Posts Tagged 'Nicola Sturgeon'

Questionable Time #125


qt 125

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to sunny Stockton-on-Tees, and a silly and suspiciously Scottish specimen of Questionable Time! Not much else to say other than let’s boogie on down.

All I know is everybody hates me

Nicola Sturgeon looks mischievous, Norman Lamb has stolen George Galloway’s hipster glasses, and Duncan Bannatyne is wearing a ridiculous suit, the kind that Michael Heseltine – who is also present and sitting, slumped, akin to a elderly lion caged in a Chinese zoo – would wear in the 80s. Oh, and Caroline Flint is there as well. They’re gearing up to answer our furst kwestion: if everything is apparently hunky dory now, why does everyone still hate the Tories and enjoy egging them as a national pastime?

Nicola gets off to a shocking start as she argues that things aren’t actually hunky dory and strongly hints that everybody should move to Scotland instead. Caroline looks grumpy as Hezza retaliates. Everything, you see, is truly hunky dory after all. A standard Question Time skirmish, one that Hezza – as a veteran, and the first Cabinet minister to appear on the programme all the way back in 1979 – has no doubt batted away boredly many times before, but at least I’m pleased to see that he hasn’t lost any of his magnificent hair, or indeed his eyebrows, which have always appeared to be trying to escape from his face.

Caroline, however, is not dissuaded. She doesn’t think it’s an ‘equal recovery’, and is in fact a ‘race to the bottom’. She looks scared but overall pleased with herself for answering somewhat adequately. Things are calm so far…but that will all change later.

Duncan, meanwhile, has a nice accent. I imagine Nicola would swoon if he actually supported the SNP. As it is, he is merely a traitor. (Or rather, a TRAETAH!!) Oh, yes, and there’s a Liberal Democrat there as well. It’s the Lib Dems who are saving us all! says the Lib Dem. Well, thank goodness for that.

“Norman…” wheedles Caroline in response, like she’s your mum about to ask if you ate the last cookie.

Ten minutes in and surprisingly slowly (I had expected her to attack in the first few seconds), Nicola finally gets to the real issue at hand. Forget the Tories – it’s Labour who are the true enemies. Yeah! Them lot not in office! This is a promising preview of possible coalition talks.

Then Hezza risks igniting the fury of the ScotNats, as he calls them, by comparing them to Le Pen’s lot in France. Now I must confess that I am somewhat terrified of certain sections of the CyberNat army (not all of them, just the very loud ones with an Irn Bru addiction) and have currently been writing this post with a gun to my head – I mean, talking about how they’re all just marvellous! But even I wouldn’t go that far. Ssh Michael. You’re, what, a million years old now? It’s time for your nap.

Nicola Sturgeon then makes one of the most beautiful expressions ever seen on this programme.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

The Neverending Tory

Next question, since the Tories have apparently taken a beating so far (have they? I thought Hezza was doing okay, considering): why is Miliband so weird and why don’t Ant and Dec like him? Michael doesn’t know who they are. This is incredible. I propose we change the title of this show to ‘Michael Heseltine vs the Modern World’ and get him to comment on every single light entertainer of The Now. He’s a crafty one is old Tarzan, switching between appearing like a doddery, harmless old man, a respected elder statesman, and a completely batshit elderly army general directing his troops into battle despite not wearing any trousers at the time. Later he makes a Fifty Shades of Grey joke and I think in his mind he’s imagining he’s still up at the conference podium circa 1976, soaking up the rapturous applause. I hate him, I’m confused by him, but at the same time, I can’t help but love him.

Anyway, Ed Miliband is amazing and quite frankly I’m astounded we’re not being showered with shit in the street, says Cazza. And that’s the end of that discussion and there will definitely not be 10,000,000,000 more articles about this subject in the months ahead.

I’m still here, Norman Lamb reminds us.

Next up: Russia! Exactly how loud should we scream in terror?

The problem is Trident, concludes Nikki Nack. No it’s not! yells Solid Hezza (Guns of the Patriots edition), suddenly metamorphosing into his 1983-era self. Gonna bash some hippies! Gonna wear a flak jacket! We can’t leave France as the only nuclear power in Europe, he grimaces. After all, they’re bloody useless.

Putin is a bit of an issue, understates Caroline, Mumsying it up. That’s why we need DA NOOKS. Duncan Bananarama agrees and Nicola looks betrayed. Norman Lamby and Beefy nods in assent. It’s twagic, says he, continually leaving absolutely no impression upon anyone.

There’s a lot of figure-swapping, budget deliberations and arguing over where money should be spent – the army? The navy? A nice pair of socks for the homeless? Nicola attempts once more to propose getting rid of Trident but is soon drowned out. How dare you try and fail to get rid of the nooks, comes the reply! After a while she just gives up and makes that face again. You could put it on a billboard and the SNP would win in a landslide (although, er, they seem to be on course to do that anyway…nice one guys! Heh heh! [gun cocking sound in the background])

Next question: should we make young people pull up weeds for pennies?

Duncan is all in favour of having young people ‘help out in the NHS’…for no money…(although he at least points out the plight of dyslexic and other disabled people who don’t have the same opportunities as abled folks) but Flint (For the Unemployed and Underpaid) splurges out on a jobs guarantee. Since she’s so dull this unexpected act of splurging is quite welcome coming from her somehow both impassive-and-nervous-looking face. I’m not totally in favour of the Tories’ approach, says Norman, to limited applause, like he’s not part of the dang government or something. Come and work for Duncan instead, as he’s currently trying to recruit members of the audience.

Nicola says it’s exploitation. She’s really getting fired up now, although as a Scottish person I have come to understand that she must be fired up 100% of the time. Hezza is in favour because one imagines his massive garden does need a bit of weeding. Nicola is now making that face approximately every 30 seconds.

The audience are now arguing amongst itself. Dimbles is not intervening, however. This is great fun.

Glasgow smiles

Lastly, will Scotland be the shadowy figure pulling the strings after the election? Caroline, don’t mess up these potential negotiations! She says that she’d like a majority, thank you very much…but Dimbles is on her case right away. Could she, he asks, work alongside the SNP? VOTE LABOUR, she squeaks.

Nicola, on the other hand, would like to form a gang with the progressives. Maybe just loitering in a corner, glaring and muttering about everybody else. Or drinking and smoking by the bike sheds. Hezza then warns against this threatening crew stealing YOUR dosh, as taxpayers!

“COME OAN!” yells Nicola, as if gearing up to meet Heseltine in the pit. Before a fight can break out, however, Dimbles stops the madness.

“Ohh…” whines the audience. It seems, despite some strong opinions either way, everyone quite enjoyed that.

I know. Baffling.

Time for the scores!

Heseltine: 8/10

Swat(ted questions away like a bored, well-fed leopard)

Flint: 5/10

(A slight) Blot (on her record)

Lamb: 5/10

(I can) Not (remember what he said)

Sturgeon: 8/10

Scot(land forever!)

Bannatyne: 5/10

(You) Ought (to work for him, appaz)

The Crowd: 9/10

Hot to Trot

Next time, despair.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #80


questionable time 80 david dimbleby mogwai cody

Apologies to Mogwai…

Good morning Lemmings and after last week’s no-shows we’re now at the opposite end of the spectrum as six egos are herded into the studio to fight amongst themselves. Considering that’s double the amount of panelists that we had on the show last week we should be in for double the fun, right? I wouldn’t bank on it.

That Eddi Reader looks like the mellow sort…

…At least that’s what I though when the camera panned back and revealed the panel. Sandwiched between the line of uninspiring suits and furrowed brows was this picture of free-floating whimsy, seemingly unaware that no, you’re not at Womad and no, there won’t be a workshop on how to batik Celtic knotwork onto hemp based fabrics later on. Anyway, this struck me as rather good news as I like it when they have a wavy-gravy type on and was looking forward to hearing what Scottish independence would do for the nation’s chakras. Then she had a pop at the first question.

Initially things were going well: There was a reassuringly vague statement about how she’s got nothing against the English and some platitude along the lines of ‘can’t we all just get along?’, all of which seemed very much in line with my initial take on Eddi Reader (bearing in mind that this initial take was based solely on watched Perfect by Fairground Attraction on You Tube and approximately 30 seconds of air-time). But then the menace started creeping in.

It was muted at first and her answer seemed innocuous enough but there was one line that sent a shiver down my spine: “I’ve been looking into this”. Now, looking into things is no crime but the way she said it – you know, with that splash of green ink and the crinkling of tin foil – reminded me of the way people say “I’ve been looking into this” after watching Loose Change or spending an afternoon on David Ike’s website. There was just something terribly J’accuse! about it.

As it happens J’accusing! turned out to be the name of Reader’s game as within five minutes she was J’accusing! an audience member of having faulty information (“Who ‘s frightening you?!”) before embarking on a rolling J’accuse! with Margaret Curran that would last for the entirety of the show. Some of these J’accuses! were justified and relevent but quite a lot of them just sounded – well, just a little bitter and with more than hint of the conspiratorial about them. Let’s just say I’m glad there wasn’t a question about the anniversary of JFK’s death.

Sturgo did good…

My usual charge sheet against Nicola Sturgeon usually revolves around her tendency to cross the Plucky-Chippy line but I’m pleased to say that there was none of that last night. No, in fact it was a very well-rounded little affair that saw her looking calm, in control and without any of the irritability that sometimes seeps in and snags her. However, I did notice whilst hunting for this week’s pshop material (and boy was that a thankless task) that her living room doesn’t appear to be sufficiently patriotic in décor for a high-ranking member of a nationalist party. As a result I got all a little Llewelyn-Bowen and gave the place a makeover for her (see Fig. 1). Don’t mention it Nics, don’t mention it…

nicola-sturgeon-house-gif

Fig. 1

Which is the scarier of these passages?

1. There is something evil behind this door.

2. If you opened this door with your hand and had a look inside with your eyes you might get some sort of feeling that if you carried on looking hard enough you might see some shapes or something that look pretty evil.

I’m bringing this up for Margaret Curran’s benefit as she played the role of the scary one for the No campaign whose job it was to highlight all the perils independence would bring. The problem was that she chose to go about this task in the manner of the second passage – you know, by using all the available words in the world and doing so veryveryquickly – and that really doesn’t put the frighteners on anyone. Granted, having Eddi Reader stalking about the place doesn’t exactly do much to settle one’s nerves but still, less is more Margaret, less is more.

Missed Opportunity of the Evening goes to…

noted Linux/Open Source enthusiast Patrick Harvie for not suggesting that Scotland should use Bitcoins as their currency. He might very well not see any merit in using Bitcoins for such a purpose but just to have watched Dimbers and Annabel Goldie try to get their heads around the intricacies of cryptographically generated future monies would have made it all worthwhile. Aside from that it was a good effort from Harvie, especially that last little flourish about Scotland being intrinsically centre-left. It was precisely the same point that Eddi Reader was trying to make but he managed to do it without sounding utterly terrifying.

I’ve really warmed to Annabel Goldie…

Being a Scottish Tory must be like being a Rasta in Pyongyang yet she somehow endures and does so in quite a good-natured way. Take for example the question about how independence would mean getting shot of the Blue Team and everyone cheered the sort of gleeful cheer that sets most panelists all a quiver. Not Goldie though, she just sat there and took it with a knowing look and nary a flinch. Now that’s the type of faith you only get when pursuing a truly lost cause.

I’m calling Carmichael out…

…Because according to his Twitter background picture (see Fig. 2) he’s heavily involved with bloody great axe-wielding Vikings and if there’s one thing I’ve been consistently saying QT would benefit from it’s the addition of Vikings with bloody great axes. As it happens Alistair Carmichael is less of a berserker and more of a fairly average chap who gave a fairly average performance and will be awarded fairly average points minus one for the sneaky Viking subterfuge. Hey, maybe Eddi Reader was right… Maybe politics is awash with “agendas” and “sneaky behaviour”. I should Look Into This…

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Tl;dr

Sturgeon: 6/10

(Showed a fair amount of) Skill

Curran: 5/10

(Knows how to) Fill (a sentence up to bursting point)

Carmichael: (5-1) = 4/10

(Doesn’t look like he enjoys) Kill(ing as much as his Twitter background pic does)

Goldie: 5/10

(Does a good line in) Still (waters run deep)

Harvie: 6/10

Will (hopefully be on more often)

Reader: 4/10

(Isn’t as) Chill(ed as she looks)…

The Audience: 5/10

(Off their heads on) Pill(s)…

Well, at least they bothered to turn up is all I can say. Right, time for me to go and Look Into Things and by ‘things’ I mean the washing-up. Oh the glamour…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #38


questionable time 38 david dimbleby braveheart glasgow

Good morning Lemmings and if I’m not mistaken we appear to be in Scotland. For some of you this will be a Good Thing (I suspect that this will be the case if you happen to be Scottish) but from my point of view, this is less of a Good Thing and in actual fact may even qualify as a Bad Thing. Now, before a be-kilted rabble come crashing through my door, hellbent on upholding the honour of their proud nation let me state categorically that I have no problem with Scotland or the Scottish. There is no beef of any import between us and I see no obstacle to our continued co-existence. I do, however, have a problem when Question Time is in Scotland. Why? Because I don’t have a clue who anyone is, what they’re on about or why I should really care one way or another. Ok, so I guess there would be some sort of tangible effect on my life should the Scots take the nuclear option and divorce themselves from the Union, but outside of that? Nah. They could be sending wee bairns down haggis mines or pouring Irn Bru into the water supply for all I care… I won’t be losing any sleep. Having said that though, last night’s show did have one potential saving grace for me: It was coming from Easterhouse, a particularly hard corner of a very hard city. Would this be enough to offset my ignorance induced disinterest? I wonder…

The first question was the most cruel of false reprieves…

Let’s face it, we all knew this episode was going to be about the independence referendum and as I explained above, this isn’t the sort of thing that butters my current affairs parsnips. With this in mind, imagine my delight when the first question was not concerned with some exclusively Caledonian affair but was actually about the rapidly unfolding ‘Combi-Shambles‘. Yes! I was saved! This was about Westminster! This was about stuff that has a vague relevance to my life! Unfortunately, this fleeting sense of triumph was dealt a mortal blow when it dawned on me that I have no idea what exactly is going on with this latest governmental face-plant other than assorted ministers seem to be running around with their hair on fire and there’s a faint whiff of panic wafting ominously from Downing Street. Luckily it appears that I am not alone in this predicament and pretty much everyone on the panel decided that it was probably safer to turn some rhetorical tricks instead of actually trying to make sense of the unfolding chaos. In practice this took the form of the three political panelist (Sturgeon, Davidson and Curran) assembling themselves into a circular firing squad, counting to three and shooting each other in the back of the head whilst Mark Serwotka called for a plague on all their houses. Has this left me any the wiser about just what in criminy is going on with our nation’s energy policy? No. Was it fun watch. Yes, it was rather…

Scottish politicians are a tough bunch…

Ok, so the accent helps but I think it’s also fair to say that both Margaret Curran and Ruth Davidson have pretty thick hides. For Davidson, this partly comes with the territory: Being a Tory in Scotland is not noted for being the most relaxing of vocations and I’m sure she’s pretty used to being bashed about on a daily basis simply because she exists. However, what Davidson doesn’t do is let it get to her and I must admit that whether I agree with her or not, she does remain very steady under fire. Curran is also one who cops a lot of flak (thanks to Labour largely having taking Scotland for granted) but her talent is that she endures. Sure, she talks too fast when her feathers are ruffled and the fact that she’s played this game so long has led to a certain level of attrition, but Curran’s still just about in the game and played a reasonably solid hand last night.

The interesting one is Nicola Sturgeon though. Now, she does a very good initial line in the forthright, storming into questions with lashings of ‘Dear Sir, imagine my concern…’ before cobbling together some scheme whereby Scotland has cakes for both storage and immediate consumption. All of this is fine and dandy, particular if the going’s good but she does have one glaring vulnerability: She rattles easily. It happened a few times last night. Sturgeon would open with a broadside about how Labour let everyone down, the Tories – well, they’re just Tories – and wouldn’t it all be much better if we simply had our own country to mess about with? However, the problems begin when people start pressing for detail. You can see a little shudder develop and her eyes starting darting from side-to-side, sizing up the potential exits. Unfortunately, these exits have a nasty habit of being obstructed by irksome things such as ‘facts’ and ‘realities’ and this tends to lead her to double down on the offensive, a risky tactic made riskier by the fact that Sturgeon’s never quite as good on the second pass. That’s not to say I don’t think that she’s capable because she clearly is. It’s just that she can’t quite keep her fear under wraps and once you spot it it’s hard to ignore. That, and something about her bearing just really reminds me of a generic 6th-former from a late-80’s run of Grange Hill.

What about the other guys?

Last time Mark Serwotka was on I was pretty mean to him, mainly because he came across as rather smug. Luckily for him, this wasn’t the case last night as he had little time to display any other emotion than pure scorn for both the Tories and Labour, a move which paid off handsomely with the crowd. Actually, it was quite interesting to watch as while he’s never been shy of criticising the Red Team, he was really out for them last night. I’m guessing that part of this was playing to the gallery (which seemed to work splendidly) but the really telling thing was how he Goldilocksed the SNP, making sure the signals he was sending were neither too hot nor too cold. If I was in the Red Team, I think I’d be keeping a very close eye on that.

And what of Alan Cochrane? We’ll I’ve never come across him before but I will say this: His beard and voice match perfectly. He didn’t really get that much of a look in and when he did it was the sort of thing you’d expect the Scottish Editor of The Telegraph but I’ve got to say, that beard-voice combo really did it for me.

Is ‘Crazy Levels of Crowd Participation’ a compulsory part of the Scottish Curriculum or is Easterhouse just a bit special?

As expected, I had very little idea what was going on last night. Ok, so the drugs question was kind of interesting but it didn’t really bring anything new to the table and was simply a repeat of the merry little dance that Question Time periodically engages in (crowd + entire world conclude War on Drugs has failed. Politicians conclude that they can’t say its failed because they’ll get the blame for its failure). However, despite my complete inability to fathom anything, I must admit I actually really enjoyed this episode and the lion’s share of the credit for this should go to the crowd. Why? Because they were feisty as hell. They booed, they cheered, they booed and cheered at the same time. Quite what they were booing and cheering about I honestly couldn’t tell you, but the fact that they did was enough to keep my head in the game. So points for sore palms and horse throats and extra points for the following gentlemen: Mr ‘A Lot Of My Friends Smoke Cannabis” (or as I like to call him, Mr ‘My Employers Might Be Watching This’) and Mr ‘Because Of The Type Of People Who Frequent This Area’. Sir, you’re bravery is beyond question… Your wisdom? Not so much.

Tl;dr

Sturgeon: 5/10

Flighty

Curran: 5/10

Fighty

Davidson: 5/10

Bitey

Serwotka: 6/10

Incitey

Cochrane: 5/10

Alrighty

The Crowd: 8/10

(Can’t decide if they want to remain a part of) Blighty

So there you go… The televisual equivalent of trying to drink a 6-pack of Super-T whilst sitting in a washing machine that’s halfway through its spin cycle. Speaking of somewhat discombobulating experiences, I’d best share with you the fruits of an experiment I conducted earlier in the week. Using cutting edge photo manipulation software and a part of my brain that I really shouldn’t listen to, I tried to determine whether Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon would make for convincing Krankies. The result speak for themselves (see Fig. 1)…

alex salmod nicola sturgeon krankies

Fig. 1

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #13


questionable time 13 dimbleby the tank engine

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to 2012, a year in which – if this episode of QT is anything to go by – our primary vexation appears to be none other than trains getting from London to Birmingham slightly quicker at some point in the far distant future. Remember that extinction level economic crisis that dominated Question Time throughout 2011? Yeah, well you needn’t have worried because it turns out that all it needed was a damn good Christmasing and now it’s not worth bothering our pretty little heads over. On top of that it also seems that 2012 is the year in which politicians of all stripes put aside their various differences and simply agree with each other on just about bloody everything. That’s right, no more bitter hand-to-hand combat on the battlegrounds of economic policy but instead a cosy love-in as representatives from across the political spectrum bask in the warmth of consensus on boob jobs, HST and Leveson. Ok, so there was a bit of contention when it came to Scottish independence but I’m struggling to recall an episode of QT that was quite so dreadfully agreeable.

The upshot of all this is that it was actually a pretty dull affair last night that lacked any real juice and left me feeling a little short-changed. Take the train question for example: Literally every single political panelist held near identical views and this left the floor wide open for Kelvin MacKenzie to reap all the rewards in his role as Self Appointed Man of the People. Now, I’m no fan of MacKenzie but I have to admit that without him last night would have been little more than a well-heeled Woodstock without the acid and let’s face it, that doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs. So that didn’t exactly inspire me with confidence (you know things are bad when the highlight of a particular question is a gentleman of Scouse extraction getting a little over enthused about Watford Junction) but I held out a little hope that at least the question of Scottish independence could provoke some level of disagreement. And so it did, but in a ridiculously one-sided manner.

Our main protagonist in the only real point of contention in this encounter is none other than the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and I must say that I did feel slightly sorry for her last night. For one, life can’t be easy when it looks like your hair has been borrowed from a Lego figure (see Fig. 1) and preaching Scottish Nationalism to a London crowd is a tall order but the main reason was that Dimbers seemed to have it in for her a bit last night. Sure, she didn’t do herself many favours as she deployed her usual tactics when in a tight spot (which is to just continue talking, regardless of whether the content makes any sense) but Dimbleby was really short with Sturgeon and seemed to relish any opportunity to clip her round the ear. Another weird by-product of this question was the part when Sturgeon and Danny Alexander got into a very surreal little tiff, ostensibly about something-or-other that an aide to Alex Salmond had said. Sensing danger, Sturgeon tried to wibble her way out of it but Alexander wouldn’t let it go and just sat there, quietly repeating the phrase “Was she wrong? Was she wrong?” like a shell shock victim lost in his own personal hell. This bizarre little charade went on for some time and it reminded me of that ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ scene in A Few Good Men… Except set in a particularly passive-aggressive PTA meeting rather than a court-martial and with Tom Cruise’s character being played by the little man in the bowler hat from the Homepride ads.

nicola sturgeon lego hair

Fig. 1

As for individual performances, well I think it’s fair to say that ‘fair to middling’ is just about the best that this lot could muster with Ashdown putting in the most impressive turn simply by alternating between his ‘Paddy Ashdown is tired of reasoning with you people’ face and his ‘You don’t know cuz you weren’t there!’ war-vet-who’s-seen-too-much routine. Poor old Justine Greening fared less well, chiefly because she seemed to have been relegated to a role in this episode similar to that filled by Dictionary Corner on Countdown and appears to have been there only for reference purposes only. And as for Wee Dougie? Well, I’ve got to say that he’s beginning to freak me out a little. It’s his delivery. Very slow, very soft and very deliberate yet also completely relentless. It’s like being force-fed warm milk at the most leisurely of tempos and that, dear Lemmings, is the sort of experience that I’d rather avoid.

So there we are: A less than brilliant start to the series and one in which the crowd could be at complete odds with the panel and yet still clap along with practised docility. Ok, I guess that’s a little harsh but last night did bum me out a little as I’ve just spent the last month doing the whole Peace on Earth/Goodwill to All Men thing and I was really looking forward to kicking the new year off with a right old gorefest. Alas, it was not to be and so I’ll just have to bide my time until this new-found unity amongst QT panelists shatters into a thousand tiny shards of spite laden hatred. My reckoning is that it won’t be the longest of waits.

Tl;dr

Greening: Still in the waiting room

5/10

Ashdown: On the express train to Seriousville

6/10

Alexander: Lost his ticket

4/10

Sturgeon: Got tied to the tracks

5/10

MacKenzie: Has a season ticket to Smug City

5/10

The Crowd: Want to get off at Watford Junction

5/10

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #39


question time david dimbleby trainspotting

Morning Lemmings and praise be, I have returned semi-refreshed from my Poland adventures and bearing valuable anthropological insights to boot. That’s right, even when I’m on holiday I’m still tireless working to advance our collective understanding, such is my self evident love of humanity. Anyhoo, the hallowed knowledge of which I speak relates to a weird phenomenon which I first encountered when I went to Poland five years ago: The Poles know that you’re English from a mile away and well before you’ve had a chance to embarrass yourself by attempting to speak Polish. On this visit I was determined to get to the bottom of this (if only to pooh-pooh a friend’s assertion that it was due to the fact that I look like a “homeless wizard”) and was duly presented with the opportunity when a local approached me and my better half and asked (in perfect English) if he could take one of our chairs. “Sure,” I said “but how come you knew we were English?”It is because you smile” he said. “Polish people do not smile.” I’ve since questioned a number of Poles as to the veracity of this claim and the overwhelming response has been “Yes. Polish people do not smile.” So there you go, now you know. Anyway, back to what you’re really here for and that’s Question Time, bought to you this week by the good people of Edinburgh (hence the Trainspotting theme). Before we start though, I best just warn you that I have real trouble following the Scottish episodes. It’s not that I’ve got anything against Scotland, it’s just that I simply don’t care about Scottish politics as it has zero bearing on my life. Sure, I’m over the moon that everyone (except the English) have their own parliaments and all but listening to the ins and outs of what’s hot and what’s not in Holyrood is on a par with pretending to be gripped by a long running and convoluted soap opera that you’ve never seen before. In short, it fuxes my persepshuns. Grizzling aside, it was a weird episode last night. By rights, the LibDems and Tories should have been all over the show given how, as well as the now usual ambient noise of the economy falling off the edge of a cliff/cutsogeddon, there was also the small matter of competence thrown into the mix, what with the whole SAS/evacuation/Venezuela business that’s been going on. However, I must say that both Michael Moore and Annabel Golding defied the odds and seemed to get out of the studio relatively unscathed. In the case of Moore, this was accomplished by being the most un-Lib Dem Lib Dem I have seen in a long while. I say this because I still live in a world where my idea of an average Yellow Corner candidate is a well-meaning, clog wearing peacenik who lives on nothing more than positive vibes and Janis Joplin LP’s (I realize that last May’s election rendered this assumption obsolete overnight but old habits die hard). Anyhoo, Michael Moore isn’t one of those Lib Dems. No, he’s much more of a heads down, ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough’, Wagner listening, shit kicking muscular Lib and he spent the best part of last night taking the fight to both Douglas Alexander and Nicola Sturgeon. Ok, so he faltered slightly when the matter of the Barnsley by-election result question came up but it wasn’t a trouncing and he left the show with the bulk of his dignity intact. Granted, his uber-belligerence isn’t entirely my cup of tea, but given the backdrop, the boy did pretty good (not withstanding a -1 modifier for wonky deficit invocation).

Similarly with Golding, while it wasn’t a stellar performance she did manage to keep on an offensive footing thorough most of the show and pulled off a quite brilliant duck-and-weave when she managed to totally avoid the whole Barnsley ambush by whittering on about “candy floss” and other unrelated matters. Usually this sort of chicanery is easily spotted and dealt with, but for reasons unknown, she got clean away with it and thus avoided the now routine Tory dilemma of whether or not to gloat at bad news for the Libs. I’m inclined to mark her down a little for being the first to bring up al-Megrahi as it’s beginning to annoy me that all Scottish Question Time’s have essentially become ‘al-Megrahi Time’ for the last year or so but credit where credit’s due, she did accomplish the heroic feat of holding her own as a Scottish Tory. And that, dear Lemmings is not to be sniffed at. Moving on to the other side of the electoral divide we have Wee Danny Alexander who I had very high hopes for tonight. Not only does he have a long and distinguished track record for being ‘quietly effective’ (and they’re the ones to watch, especially the Scottish ones. Alistair Darling, anyone?) and has managed to ride out the Brown/Miliband transition without as much as breaking a sweat, he’s also had a very good week, what with his epic zinging of Hague in the Commons. However, I must say I was disappointed with his outing as he never quite seemed to get the bit between his teeth and appeared to be caught very off-balance by the fact that pretty much everyone was gunning for him in one way or another. The result was that he was the one who looked like he belonged to a government on the skids and the coalition candidates looked like the bringer of greater things which on a week where there were open goals positively littering the field of play, is pretty inexcusable. Sure, his style is much better deployed in situations where he’s got the space to develop his attacks from a quiet whisper and into a less than eye-catching but nevertheless relentless juggernaut, but he never really looked like he got hold of the initiative last night. So come on Wee Dougie, up your game next time or face the risk of ‘quietly effective’ being replaced in the public conscience with ‘quietly forgettable’. Next in line we have Nicola Sturgeon who continues to strike me as the slightly odd girl at school who would eshew her peers’ love of Just-17 and Mad Dog 20-20 for the far manlier callings of judo practice and orienteering. I also bet she wore walking boots to school. Don’t know why, but that’s what my gut’s telling me. Anyhoo, she didn’t have a bad night and did manage to pull off a very impressive bait-and-switch where she managed to sound a little contrite about al-Magrahi before totally dropping Labour in it, a nifty little ploy that she pretty much got away with. However, I do find that just underneath the surface there always seems to be this edge of panic with Sturgeon and I’ve seen it in Salmond as well. As I said earlier, I really haven’t the foggiest when it come to Scottish politics but every time I see the SNP on TV (which in practice means either Sturgeon or Salmond as there doesn’t appear to be anyone else from the party who’s allowed in front of a camera) I get this feeling that they’re only just holding it together and that privately, the sensation of being on a heavily listing ship scares the living crap out of them. I caught it out of the corner of my eye during the al-Magrahi bait-and-switch: Seemingly, Sturgeon was steaming ahead with the audience behind her but you could tell by the way her eyes darted about for threats and the slight cracking of her voice that she wasn’t entirely convinced of her chances of success. Still, not a bad outing for her and she would be well within her rights to go out and buy herself a nice yet utilitarian present (possibly made of GoreTex) as a little ‘well done’ present. Ok, we’re getting there. Wait a second, what’s this? Another political panelist? I think Scotland is now intentionally trying to wind me up. Having said that, the panelist in question, Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens turned out to be quite the performer and this despite the fact that the spectacles/waistcoat/baldy head combo make him look like he’s just wandered out of a Steampunk convention. The thing that impressed me about Harvie was the way in which he managed to stay on the right of the sincere/sanctimonious line that has long been the undoing of many a Green. He also managed to articulate what the audience seemed to be thinking on all the foreign policy questions (which is that we’re essentially hypocrites. And so we are) and he managed to remain above most of the political name calling that went on. Ok, so he does a far greater latitude than the other politicos but I was left thinking that he seemed a pretty decent and clever guy who knows exactly what he believes in. Maybe I won’t nuke Scotland when I am King. Right, that’s the inordinate amount of party political panelists done with so now for the ‘comedy’ one which this week takes the form of Nick Ferrari. Prior to the show, I was going through my routine google images search for pshop fodder when I stumbled across this highly disturbing shot of Ferrari and Vanessa Feltz engaging in what appears to be a kiss. Shocked and repelled by this glimpse of Hades I swiftly shut down my browser, showered for several hours and prayed that I may unsee the horror that had beset me. Initially, I thought I’d got away with it but that was until earlier this morning when I was startled to discover that if you look closely at Albrechts Durer’s The Horsemen of the Apocalypse you can clearly see the same diabolical scene re-enacted at the foot of picture. Don’t believe me? Then check this out (see Fig. 1).

nick ferrari vanessa feltz apocalypse

Fig. 1

Weird, huh? Anyway, back to the subject in hand and let’s face it, there isn’t that much to say about Ferrari other than he doesn’t exactly go in for subtlety. His MO’s pretty much as follows: Start every rant with “It’s utterly/absolutely scandalous/ridiculous/appalling”, proceed to look like you’re on the verge of some coronary infarction, disregard any nuance and deploy the final set piece which will hopefully involve a reference to the Nazi’s winning the war and all of us speaking German”. Seen through this narrow lens, he had a belting night and not only managed to invoke the Nazi/speaking German wheeze but also managed to finesse it with a mention of Dunkirk. However, when seen through any other, slightly less rabid lens it all just looks a bit wanky and one-dimensional. Still, I can take comfort in the fact that he probably doesn’t sleep, haunted as he is by the recurring visions of Feltz moving in for that final, torrid meeting of lips. Eww… I think I should stop going down this road before I do myself a mental mischief. So yes, bit of an odd show and one that didn’t exactly grip me as if the subject matter wasn’t something very Scottish it was all very foreign affairs and we’ve had quite a lot of that of late. The crowd themselves weren’t too bad but their affections seemed quite evenly split so it never got the point where someone on the panel achieved the critical mass needed to go on a really epic rampage and lets face it, that’s what we’re all really watching for. Actually, maybe I will nuke Scotland when I am King. Tl;dr Moore: Bruising 6/10 Golding: Cruising 6/10 Alexander: Snoozing 4/10 Sturgeon: Confusing 5/10 Harvie: Oozing 7/10 Ferrari: Losing 3/10 The Crowd: Boozing 5/10 And that’s that. I’m off to send my cats mental with the bottle of liquid catnip I bought yesterday whilst listening to Turbonegro at high volume. I know how to have a good time. Next week Lemming, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #29


Morning Lemmings and welcome back to the land malfunctioning SCART leads and green hued televisions. That’s right, my technical problems persist but being the selfless hero that I am, I carry on regardless, taking it on the chin just so that you can kill ten minutes at work, reading whatever nonsense I’ve provided you with this week. And nonsense it will be this week as I must confess to have had a very odd day. Now, considering my day job is as a mental health worker, that shouldn’t come as much of surprise and after eight years of being in this trade, I have to say that the bar for what I consider to be ‘strange’ is set very high (you have to do something really weird for me to take notice these days. Arguing with trees? Phhhhht… doesn’t even touch the sides. Accusing traffic cones of plotting conspiracies? Not even close. Insisting that John Snow lives in your chest of drawers? Boring! You get the picture). However, today was one of those where even I had to stop and question my sanity and if this report sounds a little more spaced out than usual, I apologise… It’s merely a consequence of having spent seven hours with the inexplicable.

 

Right, excuses made, fair warning given, let’s go.

 

The Menu

Q1: Was Boris acting irresponsibly by saying the Housing Benefit reforms would lead to “Kosovo style cleansing”?

Q2: Should David Cameron wield a rhetorical handbag on the EU budget?

Q3: Does the news that the economy has grown 0.8% mean the Conservative led coalition are right on the economy?

Q4: Was the head of M16 right to say that we should avoid torture, even if it helps terrorists carry out attacks?

 

In The Yellow Bit of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Ed Davey, LibDem Chief of Staff and rescuer of damsels in distress.

Hmmmm… not quite sure what to make of this guy in that he’s got one of those faces that doesn’t really match his personality. Every time I look at him, I just hear the words “RUGGER BUGGER” repeating over and over again in my head and he also has this semi-vacant, middle distance stare that looks a little, well, thick. But none of this tallies with the way he presents which is actually pretty on the ball. I say ‘pretty on the ball’ because while he’s appears to be quite an accomplished offensive player, driving whatever point he’s making home in quite a forceful manner without crossing the line into belligerence, he’s not great at cornering and when plans start unravelling, that ‘Wayne Rooney with a multiplication problem to solve’ look involuntary spreads right across his face and he looks a little helpless. Still, it’s early days for Ed and the fundamentals seem to be there so let’s see how he did.

It was a fairly promising start as he looked convincingly cross whilst damning Johnson’s “appalling” behaviour, but then came unstuck as Sturgeon slapped him with a bunch of figures and Chris Bryant piled in with some pointed stuff about ‘progressiveness’ that sounded like an invitation to a duel. Q2 saw much waffling about not much at all followed by an admission that neither he nor Bryant had a clue about the real figures (which Bryant took in his stride whilst Davey looked a little out of sorts) and Q3 was basically a fighting retreat with a sudden out burst of wide-eyed Deficit Panic and a weaponised comparison of Scotland to Iceland. Last but not least was Q4’s no-brainer which he handled in the prescribed manner of ‘Torture = Bad’ and that was that. Home time.

Reading that back, it sounds quite unimpressive, but bear in mind that he was in Glasgow and on a week the coalition haven’t exactly been rolling in good news. Yes, it was a little dry and no, he’s not very quick on his feet, but given the circumstances, he did well to come away without any jeering and he even got a few good claps along the way. And that, in my opinion, is not bad going for someone who’s largely been a backroom boy with very little QT experience. Grant Shapps, take note.

A perfectly acceptable 5/10

In The Red Corner: Chris Bryant, Shadow Minister for Political and Constitution Reform and be-panted self photographer.

Now this guy is interesting. Really interesting. Not only does he have a suitably unorthodox background (former Anglican vicar and conservative student who came out as being gay and then went on to become a Labour MP), but his QT technique is also rather unique and out of the ordinary. For one thing, he’s incredibly nimble, spotting weak points in opponent’s arguments within the blink of an eye and then adjusting his tack very quickly to exploit these weaknesses to their full extent. He’s also one for close combat, not necessarily making things personal, but always ensuring that he’s all over whoever he’s up against and giving them very little space to manoeuvre. Now, this already sounds like a glowing report, but hold on: There are flies in the ointment, not the least being that he’s pretty much a flat-out gambler, taking some pretty hefty rhetorical risks that don’t always go his way (as this weeks “social cleansing” parliamentary jibber-jabber aptly illustrated). Still, credit where credit’s due, he doesn’t seem phased when these ventures go sour and you get the sense that he’s a hard man to rattle.

It all started inauspiciously enough as he spent the first part of Q1 defending his “cleansing” remarks, but he did get to lash out quite effectively at Davey later on and was given some crowd love for his efforts. Q2 turned into a right old scrap between him and Ed as he invoked the banker argument and they both accused each other of turning the debate into a “pantomime”, but he later found an exposed flank regarding Cameron’s lack of friends in Europe and he worked that in a quiet, effective manner. However, this more understated approach was fleeting as he decided to take on both Davey and Hendry simultaneously in Q3 (much shaking of the Bonus Stick ensued) and largely got away with it whilst Q4 saw some weird metaphor involving Anne Frank and some self referential ‘I used to live in Argentina’ stuff.

Now none of this sounds especially exciting and to be honest, he should have done better considering the territory and the political backdrop. However, it’s not really what Bryant says that fascinates me, it’s the way he moves. I’ve got a feeling that we’re going to be seeing much more of this guy as there’s something about his history and presentation that tells me he’s just different from a great many politicians. Is he destined for great things? I doubt it as although he’s a great tactical player, I’m not sure if the strategic reasoning’s all there and his penchant for risky moves could well derail him in the future. However, he does seem to have a remarkable ability to reinvent himself, his instincts seem pretty sharp and he’s tougher than he looks. With this in mind, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to mark him. Part of me wants to give him big numbers for just generally intriguing me, but then it would be somewhat unfair to class his performance as any sort of victory. So with fairness in mind, I’m going to split the difference but keep an eye on this guy. I’ve a feeling he could be quite fun in the near future.

A potential laden 6/10

In The Other Yellow Corner: Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Salmond sidekick.

So we’re in Glasgow tonight and that means that we’re going to see the SNP which in turn means that it’s either going to be Salmond or Sturgeon. Now, I must confess that I don’t really keep abreast of Scottish politics, mainly because it has absolutely no bearing on my day-to-day life in any way, shape or form, but c’mon! There’s got to more than two people in the whole bloody party! Anyhoo, minor chunter aside, it was Sturgeon’s turn tonight and I must say she did better than last time when she ended up embroiled in all sorts of Megrahi related bother. I’m not going to get to carried away in writing this up as it was a pretty much textbook regional party play: Have a go at whoever’s in power, stay well to the left of the mainstream and make damn sure you get some nationalist call-to-arms type stuff in the (something that she got told off by Dimber’s for in Q4 but went ahead with anyway). However, she did play these tactics quite well and she came close to knocking Davey right off-balance with a pretty well-reasoned argument about the Housing Benefit reforms in Q1. So yes, pretty solid Nicola. However, you do still look like a tomboy and I have a nasty feeling that you may be the person who keeps buying Sharleen Spiteri Albums. Please stop with that. It only encourages her.

A fairly standard but fairly good 7/10

In The Independent/Brainy One Corner: Simon Schama, history buff and flowerpot man incarnate.

Oh Jesus, I feel sick and not just because of the green shroud that has enveloped my telly. No, what’s got me all a chunder is trying to keep my eyes on Simon Schama as he gesticulates so wildly that he threatens to shake the earth loose from it’s orbit and cast us adrift into the depths of space. And it’s not just the possibility that his head might actually rotate a full 360 degrees that’s bringing me to the edge of motion sickness (see Fig. 1), it’s also the way he sends you on a verbal rollercoaster every time he answers a bloody question.

Fig. 1

Seriously, I pretty much gave up taking notes about Schama as it was like putting your head into a semantic tumble dryer and in the end I invented a new shorthand symbol for whenever he was waffling long tracts of wordy sounding bollocks (see Fig.2)

Fig. 2

However, I did manage to snatch a few choice nuggets, some of which include:

“Spitting fire in Johnson’s eye!”

“He needs a handbag full of knuckledusters!”

“The Duke of Wellington would be spinning in his grave!”

Something about vultures and Tolstoy

“Suicide bombers aren’t cowards!”

“WAKE UP PEOPLE!” [whilst violently slapping the table].

Alright, so I’m taking the piss now, but in the main he’s fun to watch (the crowd seem to think so as well), even if I haven’t the got faintest idea what he’s talking about. This in turn leads me to conclude that Simon Schama isn’t a genius. No, I think he’s just a very good blagger who hasn’t got any O-Levels and reads a dictionary on the toilet in order to chance his way through life by connecting long words together in random configuration and if that is the case, good luck to him. Come what may Simon, stay animated, stay wobbly and we’ll swallow any old tosh you throw in our direction.

An enjoyably inexplicable 7/10

In the I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Hugh Hendry, hedge fund manager and seemingly unrepentant bastard.

Oh wow. Never in the history of LCCPMQTR has there been someone so ill suited the title of ‘I’m The Funny One/Just Like You’ as much as Hugh Hendry and that’s even following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Vorderman, McKenzie and Phillips. Quite clearly, Hendry isn’t one for ‘funny’ unless it happens to be at the expense of one of the many people he seems to regard as a useless mouth (which I think covers around 99% of the population) and the ‘Just Like You’ bit could only ever apply if you happened to be a misanthropic supervillain who was in the business of creating complex derivatives out of human pain and suffering. In some ways I kind of knew what I was in for as I’d seem on Newsnight a few months back and was pretty shocked by his apparent lack of compassion for his fellow man then, but that didn’t even come close to preparing for what we witnessed last night.

 

In short, Hendry has three default positions which are as follows:

 

1. Whatever you’re talking about is bleeding heart nonsense that will drive humanity to extinction as it clearly doesn’t turn a profit. As a result, you are stupid and I mock you from my palace made of solid gold.

 

2. I couldn’t give a shit about what you’re talking about as it has no bearing on the making or not making of profits.

 

3. Whatever you’re talking about is more important than the air we breath as it has the potential to make me vast sums of money and as a result I will continue to tolerate your existence, at least until you stop 100% agreeing with me.

 

 

It really is as simple as that. Take Q1 for instance: The very notion of thinking about people on Housing Benefit seemed to be fathoms below his pay grade, as if it were a chore, but then he remembered that he might have to pay taxes for that sort of thing and branded the whole thing “insane!” (as well as “crazy!”, “out of control!” and once again “insane!”). I’ve put exclamation marks behind those quotes as I think they were intended to be exclaimed, but in practice, they were delivered in a tone that said “You bloody idiots. I can barely muster the energy to explain these things to you peasants because you’re all stupid bloody proles who aren’t making me money at this given moment in time”. Similarly with Q2, he had plenty of scorn to pour on the EU (include some weird little aside about bureaucrats not being “people”), all delivered in a manner of such resignation that you were left with no doubt that he does in fact dwell in a completely different reality from the rest of us. Q3 stirred some slightly more convincing interest as it appeared to be a subject that might have something to with whatever parallel universe he inhabits, but it pretty much ended up with him telling off the entire nation for not being very nice to bankers (although he did land a well-aimed slap on Bryant about Labour’s relationship with the City) and a strange little outburst where he said that “Nicola Sturgeon won’t employ your kids!” (of course she won’t. She’s in a party that only has two members). However, the real fireworks were in Q4 where he just came straight out and said that he liked the idea of torture being used to scare terrorists (all said whilst looking bored). Rightly concerned, an audience member picked him up on this a little later and asked whether he really was in favour of torture. Without batting an eyelid, he confirmed this, said he didn’t want the intelligence services hindered by such trifling things as morality and even managed to squeeze in a weird reference to himself in the 3rd person (“Hugh Hendry lives in London with three young children”).

 

WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?11111111111

 

Truly, I was blown away by this guy. I knew he had a reputation as a bit of fundamentalist but I didn’t realise just how black and white his view of the world are and when it comes to marking, I’m at a total loss. In the past, I’ve always marked those who I disagree with but add something to show quite well (your Douglas Murray’s and Nigel Farage’s, for instance), but there was something just so otherworldly and actually quite frightening about this guy that it left me wondering whether Ayn Rand had risen from the dead, got a sex change and moved to Scotland. Ok, I’ve decided: Low marks, if only for making Ruth Lea look like a member of the Woodcraft Folk.

 

A fear inducing 3/10

 

The Crowd: Glasgow

Yet again, not as I expected. Given that Glasgow is usually pretty anti-Tory I was expecting pretty much one way traffic when it came to bashing the coalition but it wasn’t like that. Yes, generally opinion seemed mostly against the cuts, Sturgeon got the majority of claps and most people sounded very dubious about the plan for growth, but it was not a done deal and there was plenty of support in the opposite direction, especially when it came to Housing Benefit in London. Ok, so one guy managed to blame Thatcher, but this is Glasgow where Thatcher Blame is only marginally cheaper than heroin so yeah, colour me surprised with the general tone of the evening. Politically, I didn’t take much from this episode as it seemed to be a rather indecisive ding-dong but in terms of the characters involved, I thought it was interesting, especially watching Bryant and trying to figure out what he was up to. The crowd themselves were a pretty stock affair, but I can happily report that Question Time audience members have taken last week’s advise to heart and that there was a man there sporting a bow tie. For that, Glasgow, you get one mark above average.

 

Average score + 1 Bow Tie Modifier = 6/10

 

Right, we’re done. Actually, that ended up not being completely weird, a feat that is made all the more remarkable on account of the fact that I’ve been listening to the entire Man Or Astroman? discography on random whilst writing this. I remain sane. This is good news.

 

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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