Posts Tagged 'nigel farage'

Questionable Time #137


qt 137

Good morrow lemmings, and welcome to the…UKIPocalypse? Or perhaps not, considering that Fightin’ Farage seems to hold on by the skin of his increasingly yellowing teeth every time. I must say, it’s rather admirable! Also on this show: Brian May. Because why not, right?

You’ve got to UKIP a pocket or two

Our first question is out of the gate and boy is it a doozy. “Is there a place in today’s politics for ‘snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive’ leaders?” – an obvious reference to Farage, who has dramatically unresigned in a daring twist of fate or perhaps existential crisis. I had one last week, and now Farage, faced with the prospect of not being everybody’s favourite pint-poser, scrabbles back to the leadership and the only thing he knows he’s good at. Naturally, opinion in UKIP is split – especially if you’re the ambitious sort looking to take up the cigar and pint glass yourself.

Lord Tristram McSnooty is first up to bat, sporting his outrageously hedge-like pile of hair and strange, bread loaf-like square face, and messes up in about five seconds. A new record! He ignores the question and goes on to his pre-prepared leadership pitch, although at the time of writing still hasn’t officially declared he’s standing. Dimbleby gently reminds him that he’s getting confused again. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s pointy-toed foot is twitching beneath the desk, ready to disembowel any who dares cross him.

Ol’ Nige throws his hands up, as if to say WHAT CAN YA DO. Not like I can help it, guv’na, just an ‘umble servant like m’self, ooh no. Dimbles asks him about possibly having a leadership election – would it “clear the air”? Nigel pooh-poohs the idea. Frankly, he franklies, it would increase the amount of hot air being dispelled by about 200%.

“Surely you’re in the Nick Clegg group now?” says grumpy audience man, referring to Oh-Nicky-You’re-So-Fine’s conspicuous habit of breaking promises, apologising, and crying a lot about it. B-but muh national executive, replies Nigel valiantly.

Then Jeremy Hunt enters the fray, still staring manically and wearing his little NHS pin as if that will make everybody spontaneously like him.

“We’re all human underneath…we’re pretty good at disguising it,” he whispers, in his soft, quietly menacing tones, like Norman Bates from Psycho talking about his mother. He continues with equally worrying lines like this which sound suspiciously like something an alien would say. Tristram Hunt, Hunt 2, chorfs and horfs and flails around trying to rebut Hunt and land a blow on Farage, but honestly I have more confidence in Hunt 1 (Jezza) being competent than Hunt 2 (Trissy), and that’s not a compliment.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

A wild woman appears! What will you do? >Fight >Bag >Poke >Run…I mean, ahem. This is Zanny Minton Beddoes, from the Economist, and she’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who writes for the Economist. I almost don’t need to write down anything she says, and instead throw copies of the Economist into people’s faces while they scream. It has the same effect. Anyway, she’s here to comment on how ridiculous this whole kerfuffle is (as does Brian May, in a slightly different way, hey-hey). True dat, Zanbabwe. True dat.

We need to discuss the future of our politics…starring me, says Loafy. “There’s an awful lot up for grabs,” he continues, for example, say…the leadership. Which leads us to:

Miss Labour Party 2015 World Tour

“Who is the best person to make Labour electable again?” comes the cry, and Tristram rises bumpily into the light like a drunken angel. Nigel smacks him down to terra firma by saying that Labour needs someone not from the metropolitan elite to lead them. Like Nigel! This is reasonable, except when you consider Nigel used to be a City banker, which isn’t metropolitan at all, of course.

Zanny Economizzle says that Labour needs to be in the centre. What the ‘centre’ means is a mystery, but to her it probably means taking baths in a big room full of MONAYYYY like in those old Scrooge McDuck comics. Everybody then rounds on Loafy, pestering him on his intentions: is he going to run, or is he just desperate for attention and love? Tristram explains that he’s not ruling myself in, he’s not ruling himself out, and neither is he shaking it all about.

Brian May sadly shakes his 18th century Georgian wig. ‘Aspiration’ is focused too much on monetary gain, he says, and Labour should become ‘the party of the working man’ again. Jeremy Hunt stares at him, uncomprehendingly, and explains otherwise. It’s frightening. Everyone, even Brian May, on this panel is a little frightening, actually.

Can you not tell house from electronica?

Next: “what concessions should the Prime Minister try and get for Britain from other EU member countries prior to the referenSHNRZZZZZ”. Sorry, fell asleep halfway through.

Zanny, the weird skinny woman, argues that she likes Europe – not the red tape, but rather the MONAYYYY it provides us. Jeremy merely mentions the word ‘benefits’ in the most mouse-like of whispers, and is drowned out by furious applause. It’s time for change in Europe, he says, and then makes this emoticon face: 0_0

Brian May is confuzzled. Why are we discussing this issue and not the far more adorable one at hand: fox hunting? Why not allow a referendum on that?

Jeremy Hunt continues to stare, programming his death. Foxes do not matter. 0_0 They are not humans. 0_0 They cannot hold the pencils in the voting booth. 0_0 Duh.

Farage suddenly explodes, bellowing about a “European army” ready to brainwash your children with fiendish Eurobeat music. When the topic of trading difficulties is brought up, he begins to yelp like a dog with a thorn in its paw. “NO! NO! NO! NO!” he yells, turning into Margaret Thatcher. Up yours, Delors!

Tristram bumbles and fumbles on, making his increasingly muddled pitch. He says that Labour overspent, and, shockingly enough in the constituency where Boris Johnson was elected, is greeted with a big cheer. He looks satisfied. Finally, people are beginning to appreciate him! The British people will decide, he grandstands, with new confidence – with help from the media, of course, and big donations of MONAYYYY!

Zaffy…Daffy…Dappy…whatever her name is, argues in favour of reform from within, to which Nigel is not satisfied and starts actually making some surprisingly decent points about Roy Jenkins’ valiant attempts to slap around the voting system a bit. Suddenly we’re on to another question about electoral reform, which is popular now apparently – the subject has been coming up all throughout this episode, so it’s somewhat difficult to know where to begin with such a complex issue. How about we begin with Tristram squareface breadhead messyhair parachuteseat poshguy talking about history and boring everyone? (Thought not.)

A man from the crowd, possibly an electoral reform hipster, asks where all these posers were during the AV referendum way back when. Nigel sighs and shrugs again, and then…makes the best burn of the night.

“Why Nick Clegg, after the Lib Dems campaigned for 40 years for PR, sold out for AV, I’ll simply never know.”

OOOOH, goes the crowd. OOOOOOOOH! GET IN! (The answer is, of course, because of coalitioneering, but nobody needs to know that.)

So it ends. For what appears like the 23rd time this year, Farage has gotten away with it. Or has he? Stay tuned, lemmings. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of this story yet…

Time for the scores!

Hunt (Con): 6/10

(Weirdly) Clean

Hunt (Lab): 5/10

Preen(ed and fell over)

Farage: 7/10

Keen (for this leadership stuff to just go away)

Minton Beddoes: 5/10

(Weirdly) Lean

May: 7/10

(Played for) Queen

The Crowd: 6/10

(Weirdly) Mean

Next time: not Farage.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #118


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think it was here my troubles began

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

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

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

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

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

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

‘ES A RACIST

‘ES NOT

I’M COMING FOR YOU FARAGE

What does it mean to truly live a life?

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

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

David Dimbleby is clutching his head in pain.

Where are the Lib Dems? Crying in a corner

Time for some NHS screeching! Hooray!

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

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

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

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

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

Then it ends.

Thank you. Thank you for ending.

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

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

Farage: Bathtub/10

(His party is no longer) Small

Mordaunt: Wombat/10

(Good at) Stall(ing with naughty words)

Creagh: Space Jam/10

(In for the long) Haul

Cavendish: π/10

(Has an unchallenging type of) Drawl

Brand: Heat death of the universe/10

(Gawd bless ‘im,) Y’all

The Crowd: 10/10

(All-out) Brawl

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

Next year Lemmings, next year…

Questionable Time #98


questionable time 98 david dimbleby rambo

Good morning Lemmings and if you’re feeling a little shell-shocked by the box of frogs that was last night’s show then stop crying because we only have ourselves to blame. Oh sure, we all thought we were being so clever, inviting Farage on week after week so we could all smugly mock his rubbery face and outlandish views. We thought we were doing it ‘for the lulz’ but now? Now he’s looking like he might actually win an electoral contest and it’s all our fault: We’re the ones who created this monster. We’re the ones who thought everyone else was in on the joke and we’re the ones who’ll be crying into our quinoa the day after the European elections. So answer me this Lemmings, where are your lulz now? WHERE ARE YOUR LULZ NOW?!?!

Anyway…

I love the smell of mania on a Thursday night…

So, Nige is back after his 5 month QT exile and if first impressions are anything to go by then he’s all hopped up to the nines on either a) green room booze, b) unshakeable self-belief or c) a mixture the two. Why do I say this? Well, the shouting was a bit of a giveaway (“They never tamed me!”) but most of all it was just how relentless he was in making the point that I Am None Of The Above (And I Am Most Definitely Not Grant Shapps). Got a problem? Well these guys won’t help you (particularly Grant Shapps). They don’t care, they don’t understand, they CAN’T understand because they’re not like you and me. Sure, they’ll try to paint me as part of the establishment, but you know better. You’ve seen me with my fag and my pint. You know I’m a chancer. You know that I’m probably not that competent but you don’t care. Why? Because you’re sick of being by fobbed off by these guys. Go on, give me a vote and I’ll tell them to naff off.

It’s not the most sophisticated message but it’s effective and very tricky to counter (as evidenced by the rest of the panel’s inability to decisively knobble him). The problem is that sometimes it works too well and last night might just have been one of those occasions. Allow me to explain:

Nigel Farage’s greatest gift is The Knowing Wink that he appends to every interaction – that look on his face that says ‘I know! I can’t believe I’m getting away with it either!’ (see Fig. 1). That’s the thing that we can relate to in Farage, the inner-blagger in all of us that cackles heartily when we’re given too much change or accidentally jump a queue. The problem last night was that The Knowing Wink was being subtly overpowered by The Prospect of Success: You could just see it on his face – he’d caught a whiff of his own hype and quite liked the smell. That gave his delivery this certainty and – dare I say it – a tinge of mania that made it all just a little scary.

Nigel Farage Ladbrokes

Fig. 1

This is a problem because Farage’s entire pitch (and thus by extension UKIP’s) has been that he’s just like us despite the fact that he patently isn’t and the thing that makes that pitch work is The Knowing Wink. Lose that and what have you got? Well, funny you should mention that because the bit on Grant Shapps is about to start.

How not to blag…

Ha! I’ve waited a long time to say this – Grant Shapps is now officially a busted flush and the proof of it is in just how thoroughly trounced he was by Farage last night. Seriously, it was embarrassing at times, watching him try to referendum his way out of the corner the Tories have painted themselves in to but no-one was buying it. And why weren’t they buying it? Because Shapps’ brand of blagging is an entirely different strain to Farage’s and an ugly one at that.

The main problem Shapps has is that his face just seems to constantly militate against sincerity and always ends up coming to a rest in a smug little pout – not a good look at the best of times but doubly so when you’re being taken to the cleaners by the closest thing politics has to Alan Partridge. However, the real kicker is how that look reflects on us, the blaggee. It says ‘I’m taking you for a ride because I’m better than you. Because I hold you in contempt.’. You don’t get that with Farage (who quite frankly seems delighted that anyone’s paying attention to him at all) and when you stack it up next to Shapps’ list of past offences, it becomes clear that it’s going to take more than just cheap beer and bingo to sort it all out.

It’s all coming up Umunna…

A good innings from Chuka last night and one that was aided greatly by both AstraZenica and Nigeria being on the agenda. However, it wasn’t all luck as the Europe question could have gone just as badly for the Red Team as it did the Blue Team had Chuka not been so on the ball when it came to denying Farage the space to make mischief. It’s also personally heartening because I can end up getting quite cross with Umunna for over thinking things and getting hobbled by hesitancy. Not last night though so pointy-points for the Ridiculously Good Looking man in the Red Corner.

Shirley’s bid to outlive Questionable Time…

I can just see me in 40 years time looking at this crap netbook of mine and wondering just what the hell I’m going to say about Shirley Williams after her 10,000 QT appearance. Seriously, she was knocking on a bit when I started doing this but now she’s properly old and still shows no signs of slowing down apart from isolated senior moments (the “country of Asia” anyone?). But still, I won’t complain when that day comes because despite over familiarity, there is an enduring appeal to watching a very forthright woman tell everyone off in turn before conjuring up some anecdote about the mid-20th century. Consistency: There’s a lot to be said for it.

If claps translated in to votes…

Then surely Caroline Lucas would be Queen. Alas, it appears that this not the case and despite a) a very solid performance and b) dressing up as a Christmas present I’m not predicting a Green landslide any time soon. In fact it’s almost like we’ve friendzoned the Greens, telling them how much we love their progressive policies but never actually taking them to the ball. That must be a pretty galling thing to deal with, particularly when they see us getting out of the limo with that weird kid from UKIP. Stay strong Caroline, there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

Tl;dr

Farage: 6/10

High (as a kite)

Shapps: 3/10

(The end is) Nigh

Umunna: 7/10

Aye

Williams: 6/10

(Still surprisingly) Spry

Lucas: 7/10

(Must wonder) Why (the Greens get such a raw electoral deal)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Were pretty) Fly

Well, there you go – a messy affair in which Farage nearly overdosed on himself and Shirley Williams finally took on the form of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’ll do for me.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #65


questionable time 65 david dimbleby hipster

Good morning Lemmings and gah! Who are all these young whelps with their dubsteps, Nintendoboxstations and soaring rates of unemployment? Oh Jesus, they’re the crowd and not only do they have all of the above, they also appear to be in possession of ‘opinions’ and much more scarily, the vote. Quite how this all happened I am not sure but here we are anyway… Let’s see if we can’t Questionable Time some sense into the little buggers.

It turns out that first impressions don’t count for very much at all…

Having recently been to a few gigs where I was acutely aware of being That Guy (you know, the conspicuously old-looking bloke who’s trying to mask his confusion behind an air of vague condescension, a pint of snakebite and a Dillinger four T-shirt) I thought I knew what I was getting into – yet within seconds of that opening shot where the camera pulls back to reveal the audience I realised that I was barking up the wrong tree. Where were all the neck tattoos and Zelda hair? How come no-ones sporting dayglo trainers and plunging necklines? Why aren’t my senses being assaulted by Lynx Africa and overly contrived synth-led breakdowns in the middle of otherwise serviceable metal songs? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?

Well, as it happens, they were the sort of young people who don’t knock about at the same venues as embittered thirty-somethings who are desperately clinging on to the illusion of youth. No, instead they all looked like rather well-adjusted types who decline invitations to get pissed in bus shelters on the grounds that their course work is due in six months time and to be honest, that didn’t sit well with me. “Great.” I thought as I desperately scanned the crowd in the hope of at least locating a solitary goth or maybe a Citizen Smith type. “The Chess Club have finally triumphed. Roll on the Snooze Fest”.

As it happens, my fears were misplaced and as the show unfolded I actually started to find myself getting a bit starry-eyed. It started with the guy who used the first question on internet surveillance as a vehicle to demand Blair be tried for war crimes. “Yes!” I thought to myself. “That’s exactly the sort of tenuous leap into the realms of absolutes that I would have made at your age! Go on son!” Then came the moment when the independence question dropped and neatly divided the audience into two equally belligerent opposing camps. From here on in everything went into panto overload with claps and boos drowning each other out – and it wasn’t just your standard ‘Hummener-hummener-hummener’ type chunterings that you tend to get with adult audiences either. These were proper boos, proper cheers, the sort of noises that people make when they actually believe in things and can envisage what a better world would look like. Lemmings, I hate to admit it but I think I may have experienced an emotion not a million miles away from ‘hope’ by the end of the show.

So that was all rather lovely but before moving on a pair of special mentions are in order.

1. The lad who had a pop at “Glorious England” and our routine persecution of Scots: It was a dumb move that saw him receive a righteous beat down but I will say this: There was an odd dignity in the way he took his licks. It was all in that look of resigned defeat that I like to call Opinors Remorse.

2. And who can forget the young man who posited that Scottish independence would bring us “one step closer to finding aliens” only to be rewarded with a volley of incredulity from none other than Dimbers? There’s a lesson in all this fellah, a lesson that I learnt the hard way: Those little scenes that play out in your imagination, you know, the ones where you get all Carpe Diem and dazzle everyone with your audacious whackiness? Yeah, they rarely work out like that…

Guess we’d better do some panel then…

I’ll keep it brief for the main three: Angus Robertson did The Big Man thing and did so with varying degrees of success, Ruth Davidson gave us another rendition of the Plucky Underdog and more-or-less got away with it while Anas Sarwar basically mulched his way through but did display a few rare moments of something-or-other.

As for the other’s, well the sight of seeing the UK’s two leading providers of demagoguery (one – Galloway – who sincerely and profoundly believes his own hype while the other – Farage – can’t believe his luck that others sincerely and profoundly believe his own hype) temporarily setting aside their mutual hostility and making common cause against the Tartan Peril was both entertaining and perplexing. It sort of reminded me of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact although I should point out that it (the Pact, that is) really didn’t turn out to be all that entertaining in the long run. Oh, and while we’re on the matter of Galloway, see Fig. 1.

george-galloway-rula-lenska-cat

Fig. 1

And Lesley Riddoch? Bloody good. So bloody good in fact that it rekindled this latent jealousy that I have for Scotland: Things like social justice and equality are treated as something to proud of there, not like in England where they’ve come to be regarded as some sort of pie-in-the-sky fairy tale. Damn you Scots, damn you and your faith in the collective good.

Tl;dr

Davidson: 5/10

(Is) Small

Robertson: 6/10

(Wants sovereignty north of Hadrian’s) Wall

Sarwar: 5/10

(Made it feel like a long) Haul

Galloway: 7/10

(Still has the ability to) Appall

Farage: 6/10

(Is ever the goof) Ball

Riddoch: 8/10

(Was up for a right good) Brawl

The Crowd: 9/10

(Should treat themselves to a pub) Crawl (but only when they are legally old enough to do so).

See that? 9/10? I must be going soft in my old age. Anyway, good episode and next week looks like a total belter as well…. Come on Brand, make sweet love to Melanie Phillips in front of a live studio audience. Right, that’s your lot – apart from a minor nag to go and visit my other site at some point. It’s weird, but… you know…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #60


questionable time 60 david dimbleby crop circle

Good morning Lemmings and let us not beat about the bush: I really wasn’t feeling last night’s show. The primary cause for this is that the news which – through a combination of sustained Thatchering and high drama on the other side of the Pond – has gone and knackered itself out, leaving precious little of interest for our weekly political cage fight. Should you require some hard evidence of this then look no further than the inclusion of an Abu Qatada question (the QT equivalent of a blinking fuel light) and the now regular ritual of trying to get fired up by sub-percentage movements in the GDP figures. Still, at least there wasn’t a question on the legalisation of cannabis. That’s when you know the tank’s completely dry.

Right, let’s see what we can salvage from these charred remains.

Sajid Javid is not fannying about.

I like a good n00b on QT. I like watching those little beads of sweat and hearing those garbled words as they struggle to get their bearings so I was delighted to see that we had two last night, Sajid Javid and Luciana Berger. As far as the sweaty-garbling stakes go, I’m pleased to say that despite a strong opening, Berger soon got rattled and managed to mangle all manner of straightforward sentences into semantically impossible contortions (Qatada is “Europe’s right hand man in Al Qaeda”, a ‘construction centre’ became a “contruction centre” and something-or-other was “appropriately fine”), all of which is entirely forgivable considering that this was the first time she’d been exposed to the horrors of Question Time, but that’s her Get Out Of Jail Free card gone. Next time it’s Big School Rules.

The same cannot be said for Javid however. No, instead of running on pure adrenaline like most first-timers he just sat there like an angry brick and stared all danger into submission with those terrifying eyes of his. Fancy having a go about the economy? How about I have a go at you instead. Think you can trap me in a Qatada bind? Please Nigel, feel free to bleat on about how absurd the situation is but don’t for a second think that I’m copping the flak for some rather irksome circumstances. Reckon that my background might make me a soft touch on immigration? Let me categorically disabuse you of such folly with my uncompromising stance on… well… everything really.

Ok, so the content (helping after helping of Tory red meat) was a little protein heavy and flavour light but the delivery was so utterly unshakable that he made for some pretty compelling viewing. So keep an eye on this guy. He may well be a n00b on paper but an hour of trying to duck his laser beam stare tells me that he’s a pre-baked QT hardnut who we’ll be seeing a lot more of.

I wish we got the Farage I saw earlier in the week…

If you didn’t see Channel 4 News’ wonderful ‘Farage in Bulgaria’ piece then stop reading this and watch it right the hell now for it was a thing of much loveliness. For the uninitiated the premise was very simple: Channel 4 sent Farage to Bulgaria with a camera crew, hopefully to discover that the whole nation is hellbent on upping sticks and bringing our welfare state to its knees, except that they aren’t. Nope, despite the cockeyed wailings of unhinged Kippers it appears that the Bulgarians have got this country’s number (damp and grumpy) and would much rather send Nigel on a series of back-to-back drinking sessions instead. For the terminally lazy or those at work, I’ve handily condensed the whole affair into .gif form (see. Fig. 1) but please, do check it out.

farage-bulgaria-gif

Fig. 1

Anyway, it was telly gold (not least because it achieves that impossible comedic dream: The unholy fusion of Partridge and Borat) and in many ways Farage came out of it looking rather good. Ok, so on paper the entire thing was a failure as it rendered UKIP’s latest stick to beat public opinion with rather twig-like but on a personal level it was a triumph because it illustrated the rather more endearing side of Farage: The goofiness, the ‘I can’t believe I’m getting away with this!’ look in his eyes and the fact that he’s probably very entertaining company to keep.

Alas, the Nigel we saw in that film was nowhere to be seen last night and instead it was business as usual for Question Time’s perennial squatter-turned-resident: Shrill on rhetoric (Crime Epidemic!), shifty on policy (Flat tax! Maybe!) and very, very much blissed out on nostalgia (GRAMMAR SCHOOOOOOOOOOOLS!). Still, should his political ambitions come to nowt, at least he’s got a decent shot at the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance.

Fair do’s to Bennett…

So this is Bennett’s second outing in a little more than a month but I can’t find much to gripe about. Naturally, there’re a few tweaks to be made here and there and a little enthusiasm that needs curbing but considering how well she stood up to Sajid’s Terminator act, I’d say she’s got the basics down pat.

*Tenuously related note of unsubstantiated gossip.*

I was speaking with someone who walks in Green circles and was informed of growing consternation in the party’s ranks about the following: Natalie Bennett has a habit of wearing green all the time and it’s starting to look a little… odd. You heard it here first.

Handwringing or angry? HANDWRINGING OR ANGRY?!

That’s the question that Simon Hughes asks himself upon awaking each morning and yesterday he plumped for ANGRY. Luciana’s having a pop about the economy? “Don’t you lecture me!” Javid reckons the ECHR is negotiable? FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS! You get the picture.

Anyway, that was Hughes and I do find his ‘angry’ act rather charming because you can tell he’s trying so hard to pull it off…. Like straining every fibre in his body to let you know that he’s really, really ticked off. Does it work? Sort of. Is it better than the handwringing? Infinitely.

Tl;dr

Javid: 6/10

(Man of) Steel

Hughes: 5/10

(Made a) Meal (of his angriness)

Berger: 5/10

We’ll (see)…

Farage: 5/10

(Sur)Real

Bennett: 6/10

(Likes to wear shades close to) Teal

The Crowd: 5/10

(Idolise Ian) Beale?

Hmmm… Not QT’s finest hour but I guess it will do. In a brief aside, I’m playing a gig next Thursday night so apologies in advance but you’ll just have to get thoroughly Starkied without me. Ooh, you lucky little buggers!

In a fortnight Lemmings, in a fortnight…

Questionable Time #48


questionable time 48 davidi dimbleby camoflage

Good morning Lemmings and come, let us huddle for warmth in this most spiteful of winters. I know, I know, everything sucks right now – we’re knee-deep in the January Blues, everyone’s skint and it’s snowing hippos – but at least we can take solace in the fact no matter how apocalyptic the weather is, the Thursday night spectacle of ire, bile and absurdity remains resolutely unaffected. So come Lemmings, let us gather the survivors, let us construct a makeshift shelter from the charred remains of this week’s episode and let us hope for the best.

I’m a little gutted that Nigel Farage is finally growing up…

Oh Nigel, how far we have come, you and I… When I first laid eyes on you I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. I don’t remember the exact circumstances but the chances are that you had been conjuring up wild stories of how the EU had made spherical bricks mandatory or maybe laying out some vision of a perfect society based entirely on gammon and Rotarians. Whatever. All I knew was that most of the things you said were vaguely populist and definitely bonkers, neither of which particularly buttered my parsnips. However, all that was before I started writing Questionable Time and once I was actually forced to watch you week in, week out, I began to see things differently. That’s when I discovered The Magic of Nigel Farage.

It hinges on this: For three solid years, you could predict with unerring accuracy how Nigel Farage would fare on QT. Initially, he would look nervous and shifty – like he knew he was gate crashing the party and it was only a matter of time before the host cottoned on – but this state of affairs would only last so long. By midway you’d see this look coming over his face, a look that said ‘You know what? Bollocks to this. I’m going for it’ and then suddenly, the game would change. Caution? To the wind! Reason? To hell with it! I’m going to make some faintly ludicrous statements and there’s nothing you can do about it! That wasn’t the magic though. The magic was that wonderful moment where the crowd would start clapping and you could hear his brain scream ‘OMG! I’M ACTUALLY GETTING AWAY WITH THIS!’.

However, that’s still not quite the full story as there was a third component to any given Farage outing and that was The Tragic Coda. It’s pretty simple really: After getting all hopped up on the dizzying scent of approval, he’d always overplay his hand and that rush of applause that had sustained him would trickle off to one solitary and quite, quite mad member of the audience clapping very, very loudly. This is the moment when you could see it kick in, the fatal realisation that ‘Oh god, I’ve totally buggered this up!’. To me, that was the icing on the cake as every episode had this wonderfully self-contained story arc that played out with the regularity of clockwork: Nigel the Underdog followed by Nigel the Victorious followed by Nigel the Defeated.

These days though? I dunno, something’s changed. For one, UKIP are actually making hay so there is the faint worry in the back of my head that he might come good on his gammon based society but more importantly, he seems aware of when he’s over-egging the pudding now. Ok, so that bit when he and an audience member got over excited about the French not taking part on the Falklands War could have qualified as a ‘Bollocks to it’ moment, but it occurred right at the end of the show and left no space left for the full Tragic Coda. Well dammit Nigel, I need that Tragic Coda. That was the bond that kept us together but it appears that you have turned your back on our arrangement and become infatuated with the grubby trappings of electoral viability. My heart? It is broken.

On any given night Flint vs. Shapps should be a good draw…

…Except that it wasn’t and to be honest, this was a pretty shonky episode that even Dimbers’ rather fetching frog tie couldn’t save. Alright, so the news is in the New Year’s doldrums and the only real going concern – Cameron’s Europe speech – got spiked by hostages in Algeria but I was expecting a little more from Shapps and Flint, a pair who positively ooze that Step-Siblings Who Don’t Get On vibe. Alas, on this occasion it was wet playtimes all round as Flint defaulted to her ‘MUST. DEFEND. EVERYTHING. NEW. LABOUR. EVER. DID.’ position whilst Shapps gave us the usual runaround of having an answer for everything whilst somehow addressing nothing (‘Hey guys… This is all really important and stuff, but stuff I’ve stuffed should stuff it right back into stuff). Shapps by a nose, but without honours.

At least Mary Beard gave it a fair crack…

So she’s all a bit ‘Who’s got the keys to the Volvo!?’/’I don’t suppose you could you tape me the latest Ladysmith Black Mambazo LP?’/’No, I’m sure the farmer’s market is this way!’ but in the final reckoning, Mary Beard was last night’s saving grace. Someone needed to keep the new and worryingly stable Farage in check, someone needed to respond to questions with a modicum of thought and someone needed to tell us whether horse meat is actually up to snuff. That person was Mary Beard. Well done. Have some points.

I have no idea who Roland Rudd is…

The funny thing about PR people is how little you can find out about them. So far as I can gather, Roland Rudd’s one of those figures who repeatedly crops up in the background (he’s reputedly one of the ‘Four Wise Men’ who Tony Blair consulted on his way out), apparently pulls loads of strings and then disappears to do whatever shadowy PR people do. Am I any the wiser after watching last night’s episode? Am I hell. All I can really tell you is that he has very good posture and that his attempt to crack a joke about the purity of burgers got him nowhere. Oh well… You can lead a horse to water…

TL;DR

Shapps: (Likes to talk about) Stuff

5/10

Flint: (Was a little) Duff

5/10

Farage: (Managed to rein in the excess) Guff

6/10

Beard: (Took the evening by the) Scruff (of the neck)

7/10

Rudd: (Doesn’t do off the) Cuff (jokes very well)

5/10

The Crowd: (Were in the) Buff?

4/10

So bah! A stinker of an episode! Truly, January is the cruelest of months. Anyway, to take the edge off it, here’s a something I prepared for the old Nigel, the Nigel I knew and loved (see Fig. 1).

nigel farage needs you kitchener poster

Fig. 1

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #42


Good morning Lemmings and welcome to Corby, a town that I recently discovered has absolutely nothing to do with trouser presses but does harbour an enormous amount of Scottish people. Who knew? Anyway, the other big thing about Corby is that it’s a classic bellweather constituency that happens to be holding a Mensch induced by-election. Now, conventional QT wisdom would suggest that this would make for a solid show, one riven with partisan bile and political rowdyism but somehow that just didn’t happen last night. Here’s why.

Chris Grayling was surprisingly tolerable…

He’s been an irksome thing of late has Grayling. It’s not the fact that he does the whole puff-chested, ‘Tuff On Crims’ thing – I expect that from Tory Justice Ministers who aren’t Ken Clarke – it’s because he seems to enjoy it so much and that gives him quite an unpleasant edge. However, I’ve got to say that he really didn’t wind me up that much last night and that’s mainly because the questions were a bit duff. With the exception of the obligatory Who Will Win The By-Election question (in which he put in a reasonable effort at damage control), the rest of them concerned matters where there isn’t a huge gulf between the parties. Sure, minor blows were traded on matters pertaining to paedophiles, Abu Hamza and Israel but there was no great set-piece where he had the opportunity to really wind me up. That’s a problem because I need a baddy in my QT line-up just like I need Ride of the Valkyries as my alarm clock tone: It’s not that I particularly like either Wagner or waking up, it’s that at least the combination of the two give the otherwise mundane an air of drama. Grayling was my best shot for a baddy last night and on that front he failed. However, I suppose I can take solace in the fact that he appeared a little slippery when questioned about why he didn’t frequent Starbucks. “I don’t like coffee” came the just-too-quick response. Slippery. Like his head. His big, baked bean of a head (see Fig. 1).

chris grayling baked bean

Fig. 1

I almost ended up making Harriet Harman a cup of tea…

There are some constants in this world like cycle of life and death, the turning of the seasons and automatically flicking over the channel whenever you hear The One Show theme. Harriet Harman appearing on QT is one of those constants and it’s now so routine that when I went to the fridge for another beer I caught myself saying “Can I get you anything Harriet?” out loud. So yes, this was another problem as every time she started talking I just sort of phased out and nodded along politely, like you do when a friend tells you a long and involved story that you’ve heard a million times before. It’s not that it’s a bad story, nor can I find particular fault with her recounting of it, but seriously Harriet, we need to spice things up a little. How about going on I’m a Celeb? At least it’d give Dimbers another excuse to talk about “eating testicles”.

I didn’t feel fully Faraged by the end of play…

Here he is, my forbidden fruit, my furtive fumble in the dark, my sordid little crush. Yes, Nigel’s back for those who are not aware, I have all the time in the world for the UKIP leader. It’s not his politics – I find them to be little more than drunken scrawlings on the political toilet wall – it’s the fact that he seems never more than two steps away from slipping on a banana skin that he himself just dropped. With this in mind, I can’t help feeling a little short-changed by last night’s show. Fair enough, he did come across as quite potty when he started yelling “THAT’S HOW IT WORKS” as he desperately tried to frame Europe as the source of all tax avoidance but he could have gone so much further. In fact, my dream scenario was that he’d get so giddy about UKIP’s frighteningly good prospects in the Corby by-election that he’d prematurely call the whole deal an outright win for the Red, White and Blue Team before spending the next couple of years living down endless VT footage of him erroneously bellowing ‘IT STARTED HERE, IN CORBY!’. Alas, it was not to be and while he was quite mad, he could have been madder. Dammit UKIP, you’ve really got to stop with all this We Might Actually End Up Being Something Resembling An Actual Political Party business. It’s getting scary.

Tessa Munt has a way to go…

I usually give out good marks for talking slowly as it makes a nice change from the usual frenetic babbling whilst also fostering a feeling of solidity and trustworthiness. Unfortunately, Tessa Munt took the whole slow talking thing just a little too far and found herself deep within Playing For Time territory. The paedophile question was particularly instructive in this instance: She embarked on what looked like a nice little warm-up about how she’d been talking to some lad about something or other and there was a moment where she could have segued seamlessly into an actual point… Except she didn’t. Instead, she just kept going and going, eventually ending up exploring all the permutations of how children and adults could do violence to one another. The feeling I was left with was ‘you don’t really have a point, do you?’. Still, great name. Munt. Muuuuuuuuunt.

Moray MacLennan could use a hobby…

What’s with all the 5th panelists they trawl on from the world of business, finance and, in this case, advertising? They all seem so consumed by the game they’re in that I want to grab them by the lapels and yell “WHY NOT JUST STAY IN AND WATCH CRAP TV ONCE IN A WHILE?!?!” Alright, MacLennan does have a sick note in this department as the subjects of the corporate tax question happened to be his clients (Google and Amazon) but still, when he started going about ‘value crystalising’ and ‘the customer experience’ I honestly thought he was going to whip out a PowerPoint presentation and talk us through some focus group findings. Except that he’s the sort of jagged looking advertising guy who wouldn’t use Power Point. He’d use whatever the Apple version is. iDon’tTheseGraphsLookEdgy or something.

Tl;dr

Grayling: 5/10

(Looks a little like a baked) Bean

Harman: 5/10

(Has been on Question Time since I was about) Seventeen

Munt: 3/10

(Could use a little) Caffeine

Farage: 6/10

(Should never be allowed near) Gasoline

MacLennan: 4/10

(Probably talks about work in the) Canteen

The Crowd: 6/10

(Regress towards the) Mean?

 

So damn and blast, this episode felt like a missed trick. It had a baddy, it had a wildcard and the crowd were certainly willing but somehow all these things just failed to come together. That, and I’m still reeling from the trouser press revelation.

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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