Posts Tagged 'Nadine Dorries'

Questionable Time #83


questionable time 83 david dimbleby toes

Good morning Lemmings and assuming you and your homestead haven’t fallen victim to the Great Sogginess (it used to be called ‘Christmas’), welcome back to Questionable Time. So, where are we? What’s going on? Who are these people? Why is that bald man waving a credit card around and when did Lewisham became the QT equivalent of a squat party? Well, I’d be lying if I said I knew but let’s just pretend that I do and indulge in some wild speculation.

Letdown #1: It makes me sad when Nad isn’t that mad…

…Because there’s so much potential there that it just seems like a crying shame when she makes it through an hour without saying something completely beyond the pale. It’s also especially galling in this instance as her opening (complete with grumpy chunterings about how she had to go first) was so off the Blue Team’s message that she looked like a shoe-in for a meltdown. Proposed Tory plans for the welfare state? Codswallop and balderdash! The mansion tax? Bloody good idea! Whose side are you actually on Nad? I have no idea! Perhaps aware that this wasn’t the best way to curry favour with her colleagues she then tried to make up for it by appending the phrase “Vote Conservative!” to the back-end of every sentence she uttered in the immigration question but her new-found enthusiasm sounded a little odd next to content that might as well have been lifted straight from UKIP manifesto (and by ‘manifesto’ I actually mean a colouring book where the only available colour is white).

So that bade well right? She was on the Mel-P trajectory and all that was really needed was a final push in order to truly unleash the crazy. The problem was that the final push never came and in truth, it never does on QT because despite all the headlines and bluster Nadine is essentially quite normal. “Normal?” you say “The woman who ate sheep’s testicles in the jungle and wrote an official looking blog that later turned out to be “70% fiction”? This is normal now?”. Well, alright the testicles thing was pretty weird but if you look at her background she really is just a regular person with a clutch of fairly normal right-wing values who grew up in common-garden circumstances and held down a standard issue job. What makes her look odd is the company she keeps – the Blue Team don’t do ‘normal’ in the literal sense of the word so she always ends up looking like the oddest clam on the beach when in fact it’s actually the other way round.

Anyway, all this is by-the-by as the end result is still the same: Rather than going off the handle, Dorries sort of held it together in a somewhat tetchy fashion and made it to the end without incensing everyone in a ten-mile radius. Two miles maybe, but the full ten? Disappointingly, no.

Letdown #2: Norm is also normal.

So it turns out that Norman Baker – the Lib Dem’s conspiracy theorist in chief who inexplicably landed in the Home Office after poor old Jeremy Brown and his panda were told to vacate the premises for no good reason whatsoever – is in a band. My initial reaction to this discovery was along the lines of ‘please say it’s some widdly-widdly Rush-like space noodling outfit’ but again my hopes have been dashed. No, after spending an afternoon where I effectively doubled The Reform Club’s Youtube views it’s my sad duty to report that far from belonging to some avant-garde exercise in sounds that only dolphins can hear, Norm’s band are instead the sort of pub rock ensemble that requires the audience to wear waistcoats, make a fuss about real ale and trade anecdotes about how they once saw Van Morrision arguing with a bus stop (see Fig. 1).

norman baker geddy lee

Fig. 1

I bring this up because like Dorries, Baker should – what with his clutch of niche causes and nose for the untoward – be a QT star, yet his performance was so quietly mundane that you often struggled to remember that he was actually there. I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on him as his whole appointment to the Home Office does smack of an exercise in giving him enough rope to hang himself with but really Norm, a little more weird wouldn’t go amiss.

Paul Nuttall and Lewisham: A match made somewhere other than Heaven.

UKIP seemed to be on to a winner during the last run of QT: Put the frighteningly sane Dianne James on whenever it’s a southern based marginal, Nuttall for anything north of Stafford that’s near a motorway and Farage for all other occasions. It was working because Nuttall’s brand of ‘ordinary bloke saying what we’re all thinking’ works really well in those towns which would never in a million years vote Tory yet have also fallen spectacuarly out of love with the Red Team (your Blackburns, Darwins and Stokes). But the same trick doesn’t work when you transpose it to screamingly Right On and cosmopolitan Lewisham. No, you just end up looking like that weird guy who a friend brought to your birthday party and then promptly abandoned when he started shouting about Romanians. Hard luck Paul, back up the M6 you go…

Where’s this Chuka been all my life?

Another week, another chance for me to wheel out my standard charge sheet against Chuka Umunna – mainly that everything he says comes across as stilted, over-rehearsed and lacking any real fire – except that I’m not going to this week. Instead I’m going to give the him a gold star for acting like an actual human being with his response to the Mark Duggan question. It was great – thoughtful, considered and most of all genuine. True, this was his episode to throw away given just how bloody tribal the Lewisham crowd are and there were periods where he lapsed back into his default position of regurgitating the latest policy brief but I’m going let that slide if only because it was nice to see that he is capable of displaying tangible emotions rather than his regular schtick of rhetorical box ticking.

And the winner of Best Newcomer 2014 goes to…

…Susie Boniface, aka the Fleet Street Fox. Alright, so it’s not exactly a crowded field when it comes to dishing out that award but her factual ducks were presented in a tidy row, the delivery was firm without being self-righteous and she really did make Paul Nuttall look like a bit of a tit. Winner winner chicken dinner!

Tl;dr

Baker: (Sub)dued

4/10

Dorries: (Less) booed (than expected)

4/10

Umunna: (Judged the) Mood (just right)

7/10

Nuttall: (Is) Screwed (south of the Potteries)

4/10

Boniface: (Is clearly a) Shrewd (cookie)

8/10

The Crowd: (Spend most of their time in the) Nude?

5/10

And so our story ends but not before I have a slight dig at the crowd for giving the Biased BBC brigade enough ammunition to keep them in bitter sounding blog posts for the next year. Oh well. Can’t have it all I guess. Right, I’m off to quietly weep about how few people want to buy t-shirts in January. Seriously guys, buy t-shirts… They’ll be the only dry clothes you get until at least August.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #47


Questionable time 47 david dimbleby weather map

Good morning Lemmings and well done: You have (I assume) survived the Mayan apocalypse, navigated your way through the choppy waters of Christmas and somehow safely emerged into the cold light of 2013. You must be very proud. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends as the Christmas truce is over and now it’s back to the relentless, maddening grind that is Question Time. Yeah, I know, those three Thursday nights where you weren’t screaming at the telly were cherished moments, free from rancour and strife but they could never last, not in a month of Sundays. No, all we can do now is huddle in our foxholes and hope for the best as the opening volleys of the new year do their ghastly work. Welcome back Lemmings, it’s time to get questionable.

I see two figures grappling in the wilderness…

The wilderness isn’t a great place to be. It’s barren. It’s featureless. It doesn’t even have a Greggs, but – for his sins – this is where John Prescott has been exiled to. The reasons for his banishment are simple enough: With the collapse of the Blair-Brown project there’s no longer a need for a figure who spanned the gap between New and Old Labour and as a consequence, John Prescott has ceased to be useful. In fact, he probably ceased being useful quite a while back (the PCC elections were pretty much his last roll of the dice) but last night provided him with yet another chance to prove his worth.

So did he? In a word, ‘no’. The problem with Prescott is that he physically embodies all the properties of the phrase ‘gravy train’ and serves as a walking reminder to voters of why exactly they fell out with New Labour in the first place. Sure, in terms of pure rhetorical pugilism he’s still able to go the distance (too far a distance if Dimber’s constant telling off’s are anything to go by) but this can’t mask the fact that he’s deeply tainted – to the point of toxicity – by all the murkier parts of New Labour’s legacy. All the wars, the cosiness with the city, the cahoots that were gotten into, they all required a little bit of John Prescott and for that reason he’s just too culpable to be useful any more. So hard lines John, it looks like you’re set to roam the wilderness for the time being. Unless of course you punch someone. That’s tended to work in the past.

As it happens Prescott wasn’t alone last night as there was another panelist trying to find her way out of the political tundra and that panelist was Nadine Dorries. Now, Dorries has been excommunicated not on account of her utility but for her dangerousness. Her problem is a) she’s mad as a box of frogs, b) the press know she’s mad as a box of frogs and indulge her more than your Common Garden Backbencher and c) she gave her party a cast-iron excuse to remove the whip by going on IACGMOOH. However, it must be said that in terms of escape plans, last night was pretty good. For a start, she reined in some of her battier tendencies and refused to be drawn into matters like her stance on abortion and she also made a relatively (‘relative’ being the operative word) good fist of the ‘do politicians court celebrity?’ question. Alright, so it wasn’t a stellar performance but given that she’s the most divisive of figures who was at the mercy of a crowd all hopped up on local hospital closures, it could have been worse. My prediction? She’ll be back in the tent before too long. Why? Because last night proved that she can hold it in when she needs to… Or at least long enough to get to the to flap and aim outwards.

I’m becoming oddly attached to Ed Davey…

Here he is, the Adult In The Room. You may not have noticed it – what with all the panto shenanigans of Prescott and Dorries – but there was an actual politician on the show last night, the sort of politician who takes his job very seriously and the sort who if he finishes all his allotted tasks on time may just celebrate by having an extra Digestive before going to bed. Ok, that was cruel (particularly in light of how well boned up on Lewisham’s ongoing hospital woes he was) and I feel bad for mocking Ed Davey because he’s exactly the sort of politician we say we all want – diligent, committed and in it because ‘someone has to’ – yet automatically pick on because they seem a little…. well… square. Consequently, I find myself becoming rather attached to Ed Davey in the same way I’m attached to my toaster: My world wouldn’t fall apart if they/it went missing but things would seem marginally trickier in their absence.

John Bird would get me as far as Burton-on-Trent…

So, what to say about John Bird, founder of The Big Issue and self-styled “working class Marxist Tory”? Well, on the one hand he was great: Outspoken, assured and with the back story to back it up but on the other, he failed the Exeter St. David’s to Leeds test. For the uninitiated (which is all of you) this is a hypothetical hoop I throw people through when I’m not 100% sure of our long-term compatibility: At what point on that train journey would I be secretly wishing that I could just listen to my iPod? In the case of Bird I reckon we’d have a fine – nay, cracking time – until about Cheltenham Spa. We’d talk, I’d find his bafflingly contradictory political self-definition intriguing and we’d even go so far as to crack open a spur-of-the-moment tinny. This state of affairs would persist until about Birmingham New Street. By then his innate confidence would start to irk me, the beer would have left me with a cotton mouth and the conversation would start taking on a very one-sided aspect. By Burton-on-Trent, I’d have broken and sloped off to another carriage under the pretext of a toilet break. I’m not proud of the above but it’s better that we’re honest about these things.

Camilla Cavendish should ask for her money back…

It must be gutting: You get on QT, start saying a bunch of fairly reasonable things, find your stride and then BAM! You get cut off. That was pretty much how it panned out for Cavendish and while my gut tells me that she seems pretty legit, I never really got the chance to find out. I did, however, discover that not only did an audience member look vaguely like me, he was also wearing the exact same outfit. Thanks for freaking me out, you massive imposter (see Fig. 1)!

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

 

Tl;dr

Davey: 6/10

Dependable

Prescott: 4/10

Expendable

Dorries: 5/10

Extendable

Bird: 7/10

Amendable

Cavendish: 6/10

Commendable

The Crowd: 7/10

Bendable?

So there it is: A nicely gee’d-up little romp aided and abetted by a crowd all stoked on local issues. Now here’s a goofy pshop of Nadine Dorries being chased by a shark while John Prescott looks casually looks on. I made it when I was sure that Prezzer was going to trounce Dorries. Oh, hindsight… What chaos have you wrought? (See Fig. 2)

nadine dories shark john prescott

Fig. 2

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #9


 

questionable time 9 david dimbleby italyGood morning Lemmings and welcome back? If that greeting doesn’t sound particularly resounding it is because last night’s episode was so dull that I’ll be genuinely surprised if anyone who watched the whole thing can summon the will to actually get out of bed today, let alone operate a computer. Seriously, I had to check my wrist to see if I still had a pulse about twenty minutes in and even this morning I still feel as if I’m on the edge of lapsing into a coma. Still, here we are so lets at least make the pretence of a go at it.

Ok, so the first indication I got that this wasn’t going to be a particularly riveting affair was when I saw the line-up and noted that none of the panelists had even the remotest connection with Newcastle. Granted, this isn’t necessarily a kiss of death but when combined with the fact that the civilian panel members were a neuroscientist and the editor of a Jewish newspaper in a week which has been neither very neurosciencey nor Jewishy, things start to look a little ominous. Still, there was a glimmer of hope that there may be some fireworks and that dull flicker came in the form of the ever-excitable Nadine Dorries. Surely a woman who is basically a moral panic generator (that is when she’s not too busy fibbing on her blog or crashing mini-tractors… See Fig. 1) can spice things up a bit? Wrong! To my shock and consternation, Dorries turned out to be pretty much a picture of restraint last night and despite wearing the largest poppy known to man she still managed to fall far short of her usually howling mad presentation.

nadine-dorries-tractor-gif

That was a bitter pill to swallow but I still had one iron left in the fire, a position filled by sad-eyed and harsh-voiced Labour Treasury bod Rachel Reeves. Tipped as one to watch and a woman whose star is presently on the rise, I was very much hoping that she could drive an armoured division of economic arguments straight through the coalition’s rather wobbly front line and on to the Wide Open Plains of Question Time Glory. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was quite how annoyingly good Michael Moore (a man whose head appears to be clamped into a permafrown by an invisible vice) is in defence. Now, when I say ‘good’, please don’t take that to mean anything in the realm of ‘exciting’ or ‘interesting’ because he wasn’t: In fact, Moore’s strategy seems to largely consist of checking the opposition by dragging the fight into the Tangled Thicket of Policy Detail and thus pin them into a very a narrow and frankly boring debate about how many Border Agency devils you can fit upon a Pilot Scheme Gone Wrong matchhead. To the extent that it denied Reeves the room to manoeuvre this little play was a resounding success but in terms of entertainment it was the equivalent eating Weetabix with no milk (or sugar).

So with Reeves unable to gain any real traction and Dorries on her best behaviour the only remaining hope that any good could come of this episode was left to Professor Colin Blakemore and Steven Pollard, both of who I considered to be long shots given that their day jobs weren’t exactly laden with topical potential. Ok, so it was occasionally entertaining to see Pollard get a little frothy about imagined terrorists in our midst/the virtues of Rupert Murdoch and Blakemore seems a reasonable enough bloke, but neither seemed that relevant to the debate and both were unable to provide anything more than a brief respite from the otherwise grindingly dull main event.

But it wasn’t just the panel that were the problem: It was also the nature of the questions that were at fault. Now, as you can probably deduce from the picture at the top of this post, I was pretty sure that Italy was going to be the pressing issues in this episode. And well I may have as the present woes of our Latin cousins marks the point at which this Euro crisis starts getting very real, very quickly and while I accept that the run up has been formidably long and drawn out, we’re now at the stage when the roller coaster stops its click-clack ascent and plunges us several hundred feet downwards at an eye-watering rate of knots. Remember when the world lost its head in 2008 and everything seemed to be seconds away from falling apart? Well that’s like the teacup ride compared to what this bad boy could have in store for us. Yet when this issue did finally raise its head it was wrapped up in the context of regional development and what should have been a serious discussion about impending economic doom turned into rallying point for the champions of that most totemic of causes, The Dualling of the A1. Ok, so there was a semi-interesting moment when some woman started calling Michael Moore a liar but seriously guys, do we have not slightly more substantial fish to fry? As for the rest of the questions, well the Borders Agency row could have gone somewhere if anyone had the slightest clue what’s going on with that at the moment while the whole poppy affair largely turned into a ‘don’t we love the troops?’ circlejerk. All-in-all a pretty ropey affair.

And the crowd themselves? Well, I suppose they did have the odd outburst every once in a while and watching a guy who was clearly doing his Movember best ask a question about computer games was fun in the sense that it reinforced just about every stereotype one could hold about checked shirt wearing do-gooders but in the main it was a pretty flat and tepid affair. Not that it was entirely their fault… I mean what exactly do you ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when you happen to be sitting in Newcastle? Please don’t annex Berwick-upon-Tweed?

Tl;dr

Dorries: 5/10

File under ‘S’ for ‘Sedate’

Reeves: 5/10

File under ‘T’ for ‘Thwarted’

Moore: 4/10

File under ‘U’ for ‘Uninspiring’

Blakemore: 5/10

File under ‘P’ for ‘Personable’

Pollard: 4/10

File under ‘I’ for ‘In Constant Fear of Terrorists’

The Crowd: 4/10

File under ‘D’ for ‘Downbeat’

Hey, that spells ‘STUPID’! That’s an acrostic. Stephen Pollard knows about acrostics.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #33


Morning Lemmings and gentle Jesus am I cold. Basically, my heating went on the fritz two weeks ago and despite pleading/shouting/going absolutely mental with the lettings agency, it is still knackered. As a result, my fridge is now like a crap oven that keeps my food a few degrees above room temperature, the gas hob is now my central heating and I think I can hear wolves in the garden. In short, it sucks.

 

Despite this though I soldier on, braving frostbite and hypothermia to bring you your weekly dose of post-Question Time nonsense. All I can say is that it’s a good bloody job I started growing my beard out in August this year. Onwards…

 

The Menu

Q1: Did the BBC Panorama special wreck England’s World Cup chances?

Q2: Does the possibility of the LibDems abstaining make up for their broken pledge on fees?

Q3: Is it fair that we have educational apartheid with Welsh and Scottish students paying less than English ones?

Q4: Do you agree with Hilary Clinton that Wikileaks is a threat to the United States?

Q5: Given that it was forecast, why has snow bought us to a stop?

Q6: Is it better to be a child of Thatcher or the son of Brown?

Q7: Figures released today show that MP’s claimed £3.1 million in expenses. Is this a step in the right direction?

In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and all-round whipping boy.

Remember how I said last week that Ken Clarke is the kid in the playground who inexplicably doesn’t get bullied? Well, Danny Alexander is the kid who very explicably does. Part of this is due to circumstance as poor old Danny is the unfortunate LibDem who has to carry the can for the cuts (see Fig.1) but the other side of it is that he has a face who’s default position is Imminent Foreboding and more advanced settings include Impending Doom, Anticipated Calamity and Outright Fear. Given that Westminster is pretty much a giant playground, these are not good facial settings to possess and I have visions of MP’s of all strains forming an orderly queue outside his office with the intention of stealing his football sticker/giving him a wedgy/calling him a “ginger rodent”. Basically, the guy is a walking ‘Kick Me’ sign, none of which bodes well for a Question Time appearance on a week when students who voted LibDem are going absolutely ape shit about tuition fees. Tough break Danny, tough break.

Cough up, Ginger!

Fig. 2

Actually, I have to say that he did much better than I was expecting and even managed to garner a few laughs with a joke about Scotland beating England in Q1, but this clement weather didn’t last long as he found himself in much choppier conditions on Q’s 2 and 3. Obviously, he was going to be Jonny On The Spot with regards to anything fees related and as soon as Q2 landed you could see his face creeping back into its default position as he desperately tried to square the circle of why he thought fees are ace but might not vote for them. Sure enough, the familiar orderly queue formed up with Sergeant first in line to call the whole shebang “pathetic” and an audience member hovered behind him, getting ready to deploy his “Shame on you, shame on you for turning blue” chant. I was personally heartened by this turn of events as I’d very much like to see more chanting in QT but for Danny it was the precursor to a facial lapse into Impending Doom territory as a last-ditch attempt to rescue the situation and cast the policy as “progressive” ended up producing some fairly ugly noises from the audience. He seemed to fair a slightly better in Q3 (in that no one poked his eye out with a pitchfork) but he also made the fatal error of personally pissing me off by invoking a very dodgy vignette that has being doing the rounds in Westminster of late. Excuse me while I digress for a second (and advanced apologise for the heavy use of Caps Lock you are about to witness):

During Q3 Alexander used the example of the graduate who gets a job as a care work and earns £20k a year. When I graduate, I also became a care worker and was paid the princely some of £10k a year for working in what was one of the most literally shitty and distressing jobs you can possibly imagine. 8 years later, I still work in the field, am considered to be pretty good at what I do and have advanced through the ranks to earn a, you guessed it, £20k a year, despite an unblemished record and having gained post-graduate qualifications (through work) in this time. I realise that the £10k figure is rather old but I can assure you that the starting salary for anyone in my line of work, degree or no degree, is very much around the minimum wage. So tell me Danny (and Miliband… he also mentioned the 20k Care Worker earlier this week), TELL ME WHO THIS MYTHICAL 20K CARE WORKER IS, BECAUSE I’D LOVE KNOW SO I COULD FIND OUT HOW IN GODS NAME S/HE ACHIEVED SUCH A THING. Westminster, stop with this folly and at least give us the basic courtesy of acknowledging that you pay the people who pick up the pieces in society appalling. Fair warning given, rant over.

Right, back on track. The rest of Alexander’s performance was pretty subdued and his brief flurry of applause for bashing Gordon Brown in Q6 was perfectly offset by a failed joke about the Highlands being unable to deal with sunshine or somesuch twaddle in Q5. Now, if this had been anyone other than Danny Alexander, I’d probably be inclined to dish out some fairly poor marks because it was hardly a blazing turn. But considering that he’s probably one of the most vulnerable politicians in the whole country right now, I won’t and all things considered, I have to say I’m quietly impressed. Sure, Nadine Dorries played the role of unabashed villain with considerable vim, soaking up a fair but of hate along the way but still, he managed to leave the studio without someone Tipexing ‘DICKHEAD’ on his satchel and that is actually quite an achievement. So well done Danny, you get an above average mark and a fleeting taste of dignity.

An expectation defying 6/10

In The Red Corner: Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London and self confessed reptile nut.

Ok, first off, what the hell is Ken Livingstone doing in Coventry? I know Labour are all at sea at the moment, but seriously, a former Mayor of London is the best you can do? To shame. Anyhoo, the Newt King is back and there really isn’t that much to say because it was an entirely predictable display in Livingstoneism: 50% populist rhetoric, 30% semi-valid points and 20% lingering smugness. That’s not say I’m completely anti-Ken as I do quite enjoy the way he pops up from time-to-time with the sole intention of annoying someone or throwing a spanner into whatever works look like they may need a spanner throwing into but I just found it quite hard to pick out the relevance of him being on the show last night. Rather than going into detail, let’s see how the various elements of Livingstoneism were doled out last night.

Populist Rhetoric:

His ‘Tories “pulling up the ladder”’ line (although that was also semi-valid).

A pop at MSP’s and AM’s for bossing the English around.

“Ordinary people” paying for the recession (also semi-valid, but delivered rhetorically and in a populist fashion)

Semi-valid:

His ‘the Beeb could have waited a couple of days’ point.

Pointing out that the Olympics managed to are fairly uncorrupt so it’s not unimaginable that FIFA couldn’t be sorted out.

Lingering Smugness:

Repeated inferences that he pretty much won the Olympic bid single-handedly

Now, if I’m not mistakes, those responses seem to mirror the above stated proportions of Livingstoneism pretty faithful and I hereby declare my Theory of The Constitutional Proportion and Functional Units of Livingstoneism to be absolutely watertight. Goddamn I’m good. Next!

Ken, innit? 5/10

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue Yellow Corner: Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire and self confessed blog fibber.

Now this is a strange specimen we have right here and one that defies the usual process of categorisation as on the one hand, she looks very Notting Hill Hugs And Cuddles New Tory whilst her history and record hint far more at On Your Bike And Hard Work Never Did Me Any Harm Old Tory. On the Notting Hill front, she ticks the boxes by dint of looking fairly approachable, having founded her own start-up at one point and generally engaging in non-Old School activities such as blogging (even if 70% of it is “fiction”). However, a brief look at her track record soon puts paid to any notions of The New Politics and what we find is a Hardcore Tory in Fair Trade clothing. Consider the following: Heavy campaigning for limiting abortion, feathers spat over all women shortlists, expenses jiggery-pokery and some fairly hardline attitudes towards benefit claiments. However, the real kicker in the Old School hypothesis is that she’s a member of the Cornerstone Group, a Tory faction dedicated to all things hardcore (their motto is Faith, Flag and Family). So yes, ignore the outward appearance as what we have here is a Proper Tory, red in tooth and claw.

In practice, this lead to a fairly scrappy affair with a whole-loada-nothin on Q1, much talk of being “proud” of the coalition in Q2 and some very ropey evasion at the start of Q3. However, it was in Q4 where her true colours began to shine through when she had an almighty go at students for not valuing education, not taking “proper courses” and generally being a burden on taxpayers. Thusly did the booing begin. The other thing that caught my attention were her rather frightening paeans to Thatcher, one of which was inexplicably crowbarred into the Wikileaks question. However, the real doozy was when she used Q6 as a platform to do the ‘my mum lived in a council estate’ routine which climaxed with the immortal line “I am truly a daughter of Thatcher and immensely proud of it!”. Dammit Nadine! Have you not talked to anyone normal since 1990?! You might as well have called yourself a Sister of Mugabe for all the good it would do you. So yeah, she deserved her boos on that one.

So that was her and I’m left with the lingering sense of someone who is trouble, full stop. Admittedly, she did a show a bit of conviction which is nice to see once in a while but if I was Andy Coulson, I’d have a full-time minder following Dorries 24/7 with strict orders to chloroform her should there be any risk of her speaking her mind. Actually, if I was Andy Coulson, I’d probably be better off making contingency plans for a hasty trip to a country that we don’t have an extradition treaty with, but that’s a different matter all together.

A ticking bomb of a 4/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Christopher Meyer, former Ambassador to the United States and post career tell-tale.

A few weeks back, I mentioned how diplomats tend to fall into the either the Fererro Rocher category or the hard-bitten, Graham Greene type bracket. Well, I’m afraid to say that I’m about to knacker my own theory as Christopher Meyer doesn’t seem to fit either, largely because he comes across as so emphatic. This is largely down to his delivery as some of the things he says are fairly nuanced, but the way in which he says them always makes them sound like cast-iron opinions and that’s not necessarily something you want in a diplomat. The other thing with Meyer is that he is definitely on the ‘Ho-ho’ side of the ‘Ha-ha/Ho-ho’ argument. I realise that the last sentence doesn’t make a lick of sense, so allow me to expand: When I’m taking notes for this and someone says something genuinely funny, I tend to mark a little ‘Ha-ha’ next to whatever they said. However, whenever Meyer came out with anything that drew a chuckle, I couldn’t quite bring myself to write a ‘Ha-ha’ as it just didn’t seem to fit. No, a ‘ha-ha’ is an involuntary thing. You ‘ha’ because you can’t help it. A ‘ho’ by contrast is something you do because you think you should or because social etiquette demands it. His “in all good bookstores” and his epic “you’re not dancing now” remark to John Sergeant probably were ‘ha-ha’ moments, but the rest of his quips (and there were many) all seemed just a little too prefabricated and pointed to be anything other ‘ho-ho’s’. Content wise, it was decent enough and his point about collective responsibility in Q2 was well received, but you always got the feeling that he probably put far too much effort into playing the Realpolitik Diplomat Extraordinaire act, especially when he started casting some very shady aspersions about Russia and FIFA in Q1. So yes, he wasn’t bad but I like my diplomats to be, well, a bit more diplomatic and I also don’t like it when a theory I up made about diplomats is rendered obsolete two weeks later. Points off for making me look stupid!

A heavy footed 5/10

 

In The ‘I’m The Funny One’/Just Like You Corner: John Sergeant, ex-Beeb political correspondent and Strictly stick-in-the-mud.

I hate Strictly. I hate Strictly because it’s about dancing and I hate dancing with a passion as it serves no purpose other than to make me feel intensely embarrassed if I ever find myself in a situation that might require me to engage in the act of dancing. Ever wondered why guitar based genres of rock are so popular with white males who have little coordination? Well, here’s your answer: It’s because dancing is bollocks. That should naturally lead me to have an instant disdain for John Sergeant but it doesn’t because a) I have fond memories of growing up and marvelling at how a man with a face like his could ever a appear on TV, b) I hear he upset a lot of people on Strictly by dint of being a crap dancer and c) I like to think that him and Dimbers may one day share a tender waltz together (see Fig. 2).

Fig. 2

Aside from that, it’s also hard to dislike John Sergeant as he has a wonderfully benign manner which can be deployed as a highly effective cover for some absolutely blistering attacks such as he previously mentioned stab at Alexander in Q2. However, he walks a fine line as he can sometimes be a little naughty and abuse these powers, not in downright nasty way, but enough to conjure up a whiff of malevolence. I’m struggling to find a concrete example from the show last night, but I did get the feeling that he was fighting the urge to really lay into another panelist whilst projecting the image of a kindly soul who probably spends his weekends taking orphans on steam train rides. Oh, and a rather liked the somewhat bewildering vision of a Terminatoresque scenario he came out with in Q4 and involved humanity being enslaved by computers. He also somehow managed to work Lady Gaga into one that as well. Don’t ask me how, I just work here.

 

A largely affable 6/10

 

The Crowd: Coventry

Good crowd, this lot. There was plenty of cheers, plenty of boos, a nice audience member quip about whether the Tories were giving the LibDems slack or enough rope to hang themselves and of course, a chanting solo! That sure as hell ticks a lot of my boxes. Politically, it was a little odd as Labour weren’t exactly represented but the overall tone was that the students are winning. Sure, the counter argument did find some support, but the crowd seemed very much behind the anti-fees brigade and the subject provoked the fiercest responses.

 

Unfortunately, the standard of audience member’s names falls short of last week’s giddy highs (the best I can do you is Zoe Organ… Interesting, but no Mark Power) and yet again no bow ties. However, this should take away from a busy (seven questions) and somewhat boisterous episode despite no real stellar performances from the panel. Nice work Coventry. Continue apace.

 

A noisy 7/10

 

Right, cobblers to this for a game of soldiers, I’m bloody freezing and the monitor needs de-icing again. If you don’t see a post up by next weekend, send out a search party out for me.

 

Next week, Lemmings.


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