Posts Tagged 'David Davis'

Questionable Time #142


qt 142

Good morrow lemmings – we’re currently taking all bets on how crap Melanie Phillips is in this edition. Let’s find out, as we dive right into…Questionable Time: in Scientifivision™!

Let’s get ready to r…easonably debate!

Our first question, and it’s a belter: is it right to blame the security services for not stopping them there three sisters and their families from travelling to Syria or ‘owt? At least some bright spark on the production team has decided to allocate the serious questions first this time, instead of leaving five minutes to spare at the end for such matters. Good! Well done, Question Time! You get a freshly-baked cookie.

As a result of the trade-off for sensible debate (as opposed to the usual pointless squawking), things do get a lot more dour and less…well…squawky. David Davis, libertarian Tory extraordinaire and rival of Paddy Ashdown for the title of Squinty-Eyed Champion of the World (does he also have a hat to stuff in his gob?) says that it is right to ask how this tragedy happened but not to slap the blame on anyone willy-nilly. Meanwhile, Alex Salmond is equally sensible, his broad Scottish tones curiously hushed as he asks what the appeal is for vulnerable women to go abroad into a warzone with their children and fight for hatred. Melanie Phillips actually agrees, which is promising, urging the need for a better counter-radicalisation strategy and that the ‘danger’ is part of the appeal for impressionable youth.

Caroline Flint, current Queen of Question Time (appeared the most during the 2010-2015 period – will she retain her crown until 2020?) and Labour deputy leadership contender, says that we don’t hear enough about accounts of the atrocities coming from people who want to get back, and how the situations of adults and children going is markedly different. Other Guy AKA Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, pleads that people in MI5 are not appreciated enough! Stop being mean to them! Melanie goes full student politics by declaring that we purely see the world through a Western, colonialist lens, and Salmond says the Western world is not immune from religious fanaticism – such as that for the SNP! Ayy! …Ah, just kiddin’ youse guys.

Overall, very mature, very sensibly-debated, and even the applause was sombre. Good job everyone.

It’s not to last.

More like Snoreway

Next up: bloodsports time! Would it really be so bad to find ourselves out of Europe, the next question-askerer says…as we are “Great Britain”, after all! Woah, never thought of that one before.

Lionel launches a sick burn in his whispery monotone – we may be Great Britain, but we’re not “Little England”. Then he goes on and on about m-muh roaming charges. M-muh sovreignty, says Melanie in response. Apparently, we put more in than we take out, and shake it all about.

Alex Salmond is then pressed on his solidarity with the people of Norway. This show gets weirder by the minute. No, says Big Al, any relation between this oil-rich solitary nation and a certain other landmass is purely coincidental. Anyway, he goes on, both England and Scotland are members of Europe, and he hopes that he can join forces with other sympathetic parties in Europe to rid his country of the Labour scourge once and for all. Well, that was the gist of what he was saying, at least. Caroline Flint tuts and shakes her head. Oh Alex, you card!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

David Davis declares that the nasty bullying of Greece due to its falling on its face and getting poked by long pointy German sticks represents a “failure of democracy”…sounding pretty Bennite there, double D! Caroline, on the other hand, goes all-in for a Yes vote (while encouraging m-muh reform) and states that the EU is a great trading partner. Melanie brushes this off and pretty much gives the entire country of America the middle finger while doing so. Oh Melanie, you card!

“Let’s leave the EU for the moment”, says Dimbleby, and everyone laughs. Indeed, why not put a ‘lol’ option on the ballot paper? I’m sure it’d attract a surprising amount of support.

Girls don’t cry

Nexty-wexty: should Tim ‘women are crybabies’ Hunt have fricked off? Melanie, while acknowledging Hunt as “bonkers”, claims that he is a great eccentric and that his magisterial free thinking on the role of women in STEM fields should be encouraged! He’s a trailblazer! Free expression! Love and peace, man!

Caroline pointedly points out that some women might be a little miffed that this behaviour from an already highly regarded and wealthy man should be protected, but then the women in the audience have their say. Their opinions vary due to BBC guidelines but seem reasonable enough either way. Most people seem to agree that while what Hunt said was terrible and should be widely mocked, sacking him was more iffy territory. Then again, apparently he didn’t mean it as a joke and didn’t apologise, so…shruggie. Thank goodness we have Alex Salmond to steer us on the right course, by means of…wibbly-wobblying somewhere in the middle of the argument, something he does very rarely.

Also, David Davis misquotes Voltaire, and damns the ‘Twitter mob’ that has struck terror into his heart. Even though he doesn’t have a Twitter. Okay, D-Dubs.

We wrap up with another well-answered question (damnit, Question Time, you need to be viler!): do we have a responsibility to help immigrants fleeing from Africa? Salmond says 65% are refugees and we have to help them as the government in the 1970s helped refugees fleeing Idi Amin. Also we screwed up most of their countries so, y’know…what goes around comes around!

Lionel and Caroline argue the need for a “moral obligation” to help those in danger of drowning – Melanie argues that while economic migrants should be scrutinised, what we really need to do is hit the PANIC BUTTON on the whole Middle East in general. David Davis shrugs his shoulders and wonders how life would be different if he was Tory Prime Minister right now.

Final, rhetorical question: what are the chances of some chubby guy living to see the conclusion of the Chilcot Inquiry?

The world may never know.

Time for the scores!

Salmond: 7/10

Nor(way, twinned with Scotland)

Davis: 7/10

(Showing mean old Twitterers the) Door

Flint: 7/10

(Didn’t quite) Score

Barber: 5/10

Snore

Phillips: 5/10

Pour(ed a slight amount of fuel on the fire)

The Crowd: 6/10

War (what is it good for)

Next time: the return of Mangaman.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #119


qt 119
Good morrow lemmings and welcome back to Questionable Time! Now that we’ve all finished our annual Christmas bloat, I’m sure you’re practically dying to work off those pounds by angrily sweating out a storm while watching a ridiculous political panel show. I know I am! Sure, this may not have been the most classic episode in the world – but as the beleagured Tesco slogan goes, every little helps.

Free speech, £4 a barrel

New year, same story: after Dimbles predictably advertises the Twittersphere – yet still, no matter how many times he does it, with the look of a man who knows absolutely nothing about what he is blabbering about – we begin our humble harrumphathon. Unfortunately, due to the recent tragic events in Paris, the first question is a rightly sombre affair. This makes my job harder since there’s less to take the piss out of aside from tallying to see which panellist can be the most self-important about free speech. (Liz Kendall looks disappointed. She must have eagerly agreed to appear this week, perhaps with a cheery ‘Boy howdy! Gadzooks!’, thinking she could do a little dance about A&E statistics and leave. Now, however, she’s got to contend with Julia Hartley-Brewer threatening to get the whole show bombed by throwing Mohammad cartoon confetti everywhere. Pray for Liz. Pray for her.)

David Davis answers sensibly, quietly arguing that unforgivable acts of terror should not be used as an excuse for tighter controls on civil liberties. Then Julia kicks the door down and screeches that were she not peeing herself at the prospect of getting killed, she’d wear a comfy Mohammad t-shirt just to rub everyone’s noses in what a upstanding and fair-minded citizen she is. Julia, perhaps that would be a bad idea, not even because it’s not actually a triumph of free speech, but because it’s a dickbag thing to do. No you shouldn’t be killed for it, but you should probably be tutted at. Freedom to tut, that’s all I’m arguing for here. Less guns, more grumbling.

Meanwhile, Vince Cable also sensibly points out how it’s unfair to tar Muslims with the same brush when no white people were urged to apologise for the actions of neo-Nazis such as Breivik in Norway, and Liz herself – looking resplendent in taramasalata pink – drones out something boring. Jimmy Wales is just there to ask for a donation. Alles ist gut.

Empty chairs at empty tables

Next up, is David Cameron a chicken? A big old chicky-chicky-chick-chick? Buh-gawk! Buh-gawk! This is some intense and mature debate going on here. Even Jimmy Wales suddenly turned into a Sassmaster, accusing Cammers of being a closet Green, what with his newfound love for them. David Davis rubs his hands with glee at a chance to ‘ave a go at his fiercest enemy. Him, bitter? Nah, surely not.

Then everyone laughs at person who says that Dave merely wants the Greens there to show how fair he is. They guffaw at him. They howl at him. They chortle themselves to death. ANNIHILATED.

Apparently, Nick Clegg has called on his ex-BF to stop making excuses and get out there and slap him across the chops (harder, Dave, harder!). Vince blushes and shifts uncomfortably. I frickin’ hate Clegg, he no doubt thinks. Him and his demotions.

We end this round with audience calls for a no-holds-barred knockout competition between the small parties to see who can take their place amongst the big boys and give them the finger. Or they could just take part in a Super Smash Bros tournament, it would likely have the same outcome.

Sadly we then go from silly to serious, as the next question is on Ched ‘scumbag’ Evans. Liz Kendall doesn’t hold back in telling us how gross she thinks he is, and Julia responds by being even grosser. She’s a better judge of a rape case than a jury, don’tchaknow. I mean, that woman was ~drunk~. She can’t be taken ~seriously~. Not by ~media types~ like ~her~. Liz responds by glaring in a frightening way, threatening to vaporise all in her path with her furious stare.

Julia seems alone in this fight, though, as even David Davis thinks ol’ Cheddy should feck off. Jimmy Wales, likewise, is not really that bovvered if he can’t get a job. However, Kendall Mint Cake is getting annoyed with a blue-haired woman (another one?!) who has been yelling for the majority of the programme. Careful, blue-haired woman, or Liz will come down to your local Sainsbury’s and deliver Ched Evans there herself.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Ayyyy and E

After some more shouting, the next question is about, finally, A&E. Time to put on some Goldfrapp!

Alas – we only have five minutes to discuss this important topic, a topic that dominated the headlines before a group of laughable tossers decided it would be fun in a bun to brutally murder some cartoonists. So in summary: Vince defends things, Jimmy the King of Wiki calls for calm, Liz-who-looks-a-bit-like-Rachel-Reeves-but-isn’t ignores this and goes in fightin’, and David Davis escalates the punch up. Dimbleby, in despair, finally pulls the plug.

Time for the scores!

Cable: 6/10

(Sitting in a pool of) Stagnation

Kendall: 6/10

(A&E) Fixation

Davis: 8/10

(Question number one’s) Salvation

Hartley-Brewer: 4/10

(Her head soon succumbed to) Inflation

Wales: 5/10

Citation (needed)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Let out their) Frustration

Next time: CHORTLES AND STARKEY. I need say no more.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #81


questionable-time-81-david-dimbleby-drag-gif

Good morning Lemmings and how are we feeling this morning? Tired? Bleary eyed? Morally conflicted by being annoyed that QT was delayed and then realising that this annoyance was a direct result of Nelson Mandela’s death and that you must be A Very Bad Person for thinking such thoughts? Yes, I am familiar with this jarring emotional repertoire. Anyway, it’s going to be a mini-Questionable Time today as I struggled to stay awake last night and cannot claim to have taken the whole thing in. With this in mind let us power through with the greatest of haste.

Danny Alexander – I’m beginning to find the Alexander Process rather endearing and to the uninitiated it looks like this:

  1. Danny sits there looking like he’d rather be anywhere else on earth than the QT studio and grimly awaits the torrent of ill will that’s about to come his way.
  2. Whilst waiting for the sky to fall in, Danny does something right – like crack a joke that doesn’t fall flat on its face – and suddenly looks like he might actually grow to enjoy the experience of this whole ‘politics’ thing.
  3. Flushed with confidence, he then tries to do something else right – like cracking another joke – only to find that the crowd have fallen out of love with him again and the torrent of ill will has merely been delayed.
  4. A look of resigned defeat takes hold of his face and the cycle begins again.

Poor Danny. Still, if it’s any consolation I had so much fun pshopping him as a hunky male model last time that I’ve decided this is now his ‘thing’ and he will be male modellified in all future encounters (see Fig. 1).

 danny alexander fit again

Fig. 1

Rachel Reeves: I’m still having trouble working out where the very serious and diligent looking politician ends and the actual person begins. Don’t get me wrong, she’s pretty good at not putting her foot in it and you do get the sense that she does – at least in some very abstract sort of way – care, but none of this can quite cover up the fact that her performances are just a little, well, dull. My prescription? Show us a bit of human frailty. Get something wrong. Make an outrageous statement every now and then. Yes I know this runs counter to every fibre of your being but it’s going to be damn tricky shaking off the ‘Boring-Snoring‘ charge if you continue to display all the warmth of an Excel spreadsheet.

David Davis: Last night saw one of those very rare moments where David Davis is largely in agreement with his own party and manages to confine the use of that I’ve Killed Before look to scaring the bejesus out of the opposition. It also scares the bejesus out of me but in a very good way.

Mary Beard: I like Mary. She’s a good egg with a massive brain who’s more than capable of fighting her own corner yet her past performances have always had this faint tinge of caution to them – like she’s thinking really hard about how to answer a question without unduly upsetting anyone. Thankfully this wasn’t the case last night and what we saw was a great piece of Question Timing that struck the balance between comprehension and conviction just right. Everything flowed naturally, you got the sense that she was talking from the heart and there was no hint of some internal governor trying to restrain her delivery. In short, she was bloody brilliant.

Nick Ferrari: My initial plan was to go town on Ferrari for being the sort of lowest-common denominator blowhard that really grinds my gears but I had a change of heart half way through. Why? Well for one, he made for a really good sparring partner with Mary Beard and it was this pairing that made the show, but more importantly he absolutely melted my heart with the way he gushed effusively about Tom Daley coming out. I really hadn’t expected that but it looked 100% genuine and made me feel all warm inside (although that might have been down to the extra tinny I consumed in an effort to stay awake). So no monstering for Mr Ferrari today, just a doffed cap and an uncharacteristically high mark.

Tl;dr

Alexander: 5/10

Not

Reeves: 4/10

Enough

Davis: 6/10

Sleep

Beard: 8/10

To

Ferrari: 6/10

Make

The Crowd: 6/10

Rhymes

And thus is the tragedy of this show: It was great – aside from the rather wooden efforts of Reeves and Alexander, people had proper debates where they not only got beyond the superficial but also, shock horror, appeared to be listening to each other – yet I’d wager that only a handful of people managed to stay up long enough to watch it. Oh great, see what I’ve just done there? I’ve made myself feel like A Very Bad Person again.

Right, that’s me done. Sorry for calling it in this week but I really am rather knackered and I suspect that there won’t exactly be a queue of expectant Lemmings waiting at the door today. Anyway, see you next time for the last pre-Crimbo episode and should you be in the market for left-field Xmas presents then may I point you in the direction of this rather lovely Catch-22 t-shirt I made…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #61


questionable time 61 david dimbleby space marine warhammer 40k

Good morning Lemmings and to all those Games Workshop nerds looking at the above pshop and having kittens because “Dimbleby is wearing Ultramarine livery yet those are CLEARLY Blood Angels behind him” I say a) shut up and b) I have a girlfriend. Socially awkward critics silenced? Good. Let us proceed with all due haste to the matter in hand. To Coventry we go…

Did David Davis have a nervous breakdown about half way through last night’s show?

Despite his politics being waaaaay to the right of mine I have all the time in the world for David Davis and not only because he’s an unrelenting pain in the arse for the Tory High Command. No, what I like about Davis is that he’s a true Lone Wolf who is certain of his ends, uncompromising in his means and still looks like he could kill you with those dark black marbles he calls eyes. Take the question on Europe and the Queen’s Speech for example: This was the one that left Hunt and Swinson all butterfingered and knock-kneed as they tried to transport the fragile china of not-really-wanting-a-referendum through the frenzied bullring of freshly UKIPed public opinion. Davis though? He wants out and doesn’t care how many Blue Willow plates get shattered along the way. As it happens, public opinion seems to be marginally with him on this one at the moment, but it wouldn’t have mattered either way because David Davis doesn’t really care what you or anyone else thinks. David Davis just cares about his Lines In the Sand and who’s crossing them.

What’s really interesting though is when those Lines In The Sand run perpendicular to each other and on this point the rape question was instructive. Here we have a situation where there is no easy solution and someone – whether they be a victim of sexual assault or a wrongly accused party – is going to come out terribly damaged. More importantly from Davis’ point of view, the fate of both of these parties is dependent on one of his most cherished Lines In The Sand – The Fair and Proportionate Rule of Law – and who gets the benefit of the doubt when crossing it. As soon as the question landed Davis screwed his face up into a ball and clutched the bridge of his nose as if stricken by some sort of existential neuralgia. ‘Gah!’ said his face, ‘Get behind me, Satan!.’

Granted, this may have been a reaction to Greer making some very strange noises about how rape victims should be all up in everyone’s grill rather than displaying entirely appropriate human responses to the most awful of traumas (just as the weird, grunt-cum-tortured-howl he let out later was a direct response to Jerry Hayes’ even stranger and slightly disconcerting to-do over rape statistics) but I suspect it was about something more profound: It was about what happens when two absolutes collide in a mind that only has room for one. To his credit, he actually talked a great deal of sense on the subject and did the best out of the bunch in arriving at a reasonable compromise but still, it does show that despite his outward projection of unshakable clarity, even a seasoned purveyor of Incontrovertible Truths such as he can become unstuck by humanity’s tendency towards the ambiguous.

There are two time travellers in Parliament…

One is Jacob Rees-Mogg, the living embodiment of Interbellum Toryism while the other is Tristram Hunt, the present day’s answer to the Genuinely Sincere Yet Too Clever For Its Own Good Fabianism of the 1930’s. It’s all there really – the pained frowning at the injustice of it all, the wordy appeals to do Good Things and the sort of rugged good looks that would look entirely fitting in a Republican trench on an Andalusian hillside – and on the whole, it sort of works. Ok, so he’s a little overeager in some of his exhortations and his scholarly good lookingness makes it difficult to ignore the accusation that he’s been parachuted in but at least there is a genuine sense that he believes in something and at least he’s trying despite the lingering guilt that life may have sent a disproportionately large amount of Good Things his way.

That, and I’d love to watch him and the Mogglet play Risk. Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

Swinson’s turning into a bit of an operator…

The knowing grin that came along with “It wasn’t in the manifesto”? That said it all. No Teather-esque lip chewing, no Hughes-like hand wringing, just an unapologetic acceptance that politics is a messy business in which you play the hand you’re dealt, all delivered with a touch of coyness to soften the edges. Watch this one. She’s going places.

Greer provides further proof of the Primacy-Recency Effect…

It’s a very straight-forward theory: When presented with a list of things to remember you’re most likely to recall the items at the beginning and the end rather than the stuff in the middle, all of which must be very comforting for Germaine Greer as the old ratbag’s a right bugger for losing her way mid-show.

It all started promisingly with a nice little spiel about UKIP but it quickly got lost as she did a round-the-houses crawl of all things Commonwealth before a circuitous trip down Etymology Lane and the aforementioned weirdness of rape victims being totally cool with staring down the perpetrators. Luckily though, she reeled it back in with some rather good stuff about the burden of proof and once again our inbuilt tendency to forget the middle had her coming out of it all looking rather good. Germaine, you owe the vagaries of cognition a big one.

Now here’s a photo of a back-in-the-day Greer draping herself sensuously around what may or not be David Davis (see Fig. 1)

germaine greer david davis norks

Fig. 1

Jerry Hayes: For and against.

For:

Nice turn of phrase (“Spittoon for angst” anybody?)

Nervous energy

Flailing arms

Beard

Totally batshit rant about the Lord Chancellor that I didn’t understand but looked fun

Against:

Shameless self-promotion

Nervous energy

Flailing arms

Highly dubious interpretations of rape figures and willingness to pick a fight about them

Verdict:

I have no idea.

Tl;dr

Davis: 7/10

Hard

Hunt: 6/10

(Might have) Starred (in Land and Freedom)

Swinson: 6/10

(Plays a tight game of political) Card(s)

Greer: 5/10

(Is not quite as) Avant-Garde (as she used to be)

Hayes: 4/10

(You’re) Barred!

The Crowd: 6/10

(Clearly thought Jean-Luc) Picard (was clearly the best Captain in the Star Trek canon)

In the words of Atlanta rap duo Tag-Team, “Whoomp! There it is”: A straightforward affair where a man with a beard got overly animated and Tristram Hunt described Nigel Farage as “attractive”. Now, I know some of you were a little bummed that I missed Starkey last week so by way of recompense, here’s a link to a piece I did for Culture Kicks about QT. It’s good so give it a read. Culture, innit blud…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #23


questionable time 23 jack ruby david dimbleby

Good morning Lemmings and praise be, spring is here. How do we know this? Well, the lack of near perpetual darkness is one give away but I prefer to use Mother Nature’s most reliable of yardsticks to herald the end of winter: The sudden appearance of a genuinely zesty episode of Question Time. Here’s what we learned last night.

1. The budget was crazy… Crazy like a fox.

So this was the budget episode and traditionally, these tend to be slightly more rambunctious affairs than your more run-of-the-mill shows. However, this year we get an added twist as this was probably the craftiest budget I’ve seen for quite a while and one that’s caught me (and everyone else) slightly on the hoof. And why was it crafty? Well, for one it came with numerous health warnings well ahead of time and almost invited people to get their anger in good order by trailing the 50p cut so heavily prior to the day. With this in mind it was reasonable to expect the post-budget debate to be a fairly straightforward ‘the Tories helping out their well-heeled chums’ knockabout where the focus would be on the traditional battle ground of Monocle and Dickie Bow Wearers vs. Everyone Else. For the most part this seemed to be the case – that is until it emerged that buried in the fine print was an audacious little raid on pensioners. At face value this seems like madness as Rule Number One of politics is that you don’t piss off people’s grandparents as they have an alarming habit of actually voting and it allows you to be painted as the most villainous of villains. Similarly, our brains’ seem to do weird things when asked to process information pertaining to the finances of our elders: Every figure seems to get automatically multiplied by a factor of around 100. For example, if Osborne would have announced that working age taxpayers stand to lose £200 a year, people would rightly grumble and chunter that losing £200 a year isn’t really a desirable thing and then go back about their business. However, should he say that pensioners are in line for a £200 a year squeeze then you end up in a much more serious mess: “Pensioners stand to lose £20’000 a year?! Darling, hand me my pitchfork!”. It’s not our fault, it’s just how we’re wired.

With this in mind I was pretty sure that the harrying of those of more advanced years would be an absolute invitation to tragedy but after watching last night’s show I’m beginning to think that it might actually have been a minor stroke of genius. Why? Because it’s a Sedan Moment – the point where you realise that the Panzers aren’t actually going to come tearing through Belgium where you’ve stacked all your crack units and are in fact emerging from the Ardennes – and if Chuka Umunna’s performance is anything to go by, it worked a treat.

Here’s where things went wrong for Umunna: Certain of the fact that the 50p cut is where the decisive battle would take place he marshalled all of his firepower into that sector and did manage to score some minor tactical victories. However, this meant that he had precious little in reserve to exploit what was actually the issue that wound people up the most and simply couldn’t get any traction on the squeezing of pensioners (in fact, he didn’t even directly address it when it came up, preferring instead to carry on with his frontal assault against the top rate tax). Add into that some shilly-shallying over what Labour would do in 2015 and he comes out of what should have been a very easy fight looking quite badly mauled. And that, dear Lemmings, is why this was a crafty budget.

2. Watching Vince Cable next to David Davis was like watching a ‘here’s what you could have won’ moment on Bullseye.

Whisper it lest either man takes umbrage with me but I suspect that Vince Cable and David Davis probably have more in common with each other than they would care to admit. After all, they are both figureheads for a certain section of their respective parties (Cable with the left leaning, more economically interventionist end of the Lib Dems, Davis with the wing of the Tory party who care about civil liberties), both have a pretty good USP (Cable as the guy who saw the crash coming, Davis as the council-estate-lad-turned-stone-cold-killer) and the pair of them are long enough in the tooth to command a certain level of gravitas. However, the chief difference is that despite the fact that they are both evenly matched in both reach, mischievous intent and ability, one is a cabinet minister while the other is a backbencher. On the basis of last night’s outing it certainly seems that Davis got the sweeter deal. Why? Because Davis was having a whale of a time, being able as he was to duck out of most of Pensionergate whilst simultaneously making loopy unilateral pronouncements about halving the cost of petrol. Cable by contrast had to sit there and suck it all up whilst getting nothing in return for his pains. No crowd love, no mansion tax, no nothing. Ok, so he got to be a little rebellious later on when he poured not quite cold but at least tepid water on regional pay scales but for the most part he looked like a man who had just been forced to drink a pint of brine. So here you go Vince, here’s what you could have won: A similar level of influence without the need to rend your very soul to shreds every time you’re put in front of camera and having to look on impotently as every suggestion you make is quietly taken out the back and shot.

3. The supporting cast was solid.

I have no idea who Melissa Kite is (and neither will I as she doesn’t have a wikipedia article… Three cheers for laziness!), nor am I more than tentatively familiar with Marina Lewycka but truth be told, this matters not a jot as I have nothing in the way of bones to pick with them. Both of them seemed pretty reasonable, both made some good points and neither of them said anything stupid. However, I find myself slightly more inclined towards Lewycka, purely because she seems like the sort of person it would be fun to get drunk with. Similarly with the crowd, I have no complaints as they seemed an amiable enough bunch who could go any-which-way come the next election and there also appeared to be a refreshing absence of flat-out stupidity in this episode. Oh, and there was a guy with a beard so big that it could probably count towards next years GDP figures. Extra points for majestic beards.

4. That whole NHS thing? You probably dreamt it…

I seem to recall that at some point earlier in the week one of the most controversial and potentially risky pieces of legislation in recent history somehow managed to blag its way in to law. At least I think I did as it seems that the QT production team are either unaware of this development or are genuinely more concerned with royalty, ransom and roads. Seriously, wtf?

Tl;dr

Cable: 5/10

Drained

Umunna: 5/10

Sprained (something in his head).

Davis: 7/10

Rained (on Umunna’s parade)

Kite: 6/10

(Seems quite) Sane

Lewycka: 7/10

Gained (my respect)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Contained a man with a glorious) Mane

So there we go, an enjoyable little spring jaunt that kept me entertained for an hour. Nowt wrong with that. Before I go there’s just enough time to squeeze in a quick pshop. This came about when I discovered that there is in fact another David Davis at large, famous only for being arrested with half a haircut. I have tried to simulate the consequences of a chance encounter between the two David Davis’ (see Fig. 1).

david-davis-david-davis-gif

Fig. 1

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #30


Morning Lemmings and why don’t we start with the traditional parade of dog-eared excuses and semi-plausible sick notes? Why not indeed. Ok, first up, sorry for the paucity of the photoshop effort this week. Basically, they didn’t announce who was on until Thursday evening and due to other commitments, I only had 15 minutes to slap something together, hence the reliance on recycled images and shonky comic ploys. I ain’t happy with it, but whatchagonnado? Secondly, I’d better point out that the only thing keeping my eyes open right now is the cat’s incessant whining to be let out and the packs of feral youths, roaming streets with fireworks who are preventing me from letting the cat out. In short, I’ve had a pretty mental week (literally) and have spent all of today embroiled in incidents of the distinctly dicey variety. I’m currently chugging industrial quantities of cola in a bid to attain some sort of state of alertness, but if the writing seems a bit off this week, look no further than the above.

 

Right, that’s any form of personal responsibility dealt with. Let’s crack on.

 

The Menu

 

Q1: Does the panel think that Sheffield Halham will decapitate Nick Clegg at the next election on account of tuition fees and Forgemasters?

 

Q2: Should prisoners be allowed the vote, especially if they have committed heinous crimes?

 

Q3: Does the recent Anglo-Franco treaty mean the end of independence and sovereignty?

 

Q4: Is fear around the air freight bombs being used to justify further restrictions of our liberty?

 

Q5: Will Obama end up like Blair: Trying to please everyone and satisfying no-one?

 

In the Yellow Bit of the Blue/Yellow Corner: Jeremy Browne MP, Minister of State at the Foreign Office and QT Virgin.

Boy, am I going to have fun with this guy, but in the interests of fairness, let me quickly make a case for his defence. First off, being a LibDem in Sheffield at the moment must be like being an underweight nerd at the International Bully and Victimiser Conference. Pretty much every promise that the LibDems have had to go back on of late has hit Sheffield particularly hard and I think it’s fair to say (just look at Q1) that whoever was on the stump for the Yellow Team was going to get a bit of kicking. Secondly, this is his first time on QT and he’s part of a panel that contains no less than three seasoned Question Time veterans which again is hardly the most comfortable place to be. Lip service to fairness paid, let us now engage in the far more pressing business of ripping poor Jeremy to shreds.

 

Ok where, to start? Well, I guess the first thing that struck me was his voice. It’s just so damn jaunty and un-LibDemmy. If I was listening to last night’s show on the radio and didn’t know who was speaking, I would swear to god that he must be some Tory backwoodsman of the Old School who was campaigning vociferously for a cull of something or other, but he’s not. He’s a LibDem minister. As well as being thoroughly merry, his voice is also characterised by having only one volume setting and this appears to be ‘loud’, something which again is far more Tory territory than LibDem. Sure, his vocal chords aren’t exactly his fault and can be forgiven, but what can’t is his general approach to answering questions. At best, this tends to involve some plumby variation on the “Yes but no but yes but…” routine, something that doesn’t really cut it when you’ve got a blood soaked brawler of the likes of Straw in close proximity and at worst, it’s a straight-forward case of him wedging his foot so firmly in his mouth that medical students will puzzle over how he managed to do this for years to come. A case in point: After being asked for his take on Q3, Browne gaily frolicked into a nice little tract about how the treaty wouldn’t mean we have to “speak French, wear onions round our necks and stripy T-shirts or ride bicycles.” Dammit man! What in the hell do you think you’re doing?! Sure, the crowd want a little red meat from time to time, but times and places fellah!

 

So yes, that didn’t go down too well and he was in fact heckled at this point, much to no-one’s surprise. As this was truly his lowest ebb, I guess it’s only fair to counter it with a high point, but the truth is that I can’t find one. Going back over my notes, most of his answer really didn’t say much about anything and the vast majority of them are summed up by the word “BLAH” in capital letters, a trend that doesn’t bode well for his political future. But here’s the thing though: I actually quite enjoyed his performance and not just in a sadistic ‘let’s watch the new boy give up his dinner money’ sort of way. No, the impression I was left with was of a Labrador driving a train: There’s Jeremy, miles out of his depth, yanking on random levers for the sake of yanking on levers, hurtling towards certain death but utterly oblivious to this eventuality and actually somewhat enjoying the experience. I like that mental image. It makes me smile and for some reason, so did Jeremy Browne’s performance. Ok, so the fact that he is actually a Minister of State is a little unsettling, but that weird inability he has to see that he’s neck-deep in shit and sinking fast is actually rather endearing and for that reason, he gets a slightly better mark than the technicalities of his performance merit. Oh, and he rather aptly looks quite a bit like Jeremy from Peep Show (see Fig. 1).

 

Fig. 1

 

An enjoyably crap 5/10

 

In the Blue Bit of the Blue/Yellow Corner: David Davis MP, stone cold ex-SAS type and general man of principle.

I like Davis and always have, mainly on account of you know exactly what he stands for. Yes, he’s sort of a one trick pony in that his platform is built almost entirely out of civil liberties timber, but that’s not a bad thing in itself and parliament needs people like him to make a hullabaloo when the likes of New Labour get totally carried away with the whole power deal. The other thing I like about Davis is that he looks hard as nails and you know that it’s not an act. Like Paddy Ashdown (also former special forces), his eyes seem to be recessed several inches into his skull and he has the look of a man who could quite nonchalantly kill you but wouldn’t even bother mentioning this to his wife because it seemed like such a mundane occurrence. So yes, I’m on board with Davis in a kind of ‘fear and respect’ sort of way. I don’t agree with him on a great many things, but I will always give him the time of day.

 

In terms of performance, it was stock Davis in that he was beholden to no man, not afraid to criticise his own side if he thought they were playing fast and loose with civil liberties and wonderfully bullshit free. Whilst he said nothing that’s particularly worth repeating at length, his responses were all very consistent and managed to pull off the very difficult trick of splicing self-evident common sense with a very strong helping of principle (especially around Q4 where his arguments for intercept evidence but against Control Orders won him a great deal of sincere applause), all of which led me to wonder why he isn’t running the country. Then I remembered that the Tory party turned him down and instead went for a PR man who looks a little like a boiled ham, which in turn made a something inside of me die a little.

 

An uncompromisingly rugged 8/10

 

In the Red Corner: Jack Straw MP, former warmonger-at-large and perennial survivor.

I don’t like Straw, never have, but by god is he interesting. In many ways, he’s like Davis’ evil twin and they even have similar upbringings in that they both grew up on council estates and suffered family tragedies in their early years. However, this is where their paths diverge and while Davis spent 17 years with Tate and Lyle going from the shop floor to the upper echelons, Straw took the default New Labour route of briefly practising law before going down the career politician route. In outlook, they are both polar opposites, what with Straw being the man who laid most of the foundations for some of New Labours over zealous authoritarianism, but it is in the way that they operate that the differences are most glaring. I mentioned before that Davis looks genuinely tough and tends to do things in a very straight forward, no compromise sort of way. Straw, by contrast, looks anything other than tough (in fact, he looks the Demon Headmaster from the eponymous Children’s BBC show of yore… See Fig.2), so much so that I reckon I could have him and instead has to rely on cunning, an area that he utterly excels in. The other key of difference is that Straw has legacy to defend whilst Davis has nothing of the sort since he has never been in government, all of which conspires to make watching the two of them together rather interesting.

Fig. 2

 

Ok, so getting down to his performance, it was largely what we’ve come to expect: Combative, emphatic, but also slightly twitchy. Take Q1 for example: Early in that question, he got to make a lot of hay by opening both barrels on the coalition, threw around words like “deceit” and “laughable” and generally played to a receptive gallery. Then things got tricky as people bought up his own past as leader of the NUS and his support for tuition fees whilst in government. Some politicians get derailed by moves like this, but Straw is way too grizzled and started to dig his heels in, refusing to give ground to the opposition and making sure that he had the last word. Now, this isn’t a pretty tactic (in fact, it borders on being disingenuous) but it is effective if you know what you’re doing with it and Straw does. Yes, it doesn’t look entirely convincing, but it’s better than the alternative of looking like a numpty who’s been caught out. A slightly different ploy was on display in Q4 when he did his ‘solemn’ look and then cast a smokescreen of technicalities, but the intent was still the same: Never go down without a fight, never give an inch, not one step back unless it’s to lead the enemy into a trap. Again, not entirely edifying but always purposeful. However, what did surprise me was his reaction to Q3 when he flat-out condoned the government’s policy on the Anglo-French treaty and gave it two resounding thumbs up. Now, I’m pretty sure that this is a sign of a slight mellowing now that he’s out of government as I really can’t remember a time when Straw has done anything other than just relentlessly attack anyone who happened to be sat opposite him in the Commons. I could be wrong on that one, but I suspect that I’m not.

 

So that’s the bulk of Straw’s performance and as I’ve already mentioned, I’m generally not a fan (particularly given his involvement in the Iraq War and his role in slowly grinding my post 1997 optimism into a fine powder). However, he is a survivor and with good reason: He knows where the bodies are buried and isn’t the least bit frightened of disinterring them with a mind to reanimation. Is this a noble calling? Probably not. Is it interesting to watch though? Most certainly.

 

Finally, how can I leave Straw without mentioning his little comic turn in Q5 where he asked Dimbers if he remembered FDR’s 1938 election victory and then called him “sweetheart”? Straw, I may question your motives, but I sure as hell admire your chutzpah.

 

A hard-bitten 6/10

 

In the Independent/Brainy Corner: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and furthest thing away from a Question Time Virgin possible.

Cripes, it’s been months since we’ve seen Shami, that endearing little boy who always ends up with more applause than Christ himself could garner and I briefly feared that she may have been sent away to boarding school and thus couldn’t partake in her usual schedule of at least ten appearances per series. As that last sentence suggests, Shami is no stranger to LCCPQTMR and as result, I’m going to keep it brief. Needless to say, it was the usual potent mix of impassioned calls to reason, breathless exhortations and non party political latitude that also had the usual result of driving the crowd wild and inevitably leading to victory, so no surprises there (although it has to be said that she shares this week’s victory with David Davis so sorry Shami, but this can’t be claimed as an outright win). All of that sounds like a rather begrudging endorsement and in a way it is because if I’m totally honest, I just get slightly bored with the fact that Shami winning is usually a forgone conclusion. However, I will try to not be completely po-faced about this as I am glad that there are people like her about and I agree with the majority of what she says.

 

One thing that did mark this performance out from some of her other appearances was the weird interplay between her and John Gaunt, a man Shami made an unlikely ally of when she threw Liberty’s weight behind him in the whole Nazigate business. You could tell this left both of them somewhat bewildered as to how to react to each other as they clearly still retain the ability to grind each others gears but aren’t quite sure whether formal hostilities have resumed (her was-it-sarky-was-it-witty “my old friend John Gaunt” quip being a case in point) and this added a little extra flavour to an otherwise standard Chakrabarti outing. Oh, and her performance is also responsible for Least Deserving Outburst Of Wild Applause In The Series So Far Award when the crowd went absolutely batshit after she spoke a little French in Q3. She could have said “Let’s lock up all the children in the land and make them eat coal” and they would have still slapped their hands together in unquestioning adoration, so blinded by the wildly improbable feat of someone actually knowing a few words in a foreign language. Has it come to this, Britain? HAS IT?

 

An inevitable 8/10

 

In the I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: John Gaunt, former TalkSport Radio presenter, Sun columnist and Nazi accuser.

I’m having trouble here. By rights, he should be my perfect Bad Guy by dint of holding a wide and varied array of right-wing views that are delivered in the most belligerent of tones. But wait! What’s this? We’re only into Q1 and we’re hearing an employee of News International knocking the government for being full of millionaires? Something ain’t right here. But there’s more! Here comes Q4 and if I’m not mistaken, I’m hearing the self-same Sun hack having a pop at Control Orders! Ok, so he tempered that by making it clear that he would still like to see Muslim extremists locked up and he did have the compulsory rant/wild speculation of doomsday scenarios whenever Europe was mentioned, but I must say that this turn of events has left my head spinning because dammit, I want to able to categorically hate the Bad Guy and I can’t do that if he’s talking about things I agree with. I can semi hate him, if only for talking a little bit LIKE THIS, turning every sentence into a crescendo that Godspeed would be proud of and his general knack for demagoguery also steams my bean (“this is Great Britain not GREAT BURMA!”), but I just can’t give him thoroughly horrible marks. Neither, it seems, could the crowd who were right behind him, especially in Q1 and thus we witness the strange spectacle of a Sun man cleaning up in a Mirror city. What with Glasgow refusing to tar and feather the nearest available coalition candidate last week, I now no longer know anything. Down is up, up is down, rivers flowing backwards, etc, etc.

 

An annoyingly not entirely awful 4/10

 

The Crowd: Sheffield

This was always going to be an odd show, mainly because three of the panelists were ‘we like liberty’ types whilst the other two were either too cunning or just too completely off the planet to really buck the consensus. Throw into this mix a list of question that hinge heavily around a civil liberties agenda and what you get is an episode that’s much more about the Y axis than the X of the wonderful Slomp Projection. I guess that’s quite nice for a change but I hope it doesn’t become a habit because I’m a sucker for the X axis. In terms of working out whether Sheffield is approving of the coalition it was also a little odd as they weren’t really represented. Yes, there were members of both parties there, but the LibDem panelist was so far removed from reality that he didn’t really count and the Tory member sounded so distant from government that he couldn’t really act as gauge either. Still, I must say that it was a fairly lively affair and if anything can be drawn from the crowd’s input it is that Nick Clegg should be seriously worried about his prospect for re-election and that no one really felt like defending Europe. Furthermore, I’m sad to say that the glorious run of two bow tie wearers in a row has come to an end. Bad move, Sheffield, you could have got some easy points there.

 

A slightly different but regrettably un-bow tied 6/10.

 

And that’s that. Right, I’m knackered and sober so I’m out of here but I will leave you with a small something by way of apology for this week’s poor pshop effort. Behold, Beefy (the bassist in our band) looking massive and chasing all sorts of crap.

 

Run. Just run.

 

 

Next week, Lemmings…


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