Posts Tagged 'Sadiq Khan'

Questionable Time #79


questionable time 79 david dimbleby tattooed woman

Good morning Lemming and before we get underway let’s just take a few moments to truly appreciate this first paragraph for I feel it has been taken for granted of late and deserves better. Go on, have a good poke around while I thank Elizabeth for the outstanding job she did on last week’s show. Marvel at the neat array of lines and the way the words follow on from each other as I confirm that yes, we had a tattooed Dimbleby as last week’s title but that’s ok because really, how often is that it David Dimbleby gets tattooed? Breath it in Lemmings, suck it up because honestly, this is as good as it’s going to get today and if you don’t believe me, carry on reading as I try to make something – anything – out of an episode so bad that two of the panelists didn’t even turn up. Mark my words, you’ll miss this first paragraph from the second we move on to the main section – which is just about to happen right now.

Yaah, call me Ribshmael…

We all have a White Whale – you know, some behemoth from the deep who breaches the surface just long enough for you to man the harpoons only to watch them slide beneath the waves before you can get a shot off – and Jeremy hunt is mine. I mean c’mon, just look at the guy: He’s the son of an Admiral who played fast and loose with expenses, upset the victims of Hillsborough and then got caught being a little too pally with the Murdoch Empire – but not before his tax arrangements raised a few eyebrows. Naturally, we would expect a politician who goes in for this sort of thing to be covered from nose to tail in barbed projectiles yet Hunt’s skin remains intact and unblemished. In fact, not only did he avoid being dragged to shore for a vigorous flensing, he actually ended up being promoted to Health Secretary instead. That puts Hunt in a different league from the more mundane prey that make up the bulk of the good ship Questionable Time’s catch, different to the point that I’ve been longing for the day when he’d be on QT so that I could lie in wait and finish the matter once and for all. This time my White Whale was not going to get away. This time I’d land the bugger.

Except that I didn’t. Why? Because Jeremy Hunt is scarily brilliant at fluking his way out of a tight spot. Actually no, that’s unfair. There’s skill to what he does and while the paucity of opposition on the panel was a matter of luck it’s the way in which he carries himself – you know, that weird Zen thing he’s got going on with the very calm speech luring you away from the very mad eyes – that really kept him out of harm’s way. It’s also what makes him so vexing because you know just by looking at him that this man is a True Believer – someone who has big, dangerous ideas and considers consequences as incidentals. You saw it very briefly when he got animated about the private sector and his arms prepped themselves for some flamboyant gesticulating (see Fig. 1). The missionary zeal started creeping into his tone and his eyes lit up but no, just as the crowd mobilised to take him to task he caught himself, went straight back to Zen-mode and slipped beneath the surface again.

jeremy-hunt-wave-your-hands-in-the-air-gif

Fig. 1

So here I am, once again shuffling up and down the shoreline muttering oaths about the One That Got Away and making outlandish predictions about what I’ll do the next time our paths cross. In the words of Ishmael – Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”

I have two theories about Sadiq Khans performance…

The charitable one is ‘flu’ while the infinitely more entertaining one is ‘ketamine’. Seriously though, how else we can explain away such a cack-handed and downright confusing display from an otherwise steady pair of hands? I mean, it’s not like he was just fumbling a few lines, he was mangling 90% of them before suddenly remembering that if he acted a bit angry people wouldn’t bother listening to what he was saying and just clap along for the hell of it. I gave up taking notes within about five minutes because the stuff he was coming out with wasn’t just ropey – it was incoherent and with a dollop of grumpy irritability on top of it to boot.

So what was it then Sadiq? Has the cold snap laid you low with some mind fugging virus or have you been taking the Toronto/Co-Op approach to executive conduct? Please say it’s ketamine, please say it’s ketamine, please say it’s ketamine…

Things can only get better, right?

Erh, no. Things couldn’t really get much worse than they already were but Olly Grender did her level best to make sure that they didn’t improve any either. Now I should point that making the leap between cosy This Week punditry to the QT killing fields is a hard one particularly when you’ve only just landed in the Lords but still, that’s no excuse for just how dreary everything she said sounded. No oomph, no vim, just boil-in-the-bag policy chunter and a look of all-pervading fear. Still, at least she did supply the only laugh of the night when she enjoined the people of Manchester to rejoice about all those HS2 jobs that are coming their way… In twenty million years time. Ha! Good one Olly!

And the moral of this sorry tale?

QT doesn’t work without a civilian panelist. Yeah, they may wibble a lot of nonsense and generally clutter the place up but by God are they vital to stop politicians looking even weirder than they already do. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that the next time there’s a double cancellation they should just fish a couple of random – and preferably difficult looking – audience members out and put them in to wibble nonsense and generally clutter the place up instead. Anything to stop a repeat of last night. Anything.

Tl;dr

Hunt: 6/10

Jammy

Khan: 2/10

Clammy

Grender: 3/10

Gammy

The Crowd: 5/10

Miami

Hmmph…. At least I didn’t have to look up as many rhymes as usual… Small mercies and that. Anyway, let’s just erase this episode from our memories and pretend that none of this ever happened.

Right, I’m off but not before plugging a couple of new T-shirts I’ve got on the go. Anyone for Blackpool? No? Then how about this Red Riding/Battle of Orgreve number? Go on, it’ll make the perfect Christmas gift for the contemporary literature loving ex-NUM member in your life.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #16


questionable time 16 david dimbleby lasersGood morning Lemmings and oh god oh god oh god, how in the name of all that’s holy am I supposed to write-up last night’s episode of Question Time? You see, I’ve been doing this for a good long while and without wanting to sound like self-satisfied know-all, I’ve usually got a pretty good idea of how any given episode will pan out ahead of time simply by running the following equation through my head for each panelist:

If A = The propensity of a party political panelist to stick their foot in it

at any given moment (on a scale of 1 to 10).

B= The audience’s capacity for forgiveness of anything stupid uttered

by said panelist (on a scale of 1 to 10)

and C = The likelihood of any allied third-party to say something nonsensical/outrageously unpopular in support of said panelists position (on a scale of 1 to 10)

then (A/B) x C = The chance that the panelist will emerge victorious

(the lower this value is, the more likely the outcome).

So let say Tony Benn (a super safe pair of hands when on friendly territory) is set to appear in Liverpool Walton (one of Labour’s safest seats) and his principal ally on the panel is Labour supporting crowd pleaser Eddie Izzard, then the equation would look like this:

1/10 x 1 = 0.1

There you go, a nice low value that bodes well for Benn’s chances. However, let’s say that on the same show we also have well-known Tory wrecking ball Ed Pickles and his principal ally is the ever-unhinged Douglas Murray then we get this:

10/1 X 10 = 100

Woah! That’s a big fat whopper of a number and should this scenario ever actually play out, I doubt that Pickles would be able to leave the studio without being tarred and feathered. So that’s the equation and by-and-large it works. Sure, some random issue may come up that upsets the balance or a panelist may display uncharacteristic brilliance/stupidity but it’s a good rule of thumb that allows me to come up with a narrative well ahead of time. However, all of the above is contingent on a steady supply of good data and I have to admit that last night, my data was off. Waaaaaaaay off. Here’s why:

Bad Dataset #1: ‘Merseyside’ does not automatically equate to ‘Twinned with Moscow’.

Ok, I’ll admit it, I didn’t do my homework last night. Prior to a show I usually take a look at where the venue is and if I don’t feel very clued up about the location I have a trawl through the electoral results for the past twenty years to get a better idea of where it sits. Not this week though… Oh no, Old Clever Clogs here thought he was better than that and made the mistake of simply assuming that because Southport’s a stone’s throw away from Liverpool it must be entirely populated by die-hard Trots. Wrong, wrong, wrong! In fact, Southport is about as Yellow as they come with a strong Tory vote making up the rest of the picture. In fact, it’s so anti-Labour that they failed to even make the 10% mark in 2010. So not only did that mean that my value for ‘B’ was wildly out of kilter, it also throws the ‘A’s out of the window because ‘A’ cannot not be defined in isolation to its context.

Bad Dataset #2: My opinion of the TaxPayers’ Alliance may not be universal.

I like fringe groups. I like them because they provide the much-needed milk to the otherwise dry Alpen of politics and so far as I’m concerned the more bonkers they are, the tastier the breakfast. So it was that I rejoiced when I saw that Emma Boon, Campaigns Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance would be taking a seat at the table because in my mind the TA are about as fruity as they come – think UKIP with some intensive media training, less flag waving and a copy of Atlas Shrugged stuffed in its back pocket. Nor is this assumption without evidence: Take for example the fact a former director of the group hadn’t actually paid any tax in Britain for years or that they take advice off the Tea Party movement and you get an idea of quite how potty they are.

So that was me all set up: One of our ‘C’s is going to act like she’s just escape from a RAND Corporation experiment that’s gone horribly wrong while the sheer craziness of her position coupled with the group’s cosiness with the Tories will spell trouble for Alan Duncan. As it happens, I was very wrong on the first count and partially wrong on the second. In the first instance it turns out that rather than appearing to be a hairy-palmed moonhowler, she’s actually quite a steely performer who held it all together rather well. Sure she used the word ‘taxpayer’ so many times that I lost count and the TA’s position as a whole is about as plausible as the financial affairs of Harry Redknapp’s dog but the crowd liked her and she didn’t make any major blunders. On the second count, I was right that she did cause Alan Duncan a fair amount of grief but it wasn’t for the reasons I originally envisaged. I thought this would all be about guilt by association: Boon would support most of what Duncan said and then drop a clanger near the end – like proposing the sale of Northern Ireland to the highest bidder or something – and this would lead to audience doubts over the political company that Duncan keeps. But no. In actual fact she was a pain in the neck for Duncan because she kept having a go at him about aid (and if there’s one thing the TA hate, it’s foreign aid).

Damn. There goes a ‘C’.

Bad Dataset #3 – Digby Jones is way more of a wildcard than I thought.

I don’t mean in any political sense as we all knew he would spend the entire show banging on about how great the private sector is but there’s something about his presence that brings with it an element of chaos. Maybe it’s because he spent the entire episode shouting over everyone, maybe because his head always looks like it’s about to explode but the one thing I can tell you is that I spent most of the show worrying that he may actually eat Sadiq Khan. Like physically start noshing on his arm whilst complaining loudly that he doesn’t taste very good. That just threw all my remaining numbers straight out of the window.

So given the fact that I was going off some very dodgy numbers lets look at how my before-and-after equations look for party political bods Sadiq Khan and Alan Duncan.

Sadiq Khan (projected performance)

A = 3 (He’s hardly electrifying but he’s usually pretty measured on

friendly turf)

B= 9 (based entirely on faulty intelligence about Southport)

C = 3 (Assumed because Phillip Redmond is usually

somewhat sympathetic to the Red Team and

despite his overpowering eyebrows – see Fig. 1- he

usually puts on a good turn)

(3/9) x 3 = 1

Sadiq Khan (actual performance)

A = 7 (not so much ‘putting his foot in it’ as

‘looking constantly terrified of Digby Jones’)

 B = 2 (based on reliable intelligence)

 C = 3 (as Phillip Redmond turned out a very

respectable and level-headed performance)

(7/2) x 3 = 10.5

Alan Duncan (projected performance)

A = 7 (because every time I see him on TV I always assume

that the next words out of his mouth will be “…and I can assure

you that it’s all entirely legal…”. He has that look about him)

 B = 3 (again, faulty intel)

 C = 10 (based on the assumption that Boon would go nuclear)

(7/3) x 10 = 23.3

Alan Duncan (actual performance)

A = 4 (he was largely steady)

 B = 7 (good intel)

 C = 5 (thanks to Boon’s unanticipated levity/hostility to aid)

(4/7) x 5 = 2.85

phillip redmond eyebrows

Fig. 1

Well look at that. I couldn’t have been wronger. None more wrong. Thanks for nothing, Southport! And as for the rest of the scores? I’m afraid you’ll just have to come to your own conclusions as four hours of inventing spurious equations has led to something breaking in the numbers department of my brain. Expect a return to a simpler – but no less questionable – time next week.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Loudribs Semi-Functional Question Time Corner #1


Morning Lemmings. I’m sorry to say it, but this is going to be an ultra short post as I’m currently taking my licks in a case of karmic retribution. It started on Wednesday night when I was smugly commenting on how my Primarni knock off All Stars were allowing me to navigate sheet ice with an Olympic grace and dexterity that put the ‘look at my Gortex’ crowd to shame. Sure as eggs, no sooner had I off got off the bus to work on Thursday did I perform an epic faceplant and I’ve consequently completely knackered my leg and am now pretty much bedbound. The upshot of this is that I wasn’t able to do any photoshops (not that I do them with my leg, it’s just that I can’t fold myself into my Pshop Cave at present) and the mixture of pain and various forms of pain relief rendered me largely insensible for Question Time last night. However, this probably doesn’t matter as from what little I gathered of last nights episode, it seemed to be a drunken brawl that defied any appeal to reason. In short:

 

Liam Fox is looking more and more like one of those elaborately decorated roasted pigs that have an apple stuffed in their mouth. He seemed to spend most of the show retreating into interminable policy detail but did momentarily become a vista of beaming contentment when Dimbers asked if he was giving Ken Clarke the beat down. On the LibDem side it was always going to be a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’ Norman Lamb got taken apart but I have to say that he held the fort for longer than expected, largely through the practice of retreating into interminable policy detail while Sadiq Khan amply demonstrated that Labour are still in a mess by failing to capitalise on what must have surely been the most target rich QT environment for an opposition politician since the Iraq war vote. He achieved this largely through the use of retreating into interminable (non-existent) policy detail. On the non-party political side, Aaron Porter of the NUS made me re-read the warnings on my painkillers as I was convinced that I was tripping my tits off and Question Time were now inviting side characters from Tintin books on to the show while Janet Daily’s mixture of crazy hair, general contrariness and philosophical proximity to Ayn Rand made me wonder if I was bleeding internally. Finally, the crowd were such a jeery and seditious lot that I gave up trying to make sense of anything and decided to go native by howling at the cats for breaking their pre-election pledges not to chew through any more cables that connect to cool things (cable victims so far include 3 iphone chargers and the phone/internet line). However, my thanks does go out to the bearded audience member who was so red in face, hair and attire that he’s inadvertently fixed my TV and stopped it from displaying everything in varying shades of green. Thanks, Unidentified Malcontent!

 

Oh, and according to Norman Lamb, the £21k Care Worker can now expect to be on £27k in the blink of an eye. My manager doesn’t earn that much. Just sayin’…

 

In short, it was a bloody mess… 9/10.

 

So yes, that’s that. Sorry that this season ends with a rather damp squib, but I wasn’t really planning on completely buggering my leg up so I am as heartbroken as you are. In the meantime, I wish you Lemmings all a very merry Christmas and see y’all in mid-Jan, hopefully fully mobile and fighting fit. Here’s some vintage Beef to make up for the lack of topical photoshops.

Smells Like Beef Spirit. Ewww...

Next year, Lemmings…

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #23


Morning Lemmings and well done for having survived an entire week without me. The pain, I realise, must have been close to unbearable but you’re through to the other side now, basking in the warm glow of our shared love for Question Time. So kudos to you.

Anyhoo, I’m back and if I’m not mistaken, this appears to be the last episode in this series of Question Time. That’s right, the Series That Stubbornly Refused To End appears to have finally chuntered itself into a state of coma, leaving us all to twiddle our Thursday night thumbs for the next six weeks. So, with this in mind, let us gather round the hospital bed as the Good Doctor Dimbers makes ready to yank out the power cord from the life support whilst we mouth empty platitudes and extrapolate wildly on the contents of the will. This, dear Lemmings, is The End. At least until September, that is.

The Menu:

Q1: Was it right to revoke Nick Griffin’s invite to Buckingham Palace?

Q2: Is The Big Society Big Cover for Big Cuts?

Q3: 67% of the population want a burqa ban but Damian Green says it’s “un-British”. Who’s right?

Q4: Should Alex Salmond account for the release of alMaghari to Obama instead of David Cameron?

Q5: Is the Tomlinson case a cover-up?

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Damian Green, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration and one time Man In The Frame for a very fishy bit of policing.

I’m always at a bit of loss with Damian Green because although he’s been knocking about on the Tory frontbenches since 2001, the only thing that springs to mind when his name is mentioned is the rather sketchy looking incident when he was arrested (and then subsequently cleared) for misconduct in public office. To be sure, that was a grubby looking brouhaha that deservedly filled the front pages for a good long while, but it’s had the effect of defining his period in parliament and I really can’t recall a time when Damian Green has been on my radar for any other reason.

Part of this is down to the fact that it was a genuine scandal in which he appears to have been stitched up, but some of it is also to do with the fact that he simply isn’t that memorable. On the one hand, he’s certainly not incompetent and I can’t recall a time where I’ve thought ‘that there Damian Green, he’s a right numpty’, but on the other hand, he simply doesn’t seem to have that much of a presence and his MO very much seems to be ‘say things with an air of mild understatement, stick to the middle, don’t rock the boat too much and it will all be gravy’.  So yes, he’s political semi-skimmed: Serviceable in a workaday manner, but hardly the heady luxury of vein clogging silvertop.

His general reasonableness was very much on display in Q1 where he gave props to The Red Team for beating the BNP in Barking and generally sidestepped any potential booby traps by simply saying it was the Queen’s call. Q2, however, was less benign and he had to resort to the ‘it’s all Labour’s fault’ defence after Dimbers started looking dangerous with talk of unbuilt schools. Now, the Coalition have to be careful with this particular attack because it’s fast approaching it’s sell by date and will start to look pretty shabby if they carry on using it at its current frequency after September. Following this, the schools issue continued to be a thorn in his side, but he did have a brief flourish at the end when he declared that Labour would have probably done something pretty similar themselves (whilst simultaneously trying to look very, very upset and serious. D- for feigned indignation). That just about got him off the hook. Next up was Burqagate in Q3 and the mood in the room suddenly soured. Sensing some easy points, Farage lost no time in huffing and puffing about the madness of it all and he was soon scrapping with Green about what happens when burqa wearers go to banks. The audience then bundled in with supplementary ‘we have to show our faces in Tesco/BBC studio’s/etc, etc’ but credit where credit’s due, Green stood his ground and then went on the offensive by asking everyone to imagine just how stupid it would look if the police actually started arresting burqa wearers. That was a nice little switcheroo. Unfortunately, that was pretty much it from him as Q’s 5-6 mainly consisted of empty waffle and hedged bets that didn’t really go anywhere. Still, it could have been a lot worse and all-in-all, it wasn’t a bad effort, even if it wasn’t exactly gripping stuff. Still can’t say that he left much of an impression though.

A low fat 6/10

In The Red Corner: Sadiq Khan, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport and pay rise turner-downer.

Now here’s an interesting specimen. Oft-mooted as a potentially British Obama, Khan sports a set of pretty much spotless credentials, marred only by some minor expenses shenanigans. After being raised in a council estate, he’s gone from being a human rights lawyer to a Labour councillor before finally making it to the Commons in 2003 and then on to the Cabinet in 2010. So far, so admirable. However, there is one vital ingredient  missing in this otherwise beneficent mix and that, I’m afraid to say, is charisma. It’s not that he’s a bad communicator or that he has a habit of sticking his foot in it. It’s just that it takes him so long to get going, like an engine that’s lubricated with Marmite. He also has hair like Guile from Street Fighter 2. That’s cool though.

So yes, he’s not noted for his acceleration, but he did get off to a reasonably good start on Q1 by looking stern and telling everyone that it ‘served Nick Griffin right’ to get his invite to the Palace withdrawn. Boxes ticked and applause received, he then went on to Q2, a question that had a lot of potential for a Labour panellist. It started promisingly enough when he accused the Tories of being “vacuous branding men” who weren’t fooling anyone, but he didn’t drive home the attack and the initiative passed him by. Later on, he came back for another swipe, this time aimed at the middle-classes for receiving too much Tory money (which is a very dangerous game) and soon found himself handing over some easy points to Green. Hmmmm… Not the wisest strategy. Q3 resulted in much scrapping between himself, Farage and the audience and although he did make a good stab at taking the high ground, it wasn’t entirely effective and Farage managed to reap some fairly handsome applause when he played the old ‘you guys had 13 years to do something about this’ card. Ouch. Finally, along limped Q’s 4 and 5, but everyone had pretty much given up caring at this point and not much was made of it.

The above is a good illustration of why Khan has never managed to convert his ‘British Obama’ props in to the cold, hard, political power that such a title demands: You just don’t get the sense that he has the killer instinct. Yes, he’s clearly a clever guy who’s achieved a great deal in his life and yes, he has an admirable record in all of his dealings with the exception of his (admittedly minor) expenses claim. However, when it comes to the crunch, his manner just doesn’t carry that much weight and I found myself to be left wanting by his performance. I hope that this changes over time because I do think he has a lot to offer, but until then, he really needs to start pumping some oratory iron.

A somewhat clumsy but somewhat acceptable 5/10

In The Red White And Blue Corner: Nigel Farage, UKIP leader and shamelessly death defying self publicist.

Look who’s back! It’s Britain’s favourite value-for-money demagogue and amateur cad, Nigel Farage! That’s right, for as we are all aware, just prior to the election, Nigel Farage literally crashed and not so literally burned as an oh so UKIP publicity stunt went oh so predictably wrong. Yet from this wreckage emerged a man who will not let anything as trivial as death stand in the way of his tireless defence of our green and pleasant land. Gawd bless yer Nigel, the yeomanry of Great Britain are forever indebted to you. Speaking of which, I have noticed that a photo of the incident, featuring a dazed, battered and dishevelled looking Farage has since disappeared from Google Images, which is a shame as it represented the perfect juxtaposition of both comedy and tragedy. Luckily, I managed to save a copy myself, now proudly displayed below in a somewhat enhanced form below (see Fig. 1).

Yowzers!

Fig. 1

Anyway, it was pretty much stock Farage tonight and he stuck to his tradition of starting out on a semi-reasonable footing before picking a fight with everyone and then consequently drowning in a sea of animosity he himself created. I call it The Farage Trajectory. Here’s how it worked last night: Q1 had him sounding, dare I say it, very sensible as he took the now familiar ‘hate the BNP, but they are elected’ line which was received with some very sensible sounding applause before then embarking on a bit of a non-answer to Q3 that was saved at the last minute by some ‘isn’t the voluntary sector great’ cheapery. However, it was Q3 where the more confrontational Nigel (who I’ve perversely come to actually quite like in a completely counter intuitive way) emerged and scraps were had with all. Some nonsense was spouted, some wide eyed monkeyshine invoked and a telling off from Dimbers received but oddly (and worryingly) the crowd seemed to be mostly behind him. The Farage Trajectory then asserted itself with renewed vigour as he made a fairly long winded stab at Americans in general, only to find that there was an American woman in the audience who happened to take offence. Doh! Bad luck there Nigel! Finally, he managed to buck his eponymous trajectory on Q5 as he got a brief squirt of applause for saying that the Tomlinson case “stinks”. Damn. I hate it when a trajectory doesn’t come together.

So that was that and as usual, I really quite enjoyed it. Yes, he’s crazy as a shit house rat and yes, he’s full of tawdry, two-bit plays, but come on, he really does bring something to show. Never change Nigel. Never change.

An awe inspiringly tacky 8/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Ruth Lea, hard headed economist type and purveyor of all round wtf?!-ness.

Ok, ok, so I’ve done the ‘doesn’t Ruth Lea look just like that weird little boy from the Antiques Roadshow who ended up being a woman’ gag before (see title image), but c’mon, gags like that come but once a lifetime. In fact, so taken am I by this rather cheap trick that from here on in, Ruth Lea will always be represented by a picture of the aforementioned Weird Little Boy From The Antiques Roadshow Who Ended Up Being A Woman. My blog, my rules, ok?

Anyhoo, Ruth Lea’s back she’s usually pretty predictable. It works like this: If it’s anything to do with the public sector, it’s bad. If Gordon Brown’s been within 500 miles of it, it’s bad. If there’s the slightest whiff of anyone trying to pour cold water on the throbbing sinews of dog-eat-dog capitalism, it’s not just bad, it’s an affront to humanity and the perpetrator fully deserves to have their eyes poked out with a statuette of Milton Friedman. That’s how Ruth Lea works and providing there’s someone around at the other end of the spectrum to put up a bit of a fight, it can be quite fun watching her get all fundamental and crazy about all things economic.

When I saw the line up tonight, I was delighted. I wasn’t too bothered by either the Red or Blue team, but the thought of Ruth Lea going toe-to-toe with her polar opposite, Bob Crow, filled me with giddy optimism. This had to result in an epic and bad tempered shitstorm, right? Wrong. In actual fact, what we got was a quite sedate Ruth Lea who failed to build up to her usually ginormous levels of moon howling lunacy. Q1? Perfectly reasonable. Q2? Low levels of bureaucracy and Gordon Brown bashing, but nothing like the torrent of fervent zeal we’re accustomed to. Q3 A picture of even handed tolerance (and she told Nigel Farage to “put a sock in it”) Q4? Neither here nor there. And Q5? Not even worth mentioning.

Well, that wasn’t very fun, was it and if I’m being totally honest, I feel a little cheated. So come on Ruth. You’ve got a role to fill and that’s the role of Never Say Die, snake eating, free market extremist. Next time, I expect to hear at least one reference to how the Invisible Hand is going to bitchslap me silly for paying my taxes or a call for Parliament to be sold to Primark. Now be off with you!

A disappointingly sane 4/10

In The ‘I’m The Funny One’/Just Like You Corner: Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT and Salt Of The Erf.

I have a theory about Bob Crow. I contend that there are in fact two Bob Crow’s and that they alternate their media appearances on a random basis. Sometimes, it is the principled, down to earth, Defender of The People Bob Crow who sallies into the studio, ready to fight the little guy’s corner and stand up for a fairer society. On other occasions it is YOU’RE GOIN’ ‘OME IN A FACKING AMBULANCE, Scargillite bull-in-a-china shop Bob Crow who bludgeons his way through the door, ready to pick a fight with anyone who grew up in a house that had an indoor toilet (as aptly represented in Fig. 2 and in this episode of Have I Got News For You).

SHADWELL ARMY!

Fig. 2

Tonight, we got the former and I must say, I was quite impressed. On pretty much every question, he made his point in a robust way that managed to stay on the right side of anger and even when he was harried by a bloke in the audience who clearly was a bit of a tit, he managed to keep the aggression that can so often be his undoing in check. Ok, so his performance was littered with an inordinate number of slightly bizarre World War II references (his granddad in the 8th Army, the uncle shot in Rangoon, Q2’s “Dad’s Army” barb , government spending in 1945, etc) and his bankers/Dick Turpin joke fell a bit flat, but the audience were behind him in impressive numbers and he came across like a man with genuine convictions who was in it for the right reasons. I will admit to being slightly pissed off that the other Bob Crow didn’t turn up, if only to have a fight with Ruth Lea, but I can’t deny that there was a lot to like about this outing.

A sturdy 7/10

The Crowd: Hartlepool

Ok, so I don’t quite know what to make of this lot. On the one hand, they were a pretty noisy, knockabout crowd with some good stand out solo’s (American Farage Mauler, I’m looking at you), whilst on the other, the reaction to the burqa question scared me a little and I sort of got the feeling that quite a few of them were there simply to have a go at someone (which is the point of Question Time, but you know what I mean, right?). This wasn’t really helped by having Red and Blue panellist who were competent enough to not really bugger anything up, but not seasoned/skilful enough to build a head of steam and smite their foes. Add in to that the fact that Ruth Lea’s medication has obviously kicked in while Bob Crow has experienced some instant mellowing and the show as a whole ends up looking a little frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad episode and there was some interesting stuff there, but in general I just found it a little incoherent and slapdash. Thank god for Farage, eh?

Oh Christ… I really did just say that, didn’t I…

A confusing 5/10

So that’s it! This series over! While this is the first series that I’ve actually written about, it totally does stick in my mind as one of the more eventful and dramatic ones, particularly during the March-June arc. Since then we’ve been through a period of politics that really has completely turned everything on its head and we emerge at the other end in a very uncertain, but utterly fascinating landscape that continues to shift and contort. I have no idea where things are going at the moment. I have suspicions and inklings, but nothing that I’d take to the bank. All I do know is that it’s watching the flux of events through the window of Question Time is a whole bunch of fun and that I’ll be back for more in September.

If you’ve been following this blog, many, many thanks. It’s sometimes a pain in the arse to write and produce as I work full time and you’d be surprised just how much long it takes to make, but it’s all worth it when people say nice things to me about it. I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen to it by the next series. It’ll be back in one form or another, but it just might be on a different platform. Anyhow, check back in from time-to-time, because you never know, I might get round to finally updating the scoreboard-that-is-of-my-own-devising-yet-I-still-don’t-understand. Emphasis on the word ‘might’. MIGHT

And finally some special thanks go out my Mum for the proof reading and gentle ticking offs whenever the spelling/typos/swearing got too appalling (I was born in 1979. I am living proof of 18 years of Tory education policy), the good people at reddit’s /r/unitedkingdom and /r/ukpolitics (your upboats and comments gave me a major morale boost at exactly the point when I needed it most) Jalf for techy brain picking/holiday Friday escapism, Benry for Spreadhead, Rick for the banter and most of all to my partner Hannah for putting up with what could quite often be quite the curmudgeonly Loudribs. xx

See y’all in September.


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