Posts Tagged 'Lord Forsyth'

Questionable Time #31


questionable time 31 davidi dimbleby kilt

Good morning Lemmings and seriously, do we really have to do this? Do we really have to voluntarily relive what was probably the dullest episode of Question Time I can recall? I guess we do. If you didn’t catch it last night then well done to you, you’re ahead of the game but if you did then I guess that reading this may at least have some cathartic value. We can treat it like a support group for those embittered by the fact that they lost an entire hour of their life last night. Anyway, here we go… *sigh*…

Inverness appears to be some sort of Reverso Logan’s Run…

I did most of my growing up in a very sleepy seaside town so large concentrations of the elderly hold no mystery for me. However even I have to admit that the sheer volume of oldsters on display last night was a frightening spectacle to behold, so thick was the floor with those in their autumn years. Quite how a town gets into a state where everyone under the age of 30 has either fled or been forcibly removed is a mystery – as are the logistics of how you’d run such a settlement (who delivers the papers? How do they cope with such high levels of unemployment in the educational sector? Do they even bother putting up ‘No Ball Games’ signs?) – but the very fact that this clear perversion of demographics can exist at all is enough to give me the jibblies. Not only that, but the studio looked very warm last night and I suspect that a day of heavy rain may have induced the wearing of extra layers amongst the crowd, something that did little to counter the clammy atmosphere of mothballs and torpor. In short, this was never really going to be a riot of a show.

It’s a sad day when Melanie Phillips is the only thing keeping you awake.

Panel wise, this could have been an ok episode as Charles Kennedy (when he’s not ‘missing his plane’) is usually pretty solid and Alan Cumming had the potential to bring something different to the table. However, as neither of these guys really got into their stride until right near the end of the show (Kennedy appeared to spend the first half trying vainly to wake up whilst Cumming got hobbled by questions of nationality and tax status) so the floor was left wide open for Melanie Phillips to extrapolate wildly on how seemingly innocuous developments will inevitably lead to a dystopian and apocalyptic future. Maybe think about not giving rich pensioners free money? Sure, BUT DON’T COME CRYING TO ME WHEN YOU SEE THAT THE ENTIRE WELFARE STATE HAS BEEN DESTROYED. Thrupence on petrol? Oh, no big deal UNTIL THE PINKO HIPPIES IN GOVERNMENT START PUTTING WIND FARMS IN YOUR BRAIN. Spice this up with some choice phrases like “incentive for mass fatherlessness”, liberal (or anti-liberal, I’m not quite sure which) use of words like “bogus” and you start to get the picture.

Now on any given Thursday I would probably pour scorn on absurd antics such as these but I’m giving Melanie a free pass this week as she was literally the only thing keeping me in the realms of consciousness last night. Yeah I know, semi-endorsing Melanie Phillips feels like a weird and dangerous thing to do so to balance things out here’s a pshop of her in a Bin Laden outfit (see Fig. 1). Questionable Time: It’s all about the balance.

melanie phillips osama bin laden

Fig. 1

Ok, so Lord Forsyth was semi-interesting…

Is it just me or was Lord Forsyth being positively seditious towards the government last night? The reason I have to ask is because although I’m sure that the content of his speech was pretty treasonable his tone was so hushed and gentle that it sounded more like a lullaby than a sustained attack on the likes of Cameron and Osborne. A similar thing happened when he and Phillips got stuck into a joint rant on the Euro: I got the impression from what he was saying that he was genuinely angry yet the most his demeanour could muster was the look of being vaguely ticked off. Odd, in a semi-interesting sort of way.

And just who exactly are these people?

A funny thing happens to me when I watch Johann Lamont: Her lips move, a sound comes out that is in a language I am fluent in yet I hear nothing. Well that’s not quite right, I do hear something – a little like the noise of a fridge humming into life – but nothing that I can convey any meaning from. This isn’t an accent thing either, it’s just that the part of my brain that deals with processing language just seems to shut down whenever I lay eyes on her. As a result I have absolutely no idea what she said last night but judging from the lack of enthusiasm from the crowd I don’t think I missed much. And as for Alex Neil, the first thing to say is that he isn’t Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon. I don’t know what happened last night – maybe they double-booked their annual leave or something – but I suppose it’s nice to occasionally have a Scottish episode that doesn’t involve Caledonia’s answer to The Carpenters. Apart form that all I can really tell you is that a) Alex Neil is very satisfied with being Scottish and b) is even more satisfied that a Scottish man like himself should get to go on the telly. Oh God, I can’t do this anymore…

Tl;dr

Forsyth: Zzz…

5/10

Kennedy: Zzzzz…

5/10

Lamont: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

3/10

Neil: Zzzzzzzzz…

4/10

Cumming: Zzzz…

5/10

Phillips: !!!!!!!!!!

6/10

The Crowd: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

3/10

There. I’ve done all I can. Well done if you made it this far, now let us agree to never speak of this episode again. Still, I guess it was an appropriate end to a week of ‘celebrations’ that looked more like a humanitarian disaster. Say what you will about the British but we sure now how to stand about in the rain looking uncomfortable and vaguely nonplussed. Oh and in a final twist of the knife I’m afraid I won’t be around next week as I’m off to see NOFX and intend to get so messed up that even watching QT on iPlayer is going to be out of the question. Professionalism: I has it.

In a fortnight Lemmings, in a fortnight…

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Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #47


 

david dimbleby question time oil 47Morning Lemmings and welcome to a brand new rule I’m instigating for all further Post Match Reports: Scotland, you are getting your word count cut, mainly because I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. Granted, you’re not as bad as the episodes from Northern Ireland where I really don’t have the slightest inkling about who’s who but since you seem to love making Question Time into a ‘Scotland this’ and ‘Scotland that’ circlejerk, I’m cutting back on how much I write as any attempt to give you the full treatment is pretty much an exercise in ignorance on my part (for all I know, the rumours are true and all that lies north of the border is a barren landscape inhabited by a wild rabble of straggly haired men who hunt wild Mars Bars while the womenfolk raise crops of super strength lager, but if it came to the crunch, I wouldn’t really be able to tell you one way or another). In short, I’m keeping this short.

 

Excuses made, let us plough on and get stuck into our first victim who this week takes the spectral form of Lord Forsyth, the back-in-the-day Secretary of State for Scotland under John Major. Now, I have absolutely no recollection of this guy as a) he was Secretary of State for Scotland and b) I was 17 when he left government but I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for and not in a good way given his background. However, what I was not banking on was just how spooky his presentation is. Some of this down to his slow, halting and low-key verbal delivery but in the main it’s a by-product of this haunted look that is forever stricken across his face. It’s the look of a man who has passed through some terrible night of the soul, seen things that no man should see and now lives a life tormented by the daemons he encountered. Still, things started to take on a more familiar form with the first question (the VAT cut/economy number) and he was soon going through the standard motions of blaming Labour, banging on about debt and generally playing to type. “Phew” thought I, “I know all this stuff is a very tired and boring but at least I know where I am with this guy”. And so I did until it got the question about the right to die. Now, I usually hate it when questions of an ethical nature appear on Question Time as a) it usually ends up with everyone in back slapping agreement and b) matters of this nature are much better suited to Sunday morning’s The Big Question (especially when that old lady with the crazy beehive hairdo is on. She’s like a Daily Mail article composed entirely out of quotes from the Old Testament). However, I was totally blindsided by Forsyth’s response and in a very good way as when it came to his turn to speak he responded by saying “I really don’t know what to think about this”. Come again? Was that a politician claiming not to have an opinion on something?  I have a sneaking suspicion it was and if so, kudos to him as I tire of the fact that politicians are pretty much allowed to do anything except admit that don’t have a position on a particular subject.

 

So that cheered me up and after a thoughtful and well put together amble around the ins and outs of right to die he then cranked it up another couple of notches by stating that Osborne was wrong for taxing the oil sector. The crowd loved it, Margaret Curran loved it, I loved it (primarily because it’s rare to see a panelist so wantonly break the party line) and Michael Moore hated it. In short, jobs a good ‘un and Lord Forsyth has made a bloody good fist of confounding my expectations, even if I couldn’t give a monkeys about the level of taxation in the Scottish oil industry.

 

Sticking with the slightly Halloweeny theme we now move on to Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland and a man who is probably best portrayed by a leering pumpkin in our sepulchral scene. In many ways you’ve got to hand it to Salmond and not only for being the only man in Scotland if Question Time is anything to go by. No, I also give him props for being an epic chancer who has a knack for pulling one out of the bag, even if it’s by the skin of his teeth. This being his first QT outing since he crushed Labour in the recent election, Salmond had every right to bear his jagged, pumpkin teeth and he made some early gains by more or less promising to shower Scotland with cold, hard cash. However, as the show moved on and got to the question about a referendum, the smile appeared on closer inspection to be a little gappy, a little crooked and slightly yellowing as the audience called his bluff on the subject. Now, I personally couldn’t give two hoots about Scottish independence as it has no great bearing on my life. Sure, the Union Flag would look a little odd without the blue bits but providing that the whiskey keeps heading south and no-one with the intention of invading daubs themselves with blue paint then we’re golden. However, I do understand that it is a big deal on the other side of the border and Salmond probably found himself at the wrong end of the issue last night. So was it a showstopper? In short, no. Salmond may have got flustered but he’s nothing if not dogged and took his licks before cleaning up on the oil question. And that’s why I do have a certain level of admiration for him: Whatever he’s selling, it’s probably a little hooky but he still gets people to buy it even if they themselves are aware that the goods are tainted. I also admire him for this photo of him pretending to be a rabbit (see Fig. 1).

alex salmond rabbit

Fig. 1

 

 

Ok, so we’ve got a ghoul, we’ve got a pumpkin, how about a witch? On the face of it, Margaret Curran should fill this slot rather well, given that she has a somewhat witchy face but in actual fact she seemed quite nice. I can’t really remember that much of what she said and none of it was especially brilliant but she does deserve credit for having a sense of humour and generally being quite reasonable on most matters. So yes, not your classic nasty witch, just a fairly nice person with slightly witchy features. However, the same cannot be said for Michael Moore as he did a bang up job of providing us with a Lurch like character, mainly through dint of being the most boring man to listen to in the entire world. Seriously, I checked my notes earlier as I have no recollection of what he was droning on about and all I found were random scribbles by his initials like “DON’T KNOW WHAT HE’S SAYING”, “CAN’T CONCENTRATE ON THIS PILLOCK” and “DEAR SWEET JESUS, KILL ME NOW”. What was apparent was that no-one liked him, Forsyth certainly wasn’t in the market for helping him out and he copped pretty much all of the flak directed at the coalition. Basically, he was powerfully boring and we probably would have had a better performance out of a reanimated corpse. Is that quite a harsh assessment? Yes. Is it also a fair assessment? Absolutely.

So that was the politicos and all we have left is Tom Hunter, a Scottish businessman who I’ve never come across before and is in possession of a very sinister set of eyebrows, thus completing our spooky line-up with some aplomb. Now, I’m not usually a fan of entrepreneurs and their ilk on QT as they usually tend to be a bit rabid and mental in a Tax Payers Alliance sort of way. However, I’ve got to say that I liked Hunter as while he did bang the business drum a fair bit, at least he did it in a jaunty and pleasant fashion. He also seems to be a little more rounded than your standard money types and although he didn’t get much of a look in last night, when he did it was usually with fairly reasonable stuff and with the odd bit of humour here and there. The eyebrows are still scary though and when they’re combined with that bald head he looks a little like a cross between Ming the Merciless and Colonel Kurtz. Jesus, that is scary.

Right, so that’s them and all that remains is the crowd, most of whom appeared to be Scottish, interested in oil and all for offing themselves as soon as they hit 60 (if the right to die question was anything to go by). Actually, I tell a partial lie as bizarrely enough, the member of the audience who made the most passionate appeal for Scottish independence was also the most English sounding person in the whole show. Don’t ask me, I just work here. A special mention also goes out to the doctor and nurse who had a running to-do over assisted suicide. Personally, I’m with the doctor although not through any major point of principle but mainly because he had a very natty jacket.

Tl;dr

Forsyth: 7/10

Undead

Salmond: 6/10

Unabashed

Curran: 5/10

Unabrasive

Moore: 3/10

Unfun

Hunter: 6/10

Unabused

The Crowd: 5/10

Understandable

So there you go, an Ok-ish show, littered with a bunch of people who can’t quite make their minds up about issues I have zero interest/stake in. Still, it could have been worse. It could have been Glasgow. At least I could physically decipher what these guys were saying and I didn’t have to hide behind the sofa for fear that the drunken mob may break through the television screen and smash-up my living room. Ok, after offending an entire nation, I’m off to enjoy not moving house.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #22


Speed QT Reporting...

Morning Lemmings. Slight change of format this week because as of now, I am officially on holiday and not just in a ‘me and Jalf are going to stay up all night hammering tf2 with our nerdy headsets on‘ type way but in a proper ‘I’ve got a week off work and I’m outta here!’ type way. So, as you can probably imagine, kicking off my jollies by feverishly slaving over a keyboard until gone midnight isn’t the most appealing prospect and as a result, tonight’s instalment of LCCPQTMR will be oh so short and oh so sweet. Go!

The Menu:

Q1. Since most people voted against the coalition, what mandate do they have for the cuts?

Q2. Should we have confidence in an Education Secretary who doesn’t check his own homework?

Q3. Do you agree with the US on the need for an inquiry into the Libyan prison release?

Q4. Should the withdrawal from Sangin be seen as a retreat?

Q5. Does holding the AV referendum on the same day as the Scottish elections conform to David Cameron’s ‘respect’ agenda?

In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland and generally unknown quantity.

Ahh, bless… Another generic LibDem n00b is sent out to soak up some punishment on behalf of their Brand New Best Friends/Dark Coalition Overlords. After the perfunctory Greece!/Debt!/Labours Mess!/Econogeddon! roll call it all went decidedly pear shaped as everyone with the exception of Forsyth tore a strip off him and kicked sand in his face. Boos ensued, attempts at a semblance of a defence floundered and he finished up looking very much worse for wear. Welcome to the Corridors of Power, Mike!

A ‘taking one for the (extended) team’ of a 4/10

In The Red Corner: Douglas Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development and card carrying Scottish Labour Mafia member.

Even though Wee Dougie looks like a miniature replica of an actual person, he did manage to make a better fist of this ‘opposition’ malarkey than Johnson did last week. Having said that, making Labour hay in Lothian isn’t exactly akin to mapping the genome or curing cancer, but it was a serviceable enough outing. Sticking closely to Labours’ post election Divide and Rule/Wind Up The Libs playbook, he got a few good claps in without ever once being in danger of looking charismatic. He also looks a little like Alan Titchmarsh. Just without all the smutty novels. I hope.

An even keeled 6/10

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Lord Forsyth, ex-Secretary of State for Scotland and Stone of Scone liberator.

He may be Scottish, but by God is he Tory. Making no pretence of being an unreconstructed Thatcherite, Forsyth used some wonderfully extravagant analogies to crank up the Deficit Scare Factor (‘1.3 trillion! 46’000 years at a pound a minute! 200 trips to the Moon and back!’) whilst standing idly aside as Mann was savagely mauled. His message didn’t exactly go down too well, but points are deserved for being brutally, unflinchingly true to his kind.

An unshakably contrary 5/10

In The Pale Yellow corner: Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister for Scotland and sidekick to Churchill The Insurance Dog.

The slightly tomboyish Nicola Sturgeon joins us once more, but this time the Blame Everything On Westminster ploy seems to have lost some of it’s magic. Whilst occasionally getting some crowd love here and there for the odd pop at her London based foes, she also came a cropper a number of times herself, notably on Q2. The last ditch tactic of squealing ‘Trident!’ was deployed a few times, but overuse made it look slightly iffy by the end. Also, why is that I can’t help thinking she was the captain of her school hockey team? Maybe it’s the eyebrows.

A slightly sketchy 4/10

In the I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Ed Byrne, comedian and….erh….comedian.

Ed Byrne has a propensity to annoy me with his lurking smugness that only just manages to partially submerge itself, but I must say I was quite rapt by his ‘Yay for Keynes!’ turn on Q1. It tailed off after that, but the crowd had made their minds and from their point of view, it was all fireworks and icecream when ever he opened his mouth. Good result for the hairy, specky one.

A crowd pleasing 7/10

The Crowd: Edinburgh

Given the truly inordinate levels of pantomime applause and booing in this episode, I had to check to make sure that I hadn’t gone back in time and arrived at the 16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party, Ed Byrne wasn’t Stalin and Michael Mann wasn’t a Troskyite Stooge. The odd thing was that when the camera panned out at the end of the show, it revealed the crowd to be tiny and for the most part, sober. So yes, it was a very busy affair and without a doubt, the Audience Member of Note goes to the weirdly androgynous ginger thing who told everyone to “get a grip” whilst looking to be on the verge of tears/death. Well done, that man/woman/whatever.

A fervid 8/10

Aaaaaaaaaand that’s it. I’m afraid next week’s LCCPQTMR is slightly up in air right now and is almost wholly dependent on whether my dear friend, the Megabus, gets me back home from my hols in time to watch the show. The ticket says it might, a tenner says it won’t. However, I can in full confidence say that normal service will definitely resume the week after and that’s just as well as it will be the last episode in the series. After that, I’m free! Free from Dimbers evil clutches to fill my Thursday and Friday nights with…erh…erh…. I’ll get back to you on that one.


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