Posts Tagged 'Neil Hamilton'

Questionable Time #100


questionable time 100 david dimbleby photoshop montage

Good morning Lemmings and no, your eyes do not deceive you – Questionable Time is 100 posts old today and yes, you should all be very excited about this. What? What’s that? Why should you be excited? Well I don’t bloody know – I’m 100 now and easily confused so unless you’re the dispatch rider with my telegram from the Queen I’ll be asking you to take your leave now thank you very much indeed.

(Incidentally, due to arbitrary changes in naming schemes, this isn’t the 100th post at all. No, it’s actually the 149thor the 151st if you’re being particularly thorough. Either way though, Questionable Time is now officially old).

Anyway, to celebrate this ‘exciting’ turn of events, QT has got all giddy with excitement and sent us not 5 but 6 flesh bags to play with which works out as 20% extra ire to vent. Best get on with it then…

The sum of Tristram Hunt’s parts…

Cast your eyes on Tristram Hunt and what goes through your head? Well, if your answer is something along the lines of ‘A jaw line that says ‘rugged’,a pre-politics profession that says ‘bookish’, a voice that says ‘plumby’ and a constituency that says ‘authentic, grinding poverty” then not only are we on the same page but we’re probably both experiencing that weird sensation of witnessing something that shouldn’t really be. That sounds harsh – particularly as we often consider some of these traits to be positive things when dealt with in isolation – but when we take them as a combined whole they make this odd melange that just doesn’t quite cut it and leaves him in this strange netherworld of unconnected dots and verses that never quite make it to the chorus.

Take for example his response to the question about whether the UK is inherently racist: Here’s where he pitches his voice down to just shy of ‘solemn’, dons the look of a man wracked with concern, and gravely intones that maybe the Red Team took their eye off the ball when it comes to the worries of the great unwashed before swiftly concluding that it’ll all be ok in the end because Labour understand the cost of living – providing it doesn’t have to go into specifics about the price of milk, bread or any other essential component of this whole ‘living’ business. On paper, this is a perfectly reasonable play which, if deployed properly, should naturally segue into a soaring crescendo of Labour being the best placed party to right these wrongs but with Hunt it never quite does: Instead it just sort of judders along, never quite finding biting point as the listener tries to match the incongruous vision of this clearly clever and privileged man trying to ‘engage’ with people who might as well have grown up in a completely different universe.

The sad thing is that we caught a fleeting glimpse of the authentic Tristram this week. This was Historian Tristram who when asked about the comparisons between Hitler and Putin suddenly became enthused, animated and coherent. It was a good answer as well, robustly delivered and neatly tying up his specialist interest with a sly pop at The Daily Mail – a confluence of factors that made him (for a brief moment at least) a thing that was supposed to be. The problem is that these moments are not only so few and far between, they also tend to be sandwiched between those awkward encounters like the race question or the bluster he hid behind when Labour’s education policy was put under the spotlight. Oh Tristram, if only there were such a thing as a Minister for History…

…And the winner of this year’s Panelist I’d Never Thought I’d Like But Actually Have A Lot Of Time For is…

…Ladies and gentlemen, the Rt Hon. Jeremy Browne MP! Woop woop! So yes, Jeremy Browne is in the house and for one I am delighted because:

A: He’s the polar opposite of Tristram Hunt who knows what he is (a veritable trouser press of a man who is probably insufferably enthusiastic during any event that involves the words ‘Team Building’) and gives not a hoot if you don’t care for his ways.

B: The whole panda thing makes him ridiculously easy to photoshop.

And C: I think he got a really raw deal when he was thrown under a bus for the whole ‘Go Home’ debacle.

However, I must admit that it was a fair to middling performance last night where he never quite hit his stride and I suspect I know why: He got rid of his beard. To those who may not have spotted it, Browne spent much of this year with not only a beard attached to his face, but a majestic one that dominated everything within a 100 ft radius. Seriously, (and I say this as a bearded man) it was a thing of utter beauty that made him look like a Special Forces operator who’d just rolled in from the hills of the Hindu Kush with a clutch of sexy superficial wounds and a haunted look that says “I’ve seen things no man should see” (see Fig. 1). Alas, he now appears to be sans beard and as a result we’re back to plain old Vanilla Browne – not the worst thing in the world but certainly not a patch on Jeremy ‘Instrument of State Sanctioned Murder’ Browne. I really got on with that guy.

jeremy browne panda special forces beard

Fig. 1

Grayling and the love/hate of the game…

Hmmmm… A quiet one from the Justice Minister last night but one that was not without its own story to tell. Basically, the key to Grayling is not what he says – that’s usually your standard boilerplate ‘the mess Labour made’ stuff – but the way he reacts to things. For example, whenever an opponent is getting it in the neck you can always hear this little laugh come from Grayling and it’s not a nice laugh. No, instead it’s one of those ‘Fade away, jerk!’ laughs that you get when you ask a bus driver if they have enough change for a tenner and on top of that it’s usually packaged with a subtle sneer.

And thus is the problem with Grayling: Satisfaction for him comes not from the furthering of The Plan (whatever that may be) but from the game itself and, more precisely, the smiting of one’s enemies. Now, as a political tool this is certainly a handy disposition to cultivate but, in the wider battle of winning hearts and minds? Nah, it just reminds people of that look that Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs fame pulls when the amateur developers tell him that they’re project managing themselves and funding the job on their credit card. Schadenfreude: It’s a double edged-sword.

And the rest?

Time is short and so is this paragraph.

Allsop – Likes saying “ought to” a lot, talks about the property market in a very ’round the houses’ sort of way, conflates fertility with housing status.

Hamilton – Real life panto villain who represents the truly terrifying nexus of UKIP, bent Tories and bow ties.

Monroe – The only logical outcome of putting both Lily Allen and Owen Jones into the Large Hadron Collider, pressing the big red button and hoping for the best.

Tl;dr

Hunt: 5/10

(A right old) Jumble (of a man)

Browne: 5/10

(Not much to) Grumble (about)

Grayling: 4/10

(Would laugh long and hard if he saw you) Tumble (down some stairs)

Allsop: 6/10

Bumbles (amiably about in a twee sort of way)

Hamilton: 5/10

(Does the sinister) Mumble (quite well)

Monroe: 6/10

(Reputedly makes good) Crumble

The Crowd: 6/10

(Made for a perfectly serviceable) Fumble (in the dark).

Gah, I can never get my head around these six-for-the-price-of-five episodes but then again, I am 100 so just getting to the end of this piece without major incident is an achievement in itself. Right, that’s me done and next week we return to bog standard, non-celebratory Questionable Time, hopefully with the more traditional compliment of five panelist. Until then, that’s your lot and GET OFF MY LAWN YOU BLOODY WHIPPERSNAPPERS!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #54


Questionable time 54 david dimbleby green chinese lady portrait

Good morning Lemmings and rejoice for unless I am mistaken, we appear to have a by-election on our hands. Now. I’m a by-election fan at the best of times but this one’s had it all: The suitably dramatic demise of an incumbent to kick the whole thing off? Check. The first real prospect of a Blue on Yellow electoral throwdown where the stakes are high enough to matter? Check. A Conservative candidate who’s in the process of wandering off the reservation, the off-chance of a UKIP upset and a Labour attempt to both have/eat cake (‘We knew we didn’t have a chance so we put a comedian up to show how unbothered we are about losing.’/’OMG! You guys got beaten by a comedian!’)? Check check check! Today, Lemmings, is a good day to be alive… providing you happen to be a politics dork with a predilection for mid-term ballots. Right, let’s do this…

Am I the only one who hears The Archer’s theme tune whenever Claire Perry’s about?

My god, Claire Perry’s got an abundance of jaunt. That gymkhana posture, the liberal use of exclamation marks, her sharp elbows, they all just scream Le Creuset and the ability to absolutely dominate PTA meetings. Anyway, I bring this up because last night was an instructive guide to both the benefits and perils of employing Jolly Hockey Sticks as a QT tactic. Let’s start at the very end, with the question about banker’s bonuses. In this case Perry stormed in, Jolly Hockey Sticky flailing wildly above her head and hellbent on reorienting the question to Labour’s less-than-stellar record on regulating banks. “I’m absolutely gobsmacked!” was her battle cry and the force of jaunt that built up behind her was enough to yank the crowd violently around to her point of view. Clapping ensued and so it would seem that Jolly Hockey Sticks are perhaps one of the most potent weapons in QT arsenal.

However, this conclusion can only be arrived at if one actively ignores the rest of the show, an episode which should act as a cautionary tale of Jolly Hockey Sticks Gone Bad to Shire-Tories across the land. Here’s how it happened: For most of the programme we saw Perry waggle her stick so vigorously in Angela Eagle’s direction that Dimbers was forced to intervene and what should have played out as righteous-indignation-spliced-with-the-invigorating-whiff-of-the-outdoors ended up coming across more like GTA:Waitrose (a game where the only car you can drive is a Volvo… Unless you buy the Saab DLC). 

So yes, despite a late rally, this was a largely avoidable tragedy brought about by a surfeit of pushiness and a fatal misunderstanding of the way people react to unbridled confidence: Where you see a defiant call-to-arms, they see a wagging finger.

What to do with Angela?

Ok, so I had a bumpy ride with Eagle last night. At first, I was all ‘Boo!’ as she squandered probably the biggest open goal we’ve seen in ages. I mean seriously, how hard is it to take apart a government that spends numerous years buggering up numerous lives in the self-proclaimed quest to retain the UK’s AAA rating only to go and lose it? It doesn’t get any easier than this – it’s like QT Christmas, birthday and new year’s all at once – yet thanks to a monotone delivery and a stare so vacant that the middle-distance started feeling uncomfortable, Angela fluffed it and the only injuries Perry suffered were largely self-inflicted.

Having said that, when it came to her response to the question about whether politics is a safe place for women, my ‘Boo!’ turned to a ‘Yay!’. All of a sudden, she appeared to be animated, engaged and talking a fair bit of sense. The crowd agreed, applause was applied liberally and for a moment, she looked like she was back in the game. Alas, this run of form was not to last and as she slowly faded towards the end, my overall impression was sort of a ‘Meh’… A doffed cap to her stout defence of women’s rights followed by a cocked snook for her inability to articulate the easy.

Oh Jeremy Browne, you so funny…

I’ve often wondered how Jeremy Browne ended up being a Liberal Democrat MP. The only scenario that seems vaguely plausible was that someone at LDHQ got drunk, phoned up Central Casting and demanded a more youthful version of Colonel Blimp. Upon delivery papers were signed, implicit contracts were formalised and the Yellow Team inadvertently took ownership of perhaps the most entertaining face in British politics: A slightly confused looking scrunch that never seems more than two minutes from yelling ‘Now just you wait a bloody second!’.

The 20th Century called and it didn’t sound happy…

Ken Loach: He likes to harsh your buzz, usually through the medium of social-realist cinema but also through the occasional QT appearance as well. Anyway, Ken was on last night and despite the general bleakness that comes with all things Loach, he was actually the star of the show and won by a country mile. Part of this is down to making some fair good points but for me the bulk of it is due to a sense of nostalgia: Ken reminds me of a world where ideologies actually had to compete and politics was able to look beyond the narrow confines of the electoral cycle. So yes, a good innings but I should really take this opportunity to warn younger readers: Never go to a Ken Loach movie on a first date. Yeah, I know… You think you’ll come across as a compassionate-yet-edgy firebrand but you won’t. Trust me, the film will bum you out so much that the walk home will be conducted in muted silence and no good will come of anything. Just… Just take it from me.

You can’t argue with the logic of Neil Hamilton joining UKIP…

Once upon a time, Neil Hamilton wasn’t just a Thatcherite, he was an uber-Thathcherite – the sort of guy whose total faith in the virtues of the free market became almost sinister. Then his political career fell apart in a blizzard of scandals and for the next decade or so he wandered around the public’s peripheral vision in various states of absurdity, wife dragged willingly in tow. Now, let me see… Where could I find a home for a man who is both ludicrous and unhinged. Oh wait! I know just the guys!

Tl;dr

Perry: 4/10

Duffy

Browne: 5/10

Stuffy

Eagle: 6/10

Scuffy

Loach: 8/10

Scruffy

Hamilton: 5/10

Enoughy

The Crowd: 7/10

Puff?

So there you go, some adequate by-election lulz to give us hope (Joanna) ’til the morning comes. Now, seeing as I’m feeling a little guilty for ragging on Browne so hard I’ve decided to make it up to him with this gif. Lemmings, I give to you an animated rendition of Jeremy Browne doing what he does best: Hanging out with his panda (see Fig. 1)

jeremy-brown-panda-gif

Fig. 1



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