Posts Tagged 'Owen Jones'

Questionable Time #138


qt 138

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another beauteous edition of Questionable Time! It’s sure to be exactly as exciting as the Labour leadership race, which is to say not at all. Most likely, anyway. Let’s get ready to bumble!

Owen Jones leaves One Direction – 100k retweets

Our panellists tonight include Not Michael Gove, a kawaii manga woman, a child on his first day of school, Edina from Ab Fab, and a ginger egg. Hilary Devey, in particular, is described as a ‘former Dragon’, which brings to mind images of her burninating the countryside, burninating the peasants, and burninating their thatched roof cottages. I mean, sure, whatever you like to do in your free time is cool, I guess. Meanwhile, Owen Jones has a natty new haircut and is looking sharp ‘n’ serious. They may call him Babyface, but get on his bad side and he’ll kneecap you at twenty paces.

Our first question: “is it realistic to reduce net migration by under 100,000?” – it remains to be seen if this is just a random figure plucked from the air, or an actual target, written on an Excel spreadsheet, which gives all things gravitas. Nicky Morgan, Gove’s underwhelming replacement who looks constantly startled to still even be in her job, thinks it’s a great plan, and very fair and fairful in a fair fairness-y way.

Tim Farron – upon hearing his name, one can only think of that Malcolm Tucker rant about what kind of men are actually named Tim in this day and age – gets a big ol’ clap for saying immigration is more of a blessing than a curse. A rare event on Question Time! The Lib Dems, cut down in their prime like a cheeky hedgerow, are more than a little peeved that Davey C is updating his ‘mess we inherited’ line to target his former coalition partners. Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, is notably in the line of fire for blocking tougher immigration rhetoric. It’s incredibly obvious that Ginger Egg is gunning for the lefty vote in his leadership contest: the leadership of his eight MPs, including himself. Meanwhile, the SNP roar in agony that none of their bazillion MPs got picked to go on t’ telly. If they find the one that looks most like an egg, it might raise their chances!

Nicky disagrees that there was any sneaky demonisation going on, carefully ignoring the long shadow of those ‘go home’ vans that drove around a couple of years ago, looking ugly and not even featuring a novelty car horn. She goes on to say we need more control, reform, and most importantly: exit checks.

At this point, Owen appears, here to make the most retweetable comments of the night. This fear campaign is not bringing down numbers, says he. It wasn’t hard-working migrant nurses who caused the crash. It was the bankers. The bloody bankers. Put that on a t-shirt: the bloody bankers, innit? I’d buy it.

Hilary, ex-dragon, with a voice like an old motor to match, doesn’t see the problem if immigrants help the economy, it’s just that the infrastructure isn’t there to accommodate them. Stella Creasy bursts in, and my head promptly explodes from how earnest she is. Her pleading tones, sparkly eyes and appeals to common decency have been well-documented here at Questionable Time – she’s like a My Little Pony character with a degree (and a love of indie music). The Prime Minister, she says, is a silly-billy because he pledged to make “illegal working a criminal offence”. Everybody laffs/larfs/laurghefs. Nicky looks horrified and hits back. Didn’t you know, Stella? We’ve got this one. We’ve got Sajid Javid on the job.

A very loud man in the crowd begins to hector the panel about the EU. Tim is grossly offended and says that going on and on about keeping out the EU-ers makes Britain look like a “nasty” place. And, by extension, that means you, audience man. You’re a nasty ass. That can be Tim’s campaign slogan, by the way.

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living

Is a 7-day NHS really viable? Hilary wants to know where the money is coming from. As she croaks out her concerns, Nicky merely looks at this strange person, with her sparkly epaulettes, in utter confusion and shock. She says that it can’t be right that if you go to the doctor’s on Sunday you’ll drop dead in the waiting room. Saw it happen just last Tuesday. Tragic.

Stella agrees with the need for more MONAY but criticises the Tories for breaking everything up and selling it off so people are left running helplessly around trying to find a doctor like in a Scooby Doo chase scene. Owen Jones then goes on about the top-down reorganisation of the NHS, and the crowd loves this – goodness, this is quite a left-wing audience, isn’t it? Last week was Uxbridge, though, so it balances out.

Nicky is, frankly, hurt that you’re all doubting this cool pledge. This is just anti-Tory bias. Toryism. And she, for one, won’t stand for it.

Eggman, on the other hand, says that there is one way to solve this problem: a TARDIS. The Lib Dems have now gone so far over the edge that time travel has become one of their new policy pledges. Why not? It’s not like they have anything else left to lose.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Knowing me knowing EU

Next up: is the British economy strong enough to pull out of Europe?

Owen says that while he supports staying in the EU, Labour should have supported a referendum. Stella shrugs and argues her magnificent point: that we’ve got one now, so whatever lol. Hilary wants more education about the issue, and Nicky bites back by saying that we shouldn’t be frightened of what people think (especially when they’ve just thought they’d like to elect the Tories again).

Owen concludes by appealing to give UKIP voters hope. Perhaps he’s making his pitch for the Labour leadership? Which brings us on to our next topic (going through ’em quick today!): are trade unions the kiss of death for a leadership candidate?

Jonesy cracks his knuckles, ready for another Twitterstorm. He goes on about Keir Hardie, probably because he named his cat after him. The trade unions have done more with their little toe than most of the underwhelming SPADS that fill politics today, he says. Why is it that they are the ones demonised, when rich nasty dudes fund the rich nasty Tory Party? Take that, society!

Nicky says that she liked Jim Murphy (chief disser of Len McCluskey) very much, probably because he lost all those Labour seats in Scotland. Tim is in favour of collective bargaining but not the union link: good job he’s in the Lib Dems, then, and not the Labour Party! Stella praises the unions, tears practically glistening in her eyes, and Owen gets in a tiff with Hilary, who is shrugging at MAXIMUM SPEED and questioning why we even need trade unions in this day and age. We have Candy Crush Saga instead, which is, like, almost the same thing.

For some horrible reason, we still have a few minutes remaining. Therefore, we come to the most important question of the week, or perhaps even our entire age: IS THE GAY CAKE PROBLEMATIC?!

Everybody agrees that it was. Does that mean we could get an infinite money cheat out of it, says Dimbles, by forcing anti-gay cake bakers to repeatedly pay fines for eternity? The answer, Nicky says, is yes. w00t!

Stella, however, remains too earnest for he own good. What if someone did it to you?, she says, looking at Dimbleby with hope in her heart. In response, Dimbleby looks…shocked. More shocked than he’s ever been in his life – and chairing this programme, he’s seen some seriously shocking shit.

Stella valiantly continues. She keeps referencing his sexuality, which is something nobody needs to consider. NO HOMO, screams Dimbledore’s facial expression. Stella shoots a glare at people laughing. This is a serious issue! Just what exactly is so funny? Funny how? Funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to amuse you?! Huh?!

With that bombshell, I think it’s time to wrap up.

Time for the scores!

Morgan: 6/10

(Sitting stiffly in her) Seat

Creasy: 8/10

(Tooth-rottingly) Sweet

Farron: 7/10

(The Lib Dem to) Beat

Jones: 8/10

(Re)Tweet(ed)

Devey: 7/10

(Probably frightening to) Meet

The Crowd: 7/10

(In for a) Treat

Next time: maybe an SNP panellist? Incredible!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #75


questionable time 75 david dimbleby dimblescally

Good morning Energy Prices and welcome to Energy Priceable Time, a sideways look at Energy Price Time and the fascinating debates all the participants have about Energy Prices. The subjects we’ll be covering today include ‘Energy’ and ‘Prices’ but if we’re lucky we might have enough time to really explore what it means to Price Energy and I’m also hoping we can squeeze in a ‘fun’ final question where we all get to ask Vicky Pryce about her Energy. WHAT A FUN WAY TO SPEND OUR DAYS.

 

Alright, I’ve got that off my chest now… Let’s get down to business.

 

I had a little proud last night…

Screaming fishwives”. That’s what my mother texted me at precisely 11pm last night and aside from the numerous issues this statement raises (why did Caroline Flint and Liz Truss marry fish?) the sentiment appears to be valid: There was much fussing and fighting going on between our two lead protagonists that generated much heat but little light. However, my head was somewhere else at that point in the show because I was experiencing a strange sensation: I was starting to feel actually rather proud of Caroline Flint.

 

First of all a little context: I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now and during that time I’ve probably seen more of Caroline Flint than her fish husband has (I’ve just checked and she’s been on 10 times since Questionable Time started). For the bulk of that time we’ve been used to seeing the tooth-and-nail Flint who had a very straight forward approach to QT: Go in fast, go in aggressive and for God’s sake just keep moving. Sometimes this would work but more often than not it would result in pell-mell scuffles where she was going at such a rate of knots that she’d inevitably trip up on her own rhetorical shoelaces and go flying across the studio head first. To her credit though, she’d always dust herself down and be back a few weeks later to repeat the exercise with similar results.

 

Fast forward to last night and what have we got? Well, in many respects this was the same Caroline Flint – combative, quarrelsome and up for a scrap – but something in her demeanour’s changed in that she’s learned how to ride the tempo. For example, the Flint of Yore would have probably started well on the energy prices question but then got carried away by the thrill of the chase and talked herself into a corner. The Flint of Now knew better and gave Truss just enough room (and it really wasn’t much) to do all the corner talking herself.

 

So what’s brought on this change? Aside from the obvious (sheer practice plus the advantage of being a Shadow Energy Secretary who’s stolen a march on the government) I think this may all come down to one man: Grant Shapps. Now I know that sounds odd but cast your mind back about a year and you may remember a very weird period when both Flint and Shapps were always appearing on the likes of QT and The Daily Politics together. At first this seemed like quite a fair fight but after a while Flint clearly gained the upper hand and was regularly running rings around him. Why? Because she finally twigged that if you spend the whole time talking over Grant Shapps, Grant Shapps won’t have the opportunity to do what he does best – come across as a total blagger and self-hoisting petard. It seems that this lesson has now been thoroughly learned by Flint and in a weird way I’m kind of proud of her: We took a long time getting here but got here we did. Well done my Fishy Wife, have a gif of you riding various things to celebrate (see Fig. 1).

 

caroline-flint-riding-things-gif

Fig. 1

In Liz we Truss…

…Actually no we don’t given the torrid time she had last night but it was such a good headline that I felt obliged to go with it. Anyway, Liz… Not such a great performance and one that came across as very rigid as she doggedly tried to march her way through all the many obstacles in her path. In some ways this isn’t surprising as Truss is chiefly driven by ideology – never the most flexible of blueprints – but the rolled eyes and halting delivery didn’t do much to further her ends. I will say this though: She’s tough and I like her name. Truss… I bet she’s great at holding walls together.

 

hey pete, u ok hun? X

Just when I was growing grudgingly fond of Peter Hitchens he has to go and spoil it all by putting in possibly the most melancholic QT performance I can recall. Energy? It’s all a swindle to diddle me out of my dreams of coal-fired autarky. Education? That was abolished in the 60’s. Britain? Get out while you can. What a ray of bloody sunshine.

 

Stop fighting boys!

I’m beginning to dread Owen Jones being on because it’s become increasingly hard to find things to say other than ‘well done’. However, I do have a legitimate bone to pick this week because he started getting all leary with Tim Farron who, as regular readers will know, I have been hopelessly in love since our eyes first met across the QT studio. Come on now Owen, play nicely. Apart from that it was business as usual from these two who were more than happy to baste a sympathetic crowd with the goose fat of social democracy before roasting them in them in the oven of Things The Crowd Want To Hear. Job done, now lets all be friends and go for milkshakes and have a sleepover and make a den in the woods and build a rope swing and…

 

 

Tl;dr

 

Flint: 6/10

(Has) Learned (much)…

 

Truss: 4/10

Churned (her way through)…

 

Farron: 6/10

(Was) Burned (by Jones)…

 

Jones: 6/10

Spurned (Farron)…

 

Hitchens: 4/10

(Clearly) Yearned (to be elsewhere)…

 

The Crowd: 6/10

(Think – just like my Rhyming Dictionary – that) Zurn (is a legitimate word)…

 

Well, I guess it was better than the last couple of weeks but it’s all still a bit doldrummy in QT-Land right now. If only someone would give Godfrey Bloom a ring. Go on QT Production Team, you know it makes sense…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #43


questionable time 43 david dimbleby andy warhol

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to a very heavyweight line-up for this week’s Questionable Time. That’s right, after shilly-shallying about with the likes of Munt and MacLennan in last week’s episode we’re now back in the major leagues again. You want the Shadow Home Secretary? Done! How about Britain’s foremost Angry Young Man? Bang! Here’s Owen Jones! Maybe a former party leader? Shutuppayourface, here’s two! A suitably grand sounding venue? I see your generic location name and raise you a goddamn palace! And of course there’s Deborah Meaden. Oh.

Anyway, sky-high expectations aside, bitter experience has shown that a solid panel does not necessarily a good show make. Could this robust sounding blueprint for QT heaven deliver on its promise? Well let’s just see about that…

I think I’m one step closer to cracking the riddle of IDS…

There are a great many things that vex me about IDS but one has been particularly bothering me of late: How did he ever survive as a junior officer in the Scots Guards? I ask this because the Scots Guards and IDS just seem like two things that should never really go together. Here you have – on the one hand – a man whose face is always contorted somewhere between self-doubt, uncertainty and a very terrible appreciation of his own awkwardness whilst on the other we have not just an infantry regiment, but one of the stuffiest and ritualistic outfits in an organisation that prides itself on engineering situations that freak out the socially awkward. It just struck me as very odd and I often wondered how 1st Lt. Duncan Smith – with that face of his so visibly playing out some horrible conflict within his soul – could convince a bunch of hard-bitten enlisted men of why they should listen to him, let alone follow his orders.

Well dear Lemmings, now we know. He’s a classic Long Fuse/Big Bomb and last night was the perfect illustration of this. To begin with, he actually had quite a good ride, doing his best to escape unscathed on female bishops and the EU whilst actually coming across as quite thoughtful at points. However, there was something niggling him and that something was Owen Jones, what with all his voting prisoners and disestablished churches. ‘Troublemaker!’ said IDS’s face, but he managed to bite his lip and generally keep a lid on his growing sense of unease. Then the question about the proposed benefits cap came up and everything went mental.

In the general scheme of thing’s, IDS first response, a semi-rousing ‘It Just Isn’t Fair’, wasn’t bad but he was comprehensively out-roused by Jones’ crushing ‘You’re Damn Right It Just Isn’t Fair’ counter punch. Throw into that some sustained heckling that made Dimbers very cross and you could see it all getting just a bit too much for him. “HOLD ON YOU!” he bellowed, his face now a picture indignant certainty… and then it ended. Time’s up.

So yes, we didn’t get to see the full explosion (oh for another five minutes) but the early indicators were pretty telling. And that is how I reckon IDS survived in the Scots Guards: He’d take the ‘Kick Me’ signs, the backchat and name calling up to a point, but when that point was reached, boy did everybody know about it.

I’d love to shower Owen Jones with praise but jealousy prevents it…

If only I hadn’t spent the best part of my twenties looking like “a homeless wizard”, trying to drive ice cream vans into pedestrians on Grand Theft Auto and being sick in nightclub toilets then maybe, just maybe, I could have been some sort of proto-Owen Jones. Except that I didn’t and given that being Owen Jones seems to involve a level of passion, relevance and good-lookingness that I’d have great difficulty in summoning I guess I’ll just have to settle for what I’ve got. I’d totally beat him at any computer game though. Name your platform Owen, you will not win.

Yvette doesn’t ride for free today…

I usually go easy on Yvette, mainly because she has a lot to put up with. As Labour’s Appropriate Adult, she’s the one who gets dragged out to straighten out whatever unholy mess they’ve found themselves in and you can tell by that faint whiff of exacerbation she always carries that it’s got to her over time. However, she got so rattle by the matter of why Labour voted for the EU budget cut that she started talking really fast and getting a little over-eager with the maxim ‘the best form of defence is offence’, none of which peels my spuds. That, and I’m getting really fed up with Labour panelist trying to shoehorn ‘The Squeezed Middle’ and ‘One Nation’ into every damn sentence. Having said that ‘The One Middle’ or ‘Squeezed Nation’ would make perfectly serviceable boy bad names.

Chat Show Charlie may just be losing his magic…

I have a dream. It’s a bit of a weird dream but bear with me. I’d love to lie on my sofa, with my head in Charles Kennedy’s lap as he tenderly stroked my hair and told me that everything was going to be alright. Thanks to the terrifying power of Photoshop, that disturbing dream is now an even more disturbing reality, but enough of these things (see Fig. 1). Anyway, it’s that wonderful Soda-Stream of a voice he’s got, that voice that gurgles away all the bad in the world. Unfortunately, I am beginning to notice that while his voice is undeniably soothing, it is increasingly saying less and less whilst doing so in quite a round-the-houses manner. So c’mon Charlie, I know it’s hard adjusting to a world where the Yellow Team can’t look themselves in the mirror but that’s the way it is and dulcet tones alone won’t sustain me any more.

charles kennedy loudribs head in lap sofa

Fig. 1

I shouldn’t have been rude about Deborah Meaden in the first paragraph…

Ok, I confess. I thought that Meadan was going to be your standard I’m An Entrepeneur And There’s Nothing That Can’t Be Solved With A Tax Cut but she was actually really good and, shock horror, balanced. Granted, our views differ but at least she has views that aren’t exclusively dictated by a fear of red tape and NI contributions. Deborah, you have my apologies.

Tl;dr

IDS: 5/10

Ticking (like a bomb)

Cooper: 5/10

Picking (one too many fights for my liking)

Kennedy: 5/10

(Is welcome to stroke my hair but I draw the line at) Licking

Jones: 8/10

(Gave everyone a right good) Kicking

Meaden: 7/10

(Has been) Tricking (me into thinking she’d be rubbish when she was actually great)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Weren’t) Dicking (around)?

Well, there you have it: A slow start that gradually built into a head of total chaos. And that’s just fine with me…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #18


questionable time 18 david dimbleby depression

Good morning Lemmings and let’s make this snappy as I have much to do today. Ok, I don’t really have that much to do but I would really like to finish watching the fantastic Russia, Putin and the West for the following reasons:

  1. It’s gripping
  2. Putin is clearly as mad as a box of frogs.
  3. The Russian Defence Minister – Sergei Ivanov – is now my #1 Guy on Earth purely by dint of a) looking uncannily like Christopher Walken, b) leading Condoleezza Rice astray at meetings of great diplomatic import, c) literally telling the Taliban to “F – off” and d) being an all round wag of the highest order.

It’s unfortunately disappeared off iPlayer but a cursory search of youtube should see you right… Get amongst. Right, enough of this off-topic waffle and on to the question in hand: What, dear Lemmings, did we learn last night? This.

1. Despite him being in Parliament longer than I’ve been on this earth, I still struggle to know exactly what John Prescott is for.

Ok, so there’s the obvious things like he’s good at punching people (both physically and verbally) and there was a time when he provided the Old Labour brigade a much-needed sugar-coating to the bitter pill of New Labour but aside from that, can you think of a single thing that John Prescott has done that isn’t about him? As it stands, I am left no wiser by last night’s Question Time as all he appeared to do was grin mischievously whilst lining up a series of well rehearsed jabs for Ken Clarke (rehearsed to the point that he even bought props with him). That this was an entertaining spectacle is of little doubt but I still can’t escape from the fact that once you strip away all the bluster and bombast, there really isn’t a great deal to Prezzer other than an eye for self-promotion (Police Commissioner Prescott anyone?) and a good rhetorical right-hook. Oh, and I’ve totally got his ‘what to do when you’re caught off guard’ strategy pegged: It’s basically ‘deliver a pile of vague and flakey platitudes in the thundering tones of Absolute Certainties’ – like when he said he’d fix the economy simply by chucking loads of money at it. So yes, whilst all the heat generated by his presence was certainly warming, the light was dim and flickering.

prescott clarke boxing

2. I totally get what Ken Clarke is for.

I shan’t go on about this too much as I’ve written plenty about it in the past but the main point of Ken Clarke is to be a Tory who doesn’t fill me with certain dread and for the most part he does this pretty well. However, I can’t help feeling that the poor old sod has grown rather weary of this damnable coalition business and he spent most of last night looking knackered and harried. To be honest, I’d look a little harried if I was being mercilessly assaulted by a lump of Humberside belligerence but I get the feeling that it goes a little deeper than that and all the old boy really wants to do is quietly resign himself to a twilight of gout and jazz 78’s. And well he may for despite being one of the most successful Tory chancellors of all time he is now treated by his own party like a weird and embarrassing uncle that should not, repeat NOT be allowed anywhere near 6th form girls college without strict supervision. You deserve better than that Ken and should you ever feel the need to disappear in a fog of cigar smoke, I for one will be entirely sympathetic…

3. Dimbers clearly doesn’t like Susan Kramer.

Ok, so I’m not exactly a card-carrying member of the Susan Kramer fan club and her QT appearances always end up being a bit ‘meh’ but for Christ’s sake Dimbers, cut the woman some slack! Sure, she didn’t exactly bring a great deal to the show and yes, her hair is quite terrifying but did she really deserve a full hour of shirtiness and being cut off mid-sentence? I think not. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Dimbers, that insect tie: No.

4. Owen Jones is clearly the frontrunner in the race for Angry Young Man of the Year award.

So this was Jones’ first ever appearance on QT and boy did he do well. The trick with him is that not only is he self evidently very bright but he also does the whole Righteous Indignation thing with considerable aplomb and without appearing to be an unhinged wingnut (a la the likes of Douglas Murray and – if he’s having a bad day – Mehdi Hassan). That the crowd loved him is without the slightest doubt and barring a late surge from Liam Burns, the new President of the NUS (and very much one-to-watch in my opinion), that Angry Young Man award is in the bag. Now, naturally all of the above should inevitably lead us all to believe that I’m going to award him top marks at the end of this post but I’m afraid I can’t quite bring myself to do that for the following reasons:

  1. No-one is ever going to get top marks on Questionable Time as I feel it would set a dangerous precedent.
  2. He’s five years younger than me and that is manifestly a perversion of cosmic justice.

‘Jealous’ you say? Well maybe just a little.

5. Julie Meyer is actually the worst Question Time panelist I have ever seen.

So I just said I’d never give out a 10 on Questionable Time and until last night, I felt the same about giving out 1’s for very much for the same reason: It creates an artificial hard ceiling/basement that can only ever be equalled but never bettered. In the past I have stuck rigidly to this rule and even the most wanton displays of wrongheadedness have escaped without the shame of being 1’d. For example, remember when Carol Vorderman went from being a relatively-innocuous-if-creepy-dork-turned-vamp to a screaming-torrent-of-reactionary-twaddle? Yeah, she got away with a 3 that time and even Melanie Phillips at her most poisonous has never sunk below a 4. Why? Because although I consider both to be pretty repellent figures, I can actually figure out what they’re on about. Julie Meyers? Well, I got the impression that she likes “entrepreneurs” and all things “digital” but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. That on its own would push her deep into ‘2’ territory but it’s what she represents that really irks me: That weird collision of Big L ‘Fuck You’ Libertarians with the nebulous/vacuous world of ‘e-commerce’. Now, I find hard-line Libertarians to be a weird enough bunch in the real-world but when you slather another coating of unreality on them in the form of the internet then they stop making any sense whatsoever. Julie Meyer is the living incarnation of this unholy nexus, a walking absurdity who lives in a rickety virtual construct of her own making and has no place opining on matters that pertain to the real world. So here you go Julie Meyer, here’s a gift from one “digital native” to another: A big fat ‘1’.

Tl;dr

Clarke: (A little) Flabby

6/10

Prescott: Jabby

6/10

Kramer: (Got treated a little) Crabby

5/10

Jones: Grabby

8/10

Meyer: Shabby

1/10

The Crowd: Blabby

7/10

Well, well, well… A Questionable Time first. Please take note of your surroundings so that you can spin a good yarn when your grandchildren ask “where were you heard that Julie Meyer got a ‘1’?”. You’ll thank me when this situation inevitably comes to pass. Right, I’m off to watch more despotic shenanigans with Mr. Putin…

Next week Lemmings,next week…


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