Posts Tagged 'Douglas Murray'

Questionable Time #144


qt 144

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

Fallout: New Labour

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

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

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

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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

Crawling in my skin

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

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

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

Brie brings glee but feta is better

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 6/10

(Should have waited for the press) Release

Corbyn: 7/10

(Pleaded for) Peace

McElvoy: 7/10

(Wore a weird green) Fleece

Murray: 4/10

(Really hates) Greece

Khorsandi: 5/10

(Nearly in) Piece(s)

The Crowd: 8/10

(Used a bit of elbow) Grease

Next time: one more week! One more week!

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

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #68


questionable time 68 david dimbleby monkey

Good morning Lemmings and just why exactly are you all wearing your ties around your heads, setting off fire extinguishers, smoking conspicuously and generally running wild in the corridors? Ah, I see… It’s the end of term – that last hurrah before QT goes into it’s reverso-hibernation – and consequently I see little point in trying to hold your attention for more than 10 minutes. With this in mind (and seeing as you’ve been so good all year), let’s dispense with all the earnest chin-stroking, let our hair down and play a little game called ‘Which One of Last Night’s Panelists Would I Most Like to Be My GP?’. Yeah yeah yeah, so you all wanted to play Mouse Trap but you can’t because a) we’ve lost half the pieces, b) Mr Gove won’t let us buy any new ones and c) the idea of Mouse Trap is always much more fun than the stuttering and largely inoperative reality of Mouse Trap. GP’s it is then.

 

Let’s start with obvious choice…

It’s a no-brainer really: You’re ill, you’re in the QT studio, who do you turn to? Well quite clearly it would be Dr Sarah Woolaston, the only actual medic on the panel and one who exudes a general air of competence. So anyway, you get to the back of the set, Doctor Woolaston performs a thorough examination and declares that it’s nothing to worry about and that everything will be fine. Except that you’re not feeling fine. Something is troubling you and you can’t quite put your finger on it.

 

Are you sure Doc? Are you sure that I’m not going to keel over and die?”

 

Yes” she replies soothingly “You’ve just watched too much QT this year and there’s been a build up of current affairs pathogens that your body is now dealing with. Give it a day and you’ll be as right as rain”.

 

Yet I’m still feeling uneasy. Why? Because her face is telling a different story to the words coming out of her mouth. We saw it last night, like when she was extolling the virtues of open primaries. According to the words she was saying, these are great things that are a cause for joy yet her face was set in this near-frown/semi-smile of ambient concern that told a completely different story. In fact it didn’t matter what the subject was, that face just wouldn’t shift from its default position of nebulous worry and that lent an otherwise pretty solid performance an air of uncertainty that didn’t sit well with me.

 

So despite her immaculate credentials and refreshingly calm manner I’m going to pass on the offer of medical aid from Sarah. It’s not that I doubt her skills, it’s just that no matter how many times my ears hear the words ‘You’re going to be fine’, my eyes end up concluding that I’ll be dead by sundown. Next!

 

What about the highest ranking panelist, Danny Alexander?

Let’s start with the good news: Danny Alexander no longer looks like a harried junior doctor who doesn’t know his fib from his tib and has settled quite comfortably into the role of Ward Manager that was thrust so violently upon him. And the bad news? His bedside manner is pretty ropey – just really flat and distracted by mental visions of a million graphs plunging downwards – not to mention that he has a really obvious tell: He starts talking really quickly when delivering bad news (like when Hodge was roughing him up on the state of the NHS). So beware: If Dr Danny mumbles a diagnosis at you, you’re probably in the clear. However, if he says something like ‘Everythingsabsolutelyfineyouhavenothingtoworryabout’ I’d get ringing 999.

 

(On a tenuously related note, I’ve noticed that Alexander gets a raw deal on google images and that every other photo appears to be a comparison between himself and Beaker. Consequently I have taken steps to reverse this trend. See Fig. 1).

 

danny alexander fit

Fig. 1

Talking of bedside manner…

This is the bit that Margaret Hodge has got nailed. No five-minute appointments, no being fobbed off with 20mg of Citalopram and a ‘there there dear’, you’re in for a proper 20 minute consultation in which tears will flow and Kleenex will be offered. The problem however is that I’m not entirely convinced about how up to date her clinical skills are and there’s always the chance of a misdiagnosis like when she chalked up an immigration problem to a lack of ID cards. Still, she’s probably the sort of doctor who’d turn up to a patients funeral and that get points in my book… Even if she was an indirect cause of death.

 

Douglas Murray is fond of rather drastic interventions…

So here I am backstage again and Dr Murray has taken the time to stop by.

 

What’s the problem then?” he states.

 

It’s my hand,” says you “it’s a bit stiff”.

 

Right, get my saw. That needs amputating.”

 

Actually, I’m being a little unfair here because like Danny Alexander, Douglas Murray has changed dramatically over the last couple of years and is much more mellow than he was when he was screaming for this or that to be bombed off the face of the earth. That’s not to say that he’s completely lost his taste for the extreme (performance related pay for MP’s anyone?) but I have to admit that he was actually pretty good last night and never once in danger of doing a Full Blown Mel. I’d still keep my eye on that saw though…

 

I’m troubled by Dr Robinson’s intentions…

He’s a kindly soul is Dr Robinson and much like Hodge, I can’t fault him when it comes to the basics of the doctor/patient dynamic. However, I am concerned that a) his prescribed treatments would most likely involve leeches or trepanning and b) he’d actual quite like for me to cark it so he could bury me behind the surgery and then dig me up again in front of a film crew. Speaking of which, I really should ring the doctors to get my paranoia looked at.

 

Tl;dr

 

Woolaston: 6/10

(Has a worried looking) Face

 

Alexander: 5/10

(Has finally learned to) Embrace (his role)

 

Hodge: 6/10

(Is) Ace (when she’s hounding tax dodgers)

 

Murray: 6/10

(Is not the head) Case (he used to be)

 

Robinson: 6/10

(Is always welcome round my) Place (providing he doesn’t dig it up).

 

The Crowd: 5/10

(All wore undergarments of) Lace?

 

And that’s that for another two months. As is customary at the end of the QT year I’d like to say a big thanks to all those who’ve helped out in one way or another (you know who you are) and also to you guys for reading. God willing, Questionable Time will be back in September but should you find yourself at a loose end before then please go and check out my new site – misheardlyricsillustrated.com. It’s pretty simple really: I mishear lyrics and then I illustrate them. Anyway, it’s very silly in a fun sort of way so check it out and pass it on to anyone you think might get a kick out of it.

 

Right, that’s your lot. Have a great summer and I’ll see you back here in September…

 

In a couple months Lemmings, in a couple of months…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #42


question-time-david-dimbleby-paddy-ashdown-yasmin-alibhai-brown-andy-burnham-beardsGood morning Lemmings and welcome the hell back. Before we get stuck in, let me take this opportunity to offer my sincere apologies for the recent lack of Post Question Time activity. After unilaterally declaring Easter and buggering off on tour it never quite crossed my mind that Question Time itself might take a couple of weeks off so sorry for the absence but rest assured that regular service has now resumed.

Anyhoo, it’s a good job that I’m all refreshed as it was a feverish episode last night that at times seemed more akin to a middle class version of the Jeremy Kyle Show and was all the better for it. Basically, it can be summed up as a game of two halves, both of which featured large doses of Paddy Ashdown and also contained within it one of the most dramatic reversals of fortune I have seen on Question Time to date. It started like this: After a small bout of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown sounding very concerned (she always sounds very concerned. It’s her thing) about the legality of Bin Laden’s killing, Douglas Murray nonchalantly stepped forth and instantly polarised the crowd by declaring in a very gleeful way that he was “elated” by the death of Bin Laden and that Yasmin should really just STFU. That on its own is a pretty bold statement, but when coupled with the fact that he looked like he’d only just sobered up from a week-long ‘Bin Laden’s Dead’ pub crawl (what do you wear to a ‘Bin Laden’s Dead’ pub crawl? A Bin Laden costume? Special Forces garb? Black tie? I have no idea what would be appropriate), it becomes positively incendiary and stunned Alibhai-Brown into some very concerned sounding “goodness me”-ing. This however, was just the beginning as waiting in the wings was Paddy Ashdown and not just any old Paddy Ashdown but Hard Bitten Ex-Instrument of Foreign Policy With Blood On His Hands Paddy Ashdown.

How old are you Douglas?” he asked, “because YOU SEEM TO YOUNG TO DECIDE ON AN EXECUTION!”.

ZING! The crowd loved that, but he didn’t stop to soak up the applause. Oh no, he had yet even more of the beat down to deploy and deploy it he did by striking a 1000 yard gaze (which is very impressive for a man who doesn’t actually have any eyes) and following it up with this little gem:

I have seen people killed. Some of them my friends, some of them my enemies… I cannot rejoice in the killing of anyone.”

BOOM! He might as well have just screamed “YOU DON’T KNOW CUZ YOU WEREN’T THERE, MAN!” at Murray and the crowd went totally bonkers (to be fair to Paddy, he really doesn’t pull the whole ‘I’ve killed men with my bare hands’ thing out of the bag often enough. Hell, if it was me I think I’d finish just about every sentence with “and by the way, did I ever tell you that killed a man with my bare hands?”. More tea Mr Loudribs? “Yes please and by the way, did I ever tell you that killed a man with my bare hands?” You see what I’m getting at.)

So yes, from that point on, the tone was set. This was going to be a fight to the death affair and one in which only the strong would survive. Sensing that things were getting pretty hairy, Philip Hammond and Andy Burnham quickly went to ground and ventured out only to big up the Arab Spring while Armando Iannucci correctly guessed that comic intervention probably wasn’t called for at this point and found a foxhole of his own to cower in. By now the whole show had swung to focus exclusively on the running battle between Ashdown and Murray and what a battle it was. For his part, Ashdown would start every sentence with some reference to his days as a shadowy bringer of death (“I’ve been interrogated/fighting terrorism most of my life”) and finish it with a reference to “the rule of law”. This certainly proved to be a very potent weapon and one which the crowd loved, but lets not forget who he was up against: Douglas Murray, The Mentalist Bastard In Town.

It’s easy (and often entirely appropriate) to bash Murray given that he has fashioned an entire career from simply blabbing the most intensely crazy brand of ultra right-wing interventionism, but the man does deserve some credit for being utterly, utterly fearless. Sure, Paddy may well have had the monopoly on harrowing war stories but as powerful as they are, they are still given a run for their money by Murray’s insane capacity to soak up punishment and carry on as if nothing had happened. So it went that for every haymaker that Ashdown landed, Murray simply got straight back up, dusted himself off and then went on to say something even more potty than the last thing that left his mouth (“Killing terrorists is a good way to keep us safe” springs to mind). Neither would it be fair to say that he was without support from the crowd because he also had some fairly vocal cheerleaders, a few of whom also decide to get stuck into the ruck themselves (a special mention is warranted for the guy who objected very strongly to Paddy Ashdown referring to Bin Laden as a ‘man’. He was a special type of crazy, that guy). Anyway, whilst these two slugged it out and the other male panelists did their best not to soil themselves in the heat of combat we were also treated to the spectacle of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wandering in an out of the Danger Zone like a hippy who had inadvertently stumbled into a riot police convention. In a way, I feel slightly sorry for her because she did make some valid points but in the face of such sustained firepower, it was pretty much impossible for her to stand her ground without being beaten to a bloody pulp. Sorry Yasmin, but this ain’t the Wright Stuff (which, by the way, is totally the best thing about sick days).

So that was the first half: An almighty clash of arms in which the crowd decreed Ashdown the winner while Murray never seems to have received this message and just carried on regardless. Emboldened by this triumph in the face of insanity, Ashdown thought himself to be in the perfect position to drive his offensive home and marched on to the sound of gunfire (which actually turned out to be a question about the coalition) with his back ramrod straight. Little did he know of the calamity that was to befall him and what appeared to be the Wide Open Plains of Imminent Victory actually turned out be the Hellish Quagmire of Crushing Defeat, but for the most unexpected of reasons: Andy Burnham. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s unexpected because I think Andy Burnham’s a crap politician. He’s not, but by the same token I wouldn’t exactly describe him as the world’s greatest orator AND he’s never killed anyone before. However, he is quite canny and while the whole Ashdown/Murray bunfight was going on, he had the nouce to find a place of relative safety and keep his powder dry for a fight he was more suited to. His opportunity came with the ‘will Clegg be blamed for the AV defeat’ question. After being given the first bite of the cherry by Dimbers, he moved into a more offensive disposition and warmed up with a hearty round of Lib Dem baiting that made much use of the word “betrayal”. At this point he was joined by Iannucchi who had been also waiting for more benign circumstances to prevail and lost no time in unleashing Teh Funneh along with a further side dish of “betrayal”. Sensing that this new alliance could quite possibly harbour the seeds of his destruction Ashdown attempted to defuse the situation with a light-hearted appeal to talk about torture some more, but the crowd didn’t bite. Worse still, those audience members who had only minutes earlier been cheering him as if he were the Second Coming now started to hurumph and appear positively restive. Faced with a heckler calling him a “sell-out”, Ashdown retreated to the only place coalition members seem to know when the going gets tough: The Bunker of Blame Labour. That really didn’t work and Burnham was right back in there, giving him what-for with regards the NHS, fees and anything else he could find to be semi-convincingly outraged about. A kerfuffle ensued but this time the action was very much one-sided as Ashdown kept tripping up as he tried to retreat and mangled his account of the coalition negotiations. The result was pretty ugly and despite a fairly spirited (if misguided) attempt at a last stand it all ended up with the hero of the Bin Laden question becoming the Bin Laden of the coalition question. Oh London, how fickle you are.

So that was that: Paddy Ashdown was Icarus, Murray was mental, Alibhai-Brown pained yet impotent, Iannucci had his moments and Burnham was a bolt from the blue. But wait! Aren’t we forgetting someone? Oh yes, there was Philip Hammond as well. You may be wondering how we’ve got so far with his name barely being mentioned but in actual fact, the explanation is pretty straight forward: The man is so intrinsically dull that he could well have been replaced with a stack of Readers Digests and no one would have noticed. Take for example this picture (see Fig. 1).

philip hammond grey

Fig. 1

Here we have Philip Hammond in front of Monet’s Venice Twilight. As we can see, the power of Hammond’s congenital greyness is actually leaching the colour out of the painting and rendering the area immediately around him devoid of hue (although interestingly, his tie appears impervious to this effect. I hear it was crafted from materials as yet unknown to science). Such is the power of his all-pervading insipidness that it actually has the power to cancel out excitement. Sure, he has a reputation as a steady pair of hands but in this episode he appeared like a supply teacher who had given up trying to actually teach anything years ago and instead just reads out loud from a textbook as the class run amuck and set fire to each others hair. Even when he was being quite spitefully needled by Dimbers (who had props in the form of posters Hammond had given the OK to) I still found it hard to muster any emotion beyond pure ambivalence and if I hadn’t spent a fair bit of time knocking up that photoshop on Thursday, I doubt I’d have anything to say about him at all. I never thought I’d say this but thank god for Douglas Murray.

Tl; dr

Hammond: 100% Grey

3/10

Ashdown: 50% Man of the Hour, 50% Whipping Boy.

6/10

Burnham: 25% Shirker, 25% Politician Trying to Sound Convincingly Angry, 50% Smiter of Ashdown.

7/10

Iannucci: 50% Sidelined, 50% Funny.

6/10

Alibhai-Brown: 33% Bleeding Heart Peacenik Commie, 33% “Dear Sir, Imagine My Concern”, 33% First Casualty of War.

5/10

Murray: 110% Sectionable.

7/10

The Crowd: 25% Andy McNabb Wannabes, 25% Well Rounded Individuals, 1000% Not Fans of the Lib Dems.

8/10

So there you go… An absolute belter of an episode that satisfied some deep-seated lust for blood that has haunted me for years. Now, as is customary from time-to-time, here’s a quick reminder that you can follow these reports on Facebook and Twitter and if you’re into these reports, do us a favour and pass ’em on to people who might like them. Oh, and just in case anyone was remotely interested in how the tour went, let me tell you that it was bloody ruddy great… until our other guitarist trapped his thumb in a taxi door and we had to cancel half the dates. Here’s the thumb in question:

'That' thumb...

I hate that thumb.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #37


question time 37

Morning Lemmings and a word of warning: From here on in the photoshops are going to start getting really weird. Think about it this way… I’ve been doing this for about a year and as has become apparent, Question Time is littered with repeat offenders (Dianne Abbott, I’m looking at you) who seem to be on every other week. As a result, I’ve pretty much scoured Google Images in its entirety for fresh raw materials with which to poke topical fun at the great and the good, but it has become clear that this seam has been mined to the point of exhaustion and I will have to fall back on the absurd to make ends meet. I blame Labour. I wouldn’t have had to make these cuts if they hadn’t been running up such an astronomical Google Images deficit in the good times and clearly we don’t want this blog to go the way of Greece, Spain or Ireland. This is me taking us out of the Danger Zone.

 

Anyhoo, on to the show which this week (for the most part) seemed to have been filmed two years ago in an era where old certainties held true and our heads were not spinning from the unpredictabilities of coalition. In many ways, it was like the Cold War but with slightly different belligerents, full Technicolor and a very different outcome. Allow me to explain.

 

First in our trip down Memory Lane is Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who by rights should be playing the role of post-war America (confident, powerful and marching to the beat of inexorable progress) but is, in actual fact, now portraying the sorry vision of Hoover era America (unsteady, insular and without a song in its heart). He got the ball rolling by falling back on some good old Tory Values of Yore with the prisoners question and lost little time in throwing round words like “repugnant” before doing his best to divest himself of any substance when it came to multiculturalism. After this less than promising start, he then collapsed into a fug of isolationism as he toed the current Western line on Egypt (‘complex stuff, best not rock the boat and all that’), all of which ultimately amounted to very little. Little did he know that he was about to get hit by his own personal Great Depression, but a little more on that later.

 

Next up we have Jacqui Smith, filling the shoes of an increasingly warped, probably-evil and definitely mad dictatorship who has just lost its patron state. Think North Korea or Albania. Again, she seemed to be still rooted firmly in the past, believed she was still Home Secretary and capitalised handsomely on the opportunity to remind us of all the things we didn’t like about Labour by getting all ‘tuff on crime’ when it came to prisoners, muddying the waters with a bucket of terrorism on the multicultural question and then pretty much sidestepping Egypt in the same way Maude did, all of which was crap. Again though, there was drama just around the corner, but be patient… we’ll get to that soon.

 

Last on the list of our Cold Warriors is Menzies Campbell who, by all appearances, has been asleep since last April and has to yet to be informed that his party is in government with the Tories. This is probably for the best as I can only imagine what he’d like to do to Nick Clegg if he ever found out what he’s been up to of late (see Fig.1) and given his advancing years, I’m not sure if that would be good for his blood pressure. In this scenario, Ming takes the role of the out-there, edgy, and possibly-progressive regime that fires up the spirits of young revolutionaries everywhere, sort of like an only-just-post-revolution Cuba or Nicaragua just after Somoza fell. Hoisting the banner of Liberty, Ming took to the barricades on the prisoners issue, staunchly defended multiculturalism and at least venturing a solid opinion on Egypt, all of which reminded us why we used to like the Liberal Democrats and made me positively yearn for the days when wouldn’t even dare dream of power.

 

Fig. 1

More on him later, but as we all know, a Cold War needs an ideological struggle to underpin the narrative and aptly fulfilling this need are Mehdi Hasan, our alternate history’s Rabid Pinko Commie and Douglas Murray, our Pig Dog Capitalist Lacky. Now, these guys were much more fun than the geopolitical players and were at each others throats when ever the opportunity presented itself. For the most part, Hassan emerged the victor as he managed to maintain sufficient anger to come across as passionate, but keeping it just about in check enough to stop him looking like a nutter (something which has dragged down his score in past episodes). Murray, on the hand, actually looked quite ill and a little dishevelled, but if he was feeling worse for wear, that didn’t stop him from coming out all guns blazing. The best bit was on the multiculturalism question where Murray kicked off by regurgitating an article he had written for the Wall Street Journal this week and generally damned the whole concept to hell and back. This drew a fair bit of applause, but he was then given the beat down by a pissed off Hasan who invoked the spectre of Nick Griffin and garnered an even louder round of claps. This went back and forth for a bit but eventually ended in almighty kerfuffle that Dimbers was forced to break up with assertive use of the word “Order!”. That’s some good Question Timing right there.

 

Now, as I said earlier, this Cold War had a slightly different conclusion from the one we know and love in that it went nuclear. Up until the last question, I had written off this episode as a bit of a damp squib, but everything changed when the voluntary sector cuts question turned up. This happens to be a subject close to my heart (or maybe a subject close to giving me a heart attack) right now as I work in the voluntary sector. If I get enough time and summon the will, I might write a piece about it in the near future, but for the time being, all you need to know is that we are in the middle of a genuine and frankly terrifying crisis at the moment. I won’t go into it now, but trust me when I say that things are not good. Anyhoo, back to the point:

 

It all started inauspiciously enough with Murray using the question as an excuse to bash the lazy and feckless around the chops while Smith used it as excuse to reel off a list of past Labour policies that no-one gives two hoots about any more. Then it came to Francis Maude and the first glimpse of a mushroom cloud hove into view as he blamed everything on Labour. Boom. That was it. The crowd, who had already been quite volatile got to the point of criticality and absolutely exploded. Hands down, this was the biggest boo-fest of the current run and despite some counter-booing from a few section of the audience, Maude was right at Ground Zero. Things got even worse when a psychotherapist set off some secondary explosions while Murray did his best to stoke the inferno by accusing the nation of being “morally obese”, further exacerbating the situation and forcing Dimbers to wade in again and break it all up. Despite his best efforts, the firestorm raged on and when the show ended, it seemed certain that we had been plunged into a nuclear winter for the next decade. Now that’s rattling good history.

 

TL:DR

 

Maude: 3/10

Should have ducked and covered.

 

Smith: 2/10

Should give up.

 

Campbell: 8/10

Looks like the skeleton from the Scotch Video Tape adverts.

 

Hasan: 8/10

Played a good Che Guevara

 

Murray: 6/10

Played a good Donald Rumsfeld

 

Bristol: 8/10

Appears to be made of plutonium

 

OK, that’s it. I’m absolutely knackered for reasons pertaining to the last question on the show and need to do something mindless. Time to fire up Just Cause 2 I think…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Morning Lemmings and a word of warning: From here on in the photoshops are going to start getting really weird. Think about it this way… I’ve been doing this for about a year and as has become apparent, Question Time is littered with repeat offenders (Dianne Abbott, I’m looking at you) who seem to be on every other week. As a result, I’ve pretty much scoured Google Images in it’s entirety for fresh raw materials with which to poke topical fun at the great and the good, but it has become clear that this seam has been mined to the point of exhaustion and I will have to fall back on the absurd to make ends meet. I blame Labour. I wouldn’t have had to make these cuts if they hadn’t been running up such an astronomical Google Images deficit in the good times and clearly we don’t want this blog to go the way of Greece, Spain or Ireland. This is me taking us out of the Danger Zone.

 

Anyhoo, on to the show which this week (for the most part) seemed to have been filmed two years ago in an era where old certainties held true and our heads were not spinning from the unpredictabilities of coalition. In many ways, it was like the Cold War but with slightly different belligerents, full Technicolor and a very different outcome. Allow me to explain.

 

First in our trip down Memory Lane is Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, who by rights should be playing the role of post-war America (confident, powerful and marching to the beat of inexorable progress) but is, in actual fact, now portraying the sorry vision of Hoover era America (unsteady, insular and without a song in it’s heart). He got the ball rolling by falling back on some good old Tory Values of Yore with the prisoners question and lost little time in throwing round words like “repugnant” before doing his best to divest himself of any substance when it came to multiculturalism. After this less than promising start, he then collapsed into a fug of isolationism as he toed the current Western line on Egypt (‘complex stuff, best not rock the boat and all that’), all of which ultimately amounted to very little. Little did he know that he was about to get hit by his own personal Great Depression, but a little more on that later.

 

Next up we have Jacqui Smith, filling the shoes of an increasingly warped, probably-evil and definitely mad dictatorship who has just lost it’s patron state. Think North Korea or Albania. Again, she seemed to be still rooted firmly in the past, believed she was still Home Secretary and capitalised handsomely on the opportunity to remind us of all the things we didn’t like about Labour by getting all ‘tuff on crime’ when it came to prisoners, muddying the waters with a bucket of terrorism on the multicultural question and then pretty much sidestepping Egypt in the same way Maude did, all of which was crap. Again though, there was drama just around the corner, but be patient… we’ll get to that soon.

 

Last on the list of our Cold Warriors is Menzies Campbell who, by all appearances, has been asleep since last April and has to yet to be informed that his party is in government with the Tories. This is probably for the best as I can only imagine what he’d like to do to Nick Clegg if he ever found out what he’s been up to of late (see Fig.1) and given his advancing years, I’m not sure if that would be good for his blood pressure. In this scenario, Ming takes the role of the out-there, edgy, and possibly-progressive regime that fires up the spirits of young revolutionaries everywhere, sort of like an only-just-post-revolution Cuba or Nicaragua just after Somoza fell. Hoisting the banner of Liberty, Ming took to the barricades on the prisoners issue, staunchly defended multiculturalism and at least venturing a solid opinion on Egypt, all of which reminded us why we used to like the Liberal Democrats and made me positively yearn for the days when wouldn’t even dare dream of power.

 

More on him later, but as we all know, a Cold War needs an ideological struggle to underpin the narrative and aptly fulfilling this need are Mehdi Hasan, our alternate history’s Rabid Pinko Commie and Douglas Murray, our Pig Dog Capitalist Lacky. Now, these guys were much more fun than the geopolitical players and were at each others throats when ever the opportunity presented itself. For the most part, Hassan emerged the victor as he managed to maintain sufficient anger to come across as passionate, but keeping it just about in check enough to stop him looking like a nutter (something which has dragged down his score in past episodes). Murray, on the hand, actually looked quite ill and a little dishevelled, but if he was feeling worse for wear, that didn’t stop him from coming out all guns blazing. The best bit was on the multiculturalism question where Murray kicked off by regurgitating an article he had written for the Wall Street Journal this week and generally damned the whole concept to hell and back. This drew a fair bit of applause, but he was then given the beat down by a pissed off Hasan who invoked the spectre of Nick Griffin and garnered an even louder round of claps. This went back and forth for a bit but eventually ended in almighty kerfuffle that Dimbers was forced to break up with assertive use of the word “Order!”. That’s some good Question Timing right there.

 

Now, as I said earlier, this Cold War had a slightly different conclusion from the one we know and love in that it went nuclear. Up until the last question, I had written off this episode as a bit of a damp squib, but everything changed when the voluntary sector cuts question turned up. This happens to be a subject close to my heart (or maybe a subject close to giving me a heart attack) right now as I work in the voluntary sector. If I get enough time and summon the will, I might write a piece about it in the near future, but for the time being, all you need to know is that we are in the middle of a genuine and frankly terrifying crisis at the moment. I won’t go into it now, but trust me when I say that things are not good. Anyhoo, back to the point:

 

It all started inauspiciously enough with Murray using the question as an excuse to bash the lazy and feckless around the chops while Smith used it as excuse to reel off a list of past Labour policies that no-one gives two hoots about any more. Then it came to Francis Maude and the first glimpse of a mushroom cloud hove into view as he blamed everything on Labour. Boom. That was it. The crowd, who had already been quite volatile got to the point of criticality and absolutely exploded. Hands down, this was the biggest boo-fest of the current run and despite some counter-booing from a few section of the audience, Maude was right at Ground Zero. Things got even worse when a psychotherapist set off some secondary explosions while Murray did his best to stoke the inferno by accusing the nation of being “morally obese”, further exacerbating the situation and forcing Dimbers to wade in again and break it all up. Despite his best efforts, the firestorm raged on and when the show ended, it seemed certain that we had been plunged into a nuclear winter for the next decade. Now that’s rattling good history.

 

TL:DR

 

Maude: 3/10

Should have ducked and covered.

 

Smith: 2/10

Should give up.

 

Campbell: 8/10

Looks like the skeleton from the Scotch Video Tape adverts.

 

Hasan: 8/10

Played a good Che Guevara

 

Murray: 6/10

Played a good Donald Rumsfeld

 

Bristol: 8/10

Appears to be made of plutonium

 

OK, that’s it. I’m absolutely knackered for reasons pertaining to the last question on the show and need to do something mindless. Time to fire up Just Cause 2 I think…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #31


Morning Lemmings. It’s going to be a super short QT Report tonight for two reasons: First off, remember how I said that last week has been completely mental? Well, somehow this week has cranked up the inexplicability by a fairly substantial number of notches. Seriously, I had moments this week where the world just stopped making sense and the only thing to do was either burst into tears or laugh like a maniac. Consequently, I’m conscious of the fact that for my own sanity I need a bit of downtime otherwise I will find myself writing a referral for my own services and talking myself into an inpatient unit. Secondly and in a rather more mundane vein, this week’s show was quite frankly crap and even if I was on top of the world right now, I’d still have trouble making much out of it. With this in mind, let us make haste and surge forth into the bowels of a rather non-episode.

 

The Menu:

Q1: Is yesterday’s riot the beginning of the public fight back against the cuts?

Q2: Are IDS’s welfare reforms an attack on welfare dependency or necessary to stop our culture of worklessness?

Q3: Is George W Bush right to say waterboarding saved UK lives? If so, does the end justify the means?

Q4: In the light of the backbench mutiny, are Labour MP’s right to back Phil Woolas?

Q5: Has the Prime Minister been spineless by putting profits before human rights in China?

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Theresa May, Home Secretary and fashion mentalist.

Prior to the election, I wrote many a scathing report about May and I stand by them as she was truly awful, repeatedly spouting shonky slogans with precious little regard as to whether they were relevant or not. As a result, I was a little surprised to see just how calm she was last night, especially given that oiky students had just smashed up her teams HQ and she’s the one in charge of ensuring that things like that don’t happen. It turns out that I’m not alone in this assessment and others have also noticed that May has so far managed to keep quite a steady hand on the tiller at the Home Office. That’s not to say that this was a brilliant performance, but it was certainly a world away from her previous form and she managed to look like she’s actually quite comfortable in power. I’ve also noticed that she has taken to wearing a top that looks like a space suit of late (see Fig. 1) and for reasons unknown, this pleases me. So well done Theresa, I believe you are at Junction 2 of the Road to Redemption, headed south but with a moderate prospect of congestion in the near future.

Ground Control to Home Secretary...

Fig. 1

An above personal par 6/10

 

In The Red Corner: Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Shadow Minister for Fruitiness.

You’d be surprised how much traffic I get from the search term ‘Caroline Flint hot’. Clearly, there is many a man (and possibly many a woman) who hold a torch for Ol’ Snaggletooth and I think it’s only right that she now gets to bear the moniker Shadow Minister for Fruitiness. Anyhoo, aside from such implied innuendo I must also concede that Flint did quite well last night, especially in comparison to her pre-election form. Back then, while it was always clear that she’s a very able player, her performance was usually slightly marred by an innate crotchetiness and a rush to the offensive. Now that she’s in opposition, Snaggers seems to have mellowed somewhat and appears much more able to play the long game of giving the government enough rope to hang themselves. I think some of this is slightly incidental and down to the fact that Labour don’t really have a coherent policy base at present, but a lot of it is also down to her exercising a little more restraint of late. Sure, she’ll still get a little all up in your grill when anyone has the temerity to mention Labour’s record, but there was also a smidgen of contrition when she did admit that they could have done better on benefit reform in Q2. So not bad Snaggers… You’ve come a long way and it would be nice if you and May could hook up for coffee on the Road to Redemption Services. I believe it’s just off Junction 4.

 

A pleasingly mellow 6/10

 

In The Man Of The World Corner: Sherard Cowper-Coles, possibly ex-diplomat and ‘extended leave’ taker.

Diplomats can usually be divided into two categories: Your Fererro Rocher good times ambassadors (see Fig. 2) and your hard-bitten Graham Greene style shadowy instruments of nefarious statecraft. The reason why I find Cowper-Coles so interesting is that he manages to straddle both of these worlds with considerable aplomb. Take for example his name and the fact that he is referred in Bridget Jones’ Diary: The Edge of Reason (not that I’ve read it. Honest): Both of these are clearly points towards the Fererro Conjecture. But, if we take a closer look, we can also see that his postings (Afghanistan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan amongst others) and some of the things he said in memos that were leaked both paint a picture of someone who is very much a sharp end sort of guy and has probably seen/done things that belong in a netherworld that few of us will ever be able to comprehend. All of this makes Sherard a very interesting man and also as it turns out, quite the QT panellist.

...you are really spoiling us

Fig. 2

Of particular enjoyment last night was his ever so diplomatic chiding of the LibDems in Q1 and his sparring with Douglas Murray on the matter of waterboarding. What made it so interesting though was how understated it all was. There was no ‘on his high horse’ showboating or overuse of the ‘expert’ card, just a quiet yet assured performance that left you in absolutely no doubt that this guy really knows what he’s talking about and should be listened to. That’s a hard act to pull off, but he made it look easy, landing significant punches on other panelists whilst appearing to be totally non-threatening. So Sherard Cowper-Coles, I may disapprove of your name (as it makes keep flicking over to Firefox to make sure I’ve spelt it right), but I very much approve of your style. Have yourself an extra Rocher for your efforts.

 

A iron fisted yet velvet gloved 8/10

 

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Clive James, TV bod of yore and notable bald man.

I really don’t know what to make of this, just in the same way that I’ve never really known what to make of Clive James. One problem I have with him is that I’ve never quite understood what it is he does. I remember that he used to be on TV on a Sunday night in some ‘slightly more highbrow than Chris Tarrent’ context, but I’ve never been able to understand why as the shows never seemed to hang together properly. Anyhoo, this was a pretty ropey performance and it also resulted in two excruciating tumbleweed moments where the audience generated a deafening silence after points that I think he intended to be funny. It was also really hard to see what his angle was as on the one hand he seemed to be playing everything for laughs (he did get the odd chuckle here and there) but yet he could suddenly flip into quite snappy and very scathing criticism (usually of Labour) in the blink of an eye. That sort of left me feeling off kilter and as a result, I could never get behind him and almost ended up feeling sorry for him which is not something I want to do when I’m watching Question Time. Love or hate, mockery or acclaim, that’s the currency I like to spend on QT and as a result, I have to award him low marks. So sorry about that Clive, but do take heart in the fact that I didn’t mark you down for baldness.

 

A rather sad 3/10

 

In The Off His Tits Corner: Douglas Murray, Neo-Con headbanger and man with a permanently raised right eyebrow.

Usually, I’m fully behind Douglas Murray appearing on QT as he’s one of my favourite baddies, embodying both way-out-there extreme views and a ‘shut up, YOU ARE WRONG’ attitude. All of this usually makes for some ace fights, some suggestion to nuke a foreign nation and some stern rebukes, all of which are fun to watch. However, there was one vital ingredient missing last night and that was a suitable sparring partner who could give as good as they got and even though Cowper-Coles wiped the floor with him, it was done in such a low-key manner that we missed out on any real fireworks. As for the other panelists both Flint and May are too familiar with how QT works and have learnt to Never Feed The Troll while Clive James was so seemingly strung out that he couldn’t rise to the challenge. And that’s a shame because shorn of his talent for generating strife, all that Murray is left with is a clutch of unpalatable views and that doesn’t exactly make for good telly. So bad luck Douglas, but fingers crossed that next time you get a more appropriate adversary. Personally speaking, I’ve got my fingers crossed that it will be Gorgeous George Galloway or maybe the Ghost of Marx. Now that would be good telly.

 

A disappointingly neutered 3/10

 

The Crowd: London.

Ok London, just what in the hell is going on here? Sure, the panel’s chemistry wasn’t exactly brilliant, but at least try to make a fist of it and only a few isolated boos for Murray is just not cutting it in my book. There were a few good moments here and there and I thought it was pretty interesting that no-one was buying the tabloid Anarchy On the Streets line when it came to the student protest, but by and large, the crowd seemed to be largely mute and with the exception of a bearded guy who managed to make a point about China into a point about the Middle East, no one really seemed to get hot under the collar at all. That, frankly, is a bit of a poor show in a week when people have been taking to the streets and as a result, you are going to get low marks. You could have turned it around if you had heeded my advice from the past few weeks and inserted a bow tie wearer or two into the audience but no, you thought you were cleverer than that. Well, I’ve got news for you London, you’re not and here’s you prize for not being clever.

 

A largely rubbish 3/10

 

Well, that brings us to the end and I apologise for the brevity, but let’s face it, it was a bit of a clanger. Still, if you’ve made it this far then I am indebted to you and by way of reward I give to you another picture of Beefy. Revel in it’s majesty.

One Nation, Under Beef...

Next week, Lemmings.

 

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #16


Let us pray...Morning Lemmings. As you may or may not have noticed, there is still a gaping void where the oft-mooted ‘Awards Ceremony’ should be, largely on account of me being back at work and the highly clement weather. Speaking of the weather, I’m going to try and keep it short tonight as I’m presently semi-naked, sweating bullets and wanting very much to have nothing to do. That, and I’ve noticed that not many people go searching out for Question Time dorkery when the sun’s out. Well done everyone, you have lives. Anyhoo, back to the task in hand.

So, last week was the first outing for the ConDemocrat chimera and sweaty confusion was the name of the game. Will this trend last? There’s only one way to find out. En garde!

The Menu

Q1: Was Nick Clegg right to defend Pakistani terrorists under the Human Rights Act?

Q2: Clegg and Cameron seem happier with each other than their own parties’. Have they betrayed their core vote?

Q3: Will Liam Byrne’s ‘there’s no money left’ letter be New Labour’s epitaph?

Q4: How can the country move forward when the Equalities Minister is anti gay adoption and against transsexuals from changing gender?

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Theresa May, Home Secretary, Minster for Women and Equalities and out-of-the-fucking-blue minister of state.

*sigh* May’s back. Actually, everyone on this episode is a repeat offender when it comes to LCCPQTMR, but I was especially deflated to see her return, given how life drainingly crap her last outing was. Furthermore, listening to her being introduced as “the Home Secretary” caused my brain to suddenly crash as I’ve still not got my head around the complete wtf?!?-ness of her appointment and I spent the first five minutes wrestling with a spiritual Blue Screen Of Death. If you didn’t catch her last appearance, it was like listening to a scratched spoken word CD of Tory election soundbites (“Change!”, “We’re All In This Together!”, “Brokun Britun!”, Shut Up!) that had been set on infinite repeat and piped directly into your brain. Even more concerning was the fact that her first big public outing (her speech to the Police Federation) was exactly the same, an endless roll call of squawked crapitudes that rolled on into eternity. So no, I didn’t have high hopes for her on this show.

Anyhoo, this episode started on a sticky wicket with Q1 so lots of flapping about and trying to look even-handed ensued, but largely failed to convince anyone. Commissions and reviews were promised, uncashable cheques were signed and the first evidence of the Crapitude CD being updated for this brave new world of consensual politics emerged: “5 Years of Stable Government!” Ha! After having so successfully put the ‘lack’ into ‘lustre’ with Q1, Q2 took a turn for the worse as the CD skipped back to some pre-election tracks (including such classics hits as “Deficit!”, “Strong and Stable Government!” and a new entry for “The Tory’s are for Freedom, Fairness and Responsibility!” That one even got some mild heckles) while Q3 contained basically nothing of note. However, Q4 was the real doozy and as soon as it was uttered, she was pretty much doomed. It did, briefly look like she might be able to squirm out of it when she muttered some ‘it was a long time ago and things have changed’ guff but that was before it all went south in a welter of incoherent ramblings (including a weird reference to “careers advice” as a panacea for all our equality woes). So that was pretty shit.

I’m really struggling with May as I go out of my way to try and find some redeeming features for the unwitting subjects of these reports, but I simply can’t find them her. Try as I might, every time she’s on I’m left with the impression of some self important local dignitary who’s trying to impart some arbitrary advice to a stationary rabble whilst on the back of a horse that won’t behave and keeps wandering off. It doesn’t matter what they’ve got to say, it’s just too distracting to listen as they wind in and out of earshot and writhe in the saddle, desperately trying to stay facing the crowd. That’s fine when you’re just another body on the opposition benches, but it actually starts to get frightening when you get some real power and the ability to mess about with people’s lives. So expect the entire Police Force to be in kitten heels by this time next week.

A habitually superficial 3/10

In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Menzies Campbell, MP for North East Fife and high mileage elder statesman.

Poor Old Ming, it’s not been his decade. Not only was he rather callously deposed from his position as LibDem leader (largely on the grounds of being a bit old and a bit knackered), but now the Libs finally do have a taste of the power action, Poor Old Ming is nowhere to be seen on the frontbenches and is instead sent out for repeated Question Time floggings. There’s gratitude for you. Anyhoo, Ming’s Question Time form is well documented and as I’m pushed for time, I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty and instead confirm that it was a pretty standard affair for him: Good on open water with a gentle breeze but not exactly the most stable of vessels when things start to get choppy. Actually, tonight he did a little better than usual, picking up some much deserved plaudits for his stand on the Human Rights Act in Q1 and indulging in some ‘read between the lines’ Tory baiting in Q2 so he’ll get an extra point or two for that. There’s also a question that occurred to me when watching him that warrants further examination: Is Ming a Big Beast?

On the face of it, he must be as he ticks all the right boxes. For one, he’s old, which is not a prerequisite for Big Beastery (take Mandelson, for example), but something that certainly helps and he’s also held the top job in his party (again, not a compulsory qualification, but one that lends extra credibility). On top of that, he’s a pretty good orator on certain matters and he’s got an interesting enough background (what with all his Olympian claims to fame and whatnot). However, I cannot in good conscience declare Ming to be a Big Beast and here’s why: He’s just so damnably innocent. Look at this way, Big Beasts come in many different shapes and sizes. At one end of the spectrum you’ve got your Tory Rogues whose very mention impart the sensation of brandy-on-stomach-lining (such as the late, great Alan Clarke) while at the other end you’ve got your Principled Firebrand types like Shirley Williams and (had he lived long enough) Robin Cook. In between, there are all sorts of randoms such as your Jazz And Good Times Ken Clarke types, your Balls Out Nutter Michael Heseltine types and your Craggy Faced Killer types such as Ashdown and Davis. The one common strand that links these disparate groups is they all seem to have the measure of humanity, viewing it as a creaking edifice of tangled imperfection that require either spirited leadership or damning to hell and back to stop the whole thing from crashing to the ground. Ming doesn’t have this and seems to be genuinely shocked when confronted with man’s inhumanity to man, aghast that people could be anything other than altruistic Good Samaritans, hell bent on all just getting along. In many ways, his wide eyed school boy enthusiasm for his fellow man is both refreshing and commendable, but it can also be a weakness and it certainly keeps him out of the hallowed ranks of the Big Beast’s for now. Maybe if kicked a puppy on live TV or spent an afternoon writing hate mail to the Pope, people would get a bit more on board with him, but until then he will stay as Poor Old Ming. Poor Old Ming.

A cut above the baseline 6/10

In The Red Corner: Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley and female window dressing (her words, not mine).

Ol’ Snaggletooth’s back! Hooray for Snaggletooth! Actually, I thought she was quite interesting to watch tonight as being in opposition seems to suit her quite well. Back when she had to go out and defend the government, she reminded me a lot of the Red Army prior to Stalingrad: She was always fighting hopeless battles that she could never win, but through sheer dogged resistance and a remarkable capacity to sustain punishment, she would survive just long enough to trade territory for time and keep the sinking ship afloat. Now, she’s much more reminiscent of the Wehrmacht circa 1943-44: Although bruised and strategically on the retreat, she’s still a force to be reckoned with that is skilled at fighting withdrawals and ferocious local counter attacks. Don’t pity me, pity my better half.

The above was reflected throughout the episode, but especially in Q1 when she got to fool around with some gleeful knife twisting at the expense of the ConDemocrats and also in some rather deft little retreats on Q3 that managed to avert a potentially disastrous bout of Labour bashing from turning really sour. Towards the end, she even managed to pick up some praise from Shami Chakrabarti and that, my friends, is no mean feat. Sure, the crowd didn’t go wild for her, but she’s never been a favourite with the audience, what with being so jagged around the edges (although her “grubby speed dating” line went down very well with them) and Labour are very much in the background at the moment so I’d say that it was a pretty good performance. However, there is a caveat to all this and it’s a big one: She has Warsi Syndrome (the propensity to overplay one’s hand after initial success). It’s not a terminal case and she looks treatable, but there were times in the evening (such as when she went too far with the Labour Rollcall of Past Triumphs in Q3) when earlier gains were gravely jeopardised by reckless lunges and this slightly tarnished what was otherwise a pretty good innings.

A definite signs of improvement of a 6/10

In The Independent/Brainy One Corner: Shami Chakrabarti, tiny Liberty boss and perennial QT crowdpleaser.

Another week, another Shami and as always, it’s what we’ve come to expect: A pretty impassioned (although sometimes bordering on ‘overwrought’) knockabout that everyone liked and clapped along to. As you’d probably expect, Q1 was fertile ground to get hot under the collar about Liberty type stuff so she hit the ground running and then remained fairly combative throughout, bloodying noses here, there and everywhere. The thing is though, I get a little bored of watching Shami win all the time. That’s not to say I don’t think she’s good to watch or that what she does isn’t important (the world could use a few more Shami Chakrabarti’s), it’s just it all seems a little unfair, like when a sport gets totally dominated by a single player or team for years on end. For example, when exactly are Liberty going to be in a position where it has to deliver bad news (“Erh, sorry, but we just accidentally ended up lobbying parliament for a network of secret torture camps and now they’ve gone and passed a bloody bill to that effect! Our bad!”)? Never, that’s when! And asking people to go along with having more freedom is hardly rocket science is it? It’s like saying “who likes having a good nights sleep?!” and getting a bag of sweets every time someone says “yay!”. However. I do concede that in terms of applause, she was clearly on top and who the hell I’m to bugger about with peoples right to bash their hands together? No one, that’s who.

An inevitable 7/10

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Douglas Murray, intense young man and rightwing nutjob.

True, dat...

Fig. 1

Are you obviously scarily brainy? Do you stare at things with such focused ferocity that the objects themselves turn to dust? Do you think the state should be no bigger than a cornershop? Do you consider laser guided bombs to be the solution to most problems? Did you write this book (see Fig.1)? And do you really not like terrorists? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you are Douglas Murray and if that is the case, I’d advise you to stop reading this now. Actually, I never end up being that nasty to Murray because even though he is quite, quite mad, he does make for ace telly and I’m a fan of ace telly.

As always, it was suitably rabid stuff from Murray tonight, damning all those pot smoking, peacenik, coalition types who refused to blast the terrorists into outer space or some other crazily draconian measure. “Any society that wanted to survive would not do this” he seemed to say through the foam that had formed in the corners of his mouth before damning Britain for being “a retirement home for would-be jihadis.”. Subtle as ever then. He did get some applause on stuff in Q2 (although it was usually a few people applauding very, very loudly. Comes with the territory) and there was even an outburst of reasonableness in Q4 when he had a pop at the Tories for their record on homophobia. Generally though, it was wild eyed and batty enough to hold my attention and that’s a good thing. One thing I did notice tonight though was that I felt differently about what he is than I had on his previous appearances and I think this has something to do with the death of New Labour.

Even towards the end of their tenure, when neoconservatism was totally discredited and had pretty much died in the US, I still got the feeling that this guy was somehow relevant and that in itself made him seem a little scary to me. It wasn’t that Labour were neocons or anything like that, but the views that Murray espouses belonged to the bit of history that occurred on their watch. Now they’ve gone, I can mentally bookend that period and put Murray on the shelf next to MySpace, Ali G and “the end of boom and bust”. As a result, I now feel a bit sorry for Murray when I see him, as if he were a member of the Flat Earth Society or one of those people who get angry about fluoride in water. So I’m afraid your time has passed Douglas and I, for one, will greatly miss your trademark brand of lunatic interventionism. Godspeed Dougie, Godspeed.

A newly obsolete 6/10

The Crowd: Richmond Park.

So things seem to have settled down this week. People are still a little confused, but that freefall, ‘stop the world, I want to get off’ sensation that permeated last week’s show has certainly been cranked down a notch or so. We’re still in a position where the lines of defence and attack are only just being drawn and no-one’s quite sure how things are going to pan out, but you get the sense that initial shock of the hung parliament is giving way to the reality of a coalition government. In terms of the this show, it was a pretty scrappy affair and no-one (excluding Shami) seemed to have an overall advantage. As for the crowd, they were pretty noisy, but you got the feeling people aren’t quite sure to how to react to this new government, straddling, as it does, two very different camps . As a result, I felt that this was quite a fragmented episode where no single section of the audience could build a sufficient head of steam to deliver a knockout blow to another. Instead, it was an uncoordinated scuffle where no one quite knew what side of the line they should be standing on and ran about screaming instead. In a word, ‘odd’.

Only one audience member of note tonight and that was an Australian woman who looked quite a lot like Kath from Kath and Kim although it might have just been her accent. I’m not good with faces.

A neither here nor there 5/10

Ok, that’s your lot. It’s half 10, I’m still roasting and I’ve still got to bugger about with the internet and all that. So much for doing nothing, See you next time.

Loudrib’s Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #1


Don't look too hard... This isn't a very good pshop.

More fun when fat

Morning Lemmings. A while back I wrote about how I’ve considered doing post Question Time match reports but never got round to it, mainly for reasons involving drunkardness. Well, today I’ve finally bitten the bullet. Welcome to Loudrib’s Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #1. So without further ado, let’s get this party started…

The Line Up.

In the Red Corner: Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Me and Ben Bradshaw go back a long way. Not in any personal sense, but mainly because he was elected in my neck of the woods (at the time) in the first election I was really paying attention to. And what a heady day that was. I was 17 at the time, had known nothing but Tory governments and like most people, was desparate for a change of government. Ben Bradshaw himself pretty much epitomised the optimism of that period and the halycion days of New Labour. Not only was he relatively young, but he was also rather dashing in his looks, rode about on a quaint looking push bike (very Exeter darling, very Exeter) and was openly gay. Given that the majority of MP’s at that point were either Tory Cads, Tory Bores, Labour Hacks or Generic Greysuits, his being elected (among others) really added to the feeling that things were changing and that we were heading towards a brighter, more ‘can do’ age in politics. Alas, his career after this point has pretty much mirrored New Labours trajectory and as time has gone on, he seems to have morphed into some sort of mini-Blair, both in looks and substance. On the face of it, he should be pretty good at this Question Time lark. He speaks with confidence, isn’t afraid of getting in a scrap and is quick to push home any advantage. However, he carries around the air of a man who has been super-briefed and that doesn’t play with the QT audience. He also has habit of making the cardinal sin of slagging off the BBC on their turf. In some ways, this is to be expected, after all, his is the Secretary of State for Culture and if anyone should be in a position to slag off the Beeb, it’s him. On the flip side though, I don’t think he quite understands the high esteem that the Corporation is held in. I was trying to think a while back about stuff the British public would riot for. The list was surprisingly sparse and all I could come up with in the end was the NHS and the Beeb. For a man who comes from the New Labour school of touchy-feely, ‘don’t stray too far from the mainstream’ politics, this is a massive vulnerabilty and one that’s led to his undoing on previous episodes. So how did he fare this time round? Luckily for him, Auntie was off the off the agenda. However, there were a few sticky wickets to face, namely the Afghan Clusterfuck, cutting the defecite, climate change and the perennial Brokun Britun question. In fairness to him, it was a tough crowd last night who were clearly spoiling for a fight and being the Labour meatpuppet on QT these days is a pretty shitty deal. His answers are pretty much what we’d expect from someone who’s been caught up in the New Labour machine for so long, being largely a mixture of hedged bets, pleas of ‘Come on guys, this is, you know, complicated stuff’ and earnest brow furrowing. However, what let him down is that tinge of spin that seems to coat everyone who was in close contact with Blair. This game is old and the public have no time for it anymore. He also got into a bit of a kerfuffle when trying to pull Douglas Murray on whatever batshit crazy point he was making about climate change and fumbled the ball by going on about how George W. Bush is both stupid and right at the same time. Dimbleby, who clearly stills hasn’t forgotten about his Beeb baiting, jumped all over this and toyed with him for a while like a cat with a cornered mouse. It was a little unfair, but then again if you are stupid enough to take a dump on the coffee table in the Beebs living room, you have to expect them to be less than forgiving.

All-in-all: A ‘meh’ of a performance. 4/10

In the Blue Corner: Lord Lawson of Blaby (seriously, Blaby), Father of Nigella.

When I think of a Tory Chancellor, I think of the Nigel Lawson of Yore. He’s the first Chancellor I have any memories of and he totally looked the part. Fat, opulent and pinstriped, he perfectly fitted the role of Chancellor to the Rich and didn’t look a million miles away from Steve Bell’s fat cats. Alas, time and excessive dieting are a harsh mistress that have rendered this once perfect caricature of The Unacceptable Face Of Capitalism into what appears to be a maudlin panto dame. Satirists the country over must have quietly wept. I also question exactly why the Conservatives put him on the show at this stage in the game as while they’ve done quite a good job of decontaminating the Tory brand per se, no amount of caustic soda, DDT and carbolic acid are going to erase the memories of Thatcher’s more excessive reforms. Lawson is like a living reminder of those days. Having said that, I do quite like it when the Tories wheel out a big beast as it harks back to simpler days when there was a yawning chasm between the two sides in the political spectrum and you knew exactly where everyone stood. This was most apparent in the Afghan question and Lawson quickly reverted to type, invoking tales of the Great Game and getting very Geo-Political about everything (as well as muttering something daft about airstrikes). The fact that the 21st century has rendered the business of Britain blighthly shunting countries around the map from the safety of the Foreign Office obsolete, seems to be entirely lost on him but the nostalgia did have somewhat of an infectious quality. However, whatever limited capital he managed to accrue there was quickly squandered by his claims that the Tories were the shit when it came to his stint at the Treasury. Cue audience grumblings, bitter memories and a mini Poll Tax riot. To top it all off, he also fell into the climate change trap. The Tory party are now claiming to take all of this very, very seriously, but quite clearly the party isn’t convinced and as soon as the question was raised you could see his blood pressure hit the roof whilst collective groans filled the air at the Conservative HQ. Dashing aside any semblance of being ‘on-message’, Lawson threw caution to the wind and dived head first into a rabid denounciation of all things green. He may be completely wrong, but it was fun to witness.

The Assessment: 6/10 for the memories alone.

In the Yellow Corner: Jenny Tonge

OK, I’ll fess up. I have no strong recollections of Jenny Tonge’s past performances on QT (she’s been on twice before) and I don’t really have that much familiarity with her full stop. On the face of it, she’s got the easy deal. Despite their piss poor poll ratings, the Liberals always do pretty well on the show. That’s the beauty of being the third party, in that you usually have plenty of leeway as it’s a very outside chance that you’ll actually have to put your ideas into action. However, now that we’re in election territory, the scrutiny has been cranked up a couple of notches and a lot of the more crowd pleasing points are now tempered with a modicum of reality. As for her performance, well it was a bit skittish. The crowd was largely hostile to politians in general so no-one was getting a free ride on the night. Most of the stuff she came out with made sense and sounded fairly grounded but the crowd weren’t in the mood for sensible. They just wanted a scrap. She also got into an entertaining bout of fisticuffs with Douglas Murray on her meeting with Hamas members a while back, but that seemed to be a private affair that didn’t really capture the imagination of anyone in particular. She also got wrong footed by her support for the Kosovo intervention but not for Iraq war. Again though, this seemed to be an in house brawl between the political factions rather than something that conjured up genuine interest from the assembled rabble. I wish I could say more about her, but at present she’s somewhat of a blindspot in my QT knowledge. Will try harder in future. Promise.

The final verdict: An ambivalent 5/10.

In the Minority/Brainy Corner: Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre For Social Cohesion and full time right wing nut.

By rights, I should hate Douglas Murray. On nearly every issue, we are diametrically opposed and he has the dubious distinction of writing a book called “Neoconservatism: Why We Need It.” as well as endorsing pre-emptive nuclear strikes against states developing WMD’s. The first time I saw him on QT I was absolutely appalled and I recall shouting at the screen a number of times that night. In a nutshell, he’s not my kind of guy. However, he is great to watch, mainly because he doesn’t give a shit and has an absolutely unshakable belief in everything he says. True to form, he came to the show with a clutch of positively mental views and a near psychopathic disregard for anyone else’s viewpoint. Say what you want about his outlook, at least he’s unnervingly honest about it all. So what did he pull out of his bag of crazy this week? Well, on Afghanistan his position can be pretty much summed up as “Kill ‘em all before they kill us” and went as far as to imply that airstriking the crap out of civilians is fine as long as you’re honest about it. On the economy he managed to pick a fight with everyone, including the Tories as he felt that their proposed cuts don’t go far enough. That’s a pretty bold position to take and I imagine that his view of a perfect government is one that you could fit in a garden shed (apart from the folks involved in killing terrorist/civilians…they’d get a palacial residence of their own). He also poo-pooed global warming, poured scorn on Brokun Britun and generally rubbed everyone up the wrong way. Does he hang out anywhere near the vicinity of sanity? No. Is he a hoot to watch? Absolutely.

And the bell tolls for he… A resoundingly unhinged 8/10

In the Funny/I’m Just Like You Corner: Jane Moore, Sun columnist and Loose Woman

Jane Moore has been on Question Time a fair few times, but it does’nt show. Being a Sun columnist, her default position can be summed up as ‘Lowest Common Denominator/Shrill Dog Whistles/Hell-In-A-Handcart” type posturing. By rights, this should have gone down a treat with the Basildon crowd who were thirsty for blood and unimpressed with reason. However, it didn’t turn out that way. She had some early gains with the “paying the Taliban to stop killing us” issue but she came unstuck when advising on how she would save Britain from the impending economic apocalypse we hear so much about. Apparently if we get rid of the British Potato Council it’s all gravy. This was followed by a rash lunge to condemn Britain as the worlds leading hell hole and have a pop at the government for the Eddlington case. That didn’t go down too well and not only did the other panellists take her to task but she also looked in danger of losing what should have been a dream audience for her. Unnerved by the fact that her plan had not survived first contact with the enemy, she then spent the rest of the show trying to dig herself out of the hole which made it look even worse. She ended the show looking shellshocked and ragged around the edges. Not her finest hour.

The sum of all these parts: A woeful 3/10

The Audience: Basildon

Apparently, Basildon is a weathervane constituency that has an uncanny knack of picking the winning party. In that case, colour me shit scared. The paying off the Taliban issue was probably the most frightening as there was absolutely no market for nuance going and the crowd plunged in a headlong race to the bottom, decrying it all as ‘a bladdy disgrace, guv!’. Cuts in public services got a big thumbs up whilst the Brokun Britun fuss veered dangerously towards the ‘it’s the bladdy immigents innit’ angle but managed to just stop shy of it. There was also a women with a weird hybrid Italian/Essex accent that span me out a bit and a very self satisfied “student of law” who seemed to be besotted with Douglas Murray. Each to their own, I guess. What this audience were really missing were pitchforks and burning torches. Maybe next time.

At the final count: A somewhat scary 4/10.

So after all this gum flapping, I’m shocked to announce that against all the odds, Douglas Murray is the undisputed champion of this week’s question time. I find it hard to believe that I arrived at this conclusion, but there you go. I hope in future to keep a running tally of each weeks scores (although this will involve some mastery of the dark art of Excel, something that is above my pay grade right now) so stay tuned and pray I don’t get too drunk next week. If, however, you thought this was a pointless exercise and wish never again to be burdened by such an ordeal, feel free to send me some booze. I like Tyskie. It’s good beer.


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