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Questionable Time #140


qt 140

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another supercalifragilisticexpialidocious edition of Questionable Time! It’s such a lovely sunny day outside, and yet you’re reading this. Good choice, sport!

IPSA me, Mario

We begin by duly noting the four women/one man ratio of this Thursday’s panel, which is definite cause for a warm-hearted cheer at how far society has come (or teary sniff, or excessive blowing of your nose). Unless you notice the actual issues discussed, that is – immigration, Europe, petty Labour bickering – which are, of course, as old as time itself.

Our first question is one of great, fist-shaking import: is an MPs’ pay rise justified considering George Osborne even now cackling and waving about a giant pair of comedy scissors in the general direction of the public sector? Up-and coming young turk Justine Greening says…nah. Forget if it’s ‘justified’ or not, the public hate this proposal so damn much that anyone even attempting to take the rise will get hung, drawn, and quartered by order of the Queen. Why don’t you vote it down then, says Dimbleby. Because we need to…’deal with’…IPSA, Justine replies menacingly. She came into politics not for the pay – but for the free wine and nibbles at events! Don’t you just love those little sausage thingies?

Mary CREAGHEYYEYAAEYAAAEYAEYAA steps up to the plate (sadly a plate with no sausages on it). She’s running for the Labour leadership, obviously, not that you’d know because she has about, ooh, four nominations? And they each need 35 to get on the ballot paper. Poor Mary. I met her once, and she offered me some of her chocolate brownie. So I can’t totally slate her. Last time she was on QT, she accused Russell Brand of sexism, so let’s see if she can pull it out of the bag now…she goes on to state that if the government can reject the independent pay review board for nurses then it can reject this! She gets some applause, but it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

Meanwhile, Susie ‘Fleet Street Fox’ Boniface is rambling on about headmasters and nurses – you know, the ‘people that people like’, according to Spitting Image. Norman Lamb does similarly, fightin’ for the rights of the werkers – like his competitor Tim Farron, he’s also angling for the leadership of the Lib Dems. Yes, that’s right – that now-statuesque role. Honestly, what is QT going to do with the Lib Dems now – cycle through their remaining eight MPs for a season and then give up? Oh dear. I suppose there’s always Shirley Williams, eh?

At the same time, Jill Kirby, Theresa May’s twin, is protesting why the pay rise powers were farmed out to IPSA in the first place. Interesting that a Thatcherite policy wonk wants to centralise power and not take it elsewhere, huh? Norman is appalled and shouts softly (ever so softly…like a little white-haired, bespectacled mouse) about how no other workplace lets its workers decide their own pay increases. Except if you’re a banker awarding yourself a nice bonus, that is. Trebles all round!

Looking like a true survivor feeling like a little quid (as opposed to a NASTY EURO)

Next up: Europe, and what sort of renegotiation would you like to see Dave bravely wring out of Juncker ‘n’ co at the top table. Jill is at least blankly honest and admits that she wouldn’t be satisfied with any deal. If anything, those Europoors should be begging to do deals with us! They should be grovelling at our feet, she outright implies, and not trifling with failures like Greece. They’re not allowed at our cool pool party any more. “We should be standing alone,” she declares, and the siren song of Elton John bursts into my head.

B-but they’ve given us cheaper roaming charges! says Susie ‘Fleet Foxes’ Boniface, helpfully forgetting everything else Europe has ever done at the worst possible moment. Way to go, Suse!

Then some people in the audience get into a fight about Romanians, or whatever. A Romanian doctor protests scapegoating, causing another man to blurt out that he has…wait for it…a Romanian friend. People around him chuckle merrily like medieval bards. “Why are you laughing?” he splutters. Oh Question Time, what a tangled web you weave!

As the panellists bicker over immigration/the free movement of labour/inspecting the specks of dust on the table, another brave soul from the crowd pipes up to remind us all of the original question. It was about what changes you’d like to see before the referendum, remember? Well, oops, no time for that now! We spent all our time on pointless mumbling, and there’s already another question incoming…

North Korea hacked my Neopets account

Will further cuts to the defence budget leave David Dimbleby a hollow shell of a man, faced with the prospect of repeating these same few questions over and over for the remainder of all time in the universe? On the plus side: more usage of the word ‘helicarrier’, which you have to admit just sounds cool.

We have no way of knowing what kind of wars will happen in the future, so they are by definition cutting in the dark, says Susie, surprisingly sensibly. Norman knows, however. “Cyber terrorism!” he blurts out (slightly more loudly), obviously just remembering that his password is ‘12345’ and that North Korean hackers are going to take over his email account.

Mary and Justine begin to bicker about exactly how many dollarydoos have been/should be put into the defence budget. They’re both in favour of further spending on the front line, but it’s hard to know who wins this bout – only that I’ve just noticed that Justine Greening looks like a garden gnome. You could definitely imagine her sitting with a tiny fishing rod next to a pond. Am I the only one who sees this? Look at this comparison shot – coincidence? I think not:

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Next, a more sombre question. What legacy will Charles Kennedy leave British politics?

Well, for one, he was a perennial Question (and Questionable) Time favourite, as David Dimbleby rightfully points out. The Question Time website has put up a small compilation of some of his 42 (!) appearances, which you can view here.

The other panellists agree – Mary says he had “poetry” in his language (something I imagine a lot of people want more of from the Labour leadership battle). Susie says we mustn’t let any more potential be wasted by the tragic illness that is alcoholism. Jill notes that most people think he was right about standing against the Iraq invasion, arguably his finest hour. Norman, who gave an emotional tribute in Parliament, was his PPS for a time – and concludes that he’ll be missed greatly as someone who could be honest and sincere in any sort of debate.

Unfortunately, we don’t end on this genuinely moving note. Back to mud-flinging, everyone! With our last question: what is the point of the Labour Party now?

Justine gets a chance to gleefully gloat, although her expression doesn’t evolve further than ‘scary scowl’. Mary, in an attempt to scramble together a few more nominations, bombastically expresses her belief that WE WORK TOGETHER, WE DIE TOGETHER. And redistribute some power and wealth in a mild social-democratic format. Hell yes, she’s tough enough!

Jill and Norman shake their heads – Jill making a none-to-subtle jibe about a certain extravagantly-belashed contender and Norman disagreeing with the union link. Well Norms, it’s a good job you joined the Liberal Democrats and not the Labour Party, then, eh?

Finally, an old man hijacks the show and praises his true messiah Clement Attlee. Mary gives a thumbs up (she named her son Clement, after all). Justine continues to scowl. Better wrap up before she gets any scowlier.

Time for the scores!

Greening: 7/10

(Looks like a garden) Gnome

Creagh: 7/10

(Far from) Home (and dry re: nominations)

Lamb: 6/10

(Has hair the colour of) Foam (and I realise now I may be stretching these rhymes a bit)

Boniface: 5/10

(The EU gives you lower) Roam(ing charges! Wa…hey?)

Kirby: 5/10

(Reading blankly from the Thatcherite) tome

The Crowd: 8/10

(When in) Rome

Next time: the one before they go to High Wycombe!

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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