Posts Tagged 'Portsmouth'

Questionable Time #78


Good…morrow, Lemmings!

As you may know, the webmaster is away this week. So, hello! I’m his stand-in, Elizabeth. He found me in a skip by the side of the road and offered me a job. Non-paying, of course. What do you think this is, the Financial Times?

First, let’s get the tragic news out of the way. Yes, as I’m sure you’re all aware by now, David Dimbleby has indeed gone and got himself a tattoo, in a fit of youthful rebelliousness. Now, I’m not bashing Dimbledore’s choice to get himself ‘inked’, as I believe the yoof say these days, if he so wishes. In fact, it suits the theme for this week’s episode, as he’ll fit in just splendidly with the disgruntled ex-shipbuilders now milling around in Portsmouth wailing and howling and cursing the Scots.

Oh! See what I did there? This leads us nicely on to the show itself! Gosh, it’s almost as if I planned that. Don’t worry though, it’s just a rumour that was spread around town.

Could you bring up some more tea, Davey?

I’ve noticed something about Ed Davey. It’s not just the fact that he looked hesitant, eager to ‘lay down’ some ‘proper disses’ on the energy companies but increasingly bereft because he’d never get his chance. It’s not just the fact that he stared off into space, blinking heavily, wishing with all his heart for BAE to be nice, to be gentle, looking permanently worried while twisting his pen back and forth in a somewhat heartbreaking way.

No. It’s the fact that he looks like Mr Molesley from Downton Abbey.

He has the same anxious air to him as well. I’m so convinced of this, whether or not anybody else sees it, that I’m going to start calling him Mr Davey for this entire edition.

Fig. 1

Regardless of what I call him, his performance remains the same. Let’s just say that it’s always a bad sign when David Dimbleby is by far the most awake person on the panel. Maybe his tattoo has given him a newfound fire in his belly, who knows. Maybe that’s what half an hour of non-stop shipbuilding talk does to a group of people, in the company of many beardy men.

But Mr Davey tried his best. He really, really did. He even tried to smack down the other panellists once or twice! At one point, Paul Kenny mockingly said he believed in the tooth fairy. Mr Davey slowly shook his head. Kenny tutted. The thrill of debate.

Out of nowhere, Mr Davey was suddenly stuck talking about drones. Why, his face seemed to say. Why me. He only wanted to discuss green levies. Why was he here? “I don’t know enough about this”, he muttered, clearly wanting nothing more than to shrink away and curse the day he was born.

(Meanwhile, Paul Kenny asserted that the drones “are getting away from us”. Yes. That’s the point.)

Nothing compared to his ‘fight’ with Nigel Lawson, though. Mr Davey simply could not believe it was happening. He was taking on a grumpy grandpa and the grumpy grandpa was winning. How was this even real? He’s Ed Davey! The most charismatic politician of them all!

But more on that later…

I once caught Stella Creasy’s very bad cold and hallucinated for two days straight (this is true)

Prior to this week’s programme I was still a little unsure what being Shadow Competition Minister entailed, but Stella Creasy has shown me the light. It means trying to cram as many words as possible into each sentence, and competing with every previous sentence to top your high score. As a result, she ended up urging the government to go easy on the dockers and to “keep the skills that are longterm skills”. As opposed to what, Stella? The skills that you get when you’re forced to play a minigame in a video game, and it’s a minigame that you don’t really enjoy but you have to do it anyway in order to progress the story?

Still, she was certainly earnest about it, that much was clear. When the sad subject of Typhoon Haiyan came up, Stella even appealed to us directly: listen to this man making a speech at the UN, she said, almost pleading with Nigel Lawson to finally understand her point of view. He cried, you know. In pain. And I, too, also feel that pain.

Not many politicians manage to look like wibbly-eyed anime characters, but after this performance I can definitely say that she is one of them. (Andy Burnham is, of course, another.)

Fig. 2

Stella Creasy is a conundrum for me. Occasionally she seems like a generic PolitiBot, manufactured in a laboratory somewhere in Slough, others she’s so uber-earnest your teeth almost shatter from the sugar rush. Sometimes she comes out with lines like “We’re not the dinosaurs, sir! Do we want to be extinct?!” and gosh darn it she’s just so sincere about it that you can’t help but answer, “No. No, Stella. I do not want to be a dinosaur.”

You wait ages for a Nigel, then two come along at once

I knew exactly what I was going to get when I heard Lord Lawson of Blaby was going to be on the panel. The question was, when would I get it?

At first, Papa Nigella gave us a sedentary performance, mentioning his time in the Navy on a ship called the Gay Charger and commenting that the word meant something different back then. This caused everyone to chuckle somewhat uncomfortably, because let’s be honest, nobody really wants to hear about Nigel and his charging, gay or otherwise.

But then, at last, the climate change question was aired.

Suddenly, quite frighteningly, Nigel snapped out of his stupour and stared wide-eyed into the light. This was it. This was what he was born to do. He had risen, like a phoenix from the fossil-fueled flames: the king of climate change denial. Haha. Climate change. What a laugh. He’d show them. Little did Mr Davey know that Nigel was merely waiting, all this time, waiting, planning, plotting, for that very moment to arrive. It was his one chance. Time to put the hippies in their place.

Apparently, all things considered, it’s been a nice, quiet time in the tropics recently! Nigel kicked back in his chair, utterly content in the fact that everybody on the panel was staring at him in horror and disbelief. Well. That’s what they get for being such a bunch of sheep. They might chortle, but he’ll have the last laugh, when he next visits the seaside and guffaws into the ocean’s salty face. You fool, he’ll cry. Don’t just sit there. Come over here if you think you’re hard enough.

Oh wait, he’ll say, smiling his crooked, gummy smile. You can’t.

To be fair, old Nigel’s sheer perseverance gave him points, even in the face of the rest of the panel literally laughing at him at one point, even the woman whose line of business is in great whacking trucks that fart who-knows-what into the atmosphere. But no. Nigel, through sheer force of denial, gaily charged on. There was no stopping him. It was all or nothing and Nigel wasn’t taking nothing for an answer, unless it’s the answer to how many more wind farms we should build. And there’s something to be said for that.

Them other two

I’m somewhat sad that Paul Kenny did reasonably well, for had he done embarrassingly badly, I’d get to say ‘oh my god, they killed Kenny!’ and everyone would laugh, and my job would be made at least 62% easier. But that didn’t happen. Kenny did decently, and even if he sounded at first like the Daily Mail’s stereotypical nightmare union leader, the audience seemed to be mainly on his side. Then again that might be because the audience was on everybody’s side this time around. For a group of people who are apparently so passionate about the Navy and, rather worryingly, sending warships to as many places as is legally allowable, they sure were easily swayed by first Nigel Lawson and then Mr Davey’s conflicting opinions about where the baby polar bears are supposed to live.

But more importantly, Kenny also wore a nice pink spotty tie, while saying stuff like “we couldn’t fight a cod war! We couldn’t put an exclusion zone around the Isle of Wight!” Scared, I resisted the urge to change the channel. It’s clear Kenny wants to declare war. Perhaps on Philip Hammond. No-one seems that bothered by this, by the way. Who even is Philip Hammond, the masses cry? We don’t know, but we don’t like him.

Nikki King also had a bone to pick with all the pointless squawking going on, in the style of your mum despairing about how why can’t she ever just have a nice family dinnertime without someone crying or dropping the tea tray or showing off their Claire’s Accessories star pendant (looking at you Stella Creasy) or getting into a fight about whether global warming exists.

“Isn’t this all so confusing?” she bemoaned, “I wish someone could tell me exactly what’s going on”. Yes, Nikki, well. That’s the thing. People sometimes have slightly differing opinions. That is, you could say, the entire point of this programme.

I suppose she was brought on to give a more ‘human touch’, while still being respected as a top businesswoman, and she did start off okay – she almost reminded me of a no-nonsense school nurse. But then she said that and that’s all I can think of now. I wish I knew what was going on.

Near the end, Mr Davey got angry, having finally gotten sick of Nigel Lawson’s flaccidity and his denial of the ocean’s acidity. I raised a weary cheer, because against my better judgement, I was actually starting to root for Mr Davey, simply because he no longer looked like he had wind. Go on my son, I cried, go on. The show was finally getting interesting. Davey and Lawson were fighting, Creasy was pleading, Kenny was punching and King was…I don’t know what she was doing. The energy bills issue was even raised again, and I was so sure that things were turning the corner –

But then someone just had to bring up carrier bags, didn’t they. I slumped back down and ate some more cake.

At last, a lady closed the show with a question on the arrogance of humanity, and doesn’t that sum this programme up well.

The final scores are:

Davey: 5/10

(Not so) dire

Creasy: 5/10

Misfire

Lawson: 4/10

Denier

Kenny: 5/10

(Singing to the) choir

King: 3/10

A flat tire

The Crowd: 4/10

Why?…er

I’m harsh because I’m in a grumbly mood. I was waiting all night for someone to make a tattoo joke and nobody did, so everybody gets a point deducted for disappointing me.

It’s been fun, but it’ll be back to normal next week when the glorious webmaster makes his return. So, in conclusion…it’s goodbye from me, and goodbye from me.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #24


questionable time 24 david dimbleby nelson

Good morning Lemmings (or should I say ‘Ahoy there Sea Lemmings’) and welcome to a city that should hold a very dear place in your hearts, purely because it is the place of my birth. That’s right, you owe Portsmouth a big one because without it, what would you be doing right now? Well I’ll tell you one thing for sure, you wouldn’t be sitting here getting a hefty dose of post-Question Time nonsense and in all likelihood you’d actually be engaged in some sort panic buying, be it petrol, stamps or Steak Bakes. So three cheers for Pompey, that majestic beacon of brutalist architecture and warlike things that was kind enough to bring me into the world. Speaking of which, let’s also hear it for the very early onset of Silly Season this year as this has been the most ludicrously fun week in politics I can remember for some time and that’s even before we take into account Gorgeous George’s stunning little coup in the North. I heard him refer to it as the ‘the Bradford Spring’ this morning. Dammit George, you may be a self-aggrandising, cat-imitating, cranky-despot-in-the-making but boy are you value for money. Anyway, I digress… On to some Questionable Timing. Here’s what we learned last night:

1. Labour really need to get their act together, tout suite…

As I just mentioned, this week has been one of those magical moments in politics where absurdity reigns supreme and seeing how the Tories appear to be main purveyors of preposterousness, the chief beneficiaries of this febrile atmosphere should be none other than the Labour party, right? Well judging by last night’s show, maybe not. Why? Well, I’d hazard a guess at the following:

  • Douglas Alexander was not the man for the job last night.

I’ve got nothing against Wee Dougie. He seems a nice (if somewhat bland) little chap who appears vaguely competent and tends to play things on the duller side of inoffensive. That’s all perfectly acceptable in my book as I have an innate respect for the mediocre and I also appreciate that as a defensive player, he can be rather canny. However, what Alexander is not is a balls-out, pedal-to-the-metal political hooligan and what was the one thing Labour needed last night? A balls-out, pedal-to-the-metal political hooligan. Seriously, I actually found it a little upsetting last night as there was so much potential for mischief from the Red Team yet Alexander simply didn’t have the pace, the instinct or the gumption to make any real hay from it. Ed Balls? As fatally compromised as he may be, he would have at least been able to harness those baser urges of his and would mostly likely have produced more hay than a Massey-Ferguson convention but no, instead we got a politician who although adept at identifying threats is simply not cut out to exploit opportunities. To shame Labour, to shame…

  • By contrast, Anna Soubry was very much up for it.

Come on let’s face it, we were all secretly hoping that the Blue Team were going to send Francis Maude on last night. It would have been the crowning glory to a week of self-inflicted nonsense but alas, wiser heads prevailed at Conservative HQ and what we got instead was Anna Soubry, a politician whose stock has just gone up in my book. So why was she a good choice? Well for one, she is very much her own person who has no problem with taking positions that run contrary to the party line. Considering how the party line this week has been something along the lines of ‘whoopsie-titting-bollocks’, that can only be a good thing. The other key asset that Soubry has is that she doesn’t appear to be posh (a case in point being her stance on grammar schools) and considering how the whiff of privilege is fast becoming one of the most toxic odours emanating from the Tory party, this was also a thing of much goodness. So yes, in contrast to Wee Dougie, Soubry was the right person for the job and the Blue Team owe her big time for successfully navigating their rickety old sloop through such choppy waters.

  • Labour are still incapable of making the political weather.

With the exception of Pastygate which seems to largely be the progeny of one very enterprising Labour MP, all of the open goals that have been presented to the Red Team this week have been entirely a result of the Conservatives own ineptitude and even then, Labour still find themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks (largely over the unions). Considering just how unpopular many of the measures this current government are taking are and just how much of a tin ear they have when it comes to communicating with people we would expect Labour to be heavily in the ascendant right now but they’re not. Why? Because aside from minor tinkering they still can’t articulate a plausible narrative as to what they would do differently and until they do we will continue to see them struggling to gain the initiative. Sort it out, Red Team.

 

2. Something horrible seems to have happened to Sarah Teather.

If I cast my mind back to the simpler times before the election I seem to recall that I actually grew rather fond of Sarah Teather. Ok, so I took the piss a bit when I insinuated that she was in fact made of interlocking circles but she did have a good line on the hopey-changey stuff and put in some very solid QT performances. However, it appears that all good things must come to an end and the Sarah Teather we got last night was a very different one from that of two years hence, one that appears to have been mentally ravaged by the experience of government. Take that awful moment in the first question when she failed to pick up on the actually quite funny joke made by an audience member about setting your house ablaze during a fire brigade strike. Now I’m a little torn as to whether she genuinely didn’t get it or was just being wilfully aloof but the result was terrible and made her come across like a really uptight school mistress who does not, repeat NOT, find the rudimentary schoolboy drawings of willies on the toilet walls to be funny. Admittedly things did pick up for her a little later on but I was constantly getting the impression that being in government is really hard for Teather and that it requires a considerable amount of self-censorship on her part. That in itself isn’t entirely unusual (in fact, lip biting appears to be the pastime of choice for left learning Lib Dems these days) but the way it manifests with Teather is because she appears to be troubled by an imaginary wagging finger that scolds her every time a non-government endorsed notion pops into her head. That’s a real pity because her appeal used to lay in the fact that she could be quite passionate when she was emotionally invested in a particular issue but now she just seems to have actively repressed her own beliefs to the point that she’s lost a part of herself and that’s a sad thing to witness. Maybe a pasty would cheer her up.

 

3. The Civilian Panelist were so-so.

Is it just me or could Alexei Sayle simply not be arsed with being on Question Time last night? Maybe it was the rambling answers (‘I don’t care’ → ‘Something about the North’ → ‘Capitalists and that’), maybe it was the fact that he looked like he had a raging hangover (nothing says ‘Oh God, just make it stop’ like sitting with your head in your hands for an hour) but yes, he didn’t exactly look like he had a song in his heart or a spring in his step. By contrast, Simon Jenkins was much more game but he never really got the opportunity to do what he does best: Be difficult for the sake of it. Ok, so he looked like he might get a little cantankerous on the matter of the Falklands and he had the odd moment of wit on the petrol crisis but there was nothing for him to get his teeth really stuck into. However, I am pleased to announce that I have finally obtained conclusive evidence that his face is in fact made of sandstone. Behold Fig. 1 (and really behold it because it is far and away the most technically mind bending thing I’ve ever done in Photoshop).

 

simon jenkins rock face rockchops

Fig. 1

 

Tl;dr:

Alexander: 4/10

(Was as hushed as the Mary) Celeste

Soubry: 6/10

Impressed

Teather: 4/10

Repressed

Sayle: 4/10

Depressed

Jenkins: 5/10

Suppressed (the urge to go absolutely batshit crazy)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Didn’t get) Undressed

So that’s, that… A good episode that could have been great had Labour put up someone with a little more vim, not to mention the luckiest of escapes for the Tories. Anyhoo, that’s enough from me until after Easter but I shall see you three weeks hence when Question Time will be coming to my home of the last 10 years, Leeds. Operation Try And Blag My Way Into The Audience is go! Let’s just hope it’s a little more successfully than the last two times I gave this little maneuver a whirl.

 

 

After Easter Lemmings, after Easter…

 


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