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Questionable Time #143


qt 143

Good morrow lemmings and let us continue our weekly trudge through the fetid wastes of what is known as summer Question Time. What with the election hype and fallout, this has been a right marathon season and I for one am crying quietly in a corner. Still, only two more shows to go! Is it silly season yet? Don’t worry – ’round these parts, it’s always silly season.

Mr Manga-orium’s Wonder Emporium

Our first sick burn of the evening hisses into being: how can the Tories justify calling themselves the ‘real party of werkin’ people’ when they’re set to stamp on tax credits? Andy Burnham is called to the stand first, and is on prime indignant form. As predicted, he’s now the frontrunner in the Labour leadership contest – however, if he wins it would be a real loss for Question Time (which is the truly important issue at hand), as I’ve always held a soft spot for Andy’s performances here or in the Shadow Health brief. He is a man fuelled by pure wibbledom – by which I mean, he does seem 100% committed to being outraged at anything the Tories do. He is possibly one of the most outraged people in politics today. When he smiles it looks like he’s holding back his tears. His big, doelike eyes sparkle with righteous rage. His Scouse accent trembles and wavers and he looks like he’s always just about to deck Jeremy Hunt. He is, on all other occasions, an over-emotional manga character come to life.

But not so much today. Today we are introduced to ‘srs bsnss’ leadership material Andy. He is staid. He is solemn. He is a lot more boring. He sombrely states that the Tories don’t have a man date – I mean, a mandate. They’re “frightening” people because of this lack of man date. They ought to get a man date, before it becomes too late. (Hey, I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!)

Meanwhile Amber Rudd, a generally unknown entity (but then again, David Cameron is probably an unknown entity to the majority of the public five years in to his premiership), scribbles down her notes furiously like an angry exam invigilator. She then makes her own pitch, and appears to be the sternest woman I have ever come across, like a less charismatic Theresa May. We’re making work pay, she says, tunelessly. A lady in the crowd who’s never “had a day off in [her] life” is enraged at this droning! Then again, that’s a bit extreme. You mean you’ve never pulled a sickie? Never? Not even a little cheeky one on a Friday?

Suzanne Evans wastes no time going ‘tf’ in, accusing Amber and the blue team of not being “transparent”. You know what’s not transparent? Whatever the hell is going on with UKIP right now. First you’re fired! Then you’re not fired! There’s a power struggle, then there isn’t! It’s the story that’s gripped the world. However, this never gets brought up once during this episode, so Suzanne comes out of the whole shebang rather well, including shoehorning in an appeal to abolish the bedroom tax. Boy, Nigel must be fumin’!

Fraser Nelson of the Speccie says that the tax credit system needs “urgent reform” and it’s overall confusing and silly. Andy glares at him sassily. Then an even sassier presence arrives on the scene. Giles Fraser (yes, it’s Fraser 2! There’s a sitcom in this, shurely?) intervenes to demolish everyone and everything and talks up tax credit as if it were an adorable kitten. Giles 4 Labour Leader?

Then Amber suggests that we all wait for Ozza to clear this mess up ;) ;) ;) ;). Anime Andy is offended again, and she calls him SAH GRAPES. In return, he tells her she’s a dirty Tory liar who needs to get in the sea. Pru, it’s kicking off! Thank goodness it’s time for a change of question…

You can leave your tie on

What would you do about Greece? Sadly, Yanis Varoufakis was not available for this edition, due to the small distraction of being whacked in the head with a baseball bat by Angela Merkel. Giles is here in his stead, and, as Dimbleby rightly points out, is also not wearing a tie! You’re still “glamourous”, says Dimbles. I’m liking this new direction for Question Time. How to Look Good Nerked.

Giles continues his excellent impression of cool tieless Yanis by calling the Troika utter bastards. The other Fraser says that Greece needs its own currency, then we could all go there on holiday! Glad to see that we haven’t lost sight of the real issue here, the need to stuff our faces with kleftiko. Then Giles and, oddly, Suzanne extol the virtues of Tony Benn. I’m not sure how the Big Bennster would react to this, but it does give me an excuse to post this clip again of him nearly causing Roy Jenkins to explode.

Andy, in contrast, has got a tuff job sticking up for a Yes vote. It’s not a “failed experiment”, he says, but he’s suspicious of a right-wing economic plot. The spirit of Benn continues to smile down upon us, puffing his pipe benignly. Then the crowd go absolutely bananas, one man laying the blame at the feet of “one woman”. Gasp…Nicola Sturgeon?! Sadly, no. Fraser sums up by saying that you can’t turn Greeks into Germans. Not even if you force them into Lederhosen.

I’m not even going to mention the audience lady who goes off on one, blubbering that we must be a beacon of light and love and Christian values (take that, Muslims!) and we should bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles and we could all eat it and be happy. I’m not going to mention that. Except I just have. Oops.

Next: WHAT DO ABOUT MIGRANTZ?

The scenes at Calais are “heartbreaking” says Suzanne, with her own attempt at a wibbly voice, but we have to show “tough love” as well. She’s like a mildly disapproving school nurse. A girl in the crowd who looks like Nicola Sturgeon’s Mini-Me pleads for the panel not to target refugees with their laser eyes, and another wayward youth gets into an shouting match about mosquito nets with Ambuh. Please, Lord, let the summer break come soon.

Giles welcomes the new immigrants with open arms, and to be fair I’d rather take Giles as a revolutionary leader over Russell Brand. Put him up against Farage next, maybe? Meanwhile, Andy just about gets away with appealing to the unwashed masses who don’t know their forrin pollysee by jam-packing his speech with super smart (S-M-R-T!) sounding words. ‘Mechanism’…’Schengen Agreement’…’Gateway Agreement’…he’s on a roll here, folks! And that roll isn’t about to stop rolling any time soon. And(y)omination continues as we hit two novelty questions in a row – looks like it really is silly season.

Sugar, oh honey honey

First novelty question: something about…sugar tax? Giles campaigns for fat rights, Andy gets into a debate about what “children’s food” is with Dimbledore, who doesn’t believe it exists (excuse you Dimbleby, you’ll never take my dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets away from me), and apparently Fraser Nelson once called Mangaman the FROSTIES KILLER. This is incredible. That should be his tagline. AB4LEADER: heart of frickin’ murdering Tony the Tiger to death. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, and here I am: stuck in the middle with food.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Second novelty question: is the last Labour manifesto the best they’ve ever had in their history ever or was it the worst they’ve ever had in their history ever? According to Alan Milburn, who is tragically still pretending he’s relevant in the year of our lord 2015, it was the latter. Fraser, Suzanne and Amber proceed to concern-troll like it’s nobody’s business, Fraser from Cheers especially. Andy Burnham grins widely, but you can so clearly see that deep inside his heart he knows that he’s going to go home that night and murder Milburn to death. First Tony, now Alan, Andy? When will the killing end?!

Finally, Giles shrugs and reveals himself a member of the Milifandom. And with that, we’re blessed with sweet relief.

Time for the scores!

Rudd: 6/10

(Failed to) Wow

Burnham: 8/10

(Nice eye)Brows

Evans: 7/10

(Not a fan of) Frau (Merkel)

Nelson: 7/10

Plow(ed ahead)

Fraser: 8/10

(His little red book will replace) Mao’s

The Crowd: 7/10

And how!

Next time: I begin to hallucinate. Also, did you know that our glorious webmaster – and previous QT-er supreme – has set up a cool new YouTube channel for his project Noobminster? Well, you do now. Go visit it and get educated on all matters political, in a thoroughly amusing fashion. Go on. Click the link. Click it, damnit!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

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Questionable Time #98


questionable time 98 david dimbleby rambo

Good morning Lemmings and if you’re feeling a little shell-shocked by the box of frogs that was last night’s show then stop crying because we only have ourselves to blame. Oh sure, we all thought we were being so clever, inviting Farage on week after week so we could all smugly mock his rubbery face and outlandish views. We thought we were doing it ‘for the lulz’ but now? Now he’s looking like he might actually win an electoral contest and it’s all our fault: We’re the ones who created this monster. We’re the ones who thought everyone else was in on the joke and we’re the ones who’ll be crying into our quinoa the day after the European elections. So answer me this Lemmings, where are your lulz now? WHERE ARE YOUR LULZ NOW?!?!

Anyway…

I love the smell of mania on a Thursday night…

So, Nige is back after his 5 month QT exile and if first impressions are anything to go by then he’s all hopped up to the nines on either a) green room booze, b) unshakeable self-belief or c) a mixture the two. Why do I say this? Well, the shouting was a bit of a giveaway (“They never tamed me!”) but most of all it was just how relentless he was in making the point that I Am None Of The Above (And I Am Most Definitely Not Grant Shapps). Got a problem? Well these guys won’t help you (particularly Grant Shapps). They don’t care, they don’t understand, they CAN’T understand because they’re not like you and me. Sure, they’ll try to paint me as part of the establishment, but you know better. You’ve seen me with my fag and my pint. You know I’m a chancer. You know that I’m probably not that competent but you don’t care. Why? Because you’re sick of being by fobbed off by these guys. Go on, give me a vote and I’ll tell them to naff off.

It’s not the most sophisticated message but it’s effective and very tricky to counter (as evidenced by the rest of the panel’s inability to decisively knobble him). The problem is that sometimes it works too well and last night might just have been one of those occasions. Allow me to explain:

Nigel Farage’s greatest gift is The Knowing Wink that he appends to every interaction – that look on his face that says ‘I know! I can’t believe I’m getting away with it either!’ (see Fig. 1). That’s the thing that we can relate to in Farage, the inner-blagger in all of us that cackles heartily when we’re given too much change or accidentally jump a queue. The problem last night was that The Knowing Wink was being subtly overpowered by The Prospect of Success: You could just see it on his face – he’d caught a whiff of his own hype and quite liked the smell. That gave his delivery this certainty and – dare I say it – a tinge of mania that made it all just a little scary.

Nigel Farage Ladbrokes

Fig. 1

This is a problem because Farage’s entire pitch (and thus by extension UKIP’s) has been that he’s just like us despite the fact that he patently isn’t and the thing that makes that pitch work is The Knowing Wink. Lose that and what have you got? Well, funny you should mention that because the bit on Grant Shapps is about to start.

How not to blag…

Ha! I’ve waited a long time to say this – Grant Shapps is now officially a busted flush and the proof of it is in just how thoroughly trounced he was by Farage last night. Seriously, it was embarrassing at times, watching him try to referendum his way out of the corner the Tories have painted themselves in to but no-one was buying it. And why weren’t they buying it? Because Shapps’ brand of blagging is an entirely different strain to Farage’s and an ugly one at that.

The main problem Shapps has is that his face just seems to constantly militate against sincerity and always ends up coming to a rest in a smug little pout – not a good look at the best of times but doubly so when you’re being taken to the cleaners by the closest thing politics has to Alan Partridge. However, the real kicker is how that look reflects on us, the blaggee. It says ‘I’m taking you for a ride because I’m better than you. Because I hold you in contempt.’. You don’t get that with Farage (who quite frankly seems delighted that anyone’s paying attention to him at all) and when you stack it up next to Shapps’ list of past offences, it becomes clear that it’s going to take more than just cheap beer and bingo to sort it all out.

It’s all coming up Umunna…

A good innings from Chuka last night and one that was aided greatly by both AstraZenica and Nigeria being on the agenda. However, it wasn’t all luck as the Europe question could have gone just as badly for the Red Team as it did the Blue Team had Chuka not been so on the ball when it came to denying Farage the space to make mischief. It’s also personally heartening because I can end up getting quite cross with Umunna for over thinking things and getting hobbled by hesitancy. Not last night though so pointy-points for the Ridiculously Good Looking man in the Red Corner.

Shirley’s bid to outlive Questionable Time…

I can just see me in 40 years time looking at this crap netbook of mine and wondering just what the hell I’m going to say about Shirley Williams after her 10,000 QT appearance. Seriously, she was knocking on a bit when I started doing this but now she’s properly old and still shows no signs of slowing down apart from isolated senior moments (the “country of Asia” anyone?). But still, I won’t complain when that day comes because despite over familiarity, there is an enduring appeal to watching a very forthright woman tell everyone off in turn before conjuring up some anecdote about the mid-20th century. Consistency: There’s a lot to be said for it.

If claps translated in to votes…

Then surely Caroline Lucas would be Queen. Alas, it appears that this not the case and despite a) a very solid performance and b) dressing up as a Christmas present I’m not predicting a Green landslide any time soon. In fact it’s almost like we’ve friendzoned the Greens, telling them how much we love their progressive policies but never actually taking them to the ball. That must be a pretty galling thing to deal with, particularly when they see us getting out of the limo with that weird kid from UKIP. Stay strong Caroline, there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

Tl;dr

Farage: 6/10

High (as a kite)

Shapps: 3/10

(The end is) Nigh

Umunna: 7/10

Aye

Williams: 6/10

(Still surprisingly) Spry

Lucas: 7/10

(Must wonder) Why (the Greens get such a raw electoral deal)

The Crowd: 7/10

(Were pretty) Fly

Well, there you go – a messy affair in which Farage nearly overdosed on himself and Shirley Williams finally took on the form of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’ll do for me.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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