Posts Tagged 'Isabel Oakeshott'

Questionable Time #110


qt 110

Good morrow lemmings and this week we’re in Newbury! Despite this there are sadly no references to the nearby Greenham Common which I could have made an amusing ‘shop out of. Oh well. We’d best get stuck in.

Jeremy Hunt’s NHS pin: secretly a ninja shuriken used to dispatch his enemies

Can Dave pull an emergency brake on immigration? Well, I don’t know, but let’s ask the fine folks of the panel. Angela Eagle is first up and, as she shakes her head ruefully, I rub my hands in anticipation of her performance. If you closely watched last month’s Labour conference like a complete nerd (aka like me), you’ll know that she was an effective, funny chair during the debates/speeches/general flailing and panicking, and as such I was expecting great things from her.

I was let down. It’ll become apparent why later, but let it be known that I’m so betrayed that I’ll never love another human being again.

Anyway, for now she’s just shaking her head at Jeremy Hunt and sighing. Net migration is the same as it was in the beginning of the Parliament apparently, and ol’ Cammers has been a complete dodo in Europe. Remember when the cool Eurokids dissed him by going off in their own little gang and not letting him in the treehouse? It basically became the ‘No Daves club’. (“But you let in David Glumplich!” “It’s no Daves. We’re only allowed to have one.”)

Jeremy disagrees the only way he knows how – terrifyingly. If anyone can do it, it’s ARE DAVE, he slurps. Thank you Dave for my Chinese wife. I’m not sure this is relevant, Jeremy, but he gets away with it because Jeremy gets away with everything. He may well be the luckiest and/or slipperiest man in Parliament, and I strongly suspect he oils himself down every morning so he can pencil-roll along the corridors at top speed and knock down dawdling Labour MPs in a game of human ten-pin bowling.

He’s even wearing an NHS pin on his lapel, so you know how sincere he is, and is doing his best ‘mild, constipated with truthiness’ voice. This is undermined slightly by the fact that occasionally his eyes widen even further apart than they already are (a trait he shares with a certain Ed Balls) and bore a smoking hole in the direction of his next victim. He’s a true believer, that’s for sure, absolutely confident that The Plan is good, The Plan is working, all hail the great Plan, and how dare you assume I’m one of those people that admitted to having no idea what the hell Andrew Lansley was smoking when he put together the Health and Social Care Act.

I must confess I’m somewhat scared of Jeremy.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Suddenly, Giles Fraser, your one cool Sunday School teacher amidst a sea of ennui, punches through the wall with a mighty cry to STOP PANDERING, aiming straight for the jugular. People from other societies enrich our society, he bellows (like my Chinese wife! nods Jeremy), and do not disagree with me FOR THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD!

Meanwhile, Menzies Campbell is playing the traditional role of ‘the sensible one who you want to patronisingly pat on the head’, which he has done on various other occasions to great success. He’s not as amazing at it as the Nice Old Man from last week, however, as Ming doesn’t look like he really understands what’s going on. Why can’t you be nice to Europe, Dave? Audience? You’re not going to get anywhere by throwing a hissy fit. The audience revolts by immediately throwing a hissy fit.

Here Stella Creasy’s evil clone speaks up – Isabel Oakeshott, best known for entrapping Vicky Pryce and probably cackling about it. She’s also third cousins with Lord Oakeshott, who you may remember as the perennial ex-Lib Dem troublemaker. Dave was crap in Europe, she says. No he wasn’t, says Jezza H. Then there’s some meaningless back and forth around this topic for five-ish minutes, none of which is very interesting apart from a lady in the audience spitting acid about her village uncontrollably expanding, which reminds me very much of the current storyline on Downton Abbey.

Where have all the nurses gone, long time passing / Where have all the nurses gone, long time ago

The next question is on the NHS, of course. Jeremy is champing at the bit to wave his pin around but Dimbleby elects to go to the non-politicians first. Isabel is all doom and gloom – the NHS can’t afford a 1% pay rise (although MPs can afford themselves one), she says, with a smirk. Something drastic has to be done, she says, with a smug. Yeah, smug is a verb now. Jeremy Hunt is staring murderously at her and if she weren’t protected by a mystical barrier of smugness I’d be in legitimate fear for her life.

Giles is on the offensive again. Everyone’s going to have to pay more taxes, and they’re going to like it. Don’t be so negative, replies Jeremy – we’ve saved the NHS, and it’s all thanks to me.

“You know nothing about nursing!”, cries a nurse. Jeremy’s wistful voice about how much he wuvs the NHS falls away and he’s back to staring. Isabel is saved, at least. Meanwhile, Angela’s got an open goal, but nursey man is hot on her tail. What about all these new nurses, is the question, but unfortunately NO! WE NEED THE OLD NURSES! is the answer. And – woman down, woman down! Angela’s on the floor. Oh, what a shame. But patience, lemmings: her humiliation isn’t over yet.

Dimbleby decides to move on, because he’s falling asleep and Isabel’s ever-widening grin has started to engulf the entire table.

A few more moans

So, the leaders’ debates. Where’s the Greens? Ah, who cares about them. They’re not polling highly, smugs Isabel. I mean, how are you supposed to become popular unless you’re relentlessly invited on to Question Time panels? Hey, here’s an idea, Respect have an MP, let’s put George Galloway in the debates! What could possibly go wrong? (Can you imagine? You’d only have a smoking crater by the end of it.)

Dave is “up for it”, says Jezza. It won’t be a Punch and Judy show. (Also, look audience man – PMQs isn’t ‘increasingly’ ridiculous, it’s been that way since the 60s. Trust me, I’m a scholarist.) Then Giles metaphorically punches him in the face again. Appropriate for a Punch and Judy show! Wow Giles, maybe calm down a little.

Funnily enough, not much time is spent mulling over the plight of the Greens, as people want to move on to diss Lord Freud’s Freudian slip. And this is where Angela’s troubles truly begin.

“Resign!” demands Angela.
No, don’t, people yell back.
Now she’s yelling at them.
Now they’re yelling even more at her. She’s been playing political football/jumping on the bandwagon/drowning puppies/take your pick. It’s not a good look for a politician to be so relentlessly dismissed. It seems impossible, but Freudy appears to have gotten away with it. Angela, let it go. Let it go. Don’t hold it back any more.

It finally takes Giles to calm everyone down again, which considering he’s been firing on all cylinders for the rest of the programme is quite remarkable. Now we can all listen to Ming the Merciless’s snoozy voice to soothe us off to sleep once more. “He’s on probation,” apparently, but all that means is a naughty finger wagging if it comes from Mingity-Ming. At least Lord Freud’s not on Jeremy’s shit list. You’d be better off dead than there – caught in his line of sight, staring, forever.

Time for the scores!

Hunt: 5/10

Leery

Eagle: 3/10

(The reaction to her was) Jeery

Campbell: 5/10

(Surprisingly) Cheery

Oakeshott: 4/10

Sneery

Fraser: 8/10

(More than he first) Appear(…ed…y)

The Crowd: 6/10

Sincere…y?

Len McCluskey’s going to pick some serious fights next time, so that should be fun, I guess?

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #92


questionable time 92 david dimbleby ramones

Good morning Lemmings and RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, THERE’S A BLOODY PIGEON ON THE LOOSE! Scary stuff indeed but you’ll be pleased to know that not even this impromptu intervention from Mother Nature could stop the behemoth that is QT. No, rather than run the risk of incurring Nick Hewer’s best You Have Disappointed Me So Now I Shall Suck A Lemon face, the pigeon wisely went to ground (most likely in Susan Kramer’s hair) and disaster was narrowly averted. Phew! Mopped brows all round then! Anyway, the following also happened. Observe if you will…

I should like Douglas Alexander but…

At face value there’s much to like about Douglas Alexander: There’s that lovely soft accent, the weeness of his form, those innocent little eyes and the fact that he always looks so very, very clean (which – incidentally – is a trait shared by Jeremy Hunt, possibly the cleanest looking MP in the land). All these things combined with a political career largely free from scandal make him the sort of fellow that it’s very hard to militate any ill-will against, yet if I’m being completely honest I do harbour a certain something against Wee Dougie and it’s taken me an awfully long time to figure out why that is. It’s all about control.

Let’s start with an example: There was a moment in the first question where Susan Kramer said something about the economy being on the mend and you could almost hear the switch tripping in his brain – the switch labelled This Is Something I should Appear To Be Angry About. Anyway, ‘clunk’ goes the switch and out comes this little spiel about how she should be ashamed of herself and that this is no time to be performing “a lap of honour”. ‘Fair play’ you may say as the point itself was not without validity but the way in which he suddenly turned on the indignation made me do a double take because it didn’t sit right. Why? Well because it wasn’t really indignation as indignation is something that issues from the heart, not the head and it can’t be turned on and off at will. This though – this was different: It was a measured, controlled and unfeeling response that had clearly been prefabricated earlier on and was ready for deployment from the get-go. The same goes for when he tried to ambush Zahawi with the small matter of his dealings with private health companies: It was delivered as an unexpected ‘Gotcha!’, an incidental opportunity that he’d just stumbled upon but you could tell that it was anything but that and more likely a part of a very rigid game plan he’d had from the start.

So what’s the big deal here? Am I saying that politicians shouldn’t think before they speak? That having a game plan is somehow duplicitous? Well no – of course they’re going to have a game plan. Everyone has a game plan on QT – that’s just the way it is and thinking is generally a positive thing when it comes to running the country. However, what does rustle my jammies is the way that Dougie can’t quite bring himself to let go and just run with real, unconfined indignation rather than constantly trying to keep it within the strict parameters of what he thinks a politician should look like. It speaks of a man who has somehow got fallibility confused with failing, whose approach to risk is one of aversion and that’s a shame because we actually rather like fallibility – primarily because it’s a confirmation of humanity. Just ask Boris… or Ken… or Nige… or Gorgeous George (etc, etc, etc)…

I shouldn’t like Zahawi, but…

And why shouldn’t I like Zahawi? Let us count the ways.

      1. He was a former aide to Jeffrey Archer.
      2. He’s been less than squeaky clean when it comes to expenses.
      3. He’s at the economically nuttier end of the Tory party.
      4. His approach to most debates is similar to a bull’s approach to china shopping.
      5. He looks like an angry/disappointed potato (see Fig. 1) and his head is a geometric paradox (consistently ovoid from the front and yet a perfect square from the side).
      6. Nadhim Zahawi angry potato

        Fig. 1

nadhim zahawi impossible head

Fig. 2

It’s also fair to say that this performance was so-so, what with his crap joke about Bob Crow falling flat on its face (probably because he planned on eulogising him but got cold feet when Hewer sucked on an almighty lemon about people who didn’t like Bob Crow eulogising Bob Crow) and his flappery about tax avoidance when he himself has been known to use various schemes that ‘help the wealthy minimise and avoid taxes’. However, I can’t help but like him for precisely the reasons that I struggle with Dougie: For better or worse, Zahawi is unabashedly human and comfortably out of control. He screws stuff up, let’s his mouth run away with itself and goes an endearing shade of red when he knows he’s in hot water but at least you are left in no doubt that he genuinely means what he says. True, quite a lot of what he says is totally bonkers but I’d take genuine madness over contrived sanity any day of the week.

‘Tis that time of year!

…For Susan Kramer to be taken out of hibernation and paraded in front of the nation on QT again! Hooray/hoorah indeed! And how did Question Time’s resident tortoise emerge into the crisp light of spring this year? Well, the same as she always does – by talking at the same volume as a tour guide in a service station (not quite shouting but near as dammit) and constantly looking at some unspecified point on the ceiling of the studio. Well done Susan, we’ll see you again in the autumn for the now traditional Bedding Her Down for Winter episode.

All hail Hewer, Long Faced Champion of the Universe…

I’m shorter on space than I hoped so I’ll keep this brief: Steepled fingers, elongated vowels combined with laconic understatement (“Yeeeeeeeeees… Bob Crow. My word”), that weird confluence of ultra-capitalism and social conscience that marked the heyday of New Labour, ungladly suffered fools and a damn good eye for the Russians. God I love Hewer.

Oakeshott and the perils of Telling It Like It Is…

There’s a certain art to Telling It Like It Is and the cardinal rule is not to look so bloody pleased with yourself when doing so. Alas, this point seems lost on Oakeshott who may well have been on to something when she posited that the NHS was essentially bankrupt but the point was lost behind the self-satisfaction of being the first to deliver the bad news (it was sort of like turning up to your burning homestead and being greeted by a grinning fireman). In short, good diagnostic abilities but poor bedside manner.

Tl;dr

Kramer: 6/10

(Talks rather) Loud

Alexander: 5/10

(Should be) Allowed (to get stuff wrong)

Zahawi: 6/10

Ploughed (his way through)

Hewer: 8/10

(Had me on) Cloud (9)

Oakeshott: 4/10

(Is a little too) Proud (to be the bearer of bad news)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Rhyme with all the above).

…So that’s what you get when you cram a bunch of people into a hall with an errant pigeon. It’ll do for me. Right, I’m done and will be back next week, albeit a little later in the day than usual as I have stuff and things to attend to – like desperately wishing The Apprentice was back on the telly.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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