Posts Tagged 'Tessa Jowell'

Questionable Time #87

questionable time 87 david dimbleby manga anime dimble san

Good morning Lemmings and isn’t it just typical – you spend all series waiting for a screamingly self-obsessed bag of contradictions to turn up and then two come along at once. It’s just not bloody fair is it? Anyway, we should really get cracking as there was plenty going on last night as you might expect given the presence of the Gallowstarkey so let’s not shilly-shally about: To the first paragraph Lemmings…


For a horrible moment I thought Galloway might be losing his teeth…

I usually love opening shots in which George Galloway’s involved, particularly of late when he’s been going through his Bond villain phase – you know, with that collarless Scaramanga suit and the mad, mad staring eyes. Alas, it appears that he’s now stopped striking that pose, donned a pair of Meedja Glasses and is going for a much more restrained get-up, all of which robs that opening shot of its melodrama and me of a good chuckle with which to get the party started. It wasn’t just the way he looked either – there was something really odd about the way he was putting words together at the start of the show: His tone was subdued – a little timid even – yet the vocabulary was (as always) straight out of the Moscow Trials, all of which added up to a very weird presentation where statements designed to be screamed at the top of your lungs (like “REACTIONARY TOSH!”) sorted of squeaked their way out and lent his usual line of hyperbole a strange air of mundanity. At first I though this might be a case of ‘once bitten, twice shy’ since the last time he opined about rape he ended up in all sorts of hot water but this was clearly not the case given that he once again tried to go down the ‘husbands don’t have to ask for sex verbally’ route and was rewarded with a very awkward silence followed by a swift Moving On from Dimbers.


In fact, it took two full questions for George to hit his stride and in the meantime we had to watch the odd spectacle of him winding himself up. This happened on the public vs. private schools question when Starkey had just finished flouncing about on a hobby house called ‘You People’.


I am absolutely furious” declared Galloway, except that he didn’t sound furious at all – mildly ticked off maybe, but certainly not ‘furious’ – so he gave it another go.


“I am absolutely furious!”.


Hmm, better but still not feeling it.




And that was it, the crowd cheered and he was off – off to spend the rest of the show bellowing about “TORY CONTEMPT!” whilst simultaneously stroking Matthew Hancock’s arm and gently patronising him to within an inch of his life. It’s odd though: This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed that Galloway needs a whole lot of runway to take off and I’m beginning to suspect that underneath all the bravado is actually quite a nervous man who needs to hear the audience cheer (or to see a fight he knows he can win) before he can shake the self-doubt off his back. There, I did it. I managed to get the words ‘Galloway’ and ‘self-doubt’ into the same sentence. Questionable Time’s slow descent into absurdism is now complete.


While George was winding himself up, Starkey was boiling himself down…

…Into a thick, viscous ooze of something really unpleasant. Of course, this shouldn’t really come as any surprise given his past form but last night really was a turning point: It signalled that he’s ended any pretence of being a Serious Talking Head and has instead bet the farm on becoming The Thinking Idiot’s Katie Hopkins. I mean seriously, everything he said last night was intentionally designed to wind up the maximum amount of people in the shortest possible time and on that front he did exceptionally well – for example, that line about the “the large female paw, hanging on one pan of the [Scale’s of Justice]”? That was Live Action Trolling at it’s very finest and he does deserve at least a little credit for the skill involved. However, it’s the way he gets personal that just makes the whole thing seem so bloody obnoxious – like when he started imitating an audience member and threw his pen across the table in a fit of faux indignity. It looked like a stroppy teenager doing a sarky impression of their parents after having been grounded and it was quite frankly wanky (as was the whole “Large, fat, red man” rant about ‘Bill’ Crow).


But – and here’s the rub – I have to admit that on a very nefarious level, it works. It’s like the Sidebar of Shame on the Daily Mail site: I may huff and puff and furrow my brow when ever it’s mentioned but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll happily click away at it when no-one’s looking. Hey, wait a second, when did I suddenly become part of the problem? Damn you Starkey! You’ve even managed to pit me against myself!


And the others?

Alright, time is short so I’ll be brief. I’d totally forgotten who Matthew Hancock was until I remembered that he’s the plumby voiced Minister for Skills and Enterprise who is so hopelessly out of his depth on QT that I always end up feeling sorry for him. In his defence, it can’t be easy to keep all together when Galloway’s doing his best Hans Fritzl impression in your direction but still, looking like you’re not going to have a panic attack really is a basic level requirement for any QT panelist and it’s not one I’m convinced he’s met.


As for Jowell, well it’s a game of two halves here: On the one hand it was heartening to see her repeatedly call shenanigans on Starkey but it wasn’t the most assured performance and that spiel where she managed to cram just about every New-Labourism into one irritating package (‘Diversity!’, ‘Citizens!’, ‘Responsibility!’ Gah!) served only to remind me how stale the whole project got.


And finally there’s QT first timer Alison Wolf who somehow managed to glide above the whole grubby affair with an air of confident dignity and an absolutely splendid posture. I can’t say I entirely agree with everything she said but she has surfeit of poise and that must be worth a mark or two.




Hancock: 4/10

(Looked) Pale (and clammy)


Jowell: 5/10

(Seems to quite like “the large female paw” on the) Scale(s of Justice)


Galloway: 6/10

(Had much to) Rail (against)


Starkey: 2/10

(Was a cautionary) Tale (for all aspiring trolls)


Wolf: 7/10

(Did) Avail (us with some much-needed serenity)


The Crowd: 6/10

(Would be well within their rights if they chose to) Assail (Starkey after the show).


So that’s that and hard luck to anyone who – like me – thought the pairing of Starkey and Galloway might turn into some quirky-yet-heartwarming premise for a buddy movie. In fact, so convinced was I of this outcome that I even went to the trouble of producing promotional materials for it (see Fig. 1).


george galloway and david starkey thelma and louise

Fig. 1

Right, I’m off to fully develop this cold I have brewing and I will be back in a fortnight as Elizabeth will be driving seat next week. Lucky girl, she gets to experience all the thrills and spills that Scunthorpe has to offer. In the meantime, please feel free to exchange money for this rather lovely t-shirt of Tony Benn…


Elizabeth next week Lemmings, Elizabeth next week…


Questionable Time #66

 questionable time 66 david dimbleby goth

Good morning Lemmings and I hope you’ve brought provisions with you (sandwiches would be a start although booze will ultimately be of greater utility) because we’ve got an awful lot to get through today. Right, no messing about, let’s get cracking.

So Mel finally went off the deep end…

I was going to start with Brand but seeing how this site’s being absolutely hammered by people arriving from the search term ‘Melanie Phillips Question Time’ – not to mention the fact that my twitter feed has become a solid wall of people going on a Mel bender – I thought it prudent to bow to the wishes of the great unwashed. Anyway, prior to last night’s show I was feeling somewhat ambivalent about Phillip’s being on as she’s been relatively well-behaved of late. Granted, she’s managed to maintain an underlying level of bonkersness and there’s always some sort of societal windmill she’s been able to tilt at but compared to the uber-rabid Londonistan-era Mel, I rather feared that she was losing her teeth.

Nor did her answers early in the show do anything to dispel this feeling and in actual fact, most of what she came out with was pretty tame: On bankers she was so-so (although did manage to slip in an obligatory dig at nurses… well done there) while the drugs question saw her going through some hard-line motions but it was all the fairly predictable, doom-laden stuff that she routinely churns out. ‘That’s it.’ I thought. ‘The old girl’s finally cashed in her chips. Godspeed Mel, may you while away your days in crotchety grumpiness’. However that was before the question about Syria landed.

It all started innocuously enough – a dig at Cameron here, a failed state or two there – but then went sideways as she arrived at her two ‘I’s: Israel and Iran. The first sign that things were becoming unstuck was when she demanded that Iran be “neutralised” but that was just a warm-up. No, what really sent her over the edge was the bally gall of the audience to offer a collective tut at this idea. That was it. Out came the finger, jabbing away like a little spear of crazy as she laid into the “defeatism of the British people”. Naturally, slagging off 60 million people in one effortless little sentence did little to sooth the crowd and the tutting soon became the ominous rumble of boos, but Mel wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot.

HOW TRIVIAL OF YOU! HOW IGNORANT OF YOU!” was her next line and with it went any hope that the show might remain tenuously anchored in reality. The ominous rumble escalated, insults were traded and the good ship Question Time proceeded to turn turtle before finally disappearing beneath the unrelenting waves of farce that swamped its decks.

Twelve hours have passed since that incident and as I now peer at the fuzzy sonar scan of the show’s watery grave I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, this is the sort of thing that Questionable Time should thrive on – you know, bangs and crashes, bells and whistles, that sort of thing – and a part of me is quite pleased to see that Mel’s back and as unhinged as ever. Yet there was also something about the pure bitterness behind it all (from both Phillips and the crowd) that makes me feel a little queasy. Is this what we really wanted? The spectacle of a woman who’s essentially given up on humanity reaching snapping point in front of an audience of millions? The base, impulsive side of me says it is but deep down I can’t escape the feeling that we’ve traded in a stable, long-term relationship for a dirty little grope in a stationary cupboard.

You know something’s gone deeply awry when Boris starts looking like a voice of reason…

Believe me, I’m just as shocked as you by the above statement but I’ve got to admit that it’s essentially true: Boris was – in the main – actually pretty level-headed last night. True, he couldn’t sustain this new and rather disconcerting look for the entire show and by the end of the it he had assumed his more familiar form – that of a Rube Goldberg contraption brought to life (please click that link as it contains some pure brilliant). But still, I can’t deny that for the majority of it he actually resembled what can only be described as a ‘politician’ and when it came to the Syria, I was pretty much in total agreement with him. I know, I know… This is all a little difficult to take in but trust me, it happened and again, I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s like the QT I know and love just got its ears pierced, bought a motorbike and told the kids that Daddy needs some time to go and ‘find himself’. In short, confusion is reigning in my head right now along with a troubling sense of abandonment.

Will the real Russell Brand please stand up?

My one great hope for last night’s episode was that I might finally be able to form a definitive opinion about Russell Brand, something that has so far eluded me despite repeated attempts to peg him down. Here’s the thing – behind all the sex and drugs and Dickensian wibbling you do occasionally catch a glimpse of a thoughtful, sensitive and actually quite vulnerable man. Remember when he gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee about drugs policy? That was one of those rare, fleeting glimpses and that’s the Brand I’d like to like.

But they are so rare and while you’re waiting for them you have to endure the contrived dumbing down, the ‘awight mate Mr Dimbleby sir me lord’ and the nagging feeling that his ego may be reaching the point where it can’t support its own weight any more. And that, frankly, upsets me off because he doesn’t have to do it. Yes, I get that this may all be part of a grand plan to make politics ‘accessible’ and ‘relevant’ but I can’t help feeling like I’m being stealthily patronised whilst simultaneously being force-fed a year’s supply of low-hanging fruit.

Fundamentally though, there’s a more profound problem I have with Brand and it’s about trying to work out where the persona ends and the real man begins. I hoped that last night might bring me a little closer to sussing that out but alas, it was not to be.

Reasons why I’m quietly falling in love with Ed Davey…

  1. I think he’s in politics for the right reasons. True, he doesn’t offer much in the way of thrills and that streak of inevitable careerism is hard to ignore but I genuinely get the feeling that he’s a sensible man who wants to make a sensible world using sensible means. We sort of need a few of them kicking about.
  2. He and Jowell were about that only things that reassured me that I wasn’t in fact watching a Year 9 drama group attempting to perform a parody of Question Time.
  3. When I take notes for the show, I refer to the panelists by their initials – Davey’s being ED. Pleasingly, whenever I read the notes back in my head his name always comes out as ‘Aer-Der!’. It’s the little things that count in life.

And just in case you were worried that Tessa Jowell might neglect to mention the Olympics…

…She manages to squeeze one in during the dying seconds of the show. Phew! For a second there I thought we were in trouble. Anyway, it was a good innings from Jowell last night, particularly as Dimbers did seem to have it in for her at the start of the show. It was also the first time that I’ve heard a convincing apology for Labour’s failure to regulate the banks coming from someone who was very much at the heart of that ill-fated project. And that dear Lemmings may even warrant an extra point.


Johnson: 6/10

Odd(ly restrained)…

Phillips: 3/10

(Rode rough)Shod (over any sense of proportionality)…

Brand: 5/10

(Is a tricky) Sod (to pin down)…

Davey: 6/10

Plod(s sensibly on)…

Jowell: 7/10

(Gave a knowing) Nod (to Labour’s culpability)…

The Crowd: 6/10

(Did a good job at being the Awkward) Squad…

Right, this has to end because I’m way over my thousand words and need to sit in a darkened room for at least a week. Before I go there’s the small matter of this week’s pshop which I’ve stuck below (see Fig. 1).


Fig. 1

Yeah, it’s not my finest work but that’s probably because I wazzed all my pixels up the wall making this rather beautiful Farage design which may just be available in t-shirt form in the none-too-distant-future. Watch this space. So anyway that’s your lot and let’s hope that Daddy returns next week – minus that ghastly leather jacket of course…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #33

questionable time 33 david dimbleby misfits

Good morning Lemmings and hold on to your hats because we’ve got a live one here. Yup, that’s right, after a slew of mediocre and bothersome QT’s that never really got off the ground Luton has decided to pull its finger out for the penultimate show of the series. And about bloody time if you ask me. Anyway, here’s what we learned:

I was genuinely excited at the prospect of Paddy Ashdown and Terry Smith being in the same room together.

There are many people in this world who claim to know some Awful Things and to be quite frank, most of them annoy me. Take for example Nick Ferrari: He claims to know all sorts of Awful Things about the way this country is heading and uses every opportunity he can to make us aware of just how Awful these Things will be. The problem here however is that a) I’m not entirely convinced that the horrors of which he speaks are anything more than figments of his imagination and b) the way he howls and bleats about our impending doom makes me want to do him a mischief. Happily though, the same cannot be said for either Paddy Ashdown or Terry Smith, men who have taken the art of knowing Awful Things to dizzying heights. Lets start with Ashdown:

That Paddy Ashdown knows some very Awful Things is beyond dispute. The man is an ex-Marine who’s spent a good part of his life practising Awful Things on behalf of the state before going on to govern a country that was beset with Things of the most Awful nature. In short, he’s got chops when it comes to the unthinkable. But it’s what he chooses to do with this information that’s important and this is where Ashdown’s real strength lies: He tells you about these Things and their Awfulness without fuss or drama, neither trying to sweeten the pill nor over-egg the pudding. Basically, he treats you like an adult. As for Smith, well it’s all very similar. His background is in finance and given his CV I think it’s entirely probably he knows a great many Awful Things about The City. But again, it’s what he chooses to do with this information that matters and like Ashdown he opts to play it super-straight: Thing’s are much more Awful than you could possibly imagine. Suck it up. Now, that’s not a nice piece of news to impart but he does it in such an unflinchingly steely manner that it almost doesn’t seem scary: The entire global economy could happily implode, taking with it several hundred years of human progress but it’s ok because no matter what, Terry Smith will survive the cataclysm and be able to say ‘I told you so’ when we all emerge from our fallout shelter.

So yes, I’m a very big fan of people who really know what they’re talking about – doubly so if they happen to be kickboxing econo-doom-mongers or ex-Special Forces nation builders – and what I was really hoping to witness was a flat-out confrontation between the two of them. Alas, that was never going to happen as they seem largely united in their outlook on economy and aside from Smith’s suggestion to simply get rid of the House of Lords (never one for partial solutions, Terry Smith) they largely spoke as one. But still, could you imagine a face-off between the two of them? It would be like the world’s most intense staring contest (if Paddy Ashdown’s eyeless squint qualifies as staring) that would probably result in someone’s head exploding. I’ve done my best to visually extrapolate such a scenario (see Fig. 1) but I must confess that I am a little bummed that it didn’t come to pass. Still, a solid effort from both parties involved and one that lent this episode some of the much-needed gravity that’s been missing from QT of late.


Fig. 1

My jury’s out when it comes to Justine Greening.

This was never going to be a nice week for a Tory on QT, let alone for a Transport Secretary who got brutally flip-reversed by her own team a few days back so the odds really weren’t on Greening’s side. To her credit, she did manage to look largely composed for the bulk of the show and the good news is that this wasn’t a Chloe Smith/Ben Swain moment. The less positive news for Greening is that if the Blame Labour For Everything line was looking a little threadbare six months ago it looks positively craven now (something that three separate audience members went to great lengths to point out) and her reliance on it soured her performance from the get-go. Similarly her repeated use of the phrase ‘cracking on’ became so familiar as to be contemptible and although it’s preferable to confessing that the government really doesn’t have a clue what’s going on at the moment there is something deeply suspicious about people who are constantly telling you that they’re ‘on to it’. Still, it could have been worse and I will say this: Justine Greening has excellent posture: Shoulders back, spine ramrod straight, head up… that’s some quality sitting down she pulled last night.

I like the fact that Tony Robinson must leave right-wingers feeling horribly conflicted.

First things first, hats off to Tony Robinson for his opening broadside on the bankers question. That was real passion on display and it set the rest of the show up really nicely. I’m going to now put my hat back on and gently scold him for not quite doing enough homework, something which is a real pity because if he had a stronger grasps of the facts his answers would sound a little less like conspiracy theories. Gentle scolding dispensed, I am now going to take my hat off again and congratulate him purely for existing. Why? Because it causes True Blue types to blow a cognitive gasket. Here’s how it works: Upon laying eyes on Tony Robinson a True Blue is liable to register a surge in their blood pressure because they know him to be a jumped-up, oiky little lefty who’s spent most of his life bad-mouthing the Tory party. However, things start to become problematic when they realise that he’s also Baldrick from Blackadder and no matter how hard they try, they cannot bring themselves to hate the living embodiment of one they hold so dear. Time suddenly appears to stop, a hissing noise issues from their brains, smoke pours out of their ears, everything goes black. Job’s a good ‘un Tony.

And the other one?

I think I’ve finally realised why I’ve always had trouble with Tessa Jowell. Part of it is that I’ve never really known what the point of Tessa Jowell is (she always seemed to be Minister for Stuff or Deputy to the Office of the Trivial) but I think it’s more to do with the fact that she fails my 3rd Test of Friendship: Are they a fun person to get drunk with? I suspect that Tessa Jowell is probably a crushing bore when drinking and I also suspect that she would wear rattley jewellery that would really get on my nerves. And what evidence do I base this on? None whatsoever apart from a very queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I try to picture the two of us sat at a bar. Sorry Tessa but the pit of my stomach has spoken and for better or worse it holds some sway over me.


Greening: 5/10

(Got diddled by Osborne’s about) Turn

Ashdown: 7/10

(Has soldierly credibility to) Burn

Jowell: 4/10

(Is not someone I) Yearn (to get bladdered with)

Smith: 7/10

(is very) Stern

Robinson: 6/10

(Showed great) Concern

The Crowd: 7/10

(Were probably drinking tea from an) Urn (just before the show was filmed)

So there. Speaking of the crowd, sorry that they didn’t get much of a look-in in this week’s Questionable Time. I find myself a little pushed for space but I think it would be an injustice not register just how delightfully indignant they all were. Here’s to you, Delightfully Indignant Luton Crowd. Right, that’s me done… I’m going to give work a call to see if my box of Questionable Time stickers has arrived yet. Tap me up on the old Facebook or Twitter if you want in on some adhesive Dimbleby action.

Make your laptop handsome!

Make your laptop handsome!

Tame your feral beasts!

Next week Lemmings… Next week….

Loudribs Curmudgeonry Corner Post Question Time Match Report #27

Morning Lemmings. Ok, so I’m sort of better, but ‘sort of’ in a way that means that it’s probably going to be quite a brief report tonight, which is just as well as it was quite a sedate and middling Question Time last night. However, I’m glad that in writing this I have some sort of distraction from the telly because if I hear another goddamn thing about the Chilean miners, I might just go over the edge. I was off work on Wednesday and Thursday this week and it was like they were being rescued from my basement. Seriously, I know it’s joyous news and all, but enough already. So anyway, buckle up and hunker down as we tear through this week’s episode, bought to you by the good people of Cheltenham.

The Menu

Q1: Have the LibDems sold out younger voters on tuition fees?

Q2: Does it smack of incompetence that we don’t know how much will be saved by cutting the Quango’s?

Q3: What is the point of the BBC getting rid of a deputy if they send 26 people to Chile?

Q4: Ed Miliband said he chose Alan Johnson because he’s the right man for the job. Will he live to regret this?

Q4: In light of Liverpool’s current problems, is foreign ownership bad for the game?

In The Blue Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: David Willets MP, Minister of State for Science and Universities, Tory Brainiac of note.
I have to say that it was quite brave of old Two Brains to do come on QT last night, given that he and his partners in crime have pissed off pretty much everyone on university funding this week. Even more surprising is how relatively unscathed he emerged and a great deal of that is down to the fact that he’s quite good at not coming across as a politician. He does this by talking at around 75% of the speed of a regular politician and he also avoids getting too carried away with the histrionics if he does find himself in a tight spot. Warsiesque spitting of feathers? Oh no, not on Two Brains’ watch. Instead, he manages to get points across in a considered yet quietly persistent sort of way and the overall effect is to quietly lull the audience into a mood of passive acceptance. Granted, this approach isn’t great when you’re on the offensive. But in a week when he was on the hook for a pretty unpopular policy, it did the job.

Take Q1, for example. Now this could have gone very sideways, very quickly, but he did a good job of smothering it in studious mumblings of “complex stuff” and later even went on the offensive about the graduate tax, a move that knocked Jowell totally off-balance. Similar plays occurred on Q2 too much the same effect while Q3 saw a sudden outburst of geek love for Brain Cox’s The Solar System and A History of the World in 100 Objects, before then having a quiet go at the Beeb. Fired up by this, he then went on the offensive in Q4 (whilst making sure everyone knew that he “really likes” Alan Johnson), picked up a few claps and then quickly lost them in a past-it’s-sell-by Greece/Spain/Ireland rant.

So yes, Willets did good, all things considered and will be a handy man to have about, should his party have to break any really bad news in the not too distant future. But that’s not going to happen, right?

A scholarly 6/10

In The Red Corner: Tessa Jowell MP, Shadow Minister for the Olympics and Brass Eye hater.
I’m not a big fan of Tessa Jowell, but I take comfort in the fact that as she grows older, she looks increasingly jowelly and that this trend is likely to accelerate in time. There’s some sort of cosmic justice to be had in this. Anyhoo, it was a mighty odd performance from Jowell tonight and one in which there seemed to be a danger of her outflanking herself (let alone her party) on the right. I guess some of this is down to circumstance: The new shadow cabinet is barely a week old, no one’s quite pegged down the policies yet and the bets are off until Wednesday’s Impending Doom clobbers us all, but she could have at least tried to look like she was a Labour MP, rather than a gritted teeth uber-Blairite who’s not received the news that the game is up.

She appeared to get off to a good start with Q1, giving the tuition fees plan a resounding thumbs down to inevitable applause, but soon lost her way when pulled up on the matter of the graduate tax. Unwilling to state any firm opinion, she flapped about and evaded, making herself look like a bit of a tool in the process. Q2 saw her accusing Max Hastings of a “slur!” before garnering some tidy little claps on Q3 by sticking up for Auntie and then picking up a few more with some fairly standard ‘you knew about the numbers before you got in’ tomfoolery in Q4. On paper, that all sounds like a pretty reasonable performance but when I was watching it, I couldn’t help thinking that she didn’t believe a word that came out of her own mouth and was just grudgingly going through the motions, as if it was a chore. Never did I get the feeling that she was truly signed up to coherent agenda.

I guess the weirdest thing about Jowell is that despite a career that is memorable more for her ex-husband’s shenanigans with Berlusconni than any deed of her own, she somehow survives, even if only in very borderline jobs such as Minister for the Olympics. Whatever it is that keeps her hanging on, I must say that I hope it stops and soon. 13 years of mediocre is more than enough for me, thanks.

A suspicious 3/10
In The Yellow Bit Of The Blue/Yellow Corner: Lord Willis of Knaresborough, LibDem peer and very wooly looking man.
Ok, I confess. I had no idea who Phil Willis was until tonight. I still don’t have that much of an idea, but he seems reasonable enough, even if he looks like a rather tired St. Bernard. Like Willets (more so in fact), he was pretty vulnerable on the night, especially on the tuition fees question. His first move on this front was to bang on about the progressive elements in the plan, a move that sort of worked, but he later played a blinder by admitting that the government really didn’t have a clue about scholarships (“we haven’t cracked it yet”). Stunned by this sudden outburst of honesty, the crowd ended up clapping (possibly involuntarily, such was the surprise) and he walked away smelling of roses. Not bad, all things considered. The rest of his performance was pretty measured, sticking vaguely to the coalition line whilst making sure both feet were in LibDem territory while his rather impassioned tirade about big money “debasing” football went down a storm, capping things off nicely for him.

Much like Willets, this was all quite well thought out stuff that carefully avoided falling into traps or ambushes and while it will hardly set the world ablaze, is was good enough to see him through what could have been a very choppy passage. So yes, nice going, Ol’ Woolchops, you live to fight another day.

A sturdy 6/10.

In The I’m The Funny One/Just Like You Corner: Max Hastings, war bod and True Blue journo.
Poor old Max. Last year, everything seemed to be going so well. The Tories were set to romp home in a landslide, the wrongs of the last 13 years were due to be corrected and he’d even managed to blag the Guardian into printing opinion pieces that he’d written. What could possible go wrong? We’ll, what went wrong was that the landslide never materialised and instead of being in a position where he could triumphantly crow over his vanquished foes, Max had to instead face the reality that his side were now bumping uglies with dastardly LibDems and all of that good, honest, red meat Tory stuff he yearned for was now going to be diluted by a bunch of treehugging upstarts. For most right-wing commentators, this wasn’t too much of a problem as they could simply continue to be angry and turn their ire on the Cameroons for failing to clinch the deal without even breaking a sweat but for Hastings however, this was a problem. Why? Because Max Hastings is crap at getting angry. Actually, let me rephrase that: Max Hastings is crap at looking convincingly angry. Instead, he just looks out of sorts and a bit limp, like a frustrated lettuce.

In practice, this boiled down to the first good tumbleweed moment of this series when he sounded grumpy about universities (culminating in talk of ‘2.1’s in clubbing’ later on), extended whittering in Q2 (plus Slurgate), a brief reversal of fortunes in Q3 when he leapt to Radio 4’s defence before a terminal decline that spanned both Q’s 4 and 5 that plumed new depths is the field of irrelevancy.

Ultimately, it was a pretty shonky affair and one where he looked a man who really wanted to look mad as hell, but just didn’t know how to pull off. Oh, and on top of that, he looks a little like Droopy (see Fig. 1).


Fig. 1


A flaccid 3/10

In The Independent/Brainy Corner: Dr Maria Misra, lecturer in Modern History at Oxford and generally cerebral sort.
Gah! Another one I know nothing about! Well, that’s probably a good thing as it turns out that I’m really not as well as I thought I was and should probably be in bed by now. In short, Dr Maria won and quite convincingly at that. Basically, she capitalised her ‘at the coal face’ status on all things academic, did a much better job at being angry than Max did and utilised all the ground to the left that Jowell couldn’t be bothered to work. Oh, and she came right out and said that she knew nothing about football, a move that will always win marks from me. So well done Dr Maria, you did a good job at spicing up an otherwise bland episode and for that, I doff my cap to thee.

A redoubtable 7/10

The Crowd: Cheltenham

I think it’s fair to say that I couldn’t really get behind this episode, what with both the coalition members doing such a good job at defusing what could have potentially explosive issues and the general lack of fireworks. The crowd themselves weren’t bad and seemed to have some fight in them during the first half, but much of this capital was consequently squandered when some pillock bought up the expenses issue again. Cheers for that matey, I totally needed reminding about the most tedious story ever to have cluttered up an entire years worth of QT. Sadly, there’s no Audience Member of the Week given that no-one had a suitably outlandish appearance/vocal tic for me to mock. However, Dimbers does deserve a little praise for wibbling some epic claptrap about The Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine. Thanks for that Dimbers. First class bollocks.

An inconsequential 4/10

Right, that’s it. I’m off to steam this damn cold out of me in the bath. After all, I want to be fighting fit to see Middlesbrough’s reaction to the Comprehensive Spending Review next week. I bet they’ll love it and that the coalition will be welcomed as liberators, much like the way the good people of Iraq greeted us in 2003. Next week Lemmings, next week.

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December 2022

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