until September, that is.

The Menu:

Q1: Was it right to revoke Nick Griffin’s invite to Buckingham Palace?

Q2: Is The Big Society Big Cover for Big Cuts?

Q3: 67% of the population want a burqa ban but Damian Green says it’s “un-British”. Who’s right?

Q4: Should Alex Salmond account for the release of alMaghari to Obama instead of David Cameron?

Q5: Is the Tomlinson case a cover-up?

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Damian Green, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and one time Man In The Frame for a very fishy bit of policing.

I’m always at a bit of loss with Damian Green because although he’s been knocking about on the Tory frontbenches since 2001, the only thing that springs to mind when his name is mentioned is the rather sketchy looking incident when he was arrested (and then subsequently cleared) for misconduct in public office. To be sure, that was a grubby looking brouhaha that deservedly filled the front pages for a good long while, but it’s had the effect of defining his period in parliament and I really can’t recall a time when Damian Green has been on my radar for any other reason.

Part of this is down to the fact that it was a genuine scandal in which he appears to have been stitched up, but some of it is also to do with the fact that he simply isn’t that memorable. On the one hand, he’s certainly not incompetent and I can’t recall a time where I’ve thought ‘that there Damian Green, he’s a right numpty’, but on the other hand, he simply doesn’t seem to have that much of a presence and his MO very much seems to be ‘say things with an air of mild understatement, stick to the middle, don’t rock the boat too much and it will all be gravy’.  So yes, he’s political semi-skimmed: Serviceable in a workaday manner, but hardly the heady luxury of vein clogging silvertop.

His general reasonableness was very much on display in Q1 where he gave props to The Red Team for beating the BNP in Barking and generally sidestepped any potential booby traps by simply saying it was the Queen’s call. Q2, however, was less benign and he had to resort to the ‘it’s all Labour’s fault’ defence after Dimbers started looking dangerous with talk of unbuilt schools. Now, the Coalition have to be careful with this particular attack because it’s fast approaching it’s sell by date and will start to look pretty shabby if they carry on using it at its current frequency after September. Following this, the schools issue continued to be a thorn in his side, but he did have a brief flourish at the end when he declared that Labour would have probably done something pretty similar themselves (whilst simultaneously trying to look very, very upset and serious. D- for feigned indignation). That just about got him off the hook. Next up was Burqagate in Q3 and the mood in the room suddenly soured. Sensing some easy points, Farage lost no time in huffing and puffing about the madness of it all and he was soon scrapping with Green about what happens when burqa wearers go to banks. The audience then bundled in with supplementary ‘we have to show our faces in Tesco/BBC studio’s/etc, etc’ but credit where credit’s due, Green stood his ground and then went on the offensive by asking everyone to imagine just how stupid it would look if the police actually started arresting burqa wearers. That was a nice little switcheroo. Unfortunately, that was pretty much it from him as Q’s 5-6 mainly consisted of empty waffle and hedged bets that didn’t really go anywhere. Still, it could have been a lot worse and all-in-all, it wasn’t a bad effort, even if it wasn’t exactly gripping stuff. Still can’t say that he left much of an impression though.

A low fat 6/10

In The Red Corner: Sadiq Khan, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and pay rise turner-downer.

Now here’s an interesting specimen. Oft-mooted as a potentially British Obama, Khan sports a set of pretty much spotless credentials, marred only by some minor expenses shenanigans. After being raised in a council estate, he’s gone from being a human rights lawyer to a Labour councillor before finally making it to the Commons in 2003 and then on to the Cabinet in 2010. So far, so admirable. However, there is one vital ingredient  missing in this otherwise beneficent mix and that, I’m afraid to say, is charisma. It’s not that he’s a bad communicator or that he has a habit of sticking his foot in it. It’s just that it takes him so long to get going, like an engine that’s lubricated with Marmite. He also has hair like Guile from Street Fighter 2. That’s cool though.

So yes, he’s not noted for his acceleration, but he did get off to a reasonably good start on Q1 by looking stern and telling everyone that it ‘served Nick Griffin right’ to get his invite to the Palace withdrawn. Boxes ticked and applause received, he then went on to Q2, a question that had a lot of potential for a Labour panellist. It started promisingly enough when he accused the Tories of being “vacuous branding men” who weren’t fooling anyone, but he didn’t drive home the attack and the initiative passed him by. Later on, he came back for another swipe, this time aimed at the middle-classes for receiving too much Tory money (which is a very dangerous game) and soon found himself handing over some easy points to Green. Hmmmm… Not the wisest strategy. Q3 resulted in much scrapping between himself, Farage and the audience and although he did make a good stab at taking the high ground, it wasn’t entirely effective and Farage managed to reap some fairly handsome applause when he played the old ‘you guys had 13 years to do something about this’ card. Ouch. Finally, along limped Q’s 4 and 5, but everyone had pretty much given up caring at this point and not much was made of it.

The above is a good illustration of why Khan has never managed to convert his ‘British Obama’ props in to the cold, hard, political power that such a title demands: You just don’t get the sense that he has the killer instinct. Yes, he’s clearly a clever guy who’s achieved a great deal in his life and yes, he has an admirable record in all of his dealings with the exception of his (admittedly minor) expenses claim. However, when it comes to the crunch, his manner just doesn’t carry that much weight and I found myself to be left wanting by his performance. I hope that this changes over time because I do think he has a lot to offer, but until then, he really needs to start pumping some oratory iron.

A somewhat clumsy but somewhat acceptable 5/10

In The Red White And Blue Corner: Nigel Farage, UKIP leader and shamelessly death defying self publicist.

Look who’s back! It’s Britain’s favourite value-for-money demagogue and amateur cad, Nigel Farage! That’s right, for as we are all aware, just prior to the election, Nigel Farage literally crashed and not so literally burned as an oh so UKIP publicity stunt went oh so predictably wrong. Yet from this wreckage emerged a man who will not let anything as trivial as death stand in the way of his tireless defence of our green and pleasant land. Gawd bless yer Nigel, the yeomanry of Great Britain are forever indebted to you. Speaking of which, I have noticed that a photo of the incident, featuring a dazed, battered and dishevelled looking Farage has since disappeared from Google Images, which is a shame as it represented the perfect juxtaposition of both comedy and tragedy. Luckily, I managed to save a copy myself, now proudly displayed below in a somewhat enhanced form below (see Fig. 1).

Yowzers!

Fig. 1

Anyway, it was pretty much stock Farage tonight and he stuck to his tradition of starting out on a semi-reasonable footing before picking a fight with everyone and then consequently drowning in a sea of animosity he himself created. I call it The Farage Trajectory. Here’s how it worked last night: Q1 had him sounding, dare I say it, very sensible as he took the now familiar ‘hate the BNP, but they are elected’ line which was received with some very sensible sounding applause before then embarking on a bit of a non-answer to Q3 that was saved at the last minute by some ‘isn’t the voluntary sector great’ cheapery. However, it was Q3 where the more confrontational Nigel (who I’ve perversely come to actually quite like in a completely counter intuitive way) emerged and scraps were had with all. Some nonsense was spouted, some wide eyed monkeyshine invoked and a telling off from Dimbers received but oddly (and worryingly) the crowd seemed to be mostly behind him. The Farage Trajectory then asserted itself with renewed vigour as he made a fairly long winded stab at Americans in general, only to find that there was an American woman in the audience who happened to take offence. Doh! Bad luck there Nigel! Finally, he managed to buck his eponymous trajectory on Q5 as he got a brief squirt of applause for saying that the Tomlinson case “stinks”. Damn. I hate it when a trajectory doesn’t come together.

So that was that and as usual, I really quite enjoyed it. Yes, he’s crazy as a shit house rat and yes, he’s full of tawdry, two-bit plays, but come on, he really does bring something to show. Never change Nigel. Never change.

An awe inspiringly tacky 8/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Ruth Lea, hard headed economist type and purveyor of all round wtf?!-ness.

Ok, ok, so I’ve done the ‘doesn’t Ruth Lea look just like that weird little boy from the Antiques Roadshow who ended up being a woman’ gag before (see title image), but c’mon, gags like that come but once a lifetime. In fact, so taken am I by this rather cheap trick that from here on in, Ruth Lea will always be represented by a picture of the aforementioned Weird Little Boy From The Antiques Roadshow Who Ended Up Being A Woman. My blog, my rules, ok?

Anyhoo, Ruth Lea’s back she’s usually pretty predictable. It works like this: If it’s anything to do with the public sector, it’s bad. If Gordon Brown’s been within 500 miles of it, it’s bad. If there’s the slightest whiff of anyone trying to pour cold water on the throbbing sinews of dog-eat-dog capitalism, it’s not just bad, it’s an affront to humanity and the perpetrator fully deserves to have their eyes poked out with a statuette of Milton Friedman. That’s how Ruth Lea works and providing there’s someone around at the other end of the spectrum to put up a bit of a fight, it can be quite fun watching her get all fundamental and crazy about all things economic.

When I saw the line up tonight, I was delighted. I wasn’t too bothered by either the Red or Blue team, but the thought of Ruth Lea going toe-to-toe with her polar opposite, Bob Crow, filled me with giddy optimism. This had to result in an epic and bad tempered shitstorm, right? Wrong. In actual fact, what we got was a quite sedate Ruth Lea who failed to build up to her usually ginormous levels of moon howling lunacy. Q1? Perfectly reasonable. Q2? Low levels of bureaucracy and Gordon Brown bashing, but nothing like the torrent of fervent zeal we’re accustomed to. Q3 A picture of even handed tolerance (and she told Nigel Farage to “put a sock in it”) Q4? Neither here nor there. And Q5? Not even worth mentioning.

Well, that wasn’t very fun, was it and if I’m being totally honest, I feel a little cheated. So come on Ruth. You’ve got a role to fill and that’s the role of Never Say Die, snake eating, free market extremist. Next time, I expect to hear at least one reference to how the Invisible Hand is going to bitchslap me silly for paying my taxes or a call for Parliament to be sold to Primark. Now be off with you!

A disappointingly sane 4/10

In The ‘I’m The Funny One’/Just Like You Corner: Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT and Salt Of The Erf.

I have a theory about Bob Crow. I contend that there are in fact two Bob Crow’s and that they alternate their media appearances on a random basis. Sometimes, it is the principled, down to earth, Defender of The People Bob Crow who sallies into the studio, ready to fight the little guy’s corner and stand up for a fairer society. On other occasions it is YOU’RE GOIN’ ‘OME IN A FACKING AMBULANCE, Scargillite bull-in-a-china shop Bob Crow who bludgeons his way through the door, ready to pick a fight with anyone who grew up in a house that had an indoor toilet (as aptly represented in Fig. 2 and in this episode of Have I Got News For You).

SHADWELL ARMY!

Fig. 2

Tonight, we got the former and I must say, I was quite impressed. On pretty much every question, he made his point in a robust way that managed to stay on the right side of anger and even when he was harried by a bloke in the audience who clearly was a bit of a tit, he managed to keep the aggression that can so often be his undoing in check. Ok, so his performance was littered with an inordinate number of slightly bizarre World War II references (his granddad in the 8th Army, the uncle shot in Rangoon, Q2’s “Dad’s Army” barb , government spending in 1945, etc) and his bankers/Dick Turpin joke fell a bit flat, but the audience were behind him in impressive numbers and he came across like a man with genuine convictions who was in it for the right reasons. I will admit to being slightly pissed off that the other Bob Crow didn’t turn up, if only to have a fight with Ruth Lea, but I can’t deny that there was a lot to like about this outing.

A sturdy 7/10

The Crowd: Hartlepool

Ok, so I don’t quite know what to make of this lot. On the one hand, they were a pretty noisy, knockabout crowd with some good stand out solo’s (American Farage Mauler, I’m looking at you), whilst on the other, the reaction to the burqa question scared me a little and I sort of got the feeling that quite a few of them were there simply to have a go at someone (which is the point of Question Time, but you know what I mean, right?). This wasn’t really helped by having Red and Blue panellist who were competent enough to not really bugger anything up, but not seasoned/skilful enough to build a head of steam and smite their foes. Add in to that the fact that Ruth Lea’s medication has obviously kicked in while Bob Crow has experienced some instant mellowing and the show as a whole ends up looking a little frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad episode and there was some interesting stuff there, but in general I just found it a little incoherent and slapdash. Thank god for Farage, eh?

Oh Christ… I really did just say that, didn’t I…

A confusing 5/10

So that’s it! This series over! While this is the first series that I’ve actually written about, it totally does stick in my mind as one of the more eventful and dramatic ones, particularly during the March-June arc. Since then we’ve been through a period of politics that really has completely turned everything on its head and we emerge at the other end in a very uncertain, but utterly fascinating landscape that continues to shift and contort. I have no idea where things are going at the moment. I have suspicions and inklings, but nothing that I’d take to the bank. All I do know is that it’s watching the flux of events through the window of Question Time is a whole bunch of fun and that I’ll be back for more in September.

If you’ve been following this blog, many, many thanks. It’s sometimes a pain in the arse to write and produce as I work full time and you’d be surprised just how much long it takes to make, but it’s all worth it when people say nice things to me about it. I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen to it by the next series. It’ll be back in one form or another, but it just might be on a different platform. Anyhow, check back in from time-to-time, because you never know, I might get round to finally updating the scoreboard-that-is-of-my-own-devising-yet-I-still-don’t-understand. Emphasis on the word ‘might’. MIGHT

And finally some special thanks go out my Mum for the proof reading and gentle ticking offs whenever the spelling/typos/swearing got too appalling (I was born in 1979. I am living proof of 18 years of Tory education policy), the good people at reddit’s /r/unitedkingdom and /r/ukpolitics (your upboats and comments gave me a major morale boost at exactly the point when I needed it most) Jalf for techy brain picking/holiday Friday escapism, Benry for Spreadhead, Rick for the banter and most of all to my partner Hannah for putting up with what could quite often be quite the curmudgeonly Loudribs. xx

See y’all in September.


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