Posts Tagged 'Fraser Nelson'

Questionable Time #143


qt 143

Good morrow lemmings and let us continue our weekly trudge through the fetid wastes of what is known as summer Question Time. What with the election hype and fallout, this has been a right marathon season and I for one am crying quietly in a corner. Still, only two more shows to go! Is it silly season yet? Don’t worry – ’round these parts, it’s always silly season.

Mr Manga-orium’s Wonder Emporium

Our first sick burn of the evening hisses into being: how can the Tories justify calling themselves the ‘real party of werkin’ people’ when they’re set to stamp on tax credits? Andy Burnham is called to the stand first, and is on prime indignant form. As predicted, he’s now the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest – however, if he wins it would be a real loss for Question Time (which is the truly important issue at hand), as I’ve always held a soft spot for Andy’s performances here or in the Shadow Health brief. He is a man fuelled by pure wibbledom – by which I mean, he does seem 100% committed to being outraged at anything the Tories do. He is possibly one of the most outraged people in politics today. When he smiles it looks like he’s holding back his tears. His big, doelike eyes sparkle with righteous rage. His Scouse accent trembles and wavers and he looks like he’s always just about to deck Jeremy Hunt. He is, on all other occasions, an over-emotional manga character come to life.

But not so much today. Today we are introduced to ‘srs bsnss’ leadership material Andy. He is staid. He is solemn. He is a lot more boring. He sombrely states that the Tories don’t have a man date – I mean, a mandate. They’re “frightening” people because of this lack of man date. They ought to get a man date, before it becomes too late. (Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!)

Meanwhile Amber Rudd, a generally unknown entity (but then again, David Cameron is probably an unknown entity to the majority of the public five years in to his premiership), scribbles down her notes furiously like an angry exam invigilator. She then makes her own pitch, and appears to be the sternest woman I have ever come across, like a less charismatic Theresa May. We’re making work pay, she says, tunelessly. A lady in the crowd who’s never “had a day off in [her] life” is enraged at this droning! Then again, that’s a bit extreme. You mean you’ve never pulled a sickie? Never? Not even a little cheeky one on a Friday?

Suzanne Evans wastes no time going ‘tf’ in, accusing Amber and the blue team of not being “transparent”. You know what’s not transparent? Whatever the hell is going on with UKIP right now. First you’re fired! Then you’re not fired! There’s a power struggle, then there isn’t! It’s the story that’s gripped the world. However, this never gets brought up once during this episode, so Suzanne comes out of the whole shebang rather well, including shoehorning in an appeal to abolish the bedroom tax. Boy, Nigel must be fumin’!

Fraser Nelson of the Speccie says that the tax credit system needs “urgent reform” and it’s overall confusing and silly. Andy glares at him sassily. Then an even sassier presence arrives on the scene. Giles Fraser (yes, it’s Fraser 2! There’s a sitcom in this, shurely?) intervenes to demolish everyone and everything and talks up tax credit as if it were an adorable kitten. Giles 4 Labour Leader?

Then Amber suggests that we all wait for Ozza to clear this mess up ;) ;) ;) ;). Anime Andy is offended again, and she calls him SAH GRAPES. In return, he tells her she’s a dirty Tory liar who needs to get in the sea. Pru, it’s kicking off! Thank goodness it’s time for a change of question…

You can leave your tie on

What would you do about Greece? Sadly, Yanis Varoufakis was not available for this edition, due to the small distraction of being whacked in the head with a baseball bat by Angela Merkel. Giles is here in his stead, and, as Dimbleby rightly points out, is also not wearing a tie! You’re still “glamourous”, says Dimbles. I’m liking this new direction for Question Time. How to Look Good Nerked.

Giles continues his excellent impression of cool tieless Yanis by calling the Troika utter bastards. The other Fraser says that Greece needs its own currency, then we could all go there on holiday! Glad to see that we haven’t lost sight of the real issue here, the need to stuff our faces with kleftiko. Then Giles and, oddly, Suzanne extol the virtues of Tony Benn. I’m not sure how the Big Bennster would react to this, but it does give me an excuse to post this clip again of him nearly causing Roy Jenkins to explode.

Andy, in contrast, has got a tuff job sticking up for a Yes vote. It’s not a “failed experiment”, he says, but he’s suspicious of a right-wing economic plot. The spirit of Benn continues to smile down upon us, puffing his pipe benignly. Then the crowd go absolutely bananas, one man laying the blame at the feet of “one woman”. Gasp…Nicola Sturgeon?! Sadly, no. Fraser sums up by saying that you can’t turn Greeks into Germans. Not even if you force them into Lederhosen.

I’m not even going to mention the audience lady who goes off on one, blubbering that we must be a beacon of light and love and Christian values (take that, Muslims!) and we should bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles and we could all eat it and be happy. I’m not going to mention that. Except I just have. Oops.

Next: WHAT DO ABOUT MIGRANTZ?

The scenes at Calais are “heartbreaking” says Suzanne, with her own attempt at a wibbly voice, but we have to show “tough love” as well. She’s like a mildly disapproving school nurse. A girl in the crowd who looks like Nicola Sturgeon’s Mini-Me pleads for the panel not to target refugees with their laser eyes, and another wayward youth gets into an shouting match about mosquito nets with Ambuh. Please, Lord, let the summer break come soon.

Giles welcomes the new immigrants with open arms, and to be fair I’d rather take Giles as a revolutionary leader over Russell Brand. Put him up against Farage next, maybe? Meanwhile, Andy just about gets away with appealing to the unwashed masses who don’t know their forrin pollysee by jam-packing his speech with super smart (S-M-R-T!) sounding words. ‘Mechanism’…’Schengen Agreement’…’Gateway Agreement’…he’s on a roll here, folks! And that roll isn’t about to stop rolling any time soon. And(y)omination continues as we hit two novelty questions in a row – looks like it really is silly season.

Sugar, oh honey honey

First novelty question: something about…sugar tax? Giles campaigns for fat rights, Andy gets into a debate about what “children’s food” is with Dimbledore, who doesn’t believe it exists (excuse you Dimbleby, you’ll never take my dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets away from me), and apparently Fraser Nelson once called Mangaman the FROSTIES KILLER. This is incredible. That should be his tagline. AB4LEADER: heart of frickin’ murdering Tony the Tiger to death. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and here I am: stuck in the middle with food.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Second novelty question: is the last Labour manifesto the best they’ve ever had in their history ever or was it the worst they’ve ever had in their history ever? According to Alan Milburn, who is tragically still pretending he’s relevant in the year of our lord 2015, it was the latter. Fraser, Suzanne and Amber proceed to concern-troll like it’s nobody’s business, Fraser from Cheers especially. Andy Burnham grins widely, but you can so clearly see that deep inside his heart he knows that he’s going to go home that night and murder Milburn to death. First Tony, now Alan, Andy? When will the killing end?!

Finally, Giles shrugs and reveals himself a member of the Milifandom. And with that, we’re blessed with sweet relief.

Time for the scores!

Rudd: 6/10

(Failed to) Wow

Burnham: 8/10

(Nice eye)Brows

Evans: 7/10

(Not a fan of) Frau (Merkel)

Nelson: 7/10

Plow(ed ahead)

Fraser: 8/10

(His little red book will replace) Mao’s

The Crowd: 7/10

And how!

Next time: I begin to hallucinate. Also, did you know that our glorious webmaster – and previous QT-er supreme – has set up a cool new YouTube channel for his project Noobminster? Well, you do now. Go visit it and get educated on all matters political, in a thoroughly amusing fashion. Go on. Click the link. Click it, damnit!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #52


questionable time 52 david dimbleby pope

Good morning Lemmings and come, let us grab a body from the pile, shuffle grimly forth and then hurl it on to this, the Funeral Pyre of Dignity. That’s right, once again the nation has dutifully assembled for this exercise in collective catharsis and so it is that we find ourselves in Leicester, home of Englebert Humperdinck, Showaddywaddy and other, more sensibly named musical acts. Lemmings, it is time… Time to get Questionable Timed…

My dreams will be forever haunted by George Galloway’s stare…

Jesus QT, any chance of a warning the next time you choose to open with a shot of George Galloway dressed in full Bond villain regalia and with a stair so intense that it actually killed several hundred pixels on my TV screen stone dead? I mean seriously, that thing was so overpowering that I feared the Earth’s magnetic field was in danger of flipping polarity or that the fabric of the universe itself might be torn apart in the wake of his fearful glare.

Ok, so that might be a slightly over-dramatic way of putting it (a natural consequence of having just watched an hour of Gorgeous George over-dramatising pretty much everything) but I’m bringing this up for a reason: This is not the first time I’ve seen the Gallowstare. At around this time last year, I was in the audience for the Leeds show and one of the panellists that week was none other than George Galloway. Just before the recording got underway, I noticed that he and the other protagonists were loitering just off-set, killing time and making ready before things kicked off. Understandably, they all looked a little nervous but with Galloway there was more to it: He looked utterly terrified and as he gingerly made his way to his seat, I saw the Gallowstare in all its harrowing, appalling glory for the first time. Now, being the forgiving soul that I am, I chalked this up as a legitimate case of the jitters as he’d been off the scene for a while but having witnessed it for a second time I’m thinking that it runs a little deeper than that. Now I’m thinking that it’s a result of the kind of existential terror that only a true blagger can know – the terror that screams “This is it! This is the night when they finally discover that I’m nothing but a chancer who’s not really thought the plan through beyond the stage labelled ‘Shameless Self Promotion’!”. Yet all it took that night was the slightest whiff of blood and that was it: He was back in the game, confident beyond all reason and completely free of self-doubt.

So did he manage to shake the monkey off his back this time around? Of course he did because crippling though his fear of being rumbled may be, you give him a chance to fling around some derisive epithets (“Gordon ‘Goldfinger’ Brown” anyone?) or recycle his “third cheek” gag again and he’s off. That’s something that I sort of have to admire because as knowingly disingenuous as his tactics may be, it takes a specially kind of guts to pull them off: Acting like a self-obsessed megalomaniac is one thing. Acting like a self-obsessed megalomaniac who knows he’s a self-obsessed megalomaniac is quite another. So well done George,  here’s a little something I knocked up to honour such an unstinting commitment to the cause of oneself (see Fig. 1)

george galloway flag socialist realism

Someone’s doing well out of horsemeat…

…And that person is Mary Creagh, Labour’s Johnny on the Spot for all things foody and safetyish. Now, until very recently you could be forgiven for having not known of Creagh’s existence but in the last week or two she’s been making plenty of hay at the dispatch box and a cursory scan of her credentials says that – potentially – this is someone whose time has come. For example, her background (scholarship girl from a plausibly ordinary background) fits really well into the whole One Nation/Striver narrative while her very insistent style of delivery marks her out as someone who is more than capable of looking after herself on the field of battle. Couple that with her backing of the winning team in the post-Brown Labour leadership election and things start to look very promising for Creagh.

However, I say ‘potentially’ for a reason: First off, she’s really got to watch that ‘insistent’ doesn’t turn into ‘preachy’. Secondly, threatening to slap George Galloway’s bum cheeks after the show can be easily misinterpreted and thirdly, it doesn’t pay to boast about how much time you spend “at the school gates” of your Wakefield constituency and then go on to endorse Leicester as the rightful resting place of Richard III. They have long memories in Yorkshire. 528-year-long memories to be precise.

Let’s not beat about a bush, Maria Miller is a bit crap at this QT lark…

There are two problems here:

  1. She’s just not the sharpest tool in the drawer. Generating vast quantities of verbal styrofoam in order to gloss over awkward issues is an acceptable and legitimate QT play but it must be done with some panache. All we seem to get from Miller is a day-late/quid-short answer that doesn’t even attempt to disguise its intent.
  2. The Oh For God’s Sake look isn’t a good one. We get it: It’s annoying when people don’t agree with you but that’s your job. You’re in government. People are supposed to hate you. Suck it up. It’s what we pay you for.

Something weird happened to me at around twenty minutes in…

I swear I heard Fraser Nelson advocating accruing more national debt in order to improve the lot of the poor. I blame the Gallowstare. It must have jiggered my pokery.

And finally, some good news…

…Susan Kramer has predicted an early spring! That’s right, last night QT’s answer to Puxsutawney Phil emerged from her slumber, poked her head out of her winter quarters and saw no shadow. Sunnier times are on the way! Obviously, this is good news for all concerned, none more than Kramer herself who made clear her delight by opining in a particularly loud and jaunty manner. All I can say is that I’m delighted that warmer weather is on the way and I look forward to seeing her in the autumn for the Annual Kramer Hibernation Ceremony. It’s nice that there are some constants in this world.

Tl’dr

Miller: 4/10

Bah!

Creagh: 7/10

Ha!

Kramer: 6/10

Fnar!

Galloway: 6.5/10

Gah!

Nelson: 5/10

Pah!

The Crowd: 6/10

Dah?

So there we go, a scrappy little tussle marred only by its lack of Pope-related questions and the subsequent irrelevance of my Popified photoshop that took an inordinate amount of time to construct. You’ll pay for this, Leicester… I don’t know how but you’ll pay…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #30


questionable time 30 david dimbleby marie antoinette

Good morning Lemmings and rejoice for I have returned from Berlin, a city rife with vexing contradictions. And what may these contradictions be I hear you ask? Well try this one on for size:

      1. Berliners smoke all the time and everywhere.
      2. Berliners drink all the time and everywhere (including when pregnant).
      3. Berliners eat processed meat all the time and everywhere.
      4. Berliners appear to be ridiculously athletic/healthy all the time and everywhere.

Yeah, I know, makes you sick doesn’t it? Anyhoo I could go on about what a great/strange place it is for hours but that’s not why you turn up to this corner of the internet. No, you come here for Questionable Time and Questionable Time is what you’re damn well getting. Here’s what we learned:

We have a n00b on our hands.

If I was a Labour MP who was due to make their debut on QT then I would be praying that it would occur on a week such as this one. I mean c’mon, the news has just been an unrelenting conveyor belt of horrific things for the government (so much so that I could hear the clangs of policies being fumbled and dropped all the way over in Germany) and I’d have to be a right idiot to walk out of the studio with anything other than a crushing victory under my belt, right? Wrong. You see, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing and unfortunately for Red Team QT Virgin Stella Creasy this abundance of seemingly bountiful news combined with a number of other factors actually conspired against her. Here’s why:

      1. When you’re in such a target rich environment it’s easy to lose your focus and simple start grappling madly at anything that happens to cross your line-of-sight. The main way in which this manifested for Creasy was that it (no doubt combined with first time nerves) made her talkreallyreallyfastallthetimeabouteverything. Now I’m knocking her for this as it’s an entirely human and understandable thing to do but it does put the mockers on the whole Crushing Victory thing a little. Why? Because when I was watching her I felt like I was vicariously sitting an exam: You could just see her brain going like the absolute clappers as it desperately tried to recall what her line on this debacle or that fiasco should be, all of which left me with that sweaty feeling that accompanies the sight of desks in a school gym.
      2. Creasy had a payload to deliver. I’m not sure whether she had fashioned it herself or whether the party had a hand in its creation but she had a definite mission last night: A dawn strike on Tory HQ with a cluster bomb of fresh text messages know to be highly pathogenic to Jeremy Hunt. On paper that sounds pretty straight forward: Locate the target (that’s a doddle as they’re sitting right next to you), come in low and steady, release your munitions and then fly off into the breaking dawn whilst cackling maniacally (the cackling’s technically option but that’s the way I’d play it). The problem in this case was the whole ‘dawn raid’ aspect: In an ideal world Creasy would land her big hitter during the first question thus leaving her unencumbered to mop up any survivors not caught in the initial strike. Since it seemed highly probably that the first question would be one on the Leveson Inquiry the plan seemed solid but alas, QT is rarely so straight forward and she had to make numerous runs at the target (all the while dodging flak put up by the steady handed Alan Duncan) only to find it covered in cloud. As anyone who’s read Catch 22 will know the bombing run is the most terrifying aspect of any mission and the fact that she had to conduct the maneuver three times before the conditions were adequate only served to heighten her jitters. You could see it horribly clearly every time a new question was about to be asked: Creasy, clutching at the joystick for dear life whilst noting that her airspeed is dangerously high…Don’tbuggerthisupdon’tbuggerthisupBUGGERI’VEBUGGEREDITUP! Eventually she did get to deploy her ace-in-the-hole but it wasn’t until the fourth question and it scored only a glancing blow that left Duncan intact enough to carry on the fight.
      3. The whole ‘Papa/Nicole’ thing? Had she been a little calmer she might have been able to play it for laughs. Instead she played it for weirds.

So yes, it was all a bit of a pickle but one that I do feel is largely forgivable given the circumstances. My advice, Stella? Maybe spend a little more time in the simulator before your next combat sortie.

The British lose all rationality when doctors are mentioned.

Ask any fellow citizen what their opinions on doctors are and you will doubtlessly hear that they are either a) saintly angelic souls whose hearts pump not blood but liquid compassion or b) venal robber-barons who hypocritically break their Hippocratic Oath. Seriously, can we not countenance a world where there may be doctors from both strains in existence? According to Rugby, clearly not. Still, I was heartened to see that nurses still have the capacity to trounce doctors in the Unconditional Assumption of Goodliness stakes. That’s something that you can always take to the bank: Nurse always beats Doctor in any match of Altruism Top Trumps… Except when Panorama film them shouting at old people. Then it’s a draw.

I have very conflicted feelings about the other panelists.

I’ll keep this brief…

Duncan

For: Has had a genuinely interesting life, first openly gay Tory, isn’t half as mad as most of his peers, seems vaguely competent, did a good turn in damage limitation last night.

Against: Has an untrustworthy and spivvy haircut that is becoming of some rather untrustworthy and spivvy antics.

Oaten

For: Has had a genuinely interesting life, looked great in a hoody on Tower Block of Commons and would look even better in a hoody in the actual House of Commons (see Fig. 1).

Against: Seems to be a walking self-destruct button, head’s a funny shape.

mark oaten scally outfit commons

Fig. 1

Nelson

For: Clearly saner than comparable young right-wing Scots (Douglas Murray, I’m looking at you) and I appear to have grown strangely fond of him.

Against: Editor of The Spectator.

Coren

For: Everyone I know seems to think the sun shines out of her bum, can produce something genuinely funny from time-to-time.

Against: Everyone I know seems to think the sun shines out of her bum, voice cuts through me like a jaunty knife.

Let’s just leave it at that…

Tl;dr

Creasy: (Was in a bit of a) Rush

5/10

Duncan: (Looks) Plush

6/10

Oaten: (Has had many a reason to) Blush (in the past)

5/10

Nelson: (Is becoming the subject of a faintly disturbing man) Crush

6/10

Coren: (Did) Gush (much about doctors)

6/10

The Crowd: (Have) Thrush?

7/10

So there you go, a show where the Tories got away comparatively lightly thanks to some sterling defensive work from Alan Duncan and understandable over-eagerness on the part of Stella Creasy. Now if you’ll excuse me I must get back to enduring the symptoms of wurst withdrawal. Seriously, I’m having trouble adjusting back to a society where you have to walk more than 10 yards before encountering a vendor of sausage based snacks. This country, I tell you…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeory Corner Emergency Question Time #1


question time dimbleby riots 50Good morning Lemmings and just what, may I ask, has happened to Silly Season? I ask because a) like all the shell-shocked looking MP’s who’ve been violently ejected from their mid-summer torpor, I shouldn’t be here right now and b) I love Silly Season and feel somewhat slighted that I haven’t been able to spend the summer reading about cats with bus passes or spurious moral panics. To be fair though, it’s not like I didn’t have fair warning: As soon as the phone hacking scandal broke, I knew that it was going to take a shark at least fifty Dimbleby’s long (my new favourite unit of measurement) to be sighted off Cornwall before normal service resumed but I must say that I wasn’t banking on society collapsing in quite the spectacular fashion that it has. Still, here we are now so we might as well try and make the best of it. Welcome Lemmings, to a very rare event: Emergency Question Time.

Ok, so the backdrop to this episode is pretty clear, what with the youth of today trying to affect political change through the mass sacking of JD Sports (a novel tactic, but one not without its merits) and as a result, Dimbleby has been defrosted from his traditional Recess-CryoSleep in order to provide the middle classes with a socially acceptable alternative to the Jeremy Kyle Show in their time of need. So, with who’s company do we share this impromptu return to the abyss with? Well, first up we have former Deputy Prime Minister and God’s Gift to Photoshop (see Fig. 1), John Prescott. When I first heard he was going to be on the show I was actually quite pleased as he had a very good turn of form when it came to the phone hacking scandal and a busy summer for him may also mean that he won’t have the time to appear in any more car insurance ads (for which the nation would be grateful), However, what I totally forgot was that while he can be very effective when whoever happens to be holding his leash singles out a target and hollers “Sick ‘em, boy!” and is frankly brilliant at soaking up punishment that would break less hardy souls, he is terrible at situation that have even the slightest hint of nuance. Not only that, but he also has an uncanny knack for reminding everyone exactly why they fell out of love with New Labour, not something that’s especially useful when the Labour party is frantically trying to rebrand itself.

prescot-pie-gif

Fig. 1

In practice, these traits boiled down to a pretty straight forward affair, mainly characterised  by sentences starting with “You and your mates” whenever Fraser Nelson was in the frame and much hot-under-the-collary at all other times. To be fair, his opening shots about police numbers did find their mark but any territory gained was quickly squandered by him flying off the handle at the slightest provocation and his insistence on making the argument personal. That approach is fine when there’s a clear villain to assail (like in the case of phone hacking), but in a situation as fluid and dynamic as the one we have before us now, it just looks ropey. Worse still, his insistence on casting the whole shebang as some epic left-vs-right affair gave both Nelson and Davis ample opportunity to dredge through Labour’s record and paint them as the baddies. Now, I’m not saying that Labour don’t have a certain level of culpability when it comes to the events of the past week as the kids who we’ve seen cutting a merry swathe of carnage through our cities grew up on their watch. However, Prescott’s approach had the effect of making it easy for the other side, easy to the extent that they didn’t really have to do any legwork and could sit back while Prezzer dug his own hole for them. Oh, and demanding that the police be armed with “plastic guns” rather than ‘plastic bullets’ doesn’t really help things much either, but there we go.

So, it wasn’t exactly the best night for the Red Team but how did the Blue Team do? On the face of it, they should have come in for the most flak considering that they’ve just presided over the most profound civil disorder for thirty years and were nowhere to be seen when the paddle fell into the creek, but strangely they got away with it rather lightly. Much of the credit for this feat can be taken by whoever had the bright idea of not letting any cabinet ministers go on and  put up David Davis to bat instead. The beauty of this move is that Davis is one of those MP’s who inhabits a certain political Goldilocks Zone: Far enough away from the tent to deny responsibility when things go wrong but close enough to scoop up any credit should they go right. Not only that, but Davis also has some rather crafty tricks up his sleeve, the main one being that he grew up on a council estate. Now, I’m personally very partial to this particular trick as it often results in epic little spats where audience members get caught out for not doing their homework but this week’s incident had a further twist to it. It began as it usually does: An audience member sees a Tory on the panel and decides that they may go for some of the ‘all Tories are toffs’ fruit that dangles temptingly from the lower branches of the QT tree. Thus it was that a young lady saw an opening, concluded that it was too good an opportunity to miss and briskly embarked on a spot of “has David Davis ever lived on a council estate?”

“Yes, I grew up on one” came the reply and I awaited eagerly for the pained expression of a plan gone wrong to pass across her face. But wait! What’s this? She’s not even broken her stride and is instead ploughing on anyway, oblivious to the sound of her credibility vaporising! Truth be told, I didn’t know who to admire more: Davies for timely deployment of his trump card or the audience member for her sublime ability to turn a blind eye to an inconvenient reality.

Anyhoo, minutiae aside, Davis played what could have been tricky hand rather well last night, stopping short of going balls-out ‘string ‘em all up’ whilst still sounding like a man you’d rather not mess with. I imagine there must have been a few sighs of relief in Tory HQ as it was a real gamble for them not send on a frontbencher and one that Dimbers did his best to make some hay from. However, deploying Davis proved to be a winning stratagem and his ability to temper his firm stance with a certain level of pragmatism carried the day for them. Not by much, but enough that they ended the show largely out of harms way.

All of which brings us to the Yellow Team and their chosen man of the hour, Brian Paddick. On paper, Paddick should be a winning politician as he seems to know what he’s talking about, has an interesting background and is not inarticulate. However, despite these natural advantages he’s never really cut the mustard for me and after watching last night’s show I think I’ve figured out why: He’s too needy. Now, I’m not saying needy in the sense that he came on with a teddy and some warm milk but there’s something about his delivery which is grasping and belies an urgent need for him to believe that he’s being taken seriously.  Take for example where he was trying to make the point that the you can’t compare these riots to the G20 demo. It’s a good point and one that he hammered away on for ages, but for some reason the way he said it drowned out the meaning. About five minutes later, David Davis strolls past, makes exactly the same point and gets a whole bunch of claps for efforts. Immediately alert to this, Paddick then desperately tries to climb back on to his own bandwagon for fear that Davis might twock it outright and resorts to desperately reminding everyone it was originally his point. In short, it wasn’t entirely edifying.

So yes, there’s something about Paddick that just doesn’t add up and I can’t help feeling he has a rather large capacity to sabotage himself. That’s not to say that anything he said was particularly bad, it’s just that I couldn’t get past the way he said it.

Right, that’s the politicos done, on to the civilians who are this week represented by Fraser Nelson, Camila Batmanghelidjh (who will now be referred to as ‘Batman’ as I don’t have the time to keep typing out her name… Seriously, it’s more like a Windows Activation Code than a name) and John Sentamu. Starting with Nelson, I think it’s fair to say that he’s the sanest of the Oddly Similar Right-Wing Scots (as represented by himself, Douglas Murray and Niall Ferguson) who are forever haunting Question Time and he had himself a pretty good show. Granted, Prescott did most of the heavy lifting for him and Davis provided covering fire but in general he came across fairly well. As for Batman, well I have a feeling she pulled her punches last night and in all honesty, I think that was probably for the best. As was expected, she did try to fight the rioters corner to certain degree and made sure that the deeper causes got a good airing, but she had the sense to see that nerves were just a little too frayed for a full on round of devils advocate and went about her business quietly. That was a good call as while I think she’s largely right, saying the right things at the wrong time can get you in a whole heap of trouble.

And finally there’s Sentamu, a man who I have all the time in the world for. The reason for my fondness for Sentamu is that not only does he look and sound mischievous, he actually is wantonly naughty (what with all the chopping up dog collars and camping out in York Minster) and revels in a bit of grand theatre. However, I must say I was a little disappointed by his outing as he seemed really slow on the uptake and a little lost at times. Most of his responses ambled around for a bit, got sidetracked into analogies about pigs or leaking water before finally ending in a bellowing statement that may or may not have been relevant to the subject in hand. So, John Sentamu, more mischief and less rambling next time around please… Streaking across the studio perhaps…

All of which leaves us with the crowd and to be honest, they were the most interesting part of a show that never really found its feet. Predictably, the audience contained the obligatory blowhards from both extremes of the political spectrum (like the man who demanded all rioters have their personal property confiscated and the woman who dismissed the whole thing as a government orchestrated stitch up) but for the most part they were just confused, angry and unsure who to blame. As a result, the show itself seemed to lurch around, seemingly unable to hold its focus whilst people struggled to articulate things that can’t yet be articulated. In that sense, it was a pretty good depiction of the feeling that pervades the nation at present and sets the stage for what is going to be a frantic period in British politics. Everywhere you look, something menacing seems to be developing and I have a feeling that the events of the last week are just a taste of what is yet to come. In short Lemmings, I want my Silly Season back.

Tl;dr
Prescott: Huffy/puffy
4/10

Davis: Well deployed
7/10

Paddick: Doth protest too much
5/10

Nelson: Marginally sane
6/10

Batman: Stealthy
6/10

Sentamu: Fuzzy/shouty
5/10

The Crowd: Freaked out
7/10

Right, I’m outta here… It’s been at least an hour since I’ve seen the news and I’ve already started to get the first pangs of withdrawal. I’ll see you all in September for the new series, civilisation pending of course…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #38


question time david dimbleby 38

Morning Lemmings and don’t say I didn’t warn you. That’s right, a couple of weeks back I mentioned that the photoshops were going to become progressively weirder and this week I am coming good on that promise. Actually, there is some method behind the madness as they didn’t announce the lineup until very late, by which time I’d had to crack on and with no subject material at hand, I plumped for sticking a massive Mr. Whippy on Dimbleby’s head. Don’t ask me why, I just work here. Silliness aside, we find ourselves in Newport this week and also sporting a very busy six seat lineup, largely on account of its Welshness and the obligatory need to shoehorn in the Plaid brigade. So without further ado let us saddle up and march towards the sound gunfire.

 

Ok, so in theory the headline act of this week should be the Welsh Secretaries of Past and Present Face Off Extraordinaire, what with Cheryl Gillan (famous mainly for claiming dog food on parliamentary expenses) representing the Conservatives and convincing Umpa Lumpa impersonator (see Fig.1) Peter Hain propping up the Labour end of things. On paper, this should have been a good match up as both should have plenty of material with which to smite the other, but in actual fact it turned out to be terminally dull as neither participant really knows where they are at the moment. In the case of Gillan this is largely due to the fact that nobody’s really got a clue who she is despite years of lingering on the peripheries of power and that her very matronly, ‘look of disapproval’ manner endears her to precisely no-one. On top of this, she’s super clumsy (like when she admitted that she doesn’t live in Wales. You might not, but for god sake don’t volunteer that information for free) and appears to only be able to hold one line of attack in her brain at one time. That’s usually excusable but when that line of attack happens to be the hackneyed ‘blame the previous Labour government/deficit for everything including the Great Fire of London, Spanish Influenza, the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby and the Fall of Singapore’ it’s just lame. Naturally, given this method’s wanton overuse (or abuse as some may say) over the past nine months, there was little love for her in Newport and rightly so as frankly she was bollocks (especially when she just flat-out refused to answer a question about the number of jobs going in the NHS).

peter hain umpa lumpa

Fig. 1

Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that Peter Hain didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either but I do have a little more sympathy for his plight as I don’t think it was due to any pathological personality flaw, but more a by-product of not knowing who he is at the moment. Ok, so he is in the shadow cabinet but the feeling you get from him is that he’s not quite sure what side he’s batting for: Does he defend Blair despite their frequent fall outs or does he hitch his wagon to the new boys in town despite the fact that they really don’t seem to give two hoots about him? A conundrum indeed. On the show, he tried to straddle both these positions but the upshot of all this was a very jerky and skittish performance where he kept tripping himself up and being lured into entirely avoidable ambushes (like the ludicrous ‘we wouldn’t sell them weapons again’ line. Sorry Peter, but you deserved your licks on that one) that made him look like a right kipper. Granted, he wasn’t as awful as Gillan and I do have a slight soft spot for him but his finest hour this was not. So Peter, I’m sorry to say that you are destined to continue wandering in the political wilderness like a lost antelope just waiting to be mauled by a pack of lions. How tragic nature is….

 

Completing our Westminster trio we have the ever elemental Shirley Williams who at her best is like one of those majestic autumn gales that sweeps in from the south west in a dramatic and not-to-be-messed with fashion. However, now that she’s got to pay lip service (or at least-biting-her-lip service) to the coalition she seems much less like a thunder laden force 9 and more like a damp squall which can’t work out which way she’s supposed to be blowing. You could see that there were times when she really wanted to let rip and batter some sea walls with a good old-fashioned 6 foot swell (like when she looked like she might have a proper go at the NHS reforms), but the circumstances of her situation seemed to make her pull her punches and we were left with a drizzly mélange of worthy intentions nixed by an unhappy reality, all of which is a shame because I do like it when she cranks that Beaufort to scale up to the double figures.

 

Our final political candidate this week is the ever avuncular and reassuringly ordinary Elfyn Llwyd whose name is still causing me to use google autocomplete as a spellchecker despite repeated appearances on Question Time. Out of all the party bods on the show, Elfyn clearly carried the day, largely by being the only voice of dissent that didn’t sound like a rat being rubbed against a cheese grater (JSP, I’m looking at you) and generally holding positions that are a million miles away from Westminster. Ok, so I kind of zoned out when it all got very Welsh but by and large he was like an old but well maintained diesel locomotive: Reliable, endearing and with the ability to conjure up memories of a simpler and happier time. Also like a locomotive, he’s utterly relentless but without being arsey with it and that’s quite a trick to pull. So well done Elfyn, this might not have been your best performance to date but it certainly blew the competition out of the water.

 

All of which leaves us with the two non-politicals, Fraser Nelson and Janet Street-Porter. The first thing that struck me about Nelson was how much he looks like the product of a diabolic and probably drunken one night stand between Douglas Murray and Niall Ferguson. Luckily for him, he seems to have escaped inheriting Ferguson’s arrogance or Murray’s flat-out madness and generally speaking, he seemed OK-ish, even if his politics aren’t my cup of tea. Also, kudos to him for being honest about not giving a toss when it comes to a Welsh referendum and further plaudits for his line about teenagers, car keys and bottles of whiskey. That was pretty good for an otherwise generally humourless episode. Speaking of humourless, next up is JSP who sets my nerves a-jangling the moment I lay eyes on her. While I’m inclined to put some of this down to the fact that her answers were all over the place (one minute she’s spitting feathers at possible NHS cuts, the next she’s tilting at the windmills of local government pay scales) the truth is that just listening to her is akin to being assaulted by an army of drunken cats wielding bagpipes and angle grinders. I’d like to write a bit more about what she actually said I can’t because every time she opened her mouth I found myself too busy fighting the urge to tear my own ears off to take any notes. So let us not dwell on this unhappy interlude and move swiftly on to the crowd who at least managed to make the Libya question slightly more exciting than the one on Egypt a few weeks back. They also got fairly boisterous at the end when Gillan tried (and failed spectacularly) at dodging the jobs cut question and I’m more than happy to award an extra mark for the name of the poser of the child poverty question, Sarah Chicken. Admittedly, they could have garnered a full extra 10 points if she had looked and acted a little more like a chicken but still, a point’s a point right?

 

Tl;dr

 

Gillan: _

2/10

 

Hain: :-(

4/10

 

Williams: :-/

5/10

 

Llwyd: :-)

7/10

 

Nelson: :-}

5/10

 

Street-Porter: :-s

3/10

 

Right, that’s all you’re getting. Sorry it seems a little rushed this week but there was a lot of them on the show and I’m supposed to be at a works do so time has been of the essence. However, I can just about find the time to engage in my bi-annual and largely futile plea to follow my Post Question Time Reports on either Twitter or Facebook (or both if you’re a true masochist). I can pretty much promise you now that you won’t get much of a return on your investment as I still harbour a visceral hatred for Twitter (what with all it’s #’s and @’s and general sense of smugness) but what the hell, it’ll pad out the numbers a bit. Oh, and before I forget, there will be no Match Report next week as I’m going on holiday (properly this time…. unlike last weeks flaky ‘lets call it a holiday and hope no-one notices’ stunt). That’s right, I got fed up with sub-zero temperatures, brutalistic concrete architecture and a pervading sense of grimness so I booked a flight to… Poland! Say what you want about me but I sure know how to holiday.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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