Posts Tagged 'Mary Creagh'

Questionable Time #140


qt 140

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another supercalifragilisticexpialidocious edition of Questionable Time! It’s such a lovely sunny day outside, and yet you’re reading this. Good choice, sport!

IPSA me, Mario

We begin by duly noting the four women/one man ratio of this Thursday’s panel, which is definite cause for a warm-hearted cheer at how far society has come (or teary sniff, or excessive blowing of your nose). Unless you notice the actual issues discussed, that is – immigration, Europe, petty Labour bickering – which are, of course, as old as time itself.

Our first question is one of great, fist-shaking import: is an MPs’ pay rise justified considering George Osborne even now cackling and waving about a giant pair of comedy scissors in the general direction of the public sector? Up-and coming young turk Justine Greening says…nah. Forget if it’s ‘justified’ or not, the public hate this proposal so damn much that anyone even attempting to take the rise will get hung, drawn, and quartered by order of the Queen. Why don’t you vote it down then, says Dimbleby. Because we need to…’deal with’…IPSA, Justine replies menacingly. She came into politics not for the pay – but for the free wine and nibbles at events! Don’t you just love those little sausage thingies?

Mary CREAGHEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA steps up to the plate (sadly a plate with no sausages on it). She’s running for the Labour leadership, obviously, not that you’d know because she has about, ooh, four nominations? And they each need 35 to get on the ballot paper. Poor Mary. I met her once, and she offered me some of her chocolate brownie. So I can’t totally slate her. Last time she was on QT, she accused Russell Brand of sexism, so let’s see if she can pull it out of the bag now…she goes on to state that if the government can reject the independent pay review board for nurses then it can reject this! She gets some applause, but it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile, Susie ‘Fleet Street Fox’ Boniface is rambling on about headmasters and nurses – you know, the ‘people that people like’, according to Spitting Image. Norman Lamb does similarly, fightin’ for the rights of the werkers – like his competitor Tim Farron, he’s also angling for the leadership of the Lib Dems. Yes, that’s right – that now-statuesque role. Honestly, what is QT going to do with the Lib Dems now – cycle through their remaining eight MPs for a season and then give up? Oh dear. I suppose there’s always Shirley Williams, eh?

At the same time, Jill Kirby, Theresa May’s twin, is protesting why the pay rise powers were farmed out to IPSA in the first place. Interesting that a Thatcherite policy wonk wants to centralise power and not take it elsewhere, huh? Norman is appalled and shouts softly (ever so softly…like a little white-haired, bespectacled mouse) about how no other workplace lets its workers decide their own pay increases. Except if you’re a banker awarding yourself a nice bonus, that is. Trebles all round!

Looking like a true survivor feeling like a little quid (as opposed to a NASTY EURO)

Next up: Europe, and what sort of renegotiation would you like to see Dave bravely wring out of Juncker ‘n’ co at the top table. Jill is at least blankly honest and admits that she wouldn’t be satisfied with any deal. If anything, those Europoors should be begging to do deals with us! They should be grovelling at our feet, she outright implies, and not trifling with failures like Greece. They’re not allowed at our cool pool party any more. “We should be standing alone,” she declares, and the siren song of Elton John bursts into my head.

B-but they’ve given us cheaper roaming charges! says Susie ‘Fleet Foxes’ Boniface, helpfully forgetting everything else Europe has ever done at the worst possible moment. Way to go, Suse!

Then some people in the audience get into a fight about Romanians, or whatever. A Romanian doctor protests scapegoating, causing another man to blurt out that he has…wait for it…a Romanian friend. People around him chuckle merrily like medieval bards. “Why are you laughing?” he splutters. Oh Question Time, what a tangled web you weave!

As the panellists bicker over immigration/the free movement of labour/inspecting the specks of dust on the table, another brave soul from the crowd pipes up to remind us all of the original question. It was about what changes you’d like to see before the referendum, remember? Well, oops, no time for that now! We spent all our time on pointless mumbling, and there’s already another question incoming…

North Korea hacked my Neopets account

Will further cuts to the defence budget leave David Dimbleby a hollow shell of a man, faced with the prospect of repeating these same few questions over and over for the remainder of all time in the universe? On the plus side: more usage of the word ‘helicarrier’, which you have to admit just sounds cool.

We have no way of knowing what kind of wars will happen in the future, so they are by definition cutting in the dark, says Susie, surprisingly sensibly. Norman knows, however. “Cyber terrorism!” he blurts out (slightly more loudly), obviously just remembering that his password is ‘12345’ and that North Korean hackers are going to take over his email account.

Mary and Justine begin to bicker about exactly how many dollarydoos have been/should be put into the defence budget. They’re both in favour of further spending on the front line, but it’s hard to know who wins this bout – only that I’ve just noticed that Justine Greening looks like a garden gnome. You could definitely imagine her sitting with a tiny fishing rod next to a pond. Am I the only one who sees this? Look at this comparison shot – coincidence? I think not:

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Next, a more sombre question. What legacy will Charles Kennedy leave British politics?

Well, for one, he was a perennial Question (and Questionable) Time favourite, as David Dimbleby rightfully points out. The Question Time website has put up a small compilation of some of his 42 (!) appearances, which you can view here.

The other panellists agree – Mary says he had “poetry” in his language (something I imagine a lot of people want more of from the Labour leadership battle). Susie says we mustn’t let any more potential be wasted by the tragic illness that is alcoholism. Jill notes that most people think he was right about standing against the Iraq invasion, arguably his finest hour. Norman, who gave an emotional tribute in Parliament, was his PPS for a time – and concludes that he’ll be missed greatly as someone who could be honest and sincere in any sort of debate.

Unfortunately, we don’t end on this genuinely moving note. Back to mud-flinging, everyone! With our last question: what is the point of the Labour Party now?

Justine gets a chance to gleefully gloat, although her expression doesn’t evolve further than ‘scary scowl’. Mary, in an attempt to scramble together a few more nominations, bombastically expresses her belief that WE WORK TOGETHER, WE DIE TOGETHER. And redistribute some power and wealth in a mild social-democratic format. Hell yes, she’s tough enough!

Jill and Norman shake their heads – Jill making a none-to-subtle jibe about a certain extravagantly-belashed contender and Norman disagreeing with the union link. Well Norms, it’s a good job you joined the Liberal Democrats and not the Labour Party, then, eh?

Finally, an old man hijacks the show and praises his true messiah Clement Attlee. Mary gives a thumbs up (she named her son Clement, after all). Justine continues to scowl. Better wrap up before she gets any scowlier.

Time for the scores!

Greening: 7/10

(Looks like a garden) Gnome

Creagh: 7/10

(Far from) Home (and dry re: nominations)

Lamb: 6/10

(Has hair the colour of) Foam (and I realise now I may be stretching these rhymes a bit)

Boniface: 5/10

(The EU gives you lower) Roam(ing charges! Wa…hey?)

Kirby: 5/10

(Reading blankly from the Thatcherite) tome

The Crowd: 8/10

(When in) Rome

Next time: the one before they go to High Wycombe!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #118


qt 118
Good morrow lemmings and a very merry Dimblemas to you all! We’re in Canterbury for this edition, and lemme tell ya, it’s a real doozy. What even is a doozy. I don’t know. This is merely the first bout of confusion and distress you are no doubt about to experience in this week’s razzmatazz rendition of Questionable Time. Onwards!

There are actually more women on this panel than men, but who cares about that! It’s time to let the chaps speak for once. Where would we be without them

First up is a question about petty adversarialism. It is somewhat predictably answered by…petty adversarialism? Actually, no, for these are the five minutes at the beginning where everyone pretends to be ‘mature’ and ‘diplomatic’ before inevitably descending into the standard shit-slinging that goes on every week. When will they learn? At this point panellists shouldn’t even try to fight it, but should get their shit in early.

Panellist number one is Niggle Farridge. This is a man who needs no introduction, so I won’t give him one. He looks like the hhhehehe lizard of some internet repute. He also mentions that he experienced twenty years in business, which he no doubt spent most of heheheing. With, like, a cigar…and a pint…or whatever…yeah. Quality satire!

Panellist number deux is Russelly Wusselly. He has the wild hair and eyes of a discombobulated lion being poked in an illegal zoo. He calls ARE NIGE a ‘dude’ and then a ‘fella’ while bemoaning the state of absolutely everything. He gets a little too carried away about, oh…[checks watch] seven minutes in and Mary Creagheyyeyaaeyaaaeyaeyaa has to smack him down to remind him not to call women he doesn’t know ‘love’. Russell apologises. He is working on it. He tearfully tears away a page in his calender – it now reads ‘there have been 0 days since your last mildly sexist incident’. Tragic. And he was on such a winning streak.

Penny Mordaunt is also here. I have no idea why. She was plonked on immediately after her truth-or-dare swearing in Parliament fiasco, where she made copious references to a rooster, as I seem to recall. Apart from this COCKsure upstart (look ma, I can demean democracy too!) we also are in the presence of Camilla Cavendish, Times columnist, who will be performing the role of ‘obligatory even-handed journalist type’ for the duration of tonight’s programme. Riveting!

Speaking of swearing, Nigel waxes lyrical about Australia – not just their immigration policies but the way they all flip each other off in the chamber. Meanwhile, in contrast, Penny continues to be boring. ‘There are many great debates in Parliament’, she says, or something like that. I don’t remember. Probably not any of the ones she was in. Unless she started going on about poultry again.

I think it was here my troubles began

The next question is when people clearly started to hallucinate due to the spiked QT sandwiches. It’s about overcrowding – Nigel agrees that we are far too full, like post-Christmas dinner bloat, and it’s for that reason he can’t get anywhere on the motorway.

Dimbleby turns his head. It is time for a response.

…Does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that Russell Brand is not a great fan of Nigel Farage? There’s only one way to find out: FIIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTT!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

While Russell declares Nigel to be the biggest meanest rotten old racist in the world, Nigel bites back by rolling his eyes – but not even with any particular malice, which is just rude, to be honest. At least give me some classic insults to work with here. Russell even comes out with an admittedly great line about Nigel being a ‘pound shop Enoch Powell’ which I predict will be all over Twitter graphics in the weeks ahead. He even reads a teeny tiny pre-prepared note, which is quite cute, and tries to get the other panellists to acknowledge some rather alarming statistics, which they of course all valiantly fail to do. Nigel even chortles and shakes his head along the way! OMG, rude! Look, I don’t care if you also think Russell is being rude, this is exactly the kind of petty adversarialism you all tutted about ten minutes ago. Somebody please take the moral high-ground, quick.

But apparently this was not to be. Two audience members almost get in an actual, real-life fight. A Kippery sort of gentleman rails against Russ – apparently in order to campaign for/against anything you have to actually get elected to Parliament first, so I guess we should all start working on our election pledges – before a woman in the back row goes for him. And I mean freakin’ goes for him.

‘ES A RACIST

‘ES NOT

I’M COMING FOR YOU FARAGE

What does it mean to truly live a life?

This woman is bafflingly not escorted out of the premises, but needless to say a great many Kipper Komplaints to the BBC were made tonight as well as many warm-throated drunken student cheers. Grievous Bodily Harm Woman is now a living legend in the making. I’m A Celebrity 2015 awaits.

Camilla calms us all down, and Mary mentions Labour balancing the books or whatever new wacky catchphrase they’re trying to force now. Nigel thinks Labour are a bunch of WEAK BABIES. Then GBH woman interrupts another person, who was going on about vetting and not the type that has kittens.

David Dimbleby is clutching his head in pain.

Where are the Lib Dems? Crying in a corner

Time for some NHS screeching! Hooray!

Mary mentions the Conservative and Lib Dem health bill – wait a minute, there aren’t any Lib Dems on the panel for her to point the finger at. Where are they, anyway? Well, someone had to get kicked in order to make room for Ye Blessed Nige. Sorry Libdibs, that’s life!

What is privatisation? We just don’t know. Dimbles repeats something the Lib Dems pulled out of their bums about a privatised hospital which still had an NHS bid in the running when Labour left office. I mean that’s not the greatest argument in the world, sure, but it is in fact an argument. This is something more than Camilla can do, who doubts that proper privatisation exists ever and that it’s not so bad even if it did. Even Nigel disagrees, what with his new MP posse voting for the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act in a recent debate ‘n’ all. The whole ‘looking at different systems’ thing was just an idle daydream he had one day. Like a homosexual fling at university, he’s over that shit now.

After Russell’s brief drift into becoming a werewolf earlier in the programme, he’s back to acting sensible again. He points out some more figures, which he’s becoming surprisingly adept at doing, about the 70-odd MPs who stand to gain from the privatisation that definitely isn’t happening. Penny reminds us all about how much she cares about a four letter word staring with c: care. An old man in the audience then raises the subject of NHS workers’ pay being crapola while MPs dance naked under golden champagne fountains. “I completely understand that,” says Penny, to general giggles.

Five minutes remain, which is apparently enough time to tackle the subject of grammar schools. Russell answers with something entertaining but off-topic, while the others try for boring but on-topic. Nigel of course is in favour of bringing grammars back, because they are apparently completely classless and 100% meritocratic. Heckus yeckus.

Meanwhile: Penny sends us back to sleep, Camilla demonstrates middle-of-the-roadism to an almost unbelievable degree, and Mary is basically your sensible aunt trying to soothe the array of crying children back into watching Frozen for the 357th time. The usual holiday cheer.

Then it ends.

Thank you. Thank you for ending.

(Immediately afterwards there’s an advert for a programme on drugs starring…Russell Brand. Looks interesting actually. More interesting than this programme.)

Time for the scores, and they’re a little special this week to celebrate the sheer ridiculousness of this episode and to prevent Nigel Farage’s fanboy fraternity from coming after me with torches and tweets.

Farage: Bathtub/10

(His party is no longer) Small

Mordaunt: Wombat/10

(Good at) Stall(ing with naughty words)

Creagh: Space Jam/10

(In for the long) Haul

Cavendish: π/10

(Has an unchallenging type of) Drawl

Brand: Heat death of the universe/10

(Gawd bless ‘im,) Y’all

The Crowd: 10/10

(All-out) Brawl

We’ll be back on the 8th January for some more Dimbletastic fun. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Season’s Bleatings from all of us here at Questionable Time! Do let us (that is to say, me) know what you thought of this first run under new management. If I suck, I’ll go and retire like Gordon Brown and make a mint on after-dinner speeches. It’s the honourable way.

Next year Lemmings, next year…

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…


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