Posts Tagged 'Humza Yousaf'

Questionable Time #127


qt 127

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a very deep-fried edition of Questionable Time! Now I don’t know much about Scottish politics, aside from the fact that everybody currently seems terminally pissed off at the Labour Party, like a cat that’s thrown up on the rug. With this flawless understanding of the political climate in hand, let’s dive straight in. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a piece of cake to debate a pretty cake

“Here we are in Glasgow”, begins Dimbledore with an air of desperate finality. For some godawful reason, we have six people on the panel instead of five. Why this nightmare is happening to me is never adequately explained, so I’m going to guess that it’s a trial run for the election debates (if they ever happen). Judging by this showing, it’s going to be a clusterscrew.

Speaking of the debates, our first question is whether everyone should start making chicken noises whenever David Cameron walks past. The Scottish Conservatives lady does not think so, but she has to be a bit mad (being a Scottish Conservative) so it’s safe to ignore everything she says. I don’t understand how anyone can look at David Cameron weakly wriggling out of a debate with Ed Miliband and not think he’s the biggest scaredy-cat to ever hawk a hairball. The same Ed Miliband who, the media will tell you, cannot eat a bacon sandwich unaided, and yet is too threatening an opponent for Fave Dave to match up to. Poor show David. Poor show. And poor show Ruth, thinking anyone is going to fall for this nonsense. Oh wait…looks like some of them have. Like Toby Young, who is here for some reason instead of down South in the warm. Well, takes all kinds!

In other news, why does Danny Alexander look so weird now? He’s suddenly not ginger, and his eyes are all bulgy! Ever since he gave up his glasses he hasn’t been the same and has been slowly morphing into some kind of frog person, perhaps in anticipation of losing his seat and returning to his previous life of living in a pond. He remains as dull as ever, though, the only man in existence to have both a non-sexy/non-hilarious Scottish accent.

Just put a plate of Eton mess there instead, says Humza Yousaf, and nobody will be able to tell the difference. If you have it next to a tape recorder repeating the phrase ‘long term economic plan’ that really would be eerily similar. But judging by this bite-sized nonsense it won’t be a very good debate anyway, no matter who decides to turn up. Humza and Kezia Dugdale are fighting, Val McDermid is appealing for an energised electorate, and the audience is responding in kind by mainly yodelling. I’m tired out already, but the fun is just beginning.

This is what happens when you remind Scottish people of the magic of voting

What will the result of the SNP pwning j00 n00bs be? The floor is open for screaming and crying. Kezia, the Scottish Labour deputy leader (what a job!), bravely climbs into the shame pit first. Kezia says it’s good news for DCam, but would rather not think about what it means for Labour. Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson tries not to seem smug.

Humza, akin to an angry and unstoppable robot, gleefully tears into anyone and everyone and disses Trident to great cheers from his posse. In response, Kezia huffs angrily about the SNP’s tax policies, but she is too boring to strike a fatal blow! Humza has her cornered before triumphantly making a mighty gaffe. “We’ll look at an issue-by-issue basis of working with the Tories – I mean the Labour Party!” he squawks. Yet more mass yodelling in the studio follows, as Dimbleby tries in vain to calm everyone down. But it is no use. This is merely the first step on the audience’s pub crawl tonight. Danny tries to intervene in his monotone voice, before being smacked down by a frustrated Dimbles, who reminds him that he probably won’t even have a seat after the election, so nyah nyah. Also he looks like Brian the snail. Double nyah nyah.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

After the right-wingers nod sagely amongst themselves about the break up of the union and the coming heat death of the universe, Val makes a point about dragging Labour to the left somehow. We don’t know how. By not voting for them, maybe? Yeah, that’ll work! Nevertheless, I think Kezia (and Jim Murphy, by extension) could morph into Tony Benn right then and there and Scotland would still act like a wronged wife whose husband has forgotten their anniversary, as evidenced by the audience grumbling at everything she says. Though she isn’t helping by being so terribly uninteresting. Still, as the old saying goes: you made your bed, now you’ve got to lie in it. And it’s got itchy crumbs everywhere so, like, eww.

Toby Young isn’t being horrible enough, this displeases me

Next up, do we need stronger laws to prevent hate screeching/preaching on university campuses?

This question actually gets a pretty reasonable response from the panel. I beamed in pride, watching over them like an attentive mother hen. It’s so nice when people are advocating freedom of speech but not apologising for war crimes! It’s so great when even Toby Young surprises you! Indeed, banning these jackasses could just make them seem like a delicious cake, a cake that you are not allowed to eat. We need to have an open conversation about how shit they are, and how bad the cake tastes.

Incidentally, Dimbles mentions a spat between David Cameron and Grant Shapps – when pressed, Brian the snail says nothing about this important issue. I was disappointed. This is clearly what the people most want to hear.

Next: why is Scutlernd missing its targets? Well, it’s not a political issue says Ruth Davidson. Convenient! Suddenly, Kezia is squealin’ and reminds us that Labour is the bestest. And has a cool mansion tax. Dimbleby interrupts again (seriously, man? This is, what, the sixth time?), asking “how much will you raise in Glasgow?” Burn! As if Glasgow is so impossibly awful that OF COURSE one couldn’t raise any money with a MANSION tax, har har har! The audience hates Labour so much, however, that they’re willing to put up with David Dimbleby dissing their own city for a cheap laugh.

After a skirmish where Humza derides ‘creeping privatisation’ in the NHS while ignoring SNP flirting with Weightwatchers (which sounds like a much funnier story than it really is), and Toby claiming that Labour’s mansion tax must be magic while doing his best Paul Daniels impression (‘how much will it raise? Not a lot!’), Val, detached, wraps everything up the way only she knows how, presumably. This country has its own ‘historic health problems’, says she. The spectre of deep-fried Mars Bars looms large.

This gets the biggest applause of the night. I’ve given up trying to understand this edition.

I’ve given up in general, actually.

Time for the scores!

Davidson: 6/10

(Had her lines rehearsed down to a) Tee

Dugdale: 4/10

Plea(ded)

Yousaf: 5/10

FREEEEEEEE(dom)

Alexander: 4/10

(Crawling gooily up a) Tree

Young: 6/10

(Did not go on a killing) Spree

McDermid: 6/10

Gee, (what’s a left-winger to do?)

The Crowd: 9/10

(Will) Knee (you in the groin)

Next time, Ian Hislop gurning.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #99


Good morrow Lemmings and let us relive a comparatively more sombre Question Time experience than the trainwreck (akin to Thomas the Tank Engine, only instead of the trains bearing friendly, non-threatening faces they all feature a giant laughing Farage) that was last week. Still, there were still a number of amusing moments to be had, three-quarters of the show wasn’t devoted to one question, and whenever everything was in danger of lagging one could always entertain oneself by peering at Paddy Ashdown’s scrunchy face. So, without further ado:

I am neither in this programme nor out of it but somewhere in between

When Paddy Ashdown is lost in thought his eyes roll up into his skin like an angry hedgehog. Happily, this fun feature was also present last night. Paddy began, blind as a bat, as he meant to go on. The Lib Dems have saved the economy and everyone is happy and chillaxing. Yes, those ruddy Conservatives may have been involved just a little, but it’s the Lib Dems’ victory really.

Funnily enough nobody made any comment on how this extremely long and meandering speech related to the Gary Barlow question, or when he then repeated the exact same points he previously said when it came to covering the free school meals dealio. Not even Humza Yousaf, who clearly disagreed with everything he said, butted in. Everyone was too entranced by Paddy’s wonderfully waxen face to care.

Paddy seems like he was specifically grown in a laboratory for the role of the serious elder statesman, making respected comments about war crime allegations. He could do the entire show wearing a sparkly party hat and Dimbledore would merely sit there, transfixed, drawn into the endless craggy abyss that is Ashdown’s eyeholes.

Also, he still might be able to suplex you. Fear is the greatest motivator.

Ahh, the Chilcot inquiry, it burns!

Caroline Flint wants tax avoiders rounded up with a net and shot. Or at least that’s the perception you’d get after her most recent QT performance. At one point, Dimbleby interrupted her – you realise, Caroline, you can’t just put all the tax avoiders in a big hole in the ground and leave them there to rot? Caroline couldn’t answer that, but you could almost hear her thinking: why not? What’s the big deal? WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL, DIMBLEBY?

Then she and Esther (or as I nicknamed them, Betty and Veronica) had a bit of a bust-up over free schools. And then she and Tim had a bust-up over free schools. Caroline wants everyone to forget about free schools! Let’s talk about the million billion other schools instead! What’s the big deal? WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL, EVERYONE?

Unfortunately she ran out of steam when it came to the last question and the British public engaged in the only form of national sport that can truly bring them all together as a happy, loving family: Blair-bashing. She turned white as a sheet. It was quite a sight, let me tell you.

“Tim, whatever you’re on, can we all have some?”

I was going to have Esther McVey, as the official Tory Party representative, as one of the main sections for this edition – but you know what? Nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah, because another has stolen her crown. Oh, she put in a decent performance, but was utterly outclassed: whether it came to Scotland or education, a lone shadow stalked through the night, goshing and crikeying until he was blue in the face. And that person’s name is Tim Stanley.

I scoffed as I heard his profession being read out. Blogger. Yes, for a national newspaper, but still. I’m a blogger. I write many interesting pieces about the right way to cook a roast potato (boil ’em first). What did Tim have that I lacked? As it turned out…drugs. Possibly.

Aside from being a grown man named Tim, which is warning enough, even Dimbleby looked on in horror as TStanz engaged in what was possibly the wettest, smelliest incident of brown-nosing I’ve ever seen in my life. Or perhaps it should be termed Gove-nosing? Free schools are so popular! Coventry! You’re getting new free schools! “You’re very very fortunate!”

Coventry reacted in a predictable manner. Later on, the ‘Yes’ campaign gained a zillion more supporters as Tim began to verbally lick and kiss the entire nation of Scotland in a terrifying, quasi-incestuous manner. We’re brothers and we love you. Stay with us. Staaaay.

Fig. 1

Tim was a bit more sensible later on, when he explained that politicians create the context for war crimes to be able to happen in the first place. Whether you agree with that statement or not, at least he managed to say it without the entire audience breaking out into loud groans, which is a significant improvement from what came before.

I’m fairly sure Coventry isn’t in Scotland but don’t tell Humza that

Finally, inexplicable SNP panellist Humza Yousaf got off to a good start by revealing he is a Take That fan to much mockery and merriment. His broad Scottish accent makes his angry damnation of The Evil One (Gary Barlow) ever more entertaining. (Clearly he is Team Robbie.) “THURRTY FIEV MULLION POONDS”, he declared, to the proudly anti-Barlow audience’s glee.

Sadly he then went quiet for a while, perhaps exhausted by the ferocity of his Robbie-fandom. He interjected to agree that the Tory/Lib Dem fights are faker than Harry Styles’ and Taylor Swift’s relationship, but that was it until the actual question on Scotland (!!) that popped up.

Then he mainly just laughed at David Cameron. Come on Humza, we can all do that. Give us something a bit more POONDing.

Well, that’s about it for this week, but not before leaving you all with the best line of the night, from dear old forgotten Esther herself: “in England we need to know why we’re rubbing up against each other”. Why indeed, Esther. Why indeed.

Incidentally, it’s scores time.

McVey: 5/10

(Missed her) Boat

Flint: 6/10

(Sort of keeping) Afloat

Ashdown: 7/10

(Knows his party line by) Rote

Yousaf: 5/10

(Wants a ‘Yes’) Vote

Stanley: 6/10

(Probably owns a) Moat

The crowd: 5/10

(On teachers they) Dote

The next edition of Questionable Time is the 100th! Wow! Not sure if that actually means anything, but bask in this simply amazing achievement anyway. Bask in it.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #51


questionable time 51 david dimbleby pop art Lichtenstein

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to yet another instalment of the UK’s most popular blood-sport-disguised-as-middle-brow-gum-flapping-contest, a beast that is otherwise known as Question Time. Now, despite having gorged itself senseless on topics featuring the word ‘referendum’ in the past few weeks, the monster’s appetite remains apparently undiminished and this week finds us heading north in search of fresh plebiscitary morsels. What’s that you say? You’re all referendumed out? Well too bad because we’re off to Scotland and they’ve got a whole load of crazy new referendum flavours to get your chops around. Tonight Lemmings, we dine in Stirling.

We’ll be seeing more of Hamza Yousaf…

So this is only the second QT appearance for the SNP’s Minister for External Affairs (an appointment that sounds suspiciously like ‘Minister for Guttering and Drainage’ in my book) but I’ve got to admit that this guy’s already showing some impressive form. Let’s start with the basics: First off, this guy’s got a really good QT face that hangs well off his head and naturally defaults to a look that’s just on the right side of the Relaxed/Cavalier line. That’s a big advantage from the get-go, but a face alone will only get you as far as the kettle – it won’t get the milk out of the fridge. Luckily for Yusaf, he’s had plenty of time to watch the master of the Relaxed/Cavalier line – Alex Salmond – at work and he seems to have taken plenty of notes.

Take the first question for example: This was the one on the Mid-Staffordshire Trust and he did that classic Salmond thing of pressing the right populist buttons (that whole ‘SNP as the True Defenders of the NHS Faith’ thing always seems to work quite well) but doing so without pleading or shouting. As an opener it worked a treat and he continued to rack up the points with the ‘should Huhne do time?’ question by slipping in a cheeky little dig at bankers without getting too carried away with it. So far, so good. However, the real test was the referendum question and here we saw that he’s still got a thing or two to learn from his sensei.

Clearly, this was a question from which there was no easy way out: Your party, whose reason d’être is to win independence for Scotland has finally secured a referendum yet only a quarter of Scots are behind you on leaving the Union. What gives? Now, had it been Salmond up there, we would have been treated to one of politics’ most splendid creatures – the Knowing Blag. This is where Salmond would blather some things that held no real consequence whilst giving you this look that says ‘Yeah, you know as well as I do that I’m just playing for time, but the fact that we both know makes it kind of fun doesn’t it?’ to which I’d agree and subsequently let him off the hook. Hamza’s not got that down yet and when he’s playing for time he just looks like, well – he’s playing for time. Not the best of looks, all told. Having said that though, these are minor quibbles and last night was a largely valiant effort that should cement his position as the 3rd Carpenter to Alex’s Richard and Nicola’s Karen.

On the subject of QT faces…

…Michael Moore (God’s gift to lazy photoshoppers who don’t want to think too hard about an actual premise… See Fig. 1) has a pretty unfortunate one. That’s not to say he’s bad-looking or anything, it’s just the way he scrunches up his eyes when he’s thinking really spins me out. Is he confused? Is he cross? Is he cross and confused? Is he cross at being confused? This is so confusing that it’s making me cross! Anyway, I feel sorry for him on this front as he’s actually pretty good when he finally hits his stride but that look combined with his rather halting delivery is just a little too jarring for me. It makes me scrunch up my face in a confused and cross looking manner.

michael moore name differentiation

Fig. 1

I get nervous watching Brian Souter…

Ok, Question Time, I see what you did there…. It’s the week in which gay marriage is all over the news so why not get the guy who spearheaded the campaign to keep Clause 4 in Scotland on? On any given week, I’d happily get behind this logic and chuckle heartily at the inevitable carnage that would ensue unfolded but this time around? I don’t know, there’s just something a little frightening about Brian Souter. Most of it’s in the eyes: They look like they’ve seen things they shouldn’t have and can never again return to their normal state. Then there’s the twitchiness, the impromptu confession that he’d tried to get his wife to take his speeding points and the entire glass of water he chugged in a microsecond – not to mention the fact that the crowd had his number and pre-emptively shouted down any funny business before he had a chance to get busy with it. All of this says to me that Brian Souter and Trouble have history and that history has a funny habit of repeating itself. If it’s all the same to you Brian, I think I might just quietly let myself out the back before Trouble turns up…

My long thaw with Charlie Falconer continues…

We’ve never been on the same page, Lord Falconer and I. His style of delivery has always been heavy on insistence and as he was generally insisting on things I wasn’t too keen on I can’t say that it was a match made in heaven. However, over time I’ve found myself mellowing on him and while he’s still very insistent, at least he’s actually quite good at explaining things (particularly lawyerly things) while his distance from power has taken some of the sting out of his tail. One day Charlie, one day we’ll be wed…

Mary Macleod wisely followed the Four Steps to Tory Survival in Scotland…

Step 1: Make no sudden movements.

Step 2: If forced to defend anything, make sure it’s the Union.

Step 3: Conserve energy: There are no votes to be chased here.

Step 4: Don’t eat the yellow snow.

Pro tip: Buckfast isn’t actually wine.

Well done Mary, you live to fight another day.

Tl;dr

Yousaf: 7/10

Sprite(ly)

Moore: 5/10

(Squeezed his eyes together too) Tight(ly)

Macleod: 5/10

(Did well to stay out of) Sight

Falconer: 6/10

(Didn’t) Indict (Souter for crimes he failed to commit)

Souter: 4/10

(Looked like he was going to throw a) White(y)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Were high as) Kite(s)?

Well, whaddayaknow? A merry little Highland Fling that made a modicum of sense despite my non-modicum of understanding for all matters Scottish. Let’s all have a referendum to celebrate!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #22


questionable time 22 david dimbleby audry hepburn

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to Questionable Time which this week is brought to you from my death-bed. Ok, so ‘death bed’ might be a slight exaggeration as it’s more like my ‘moderately hungover and groggy bed’ but there is a commonality between the two phrases in that they both contain beds and that these beds contain me. So, why am I hungover? Well, I’ll level with you, I just couldn’t quite bear the thought of approaching a Scottish episode involving Janet Street-Porter, a bunch of no-name Caledonian politicos and a clutch of issues pertaining to our northern cousins without something to take the edge off it. In fact, the only thing that kept me from unilaterally declaring this week a holiday was the prospect of Charles Kennedy being there (he’s like my secret QT hip flask… Even with the most God-awful panels he somehow manages to make my insides feel all warm and fuzzy) so upon receiving the news that he had ‘missed his flight’ I thought ‘Cobblers to it, I’m getting sauced’. As a result, this likely to be a short and less-than-accurate account.

Right, where to start? How about with the SNP’s Humza Yousaf, a jaunty fellow who’s got a good line in prattling enthused claptrap about all things Scottish and independent? Initially I was quite taken with him because he seems to have quite the talent for rabble rousing but as time went on the penny started dropping that there wasn’t a great deal of substance in it all and that he may just be the latest honours student from the Alex Salmond School of Jiggery-Pokery. Then he said something that suddenly joined all the dots together in one fell swoop: “I was 16 when we went into Afghanistan”. ‘Come again? 16? And you’re a… politician? No wonder you’re a little rash and over-exuberant! 22 year-olds are rash and over-exuberant by their very nature!’. Then another penny dropped: ‘Wait a second, if you were 16 in 2001, that means you’re now 26 which in turn means we’ve been in Afghanistan for over 10 years!’. Now, don’t get me wrong, I already knew this to be true in the semantic sense but it’s only at times like this that a fact creeps up on you takes you off guard that it really begins to sink in. 10 years. We’re going head-to-head with Vietnam for the accolade of Most Long-Winded Tragedy of Modern Times here and that’s not the sort of accolade you proudly display on your mantelpiece. Anyhoo, where does all this leave young(ish) Humza? Well neither here-nor-there really. On the one hand, he should be old enough to realise that operating on pure bluster will only get you so far but on the other hand I do find his lean and hungry disposition to be rather fun to watch and he does possess more than a smidgen of charisma. In light of this, I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt…. For now.

Talking of charisma, lets say hello to our other Scottish panelists – the Conservative’s Ruth Davidson and the Lib Dems last-minute stand-in Willie Rennie – as this seems to be a department in which they are both lacking. In the case of Davidson I think this stems from the fact that she looks like the third Krankie who somehow managed to escape and is now doing her level best to lead a relatively ordinary life, even if this involves constantly repressing the brutal memories of being forced to dress as a little boy in the name of ‘comedy’. As a result she just seems a little nervous, a little wary and despite not messing anything up too spectacularly, I must confess that I was left feeling a little nonplussed. Similarly, Rennie also failed to set the night ablaze and that’s because he seems like a nice, reasonable man who enjoys outdoorsy things and would just like everyone to get along. Is that a bad thing? Not particularly. Does it make for good QT-ing? Again, not particularly.

So that’s the natives dealt with, now we come on to the one person who did fully hold my attention for the entire show, Frank Field. Now, Field’s a funny character, sort of like a weird mash-up between Eeyore and Dr. Strangelove (an observation rendered doubly valid by his outpouring of love for nuclear power at the end of the show) who exists only to cause sullen trouble for his nominal party from time-to-time and that makes him fascinating to watch. True to form, Field spent the best part of last night lining up sacred lefty cows before unceremoniously massacring them one by one. Youth unemployment? The kids need a clip around the ear. Wind turbines? The greatest swindle in history. The audience? “Scrubbing about on the floor”. Now, at face value that sounds like the sort of pugnacious hucksterism that we’d expect from the likes of Melanie Phillips but somehow Field manages to deliver these sentiments in a way that doesn’t make my skin crawl. It’s not the fact that he clearly believes these things to be true as I’m pretty sure that Phillips also fully believes in whatever she’s ranting about it, it’s the fact that these things make him so self-evidently sad and sadness is a very human quality. So yes, well done Frank. I can’t say I agree with much of what you say but I do admire the fact that you voluntarily live in thicket of ideological brambles. Good stuff.

And Janet Street-Porter? Yeah, still like sticking scrunched up balls of sandpaper into your ears and vigorously rotating them back and forth…

Tl;dr

Yousaf: 6/10

Wiley

Davidson: 5/10

Shyly

Rennie: 5/10

Highly (unremarkable)

Field: 7/10

(Un)Smiley

Street-Porter: 4/10

(Jesus Christ) O’Reilly

The Crowd: 6/10

Stylee?

Aaaaaaaand we’re done. Nearly. The one thing I forgot to mention was the lack of topical photoshops in this week’s Questionable Time. Well, I had a great Charles Kennedy one all set up and ready to go but ‘he missed his plane’ so that will just have to bide its time in the holding pattern. However, as luck would have it my brother Tom has sent me this little gem: Behold, a God-awful painting of David Dimbleby as an Eastern European peasant woman.

david dimbleby peasant woman

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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