Posts Tagged 'Lesley Riddoch'

Questionable Time #139


qt 139

Good morrow lemmings and I don’t really have an excuse for the extreme lateness of this edition, other than being at my wizened old Nan’s all day and forced to eat many a water biscuit. Without further ado, let’s kick off. Soccer!

Clapping at my chamber door, only this and nothing more

We’re coming from Aberdeen, in, as Dimbleby puts it, “a country now dominated by the SNP” and also sweet jazz-funk grooves, allegedly. To that end, our first question is likewise about the yellow-‘n’-blacks (if I knew more about football I could make a joke about these team colours): apart from “musical chairs and clapping”, what do the SNP plan to achieve at Westminster?

John Nicolson, a new SNP MP (love the subtle rhyming going on there that sadly not enough people have translated into rap format), swells with pride. He launches into a speech about how the SNP are breaking boundaries by sitting wherever the hell they like in the chamber, clapping, and taking many a selfie, and that what are ye wee English ponces gonnae dew aboot it? Actually, that’s unfair – he does state that the SNP have been given a mandate to campaign for the issues that the people of Scotland have bombastically brought to public attention. Such as wanting control/wanting One Direction’s ‘No Control’ as a single. He also insinuates he spends his dinner parties clapping every time the food is brought in, which everybody finds a little weird.

Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, leader of that most impressive of professions, Scottish Conservative Leader, is in a sombre mood. During the election campaign, perhaps knowing that her party didn’t have a hope in hell of getting any more than the one MP it ended up with north of the border, decided to have fun and just be herself for the duration. She fed Soleros to journalists. She posted pictures of herself singing in her car. She didn’t give a single, glorious shit. It was quite admirable, in a way.

Sadly, none of that devil-may-care attitude is on show tonight. Instead we have Serious Ruth, the stately politician, one of the last Bluecoats standing in the Wildlands. She launches into her pre-rehearsed spiel: while the SNP and Labour were being silly-billies with seating plans she’s doing the hard work in the less glamourous, more ugly Scottish Parliament. A tough beat for a tough cop.

Lord Charlie ‘Chazza’ Falconer speaks up. He looks at the flaming wreckage of the Scottish Labour Party and sighs. The Tories did this, he says, because of their superior dosh and their posters of Alex Salmond’s Shrek-like face leering down at you and/or Ed Miliband in a suggestive manner. But you know who helped them to triumph? Those wasp-coloured wankers over there.

John Nicolson looks horrified. A soft and judgey ‘ooh’ing emanates from the crowd. They didn’t like that at all. In fairness, those posters were really terrifying, weren’t they?

John, Ruth and now Alex Massie, Scotland Editor at the Spectator (what a job!), object. Alex points out the maths, saying that even if Labour won every seat in Scotland they still would have lost. He’s dressed up like an ancient country lord, however, which probably isn’t the best way to win round the crowd in these parts. Then he goes on about how the SNP would do anything or sacrifice anything as long as it advanced their main goal of independence.

Lesley Riddoch says that, whether they’re working for independence or not, the SNP can’t win either way. Except in elections, that is. Poor SNP. She then goes on to recite one of her own columns at length.

A lady from the crowd points out the baffling fact that the House of Commons simply can’t fit all of its MPs inside the debating chamber. Isn’t this a bit counterproductive? On the plus side, John says, I do have a sword hook. You know. To hang your sword up.

The SNP should accept that they lost and get on with it, screams a man in the crowd, like God from Monty Python. You sir, sound like a Unionist to me, John implies (or rather outright states). The man explodes and yells that he just said that he voted Yes in the referendum. This exciting back-and-forth goes on for about ten hours thus somewhat undermining the point of ‘getting on with it’.

Can Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats stop sucking so hard so there’s more of a debate, says another audience lady. Meanwhile, Lesley is going full throttle. She attacks certain people who say that SNP/pro-independence voters are ‘greedy’, when in reality the ones being greedy are those mean old Tories…greedy for Soleros, that is!

…I’m sorry, Solero jokes are probably passé by now. I’ll quietly give this well-loved meme a fitting send-off.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Next week we’re going to be in Plymouth, Dimbleby interjects, and, to show you just how far we are into penetrating the fetid wastes of hell, this triggers raucous laughter in the studio. Plymouth! Oh that Dimbleby, such a card!

Football’s coming home (to die in a ditch)

Should we all stick two fingers up to the Fifa World Cup? What, you mean the fact of zillions of Qataris dying wasn’t enough to raise a few eyebrows? I don’t know anything about football, so haven’t really been following this story – merely enjoying a distant chuckle at seeing a cluster of rich ugly white dudes get their arses kicked. Always a pleasure.

Alex Massie makes a sweet burn by saying that Scotland has been leading the way in boycotting the World Cup for many years now. Such Wildeian wit! Lesley is still outraged, and cries that this ‘beautiful game’ has been sullied! Sullied forever! Forever! Truly, she has no chill. At least all the dead Qatari slave labourers have finally been mentioned. In addition, John, Charlie and Ruth finally agree on something: Sepp Blatter sucks and won’t get away with this! He’s just been re-elected as Fifa president, by the way. Question Time: always predicting the future.

I leaked a leak in time gone by

After that brief interlude, it’s time for another dose of Scotlapalooza! Round one: if Scotland votes to stay in the EU, but the rest of the UK votes to leave…will all hell break loose?

Alex, positive as always, shrugs that the people mumbling and grumbling such things are gunning for #indyref2. Nah, says John, the ‘No’ campaign said we’d be stronger together, so it’s not fair. P.S., let the 16-year-olds vote. They can Photoshop flower crowns on pictures of Angela Merkel or whatever it is they do.

Ruth squawks out reform, reform, reform multiple times like a parrot on amphetamines. The others join her and soon it’s a cacophony of voices spluttering out platitudes but no concrete plans. Lesley almost rips her shirt off as she bellows her love for Scotland, which continues on into…

Round two: should Alistair Carmichael resign? Lord Falconer is being very careful about this one. The last thing he needs or wants is another SNP MP taking AlCar’s place in the House. Although, I guess it would be kind of funny that if, after all this, he resigns and they just elect another Lib Dem in his stead. The yellow team (the original one, not the yellow-and-black one with the kilts) needs to fill up all the seats in its minibus, after all!

“It is impossible right now to know how the people of Orkney and Shetland feel!” Lesley cries. You’re telling me, mate. I don’t even know if they have Wi-Fi up there.

Should every MP who’s lied resign? Then we’d end up with a pretty empty House, hahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha! Original joke! No, we’re all nice really, says Ruth. While she decries any attempt at a “witch hunt”, honestly it looks like she doesn’t much care about the welfare of the Lib Dems, it’s not like her party is in coalition with them any more. Now the blue team can truly break out the hard liquor in the secret Downing Street stash. John, meanwhile, claims that it’s “a matter of honour” so we clearly need to cut off Alistair Carmichael’s head.

Last: should we have the right to die? A rather heavy subject for the last five minutes, one that all the panellists have but one response to: there needs to be, like, a truckful of safeguards for this shizzle. Maybe we could have a new referendum on it? asks another audience lady. Alex Massie visibly recoils.

Time for the scores!

Davidson: 6/10

(Not a) Lot (going on)

Falconer: 5/10

(Scottish Labour’s a) Dot (on the map)

Nicolson: 7/10

(Proud) Scot (and won’t hesitate to tell you at length)

Riddoch: 7/10

(Will) Slot (Her opinions absolutely everywhere)

Massie: 6/10

(Missed his) Shot

The Crowd: 8/10

Got (what they came for, maybe?)

Next time: PLYMOUTH!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #107


qt 107

Good morrow Lemmings, and it’s time for a new round of Questionable Time! As you may have noticed, our Glorious Leader has departed for the Promised Land and left affairs to me, Elizabeth, the dancing monkey. I’ll be trying out a new, quasi-liveblogging format of post this edition, so let me know your thoughts in the comments and if you want me strung up or not.

Also, unfortunately, my plans for this post were sadly dashed! My scanner has broken down/computer is slow as molasses, so I was not able to prepare some cool illustrations this time. But starting from next week, that’s what we’ll be doing. I leave you with only one bad Photoshop this edition, done in a panic when I realised that technology had failed me. And that’s why this post is so late and why I’m incompetent.

In any case, here we go!

Isis is also the name of the dog on Downton Abbey

Ahh, listen to that familiar theme tune! Doesn’t it send a chill down your spine, the kind you experience whenever you – merely for example – see a big ol’ spider hanging in the corner of your bedroom and you yell and the spider wobbles on its web and you lie crying in the corner waiting for the pain to end, my god won’t it end? Or is that just me?

The first question is on the potential airstrikes, despite the Scottish setting, but don’t worry – we’ll have more than enough of that brand of fun later. Emily Thornberry from the red team is first up and she’s assuring everyone that this isn’t like last time. She’s likeable enough, but her mumblings about an ‘international team’ bring up hazy memories of a certain film some of you may have heard of – Team America: World Police. Heck yeah! (Censored on behalf of our younger readers, of which I am sure there are many.)

IS or Isil or Isis or Helloisitmeyou’relookingfor are bloody horrible, repeats every member of the panel to much collective nodding. I groan as they continue to nod faster and faster, because questions like these rarely rouse hysterical screaming which is obviously the real reason we’re all watching Question Time, mainly in vain. Don’t worry, count on the Scots to heat things up later. In any case, MPs are most likely wondering right about now: ‘Why Iraq? Why couldn’t it be one of those other Middle Eastern countries no-one cares about?’ So, boots on the ground is a big no-no…at least for now.

Rory Stewart from the blue team is up next. He looks like a sixth-form student, specifically a guy I used to know in sixth-form, so much so that I did a double-take and almost looked up his Facebook to congratulate him on his new career path. He’s apparently a respected academic, foreign policy expert, charity worker, author and general scuttler across the Middle East. It’s unbelievable yet true, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on to be promoted once or twice or thrice. Anyway, he says, squirting some anti-acne cream on to his sallow cheeks, airstrikes alone won’t solve things apparently, just like how dropping a beachball on to an anthill won’t get rid of an infestation. Everyone just sighs miserably at this point. It seems that politics, after a brief flash of life in the Scottish referendum, has devolved (heh) into a resigned grumble. All is as it should be.

Meanwhile, JSP is in the house and shaking her head about mission creep, which isn’t a hot new hiphop group but a very serious problem about not knowing what the hell it is you’re doing. She’s profoundly against airstrikes and makes a good point about the mawkish reporting of Isis atrocities. Janet hasn’t made any sort of embarassing outburst yet, but we’ll just have to wait and see!

Rory says we need diplomats on the ground. Bring in the diplomats! That’ll learn ’em.

On the Scottish side of things, it’s all about to heat up – so far John Swinney and Lesley Riddoch haven’t contributed much but that’s about to change. I’ve heard so many Scottish accents in recent weeks that I’ve basically turned Scottish.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE OIL, comes the obligatory cry from the audience, and on that note, let’s move on.

FREEEEDOM or whatever

Lesley begins by saying the past year was the best year of her life: the humanity, the optimism, the haggis. That’s a bit worrying Lesley, even if the level of democratic interest was heartening to see (although as an English person I was pooping myself over what would happen either way). But is it ovah? It ain’t ovah. Now the argument over the devolution solution begins. Janet agrees, it was great to watch with excess popcorn, but she’s tired of all the campaigning ‘n’ stuff and wants to have a nice nap. Or greater democratic control for ordinary people, either one. I’ve only now realised that Janet is like your wacky aunt that shows up at family reunions and spikes the punch with vodka.

But will there be another referendum? Devolution won’t stop that, says a woman in the audience. The SNP are growing and hunger for blood. IT WON’T STOP. NOTHING CAN STOP IT. RUN, MORTAL. The dream will never die!

There’s also a guy in the audience that looks like Rory Stewart’s SNP clone. My god, they’re breeding! Anyway, he says that he doesn’t believe that they’ll get devolution. Yes you will, assures Emily, to the satisfaction of no-one. Rory remains silent, perhaps freaked out by his clone.

Emily is still going. I’m British, she says a thousand times. Thank you for staying because I’m British, you’re British (whether you like it or not), everybody’s British! British for everyone! You all get a British! But the Tories still suck and I won’t even acknowledge them. Since she reminds me of Professor Sprout from the Harry Potter series she’s about to get away with this when John Swinney, who up until now appeared like the Yes vote version of Alistair Darling, makes a pretty sick burn. “You were all too happy to speak to each other during the referendum campaign!” Emily says no, we’re smacking David Cameron down. Don’t worry, we’ll force him into line. Rory remains silent, quietly sweating. Dimbleby rounds on him as he tends to do and the man, who looks like a weedy nerd but actually scampered across Afghanistan one time, is startled into life. “No ifs, no buts,” says Rory, “No public sector cuts”, he doesn’t continue.

Then Emily has one more go at dismissing DCam. “He’s been put back in his box!” Applause and laughter as the thought of David Cameron being left in a box is inexplicably popular.

The West Lothian question: Tam Dalyell has a lot to answer for

I scream in terror as this infamous questions rears its ugly head once more. Janet thinks some things should be devolved but on the other hand it could be a right kerfuffle, couldn’t it? John Swinney responds to the ‘should only Scottish MPs vote for Scottish devolution’ point by replying, smugly, well! You can’t exactly rely on Labour for that one, eh? Eh? Eh?! Emily will not rise to this. You hear me, John? You’re on your last warning.

NO! shouts Janet, NO MORE! WE’RE DROWNING IN REFERENDUMS. Rory sweats in response and doodles on his schoolwork paper. Lesley seems to have given up and basically finishes with a ‘Screw this, let’s abolish the Lords’ flourish. This gets approval from the audience, who are up for any sort of tearing down of ancient institutions at this point. Doesn’t matter what they are, grab your pitchforks because we’re about to go a-mobbin’.

Rory finally jumps in. English votes for English laws. It’s not like this would help the Tories or anything. Let’s rely on the Queen instead. Dimbleby, who has been overly sarky this whole episode, brings up the Queen ‘purring’ and her secret life as a member of furry fandom. Emily is cackling like a witch around a cauldron. But then Ed Miliband forgetting his speech pops up and ho ho ho oops it’s no longer a laughing matter. Of course, the fact that Ed Balls rambled boringly on about it for his whole conference speech doesn’t register, but John takes this moment to distinguish the lovely SNP from the evil Labours. Janet says she’s had enuff of these no-notes speeches and that they’re so macho, they’ve gotta be so macho, big and strong, enough to turn you on. And something about class war. I wonder if Janet is affected by the potential mansion tax? If only we lived in a Scottish dream state in which nobody disagreed with each other ever! BRB, moving up there in time for the next inevitable referendum.

Also, as brought up by Janet, apparently Ed Miliband’s had voice coaching, but so did Maggie Thatcher and pretty much every Prime Minister since then. The only problem with this is that unlike all those other PMs, Ed’s voice has not changed at all. He is uncompromisingly, eternally, despairingly Ed. Unlike Rory’s bizarre wish, he’s not Fidel Castro. This actually may end up being a problem.

The petty bickering continues until Dimbleby finally pulls the plug, thus proving Janet, Lesley and John to be absolutely correct: this is definitely the best time in their lives. Wouldn’t you all agree? I’m going to go eat a sandwich.

Anyway, I spot Clacton in the weeks ahead so be ready for Farageageddon on QT once more. Will his reign over the programme ever end? Signs point to a No vote there!

Time for the scores!

Stewart: 5/10

Jogging (across the world)

Thornberry: 5/10

Slogging (away)

Swinney: 7/10

Flogging (some cut-price referendums, get ’em while they’re hot)

Riddoch: 3/10

Clogging (up the stage)

Street-Porter: 6/10

Hogging (the screentime)

The Crowd: 8/10

Blogging (about their intense Scottish opinions, probably)

So how do you all feel about this style of post? Like it? Hate it? If you hate it, I’ll be sad but change it back. I also may change other things around here, but don’t worry – nothing major. Just converting it into a Anna ‘Chortles’ Soubry fanclub, that’s all. It’s what we all really want.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #65


questionable time 65 david dimbleby hipster

Good morning Lemmings and gah! Who are all these young whelps with their dubsteps, Nintendoboxstations and soaring rates of unemployment? Oh Jesus, they’re the crowd and not only do they have all of the above, they also appear to be in possession of ‘opinions’ and much more scarily, the vote. Quite how this all happened I am not sure but here we are anyway… Let’s see if we can’t Questionable Time some sense into the little buggers.

It turns out that first impressions don’t count for very much at all…

Having recently been to a few gigs where I was acutely aware of being That Guy (you know, the conspicuously old-looking bloke who’s trying to mask his confusion behind an air of vague condescension, a pint of snakebite and a Dillinger four T-shirt) I thought I knew what I was getting into – yet within seconds of that opening shot where the camera pulls back to reveal the audience I realised that I was barking up the wrong tree. Where were all the neck tattoos and Zelda hair? How come no-ones sporting dayglo trainers and plunging necklines? Why aren’t my senses being assaulted by Lynx Africa and overly contrived synth-led breakdowns in the middle of otherwise serviceable metal songs? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Well, as it happens, they were the sort of young people who don’t knock about at the same venues as embittered thirty-somethings who are desperately clinging on to the illusion of youth. No, instead they all looked like rather well-adjusted types who decline invitations to get pissed in bus shelters on the grounds that their course work is due in six months time and to be honest, that didn’t sit well with me. “Great.” I thought as I desperately scanned the crowd in the hope of at least locating a solitary goth or maybe a Citizen Smith type. “The Chess Club have finally triumphed. Roll on the Snooze Fest”.

As it happens, my fears were misplaced and as the show unfolded I actually started to find myself getting a bit starry-eyed. It started with the guy who used the first question on internet surveillance as a vehicle to demand Blair be tried for war crimes. “Yes!” I thought to myself. “That’s exactly the sort of tenuous leap into the realms of absolutes that I would have made at your age! Go on son!” Then came the moment when the independence question dropped and neatly divided the audience into two equally belligerent opposing camps. From here on in everything went into panto overload with claps and boos drowning each other out – and it wasn’t just your standard ‘Hummener-hummener-hummener’ type chunterings that you tend to get with adult audiences either. These were proper boos, proper cheers, the sort of noises that people make when they actually believe in things and can envisage what a better world would look like. Lemmings, I hate to admit it but I think I may have experienced an emotion not a million miles away from ‘hope’ by the end of the show.

So that was all rather lovely but before moving on a pair of special mentions are in order.

1. The lad who had a pop at “Glorious England” and our routine persecution of Scots: It was a dumb move that saw him receive a righteous beat down but I will say this: There was an odd dignity in the way he took his licks. It was all in that look of resigned defeat that I like to call Opinors Remorse.

2. And who can forget the young man who posited that Scottish independence would bring us “one step closer to finding aliens” only to be rewarded with a volley of incredulity from none other than Dimbers? There’s a lesson in all this fellah, a lesson that I learnt the hard way: Those little scenes that play out in your imagination, you know, the ones where you get all Carpe Diem and dazzle everyone with your audacious whackiness? Yeah, they rarely work out like that…

Guess we’d better do some panel then…

I’ll keep it brief for the main three: Angus Robertson did The Big Man thing and did so with varying degrees of success, Ruth Davidson gave us another rendition of the Plucky Underdog and more-or-less got away with it while Anas Sarwar basically mulched his way through but did display a few rare moments of something-or-other.

As for the other’s, well the sight of seeing the UK’s two leading providers of demagoguery (one – Galloway – who sincerely and profoundly believes his own hype while the other – Farage – can’t believe his luck that others sincerely and profoundly believe his own hype) temporarily setting aside their mutual hostility and making common cause against the Tartan Peril was both entertaining and perplexing. It sort of reminded me of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact although I should point out that it (the Pact, that is) really didn’t turn out to be all that entertaining in the long run. Oh, and while we’re on the matter of Galloway, see Fig. 1.

george-galloway-rula-lenska-cat

Fig. 1

And Lesley Riddoch? Bloody good. So bloody good in fact that it rekindled this latent jealousy that I have for Scotland: Things like social justice and equality are treated as something to proud of there, not like in England where they’ve come to be regarded as some sort of pie-in-the-sky fairy tale. Damn you Scots, damn you and your faith in the collective good.

Tl;dr

Davidson: 5/10

(Is) Small

Robertson: 6/10

(Wants sovereignty north of Hadrian’s) Wall

Sarwar: 5/10

(Made it feel like a long) Haul

Galloway: 7/10

(Still has the ability to) Appall

Farage: 6/10

(Is ever the goof) Ball

Riddoch: 8/10

(Was up for a right good) Brawl

The Crowd: 9/10

(Should treat themselves to a pub) Crawl (but only when they are legally old enough to do so).

See that? 9/10? I must be going soft in my old age. Anyway, good episode and next week looks like a total belter as well…. Come on Brand, make sweet love to Melanie Phillips in front of a live studio audience. Right, that’s your lot – apart from a minor nag to go and visit my other site at some point. It’s weird, but… you know…

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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