Posts Tagged 'Peter Hain'

Questionable Time #122

qt 122

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to this week’s (very) belated edition of Questionable Time. As you know by now the small fact of my laptop exploding prevented me from writing up a review for you while it was still fresh and tasty, and thus I have in my possession a slightly mouldy selection of old notes to punt into place for your reading pleasure. By now, you have probably already forgotten who was even on the panel, let alone what they said. In that case, I am pleased to re-educate you…

More like social ‘I don’t’ care, ho ho ho! Ohh, I’m so sad

We come from wriggly Wrexham, with a plea from Dimbleby to ‘JOIN US’ – sounding a little like a cult leader there, Dimbles, but then again what is the strange viewership of Question Time if not a cult of sorts? And, as inevitable as an overheating hard drive when one downloads too many questionable anime films (not that I would know, of course), the first question is on the Welsh NHS: is it crap? Or merely crud?

Sajid Javid, with his weird egg head, goes on the offensive. The current state of the Welsh NHS is the worst mistake humanity has made since New Coke. And it’s all thanks to that no good Labour lot! Peter Hain shakes his gleaming greying hair in dismay. The aging Hain has started to bear a remarkable resemblance to Swiss Toni of The Fast Show fame. Surely getting the health service up and running is also ‘very much like making love to a beautiful woman’.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Swiss Pete points out that things have gone done the shitter due to the Tories cutting social care and a stampede of old people lying around groaning and dying in hospital wards as a result. Sajid is about to respond when he is interrupted by the Plaid Cymru guy with a name I can’t spell. “WALES!” he practically bellows. Wales is great, apparently. He just loves Wales SO MUCH and nobody else does. (This is, incidentally, the Plaid Cymru manifesto for 2015.) His accent is similarly spectacular, by the way. He ignores Dimbleby’s pleas to stay on topic and continues to babble on about Wales and how both the Tories and Labour don’t love Wales as nearly as much as him. He just has a lot of feelings. #obligatorymeangirlsquote

Then things go absolutely apeshit when a lady clad in red in the audience, who I’m going to nickname Melisandre, also starts blurting out her feelings about the NHS. Wales has free prescriptions?! I didn’t know that. Those lucky bastards. Melisandre even mentions Aneurin Bevan and, as expected when you mention the holy St. Nye, everyone is overcome with emotion. Somewhere far away from here, Andy Burnham’s huge sad eyes well up with tears and he breaks down during a television interview, rolling around in the foetal position on the floor and chanting “Nye…Nye…” to himself. Or is that just me?

Kate Maltby, the Telegraph woman, intervenes to stop all this. She mentions she’s not a socialist, but even she, in all her Torygraphyness (seriously, that is one HECKA posh accent) admits that the American system is poo. That said…long pause…she thinks everyone on the panel is being a massive baby and the only real news source one should listen to is obviously the Telegraph. Well, obviously. With all those pictures of pretty A Level students jumping for joy on the front page. Of course.

Germaine Greer hasn’t spoken yet, which is clearly displeasing her greatly. Are the problems in the NHS due to the patriarchy? Actually, she says, it’s due to people not respecting the old. Like her. She’s old now, she repeats. Old and grumpy. Get off my lawn you darn kids.

Wailin’ Wales

Next question: Syriza! Ayyyy or nayyyy?

Peter is definitely for, Sajid is against, and Germaine says something Australian. Balance is restored to the world. Kate, meanwhile, gives another…long pause…and rails against Greece for being naughty. And it’s all Peter’s fault, somehow. Sajid makes an impassioned plea for people to ‘live within their means’, which sets off keysmashname Plaid dude who is gunning for a coaltion between Greece and Wales (and Plaid Cymru, THE PARTY OF WALES) to take on the world through force if necessary. Sajid stares into the camera like he’s on The Office.

Then there’s an argument about what really caused the 2008 banking crisis but I’m going to skip that because for goodness’ sake it’s not 2010 anymore.

Next up, should we say ‘frack you’ to fracking? Or is it the heir to coal? Will this benefit Wrexham, the ‘industrial Mecca of the North’? (A real thing it called itself, pre-pit closures, as evidenced by this screencap from an old election I sat through and watched in full because I’m a nerd:)

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

There seems to be, with the exception of that one lady who Sajid praised/smothered his gooey oily residue all over, wide opposition to fracking. Peter remains silent and sheepish, the Plaid man smugly smug. And Kate Maltby…long pause…simply cannot grasp that people might be concerned about other things than what slice of the profits pie the people of Wrexham are getting. It was quietly heartbreaking in a way, to see her repeatedly fail to understand any of the concerns, real of imagined, that the plebs are raising. Don’t worry, she reassures them when they question the effect on the environment and their communities, we’ll find a way to make sure you get a cut of the dosh!

Don’t h8, deb8

The final two questions race by so fast I barely have enough time to write anything down. Germaine Greer has been disappointingly uncontroversial in this edition – perhaps she’s mellowing with age, and become a kindly older lady who intends to bed-block like a pro. Even when during the question on giving vouchers to pregnant women to entice them to stop smoking, Kate practically screeches apropos of nothing BUT WHAT ABOUT THE POOR MENS, she doesn’t come back with any sort of withering response. I’m let down, Germaine! That was an open goal.

Finally, debates. Or deb8s as the yoof don’t call them. Sajid not-so-smoothly admits that Dave is ‘making progress’ on the idea, to much mirth in the crowd.

“The public have a right to see us exposed!” says Peter, and with that I scream in terror and switch off.

Time for the scores!

Javid: 5/10


Hain: 6/10

(Too many sausage rolls from) Greggs

(ap?) Iorwerth: 6/10

Segued (everything into a rant about glorious Wales, motherland of all)

Maltby: 5/10

Beg(ged the good people of Wrexham to consider the profit motive)

Greer: 5/10

(Mystic) Meg

The Crowd: 8/10

(Should throw a) Keg (party)

Next week: Questionable Time at a reasonable time. And by the way, Ye Sacred Webmaster has asked me to do a bit of shameless promoting! Noobminster is his new, cool website – a handy-dandy guide to British politics for people with better things to do. Which is mostly everyone. So go visit! I’ll sneak another plug for this into next week’s post as well, just to make sure. [steeples fingers, glasses flash menacingly in the light]

Next week Lemmings, next week…


Questionable Time #95

questionable time 95 david dimbleby propaganda starburst

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to Meta-Questionable Time, a blog based around the events that transpire in Meta-Question Time – a television show in which David Dimbleby chairs a debate between politicians that focuses on a debate between politicians that was chaired by David Dimbleby earlier on in the week. Confused? Well don’t come crying to me because you bought this on yourselves, what with your Twitterbooks and Myfaces and Pinstergrams. This is a post-modern nightmare of your own creation and I for one will have nothing to do with it other than the 1000 words I’m about to dump below this paragraph. There, is that meta enough for you? Good. Let’s get on with this.

Vince brings a new pathology to the table…

It’s fair to say that the experience of coalition has been a harrowing ordeal for the Lib Dems but some have fared better than others. For example, in between handing over his dinner money to Tory prefects and being jeered by those uncouth Labour plebs Danny Alexander can look back on the last four years and say ‘Well, at least I got these snazzy new contact lenses out of the deal’. Vince though, what’s he got to show for it? Nothing. In fact, he’s got worse than nothing – negative nothing if you will – because prior to entering government, he was the man of the moment, the All Knowing Sage of Financial Catastrophe whose every word we hung on as the world we knew crumbled before our very eyes. Fast forward four years though and what have we got? Vince, the Reluctantly Co-opted and Self-Loathing Bagman who has taken to insulting his own injuries by being the poster boy for the officially fishy looking privatisation of the Royal Mail. Oh what a fickle mistress coalition is.

Anyway, all of the above is clearly a bitter pill to swallow for someone like Vince so it’s reasonable to expect him to be a little grumpy when called to account for how he’s played a shockingly bad hand – except that he didn’t seem grumpy. No, in fact he didn’t seems to be anything in particular other than serenely detached as he very slowly walked us around the deal like an estate agent casually explaining away the lack of a roof with phrases like ‘outdoorsy ambience’. It was completely without guile – no-one’s to blame/just one of those things/stuff that happened – and reminded me of something you occasionally see as a mental health worker: He was displaying classic signs of dissociation.

To the uninitiated, dissociation is where you slowly start to become detached from reality (as opposed to wrenched from reality – that’s the territory of psychosis) and quite often this is because reality has become a thoroughly nasty place that you no longer wish to be a part of. Looking at Vince last night, the way he was just floating there – like he was viewing himself in the third person – it reminded me of cases I’d worked where people had folded the world into a box and shipped it to somewhere outside of their psyche.

So this should be a cause for concern right? Shouldn’t we be phoning someone up? Making him an appointment or something? Well, not quite. Had this been the case all the way through the show then yes, I might start rifling through my address book but right at the end he came charging back into his own skin with the rallying cry of “Pupil Premium!”. Now, let’s briefly ignore the fact that the Pupil Premium is a fig-leaf policy that has zero-recognition with the general public and just take it for what it was in this context: It was an affirmation that there’s still a part of Vince that has a stake in reality and for that reason I won’t be calling in any favours with colleagues of mine. Still, if I was Vince I’d see this trend towards detachment as nature’s way of telling me that I might need a new job and as it happens I know a place with a few openings right now (see Fig. 1).

vince cable postman

Fig. 1

Shock abounds as someone actually has a good idea on QT…

I didn’t think I was going to get on very well with Camilla Cavendish – she looks too hard-of-head/long-of-neck/smart-of-cookie to sit comfortably on the Ribs Train but I have to admit that her idea about putting the prices on the side of medications was actually brilliant and almost bullet proof in terms of counter arguments. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that her whole innings was pretty impressive and despite my instinctive twitchiness for black-and-white/wrong-or-right types she was the only person who managed to cut through what was otherwise a very blustery and choppy show. So yes, maybe she could fit on the Ribs Train although I’m not entirely sure she would want to as I don’t put the prices on my tickets and the view of this uninspiring siding wears a little thin after a day or two.

Kwasi’s slowly learning…

There was an interesting moment for Kwasi ‘Fair-to-Middling’ Kwarteng when it all could have gone wrong: The question about paying for GP’s appointments came up and you could see this little internal warning sign flick on – ‘DON’T SAY WHAT YOU’RE REALLY THINKING’. Granted, I can’t say with any certainty what he was really thinking but seeing how he’s one of the Britannia Unchained authors I think it’s fair to assume it was something along the lines of ‘Everyone should pay for everything’. Anyway, he caught himself before going off the deep end and gave an oblique answer peppered with pointed references to rising demand and life expectancy instead. It was a nice little dodge that more than enough made up for him saying “Really?” to Peter Hain at least a five times in a row. So this week he’s no longer Kwasi ‘Fair-to-Middling’ Kwarteng. No Lemmings, this week he is Kwasi ‘Middling-to-OKish’ Kwarteng. Try not to be dazzled by his mediocrity.

T’was a torrid night for the left…

I feel bad being hard on Peter Hain but the whole Moral High Ground Followed By Obligatory Mea Culpa routine just riled me a little last night. It’s not that I think he’s without conviction (far from it in fact), it’s just you get the sense that he’s in the process of cashing in his chips and the fire you need in your belly to make that play work is just ebbing a little (the senior moments – like forgetting who Nick Clegg was – didn’t help either). Still, he didn’t rile me as much as Julie Bindel did by saying all the right things in a way that instantly makes them sound wrong. Yeah, yeah, yeah, someone needs to ‘tell it like it is’ but it would just be nice if they could do so without adopted the form of a giant wagging finger.


Cable: 5/10


Hain: 5/10


Kwarteng: 5/10


Cavendish: 7/10

Clearly (won)

Bindel: 3/10


The Crowd: 6/10

(Subscribe heavily to the Marginal Revenue Productivity) Theory (of Wages)

Woah, so that was all a little Vince heavy but hey, whatchagonnado? Nothing, that’s what – except possibly coming back next week where I will once again be trying very hard to like Billy Bragg and most likely failing.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #82

questionable time 82 david dimbleby nativity

Good Morning Lemmings and let me assure you, things were not supposed to turn out this way. No, things were supposed to be very different right now and rather than just sitting here blankly staring into space, desperately trying to work out just what in the hell I’m supposed to do with last night’s episode I was supposed to be kicking back and closing the book on 2013’s final QT with a real milk run of an episode. They promised me Swansea. They promised me Erik Pickles. They promised me a pulled punch of a season closer where the final question would involve something along the lines of “Does the panel agree that [insert political development of minor political import here] is akin to turkeys voting for Christmas” and the crowd would chortle approvingly. Sure, there’d be the inevitable Mandela question where everyone would solemnly agree that he was the best person in the whole entire world before moving swiftly on to matters of greater contention but I could deal with that. I even made a lovely nativity themed title pic and rejoiced at the opportunity of finally getting to use the Erik Pickles pshop that I’ve been sitting on for over a year. But no. It was all for nowt and here I am, feeling like I’ve accidentally turned up at the wrong office Christmas party and wondering where it all went wrong.

In fact, I know where it went wrong. It went wrong about midweek when the Question Time website informed me that Swansea had been kyboshed and the new venue was to be Johannesburg.

Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “Johannesburg. Is that a Tory town or a Labour town? It’s not ringing any bells. It must be a new constituency because even taking into account the media’s collective loss of reason and proportionality over the passing of Nelson Mandela, they’re surely not talking about Johannesburg in South Africa are they?”. But they were. They were deadly serious.

Still, at least there was one glimmer of sunshine in this otherwise foreboding scene as the provisional panel included a man named Tokyo Sexwale – more or less an open invitation to waste around 300 words on cheap gags about sexy whales – but they wouldn’t even let me have that. They took away my Sexwale at the last-minute and replaced him with someone who has a boring name that I know just as little about. If I had known at the time just how difficult those 300 words would be to fill without sexy whales I would have probably just called it a day and sloped off to bed after the news. But I didn’t.

I didn’t because of some weird and unhealthy sense of duty, and that’s exactly how I’m feeling right now – weird and unhealthy – but what do you expect me to do with this? I know I bang on all the time about how Questionable Time is about the spectacle and not the politics (particularly when someone’s having a pop at me because I didn’t shower their pet panelist with unconditional praise) but you know what? The politics really help. They help because without that vital bit of context I’m just left with a bunch of strangers who may as well be talking about their favourite Pokemon. I mean seriously, I find it hard enough to cover the Northern Ireland episodes and those guys are just across the water. South Africa? Leaving aside Oscar Pistorius, I haven’t got the faintest idea of what’s been going on over there for – now, let me see – 23 bloody years.

With this in mind, please forgive me for a rather brief and superficial summary of the show.

1. Central Casting did a bang up job in providing both a Senile Colonel Kurtz (Botha) and a Cocksure Revolutionary Brother (Mngxitama) for the show. I would also like to thank Andile Mngxitama for providing me with the means to become Christmas Scrabble Champion 2013.

2. No one much likes the ANC. This may or may not be related to Lindiwe Zulu’s ‘I’m going to lamp you if you say anything bad about the ANC’ look.

3. I can’t quite work out if Lindiwe Mazibuko is South Africa’s equivalent of Jo Swinson or Baroness Warsi but she’s definitely one of the two.

4. South African audiences do a marginally better line in the Discontented Muttering stakes than their UK counterparts. It has slightly more of an edge to it.

5.They also care not for energy prices, MP’s pay or David Cameron coming out for Team Nigella.

6. The BBC are clearly held in some affection by the people of South Africa as one man came dressed in a suit that was made out of a BBC test card (see Fig. 1).

test card bloke

7. Peter Hain got tutted at one point but I have no idea why because I’d basically given up at that point and spanked about on Twitter instead.
8. And that’s seriously it.

You might gather from my tone that I’m a little vexed by all this and if I’m being honest then yes, I’m pretty ticked off. I’m ticked off because like Michael Portillo pointed out on This Week, this is not good journalism. It’s a circlejerk where each broadcasting company tries to outdo each other in their capacity to fawn over an idealised vision of what was essentially just a man. And that is what he was. Just a man. Granted, he was an inspirational man who was instrumental in righting a great wrong but he was nevertheless a man who – like every human on earth – was flawed and imperfect (rather than go into the nitty-gritty of this it’s probably just best that I point you in the direction of Simon Jenkin’s take on the matter). Now, I’m not accusing QT of being cheerleaders in this ongoing work of unquestioning hagiography and to a certain extent it was interesting to see QT transplanted to a different culture (not to mention the logistical difficulties in getting Dimbleby back to the UK after the funeral) but the very fact that they felt compelled to hold it in South Africa speaks of a collective act of folly by the media. The writing of history is serious business. It’s our feedback form, our debrief, the thing that shows us where we done goofed so we don’t done goof again but it doesn’t work if we haven’t got the guts to be honest and QT haven’t helped matters any by joining in this unquestioning cavalcade.

And that, dear Lemmings, is why everyone is getting coal for Christmas.

Right, I’m done. No scores this week but here’s what happens when you cut John Major’s brain in half and also a rather interesting photo from the archives (see Fig. 2). It’s of a young Peter Hain being lovingly carried to bed by his loyal team of police manservants. Lazy sod.

peter haine carried by policemen

Fig. 2

Next year Lemmings, next year…

Questionable Time #29

questionable time 29 david dimbleby weasles ripped my flesh

Good morning Lemmings and a slight change of plan today thanks to some unforseen circumstances. You see the thing is that when I usually turn in on a Thursday night there tends to at least be some dull flicker of inspiration lurking in the recess of my mind of what line I’m going to take the next day but last night proved to be an exception to this rule. No, instead I went to bed with a head that was essentially a yawning vacuum of nothingness and 8 hours of sleep has done precisely zero to rectify this situation. I am without opinion, lost in a featureless desert of zilch and unsettled by the creative squalor caused by a poverty of ideas. And why would this be? I reckon that one or more of the following may to blame…

The show was just a bit… meh.

Come on, admit it: Deep down we all know that Question Time is basically panto with a slightly elevated reading age and what does every panto need? Goodies and baddies. Unfortunately there was no clear hero or villain amongst the political panelists (Peter Hain seemed happy to take it a little easy now that he’s resigned from the frontline while Marie Miller wisely decided to stick rigidly to her  brief and Leanne Wood just said Plaidy things that get Plaidy claps in Plaidy Wales) so I was banking on Kelvin MacKenzie and John O’Farrell to fill the Wicked Stepmother/Cinderella roles. Initially this seemed to go to plan as MacKenzie got all sweaty and ranty about this and that but I later found myself actually agreeing with him on the alcohol question and that makes him a rather ineffective Wicked Stepmother. Similarly, O’Farrell got to showcase some good lines but I always find it a little jarring when a 5th panelist has a clear party allegiance. I don’t mind it when they have clear views that may run in concordance with a particular party line but I find it hard to root for Cinderella when Cinderella is a fully paid up member of the Downtrodden Domestic Workers Union. It doesn’t exactly make for underdog status and underdogs are what good panto is all about. So yeah, there wasn’t much to be had from this bunch.

I pine for a Grexit…

I’ve found myself in an unhappy predicament over the last four years: I’ve boned up on economics, read a ton of books with complicated titles and have arrived at the inescapable conclusion that something big and nasty has to happen as the current system is just too knackered to stagger on much longer. Naturally I’m not overly keen on big and nasty events but I will say this: A full-on, pant-shitting crisis is looking increasingly preferable to going over the same old ground that we’ve done to death over the last four years. Seriously, I find myself consciously inviting disaster because I’m just so bored of going through the same charade of ‘yes, everything is totally buggered and no, no-one’s got a clue what to do about it’. So just hurry up Greece and do something spectacular because I can’t take the suspense any more. Default and default quickly otherwise Question Time is simply going to continue being Aren’t We All Glad We Didn’t Join The Euro Time and that does not good telly make.

Just what the hell happened to Brian May?

So QT has a shiny new website and this shiny new website has spent the last few days loudly proclaiming that Queen guitarist Brian May was going to be on the show this week (in fact it still does at the time of writing). This was something I was quite looking forward to as Brian May is an oddball of epic proportions and I considered it highly likely that he would say some very weird things about some very weird subject matters. However, the chief reason for my angst is that I spent way too much time on Wednesday night photoshopping his hair on to all the panelists’ heads (see Fig. 1) and I feel cheated by his non-attendance.


Fig. 1

Yeah yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking – ‘So what? It’s just a stupid .gif that looks like it was put together in a matter of minutes’ – but let me ask you this: Have you seen Brian May’s hair? Have you even the faintest idea of how difficult it is to cut all those absurd little tendrils of wiry craziness out? No? Well it’s a bloody nightmare and one that nearly pushed me over the edge (note to anyone who may be vaguely interested: The Colour Range tool is your friend). Consequently I was in a bad mood from the get go and spent most of the evening chuntering menacingly about how untrustworthy badger loving astrophysicists who collect Victorian stereophotographs are rather than watching the show with an eye to putting together something halfway decent the next day. Basically, it’s all Brian May’s fault.


Hain: 5/10


Miller: 5/10


Wood: 5/10


MacKenzie: 5/10


O’Farrell: 5/10


The Crowd: 5/10


Brian May: 0/10


So there you go, not a great deal of fun to be had there and to add insult to injury there won’t be any Questionable Time next week either. No, I’m afraid that you’ll have to struggle on without me as I’m off to Berlin to see whether a man can survive on a purely wurst based diet for a week. That, and I also plan to indulge in a spot of Eurovision hooliganism. Come on Humperdink! This is our moment! Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of overwrought crooning!

In a couple of weeks Lemmings, in a couple of weeks…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #38

question time david dimbleby 38

Morning Lemmings and don’t say I didn’t warn you. That’s right, a couple of weeks back I mentioned that the photoshops were going to become progressively weirder and this week I am coming good on that promise. Actually, there is some method behind the madness as they didn’t announce the lineup until very late, by which time I’d had to crack on and with no subject material at hand, I plumped for sticking a massive Mr. Whippy on Dimbleby’s head. Don’t ask me why, I just work here. Silliness aside, we find ourselves in Newport this week and also sporting a very busy six seat lineup, largely on account of its Welshness and the obligatory need to shoehorn in the Plaid brigade. So without further ado let us saddle up and march towards the sound gunfire.


Ok, so in theory the headline act of this week should be the Welsh Secretaries of Past and Present Face Off Extraordinaire, what with Cheryl Gillan (famous mainly for claiming dog food on parliamentary expenses) representing the Conservatives and convincing Umpa Lumpa impersonator (see Fig.1) Peter Hain propping up the Labour end of things. On paper, this should have been a good match up as both should have plenty of material with which to smite the other, but in actual fact it turned out to be terminally dull as neither participant really knows where they are at the moment. In the case of Gillan this is largely due to the fact that nobody’s really got a clue who she is despite years of lingering on the peripheries of power and that her very matronly, ‘look of disapproval’ manner endears her to precisely no-one. On top of this, she’s super clumsy (like when she admitted that she doesn’t live in Wales. You might not, but for god sake don’t volunteer that information for free) and appears to only be able to hold one line of attack in her brain at one time. That’s usually excusable but when that line of attack happens to be the hackneyed ‘blame the previous Labour government/deficit for everything including the Great Fire of London, Spanish Influenza, the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby and the Fall of Singapore’ it’s just lame. Naturally, given this method’s wanton overuse (or abuse as some may say) over the past nine months, there was little love for her in Newport and rightly so as frankly she was bollocks (especially when she just flat-out refused to answer a question about the number of jobs going in the NHS).

peter hain umpa lumpa

Fig. 1

Having said that, it’s worth pointing out that Peter Hain didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either but I do have a little more sympathy for his plight as I don’t think it was due to any pathological personality flaw, but more a by-product of not knowing who he is at the moment. Ok, so he is in the shadow cabinet but the feeling you get from him is that he’s not quite sure what side he’s batting for: Does he defend Blair despite their frequent fall outs or does he hitch his wagon to the new boys in town despite the fact that they really don’t seem to give two hoots about him? A conundrum indeed. On the show, he tried to straddle both these positions but the upshot of all this was a very jerky and skittish performance where he kept tripping himself up and being lured into entirely avoidable ambushes (like the ludicrous ‘we wouldn’t sell them weapons again’ line. Sorry Peter, but you deserved your licks on that one) that made him look like a right kipper. Granted, he wasn’t as awful as Gillan and I do have a slight soft spot for him but his finest hour this was not. So Peter, I’m sorry to say that you are destined to continue wandering in the political wilderness like a lost antelope just waiting to be mauled by a pack of lions. How tragic nature is….


Completing our Westminster trio we have the ever elemental Shirley Williams who at her best is like one of those majestic autumn gales that sweeps in from the south west in a dramatic and not-to-be-messed with fashion. However, now that she’s got to pay lip service (or at least-biting-her-lip service) to the coalition she seems much less like a thunder laden force 9 and more like a damp squall which can’t work out which way she’s supposed to be blowing. You could see that there were times when she really wanted to let rip and batter some sea walls with a good old-fashioned 6 foot swell (like when she looked like she might have a proper go at the NHS reforms), but the circumstances of her situation seemed to make her pull her punches and we were left with a drizzly mélange of worthy intentions nixed by an unhappy reality, all of which is a shame because I do like it when she cranks that Beaufort to scale up to the double figures.


Our final political candidate this week is the ever avuncular and reassuringly ordinary Elfyn Llwyd whose name is still causing me to use google autocomplete as a spellchecker despite repeated appearances on Question Time. Out of all the party bods on the show, Elfyn clearly carried the day, largely by being the only voice of dissent that didn’t sound like a rat being rubbed against a cheese grater (JSP, I’m looking at you) and generally holding positions that are a million miles away from Westminster. Ok, so I kind of zoned out when it all got very Welsh but by and large he was like an old but well maintained diesel locomotive: Reliable, endearing and with the ability to conjure up memories of a simpler and happier time. Also like a locomotive, he’s utterly relentless but without being arsey with it and that’s quite a trick to pull. So well done Elfyn, this might not have been your best performance to date but it certainly blew the competition out of the water.


All of which leaves us with the two non-politicals, Fraser Nelson and Janet Street-Porter. The first thing that struck me about Nelson was how much he looks like the product of a diabolic and probably drunken one night stand between Douglas Murray and Niall Ferguson. Luckily for him, he seems to have escaped inheriting Ferguson’s arrogance or Murray’s flat-out madness and generally speaking, he seemed OK-ish, even if his politics aren’t my cup of tea. Also, kudos to him for being honest about not giving a toss when it comes to a Welsh referendum and further plaudits for his line about teenagers, car keys and bottles of whiskey. That was pretty good for an otherwise generally humourless episode. Speaking of humourless, next up is JSP who sets my nerves a-jangling the moment I lay eyes on her. While I’m inclined to put some of this down to the fact that her answers were all over the place (one minute she’s spitting feathers at possible NHS cuts, the next she’s tilting at the windmills of local government pay scales) the truth is that just listening to her is akin to being assaulted by an army of drunken cats wielding bagpipes and angle grinders. I’d like to write a bit more about what she actually said I can’t because every time she opened her mouth I found myself too busy fighting the urge to tear my own ears off to take any notes. So let us not dwell on this unhappy interlude and move swiftly on to the crowd who at least managed to make the Libya question slightly more exciting than the one on Egypt a few weeks back. They also got fairly boisterous at the end when Gillan tried (and failed spectacularly) at dodging the jobs cut question and I’m more than happy to award an extra mark for the name of the poser of the child poverty question, Sarah Chicken. Admittedly, they could have garnered a full extra 10 points if she had looked and acted a little more like a chicken but still, a point’s a point right?




Gillan: _



Hain: :-(



Williams: :-/



Llwyd: :-)



Nelson: :-}



Street-Porter: :-s



Right, that’s all you’re getting. Sorry it seems a little rushed this week but there was a lot of them on the show and I’m supposed to be at a works do so time has been of the essence. However, I can just about find the time to engage in my bi-annual and largely futile plea to follow my Post Question Time Reports on either Twitter or Facebook (or both if you’re a true masochist). I can pretty much promise you now that you won’t get much of a return on your investment as I still harbour a visceral hatred for Twitter (what with all it’s #’s and @’s and general sense of smugness) but what the hell, it’ll pad out the numbers a bit. Oh, and before I forget, there will be no Match Report next week as I’m going on holiday (properly this time…. unlike last weeks flaky ‘lets call it a holiday and hope no-one notices’ stunt). That’s right, I got fed up with sub-zero temperatures, brutalistic concrete architecture and a pervading sense of grimness so I booked a flight to… Poland! Say what you want about me but I sure know how to holiday.


Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #19

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Morning Lemmings and rejoice, for Normal Service has resumed. Refreshed and reinvigorated from THE BEST NIGHT EVUR I return to you with renewed vim, pep and possibly ‘zing’. How long this state of affairs will persist however, is somewhat up for debate as most of this instalment will be brought to you from the back of the Leeds to Exeter Megabus and as most Megabus veterans will know, The Cheapskate’s Chariot is the sworn enemy of vim, pep and ‘zing’. Yes, that’s right, abandon all hope as you fold your 6’2” frame into the sweaty, mobile pressure cooker of low budget purgatory. Vim, pep and ‘zing’ won’t help you here, no siree. Only gumption, grit, and possibly ‘moxie’ will save you now. So with this in mind, let us trundle uncomfortably on to this week’s Question Time, bought to you by the denizens of Witney.

The Menu:

Q1: Following Saville, should further inquiries be started for victims on all sides?

Q2: Are today’s £2bn worth of cuts a tax on jobs and future industries?

Q3: Is David Cameron standing up for the national interest in the BP scandal?

Q4: In light of Ken Clarke saying that we should abolish short sentences, should we now send less people to jail?

In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, one time LibDem leadership contender and strangely rodent-esque face possessor.

Oh, Chris, just when I was just beginning to like you, you have to go and wreck it all by renouncing the bulk of what you’ve been telling us for years in the space of a few weeks. It wasn’t always like this and back in the day, my feelings towards Huhne were largely in the ‘meh’ category in that I just couldn’t find an angle on him. I tried, time and time again, to form a cogent opinion about the man, but every time it seemed to be thwarted by his overpowering genericness. Sure, those chipmunk cheeks and that slightly jaundiced, John Redwood-esque hue his skin has gave me a few visual handles to cling onto, but apart from that, the only remarkable thing about him was the lack of anything remarkable about him.

However, that began to change over time and with prolonged exposure came the sense that there might be something going on under that very MOR exterior. He’d occasionally have the odd good turn in parliament, he seemed to be pretty consistent and there wasn’t anything that was particularly unlikable about him. Sure, his economics might be a little too liberal for my liking, but he was a million miles away from the nuttier side end of the spectrum and his stance on social policy was generally up my alley. So well done Chris Huhne, finally you made an (albeit delicate) impression on me and our future together looked reasonably sunny, although possibly interspersed with the odd shower here and there.

What I wasn’t banking on was seeing Huhne on the frontbenches and since then, it’s been pretty much wet playtimes all round. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is to look at how he did last night. Have at you, sir!

OK, so it all started pretty well with Q1 and there wasn’t really much that could go wrong with his response, given that Cameron has genuinely handled the outcome of the Saville Inquiry very well. All that he really needed to do was damn Jeffrey Donaldson’s ‘this ain’t over’ posturings with faint praise, throw in some ‘need to move forward’ stuff and chuck a few props in the direction of his new patron. The result? Steady message, steady applause, Steady Old Chris. However, this eminently moderate state of affairs was not to last and along came Q2, resplendent in it’s potential to start throwing his stance wildly off kilter. Hain was given first crack at this one and immediately made it personal by saying he couldn’t “understand why Chris Huhne is in this government”, given the LibDems pre-election stance on the economy. Huhne played this by the numbers, tried to turn it into a debate about Labour’s legacy and invoked Liam Byrne’s now infamous “there’s no money left note” (which I still think is genuinely funny). Now, I don’t have a problem with this as it’s part of the game: As soon as you get into office, you have 3 month window where you can blame more or less anything on your predecessors folly. England lose the World Cup? Labour’s fault. Some damn fool has commissioned another series of Alan Carr:Chatty Man? Labours fault. The internet finally collapses under the weight of spammy Farmville updates? Labours fault. That’s cool with me. It’s simply the way it is. However, what annoyed the living crap out of me was how he then went on to play the Greece card not once, not twice, but six times. The first time (where he it spiced up with some ‘think of your mortgage’ bogymanery) was fair enough and he even got some moderate claps on it’s second outing, but six times? Come on Chris, that’s just weak, especially when you spent most of your pre-election working days calling bullshit on the Tories for exactly the same thing. Colour me unimpressed.

Next up was Q3 on the BP disaster and his response to this felt just a little incoherent. At the start, he had a prissy little tiff with Platell, then got a sustained needling from Dimbers and ultimately failed to deliver a message that really hung together. It wasn’t a disaster, but then it wasn’t really a triumph either. Q4 was a little better in that it sounded fairly reasonable, but still, hardly a seismic reversal of fortunes and my overriding memory of his performance come be summed up in one word: “Greece”.

Part of me is now saying “Go easy on Huhne. This is a coalition so of course he’s going to have to play ball with things he doesn’t agree with” and there’s a certain amount of truth in that. However, what riles me is how convincing he looks, parroting the new party line. Take a look at this video of Vince Cable being kicked about by Paxman: You can tell that St. Vince is having a huge amount of trouble justifying to himself and the world at large exactly why it is that he’s done a complete U-turn on his former views and seems deeply uneasy about the whole affair. Similarly, Simon Hughes’ last outing on Question Time was characterised by heavy doses of lip biting: He did his best to read from the new script, but he clearly felt awful doing it. I like that as it shows both of these men to be very human and aware that what they’re doing is going to piss a lot of people off (especially those who voted for them). You don’t get that with Huhne and he now comes across like one of those annoying ex-smokers who berate their former brethren and get very sanctimonious about the virtues of a vice-free life. I don’t like those people.

Credit rating downgraded to 3/10

In Red Corner: Peter Hain, MP for Neath and long term Labour survivor.

Another parliament, another four years of Hain. I make that sound like a bad thing, but it doesn’t actually upset me too much as I have a bit of time for him. What I can’t abide however, is his ‘Take that back Sir!’ face he pulls when someone has a go at him. It’s just all a little overplayed, overindignant and underwhelming. Cases in point are littered all over the show in Q2 where he was grappling with an overly zealous Huhne. The content was all fine as he gave him quite the bollocking for post-election change of heart, but the manner in which he said it was just a little too over the top (as well as getting busted by Dimbers over the difference between real, actual jobs and potential, maybe future jobs). That’s a shame, because a cooler approach could have resulted in a great deal of hay being made and I can’t help feeling that even though he emerged the victor, he still managed to throw away some easy points. Apart from that it was a pretty standard outing with some considered and entirely reasonable arguments put forward in Q1 and a bit of crowd pleasing ‘oil addiction’ (and none-too-subtle Ed Miliband namechecking) in Q3. Q4 looked dodgier as he made some point about women with mental health issues before lurching into a quick ‘paedos and rapists’ clamour. That didn’t look so great, but generally speaking, he did OK.

And that’s just as well because I have a feeling that Hain’s going to be in parliament long after I’m dead. I’m not predicting that I’m heading for an early grave, I just get this feeling that Hain is going to somehow cheat the laws of the natural world and outlast us all to be somewhat over-dramatic on the backbenches for ever more. Don’t ask me why, it’s just a feeling I have.

An alright but highly strung 5/10

In The Red, White And Blue Corner: Jeffrey Donaldson, MP for Lagan Valley and Trimble upsetter.

I had a lot riding on this guy’s performance tonight, mainly because I’d had real trouble doing the photoshops prior to the show (I’ve already done the only funny photo of Hain, Platell doesn’t look grumpy enough in any of her online shots and I couldn’t find a chipmunk that looked sufficiently like Huhne). However, I did find a shot of Donaldson looking like a 80’s stand-up comic that did appear to hold promise. I managed to hash that together into rudimentary 5 panel comic, but there was one problem: The punchline would only work if he dropped a real clanger on the show (or had a total tumbleweed moment) and as my little netbook isn’t exactly a high grade supercomputer, I wouldn’t be able to edit it after the event (at least not without klutzing about at one in the morning). However, I must say that the omens looked pretty good, considering he’s a hard bitten Unionist who’s not exactly been entirely enthusiastic about the peace process and that he’s not on his home turf. So did it work out for me or was my last ditch pshop effort a complete waste of time? Time to find out.

It started promisingly enough with Q1 and he wasted no time in pretty much ignoring the Saville verdict, making a few allegations about Martin McGuiness and submachineguns and then demanding inquiries for Unionist victims (providing they were cheap enquiries). There was a little love from the audience on this but some nice little scraps erupted between him and Kennedy later on and it looked as if my clanger moment might actually come to pass. As it was, it didn’t and he managed to rescue the situation by praising the British Army right at the end of the question. That got a lot of applause and with it went my best chance at getting some cheap laughs out of him. Dammit Donaldson! Do you think image based jokes grow on trees?

Things got worse for me in Q2 as he got a very positive response to how they reinvest tax revenue in Northern Ireland while some yank bashing in Q3 also won him some claps. Gah! One question left and still no absolute clanger! Luckily for me, he did come close enough to what could be construed as a tumbleweed moment on the last question, mainly by completely missing the point and making some bitter statement about victims. Silence ensued. Ok, so it wasn’t a major faceplant, but I reckon it was enough for me to get away with. Check out Fig. 1 but please don’t hold me responsible for any lack of laughter that transpires. I can only work with what I got.

This had so better work...

Fig. 1

Aside from my rather self absorbed concern for whether my pshop worked, how did he do? Well, not that great, truth be told. As I said at the beginning, he has a reputation as a dyed-in-the-wool Unionist who really can’t abide working with the enemy and these days, that just looks a little sad. I say this as someone who is old enough to remember the later years of the Troubles, but too young to have a good grasp of the overarching narrative, but still it does seem like the world has moved on while Donaldson remains resolutely the same. And that’s a bit of a shame.

A bygone 4/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Baroness Helena Kennedy, Labour peer and ethics buff.

I didn’t know much about Kennedy prior to this show so I looked her up on wikipedia and bugger me if she hasn’t sat on every worthy sounding committee/group ever created in the history of mankind. Not only that, but she must also have enough letters after her name to make some pretty impressive swear words with and she is positively dripping with honours.

Anyhoo, how does this translate into real life? In a word, ‘hardcore’. She knows her stuff and is not to be messed with. This was pretty evident from Q1 as she made a big deal of the Army being ‘agents of the state’ and thus more accountable than most. This went down well and despite some resistance from Platell and Donaldson, she took home a lot of crowd love for her efforts. Q2 saw her decry the government spending cuts as “absolute folly” and “a madness” (not just any madness, ‘a’ madness) before opening both barrels on Huhne for being “sheep’s clothing” for a Tory government. That went down very well. Q3 was more sedate, although she did manage to needle Huhne some more while blaming everything on ‘oil addiction’ while Q4 saw her signing up to the Ken Clarke Fan Club with much gusto (whilst also ticking off Labour for their prison happy ways). All in all, a pretty assured outing.

So that was Helena Kennedy. I still don’t know a great deal about her, but I know that I’m not going to go out of my way to have a scrap with her as her brain alone would beat me to a bloody pulp.

A mentally forceful 7/10

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Amanda Platell, Mail Columnist and general decrier of everything.

Gah. Platell. Let’s keep this short and sweet. Platell annoys me. She annoys me because she is constantly wearing a look of disapproval, is actually constantly disapproving of everything and generally pushes all the buttons that Mail Columnists tend to push. By and large, these aren’t good buttons and let’s just leave it at that, alright?

On last nights show, she started in a strangely consensual mood on Q1, before scuzzing that up by overemoting on this that and the other. Q2 boiled down to a visceral hatred of the Stonehenge Visitors Centre while Q3 presented her with an ideal opportunity to have a stab at the yanks (to be fair, her ‘if they hate us so much then send our troops home line’ did go down very well). Finally, she got to give David Cameron and Ken Clarke a knock for being bleeding heart softies when it came to crime, but not before an ill advised attempt to plug her column that she didn’t get away with. And that was that for her and do you know what, I think it might have been one notch above her usual level of dire crapness. Or maybe I’m just a bleeding heart softy like Ken Clarke and David Cameron. Enough of this! We’ve wasted enough time on her already!

A barely worth mentioning 3/10

The Crowd: Witney

I’ll level with you: This was a bit of a crap episode. Mostly this was to do with the questions as Q’s 1 and 3 were both pretty amiable affairs (Donaldson withstanding on Q1) and thus the only real bloodletting that could take place was in Q2 (which Hain didn’t make the most of) and Q4 (which was so late in the show that no one had the time to get stuck in to a proper bout of fisticuffs). As for the audience, the first thing that struck me was that there were three guys wearing exactly the same shirt (a red, white and blue checked number that looks just like my laundry bag). Speaking of shirts, there was also a guy in a screaming pink number with a black tie (not a great look, sir) and some YTS urchin in a suit that was too big for him (who chuntered something about ‘when will I be proud to be British?’ Never, if you’re going to wear clothes like that, Sunny Jim). However, the audience member of the night goes without doubt to the guy who pulled Chris Huhne up whilst wearing what appeared to be some sort of traditional African lion skin jerkin. That, young YTS urchin is what you must wear if you ever want to feel proud to be British. But apart from that, little to report I’m afraid. Damn these broad areas of agreement!

A tepid 4/10

Ok, that’s me done. I’m now stuck in traffic in just outside Manchester while some guy keeps looking like he’s going to doze off on my shoulder. I’m absolutely gagging for a fag, this bus is a hellish sweatbox, I’ve got at least 5 hours left to go and the chances are that I’m going to completely lose my shit at some point and just start screaming “KEYTONES! TURN THEM OFF! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TURN THEM OFF!”. It sucks to be me right now. Next week, Lemmings, next week.

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #5

I have a motorcycle. Your argument is irrelevant.

thanks to the dearth of funny image of tonight's panellist on Google Images, the motorbike theme inexplicably continues.....

Morning Lemmings and welcome to possible the highlight of the season so far, The Gurt Big Ruck In Cardiff. Gums were flapped, fools were made and blood was shed. So without further procrastination let us get amongst the action.

In The Red Corner: Peter Hain MP, Secretary of State for Wales and All Round Glutton For Punishment

Well well well, if it isn’t Labours favourite punchbag, the venerable Peter Hain. I say this because he seems to be some sort of shock absorber for Labour as a whole. Bad news week? Send Hain on QT. Getting trashed in the polls? Hain to QT, please. Major cock up has occurred and there’s no way on earth we can come out of this looking good? Get Hain to suck up. It’s not that he’s particularly good at defusing these situation (he usual does a good turn in righteous indignation but then gets his bluff comprehensively called), but more that he seems to have a very high pain threshold and a short memory loss for the mauling he will have undoubtedly received only a couple of weeks earlier. Credit where it’s due though, he is always game for it and seems to relish taking one for the team, even if the team have been utter shits to him in the past (what with being comprehensively hung out to dry by the party on expenses and those muttered accusations of Champagne Socialism). Tonight however, seemed to be a well earned respite for him, mainly thanks to Nigel Farage playing the role of bullet magnet with wild abandon and a general lack of love for the Tories in the crowd. Opening with the Bullygate Question (which has fast become my favourite pre-election-storm-in-a-teacup) he got off to a faltering start by trying his less than convincing ‘man-of-the-people’ act (many a leaden reference to “my surgery”… he always tries this approach and it always goes wrong), but quickly got back on track by blaming the media and got in on some moderate claps. To be honest, there wasn’t much scope for cock ups on this front as the public really don’t care if Brown is a bully (given that the last guy was all hugs and hanging out but still managed to get involved in a whole bunch of wars), but still, it must have been nice for him to start a show without the risk of an errant pitchfork taking an eye out. The next one was slightly more tricky (the “forces of hell” Darling/Brown hullabaloo) but after claiming that Chancellor and PM were “joined at the hip” (which no one a bought) and a quick jab at David Cameron/George Osborne (which pretty much everyone bought) he was again the recipient for some crowd love. Things looked a little shaky when he had to fend off a three way assault from Dimbers (who was generally up to no good all evening), Farage (who naturally managed to make the point somehow, very tenuously relate to Europe) and Janet Street-Porter (who naturally managed to make the point somehow, very tenuously relate to women), but he weathered the storm and entered Round 3 in robust order. Round 3, as it turned out, was an absolute gift to anyone who wasn’t Nigel Farage as it related to his somewhat bizarre and very ill conceived name calling incident at the European Parliament. This should have been an open goal as the audience got the first crack and made it abundantly clear that they thought Farage was a div. All that was required was a strong assertion that Farage is, indeed, a div and then just sit back and lap up the applause. Hain obviously reached this conclusion himself, but somehow managed to fumble the ball by saying he agreed with the audience. And that was it. The audience, expecting a thorough beat down to be administered to Farage, hadn’t really planned for this outcome this and suddenly looked confused and all ‘wtf?!’. Hain, sensing that things had gone badly awry made a disparate change of tack and blurted out some sort of ‘I like Wales’ platitude and received a small ripple of applause, mainly out of sympathy. Question 4, on RBS and their bonuses was much more familiar territory for Hain, a no win situation where the best you can do is not to lose too much blood. However, he’s had plenty of practice at this sort of rearguard action and managed to shimmy away (with much damning of bankers and playing the old ‘global recession’ card) relatively unscathed. That’s pretty impressive considering what an absolute clusterfuck for Labour this issue presents. The next question,the ‘sex-ed’ issue that I haven’t really been paying much attention to (and thus drifted off a bit during the show), seemed pretty straight forward with little of note except a geeky looking ginger guy who kept stroking his chin in a bond villain manner and made some weird point about Creationism. Only one hurdle remained in the form of the John Terry question and although it looked straight forward it turned out to be a booby trap, laid by an audience who couldn’t give a shit about football. Unaware of the impending danger, Hain proudly proclaimed to be a Chelsea support and was then mocked by the crowd who had to remind him that he was in Wales. It wasn’t massively damaging, but then again, it didn’t look great.

So that was him. Considering he’s usually against the ropes for the whole show, copping it big time for whatever epic shitstorm Labour have just presided over, Cardiff must have seemed like a holiday for the man. Sure, he didn’t really score any big points, but then again, goalkeepers don’t tend to score many goals. So enjoy your brief vacation Peter, as I’m sure that next time you’re on Gordon Brown will have been found eating children and wanking on piles of Credit Default Swaps. Or something like that.

A relatively sedate 6/10

In The Blue Corner, Dr Liam Fox MP , Shadow Secretary of State for Defence and generally shadowy guy.

Something deathly this week stirs from the bowels of Tory HQ. It must be the positively sepulchral Liam Fox! A few years back, a friend of mine pointed out that Fox is in possession of a pair of “dead eyes” (see Fig.1) and not in the crack marksman sense, but more in the ‘absence of a soul’ kind of way (much like Richard Hammond, post rocket car fiasco).

The face of grim inevitablity...

Fig. 1

On the face of it, Fox should be a poster boy for the positives of equality of opportunity in that he’s scaled the ladder from Council Estate lad to the front benches in the only way the Tories allow (grammar school, innit). This should make him a testament to a ‘can do’ attitude and a system based on merit, but somehow this gets lost in the shroud of hushed morbidity that hangs over him. And quietly foreboding he is. You’re not going catch Dr. Fox screaming from the rooftops about the horror of it all and how we’re all destined to burn in a diabolical inferno of our own making (he’s seen the inferno. It holds no fear for him). Instead, he just quietly, relentless bums you out, like a pissed off glacier that knows far, far too much about the land of the dead and the futility of it all. Tonight was a hard deal for him as the Wales is not a noted Tory Heartland, Fox himself doesn’t do the New Tory ‘head for the middle ground’ thing and there was the threat of Farage eating into his flanks on the right. Question 1 (Bullygate) was pretty much the shape of things to come as his ‘bullying is bad’ shtick didn’t really cut the mustard (although he did somehow manage to slip in a reference about David Kelly) and he was soon on the defensive when Elfyn Llwyd (who has just broken my spellchecker) slipped a knife between his shoulder blades by bringing up the Andy Coulson angle (which is a massive vulnerability the Tories have on this one). What followed was a scrappy defence and a hasty retreat to his catacomb. The “forces of hell” number turned into a similar debarcle when his brief ‘Gordo always shoots the messenger’ splutter was met with this series’ Most Awkward Tumbleweed Moment Yet and the initiative passed from his hands and straight into Peter Hain’s. The man was heard to say no more on the matter. The next question (Farage’s tirade) should have presented an opportunity for some easy points, but Fox couldn’t quite bring himself to endorse something that could, in some convoluted way, be seen to endorse Europe. He briefly scolded Farage (to light claps) but simultaneously damned Europe and the resulting chimera didn’t really look too pretty in the light of day and the crowd were left underwhelmed. RBS was a similar affair of scrappy firefights and unsteady footing but he did manage to have a good stab at that sex-ed question. Unluckily for Liam, I’d zoned out at that point so whatever pearls of wisdom he did deliver were completely lost on me. Dems the breaks, son. Things did improve right at the end when he read the audience right, spotted the tripwire and proudly proclaimed not to give a monkey’s about football when the John Terry question came up. That went down pretty well and saved his performance from being entirely lacklustre. Having said that, he’s had far better outings and all that this episode served to confirm was that yes, he is in fact neither living or dead but inhabits a strange twilight world where the sun never rises but night never falls. Yikes.

A bone chilling 3/10

In The Yellow (not that Yellow, the other Yellow) Corner, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Plaid Cymru bod and Lovable Salt-of-the-Earth.

So long (once again) to the Lib Dems this week and hello to Elfyn LLwyd, purveyor of avuncular charm and heart warming homilies. I like Elfyn and secretly wish he was standing in Leeds West so he could be my MP and lull me off to a blissful sleep with his earthy wit and soothing tones. If that meant that Wales gains it’s independence, then so be it. It’s a price worth paying. He’s also pulled off the one-in-a-million trick of a wearing a moustache well in politics. That’s a path fraught with danger and is much harder to get away with than you would imagine. For example, if you don’t have enough moustache, you look a bit like a pervy spiv, a la Mandleson in the early 80’s. Too much and you end up looking like a Regimental Sergeant Major in the mould of Bob Ainsworth (note to Bob: Looking like a Warrant Officer does not a better Minister of Defence make). Elfyn looks like neither of these and always reminds me of the uncle who everyone likes and is the only one in the family who’s not been divorced. Furthermore, being a Plaid MP is always an advantage on QT as it means you only ever play to home crowd and Elfyn used this to produce perhaps a textbook case of QT Done Right. Observe if you will:

Question 1 (Bullygate)

Elfyn Llwyd: A health dose of ‘it’s pretty much bullshit spun by the other parties’.


Question 3 (Farage Tirade….he didn’t get much of a look in on Question 2)

Elfyn Llwyd: Heartwarming tale about how he and Peter Hain have had barney’s everyday for 18 years but it’s nothing personal followed by epic “Little Englander” slapdown to Farage.


Question 4 (RBS)

Elfyn Llwyd: Ridiculous.


Question 5 [I totally wasn’t paying attention so anything could have happened].


Question 6 (John Terry)

Elfyn Llwyd: RUGBY!


Ok, so I may have wildly overstated the actual applause he got, but you get the picture. He could have told the entire audience that he tortures baby seals for laughs and they would have still lapped it up as it would have been delivered in such a comforting way. So hats off to Elfyn Llwyd. Your name is a nightmare to spell, but you’re one hell of a panellist.

A snug and unpretentious 9/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Nigel Farage MEP, former UKIP Leader and Well Heeled Demagogue.

Did anyone order several hundredweight (Imperial….NOT METRIC!) of pure crazy? I’m only asking because Nigel Farage is at the door and he appears to be licking the windows. I’m always pleased to see Farage on QT. He represents much that I hate, but he’s pure gold to watch, unhindered by trifling concerns such as sanity and reason. One of the strange things about him (aside from the fact that he looks like a ventriloquists dummy) is that for someone so rabidly anti-Europe, he shares far more with our continental cousins than he would care to admit. For one there’s his fruity, French sounding name and on top of that it’s clear that he owes many of his tactics to Napoleon, namely the pint sized general’s maxim that the best form of attack is defence. And attack he did. In the eyes of Farage, anything that remotely has the taint of left hand drive about it is a legitimate target for a sustained onslaught of character assassination, ridicule and wordy put-downs. He even refuses to limit his ire to things specifically European and can happily concoct some Brussels based conspiracy out of the most innocuous materials. Worst winter for 30 years? It’s the Krouts doing. Pirates in Somalia? They’re probably Frenchmen disguised as East African Buccaneers. Your paper didn’t arrive this morning? Well that’s what you get when you’re in hock with Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey’s. The stakes were particularly high this week as Farage was fresh from slagging off the EU President to his face and despite the entirely inevitable backlash that ensued, he was wholly unrepentant and spoiling for a fight. So crazy, numerous and varied were his rantings that there simply isn’t space to provide a detailed account so I’m afraid you’ll have to settle with these highlights.

  • Somehow managed to use the sentence “15 year old’s should be exposed” without a trace of irony.
  • Defended bankers and bonuses. Possibly Most Suicidal Moment of this series.
  • Made an utterly incomprehensible conspiracy theory on the hoof that had Belgium as some sort of blueprint for a dystopia EU nightmare.
  • Incurs wrath of literally everyone within a 50 metre (not yard) radius
  • Claims to be “more enlightened” than Janet Street Porter.
  • Managed to turn every nearly every single question into something about Europe.
  • Got most Comprehensive Booing of the series when Dimbers read back what he had said in the European Parliament.

    That was just a fraction of utter lunacy that he had to offer that night but needless to say, he emerged looking like a weird, self important bigot of a man who clearly doesn’t garner much sympathy in Cardiff. Having said that though, he basically made the show. QT only works when there’s a goody and a baddy and Farage is a baddy par excellence. For that reason, he gets some points.

An inevitable ill-fated but highly spirited 7/10

In The I’m The Funny/Just Like You One Corner: Janet Street Porter, Celebrity Something and Hater Of All Things Male.

Can anyone else hear an angle grinder being taken to a new born foal? Oh no wait, it’s Janet Street Porter! Before writing this up I thought I’d better check her back story again as I’m usually clueless as to why she’s always on telly and truth be told, I still am. From what I gather, JSP is largely renowned for being involved in successive failed ventures and for simply having opinions. That strikes me as grossly unfair as I have failed at a great many things and also harbour numerous opinions but you don’t see me living it up on prime time telly. Nevermind. Anyway, JSP was on tonight’s show and made short work of displaying these vaunted opinions which we largely based around ‘men’ and their being ‘bad’. While I don’t really have a problem with people having a pop at men in general (we largely deserve it), there’s just something about the way she delivers it that makes me instantly lose all sympathy for her position. Maybe it’s her fingernails-on-blackboard voice or maybe it’s the fact she strikes me as a newly divorced step-aunt who fucks up Christmas for everyone by getting blathered at dinner, making unfounded accusations about your gran and then putting her Superkings out in the Christmas pud. Whatever it is, I find listening to her to be not unlike how I imagine eating a lightbulb would be: All jagged shards and the nasty taste of tungsten. And that pretty much sums how she was on the show. Without going in to too much detail she was basically spoiling for a fight with anyone she could get her hands on and more often than not, this would involve some sort of combination of ‘men’ and ‘bad’. The crowd weren’t having it (and took her task at one point), but she did manage to scrape a little bit of love together when she had a pop at Farage for being “a bloke” right at the end. Given that Hitler probably could have got away with having a go at Farage, this does not represent a massive achievement.

A shudder inducing 3/10

The Crowd: Cardiff

So we had the pleasure of Cardiff tonight and a pleasure it was. With the exception of Elfyn LLwyd, no one was truly safe tonight and this turned out to be one of the more vocal mobs that we’ve had in the last few months. The whole gamut was there, from mercilessly and rightfully jeering the at ever-belligerent Farage to the ghostly silences that followed Liam Fox’s brief forays into the world of the living. It was all on show tonight. Janet Street Porter even got called out by name, largely for being a twat and that is something that pleased me immensely. All in all, it was a very solid performance and the only thing I can really knock them for is that none of them had a moustache quite as awesome as the guy in Middlesbrough last week. So well done Cardiff, a valiant display that came very close to victory….if it just wasn’t for that pesky Elfyn Llwyd.

A rousing and playful 8/10

So there we go, best show in this series yet. There will be competition mind, as Dimbers announced that there’ll be an all-women audience in Dewsbury soon. I know Dewsbury. This will be epic.

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May 2023

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