Posts Tagged 'Tim Farron'

Questionable Time #146


qt 146

Good morrow lemmings and welcome back, after an unpredictable absence, to Questionable Time. I won’t go into the details that, well, detail said absence, only that I’ll slowly be getting back into the swing of things from now on. So yes, expect my churning out of QTs to gradually accelerate by each passing week until I start posting them before the actual episode airs.

A lot has happened in politics over the summer, but I don’t need to tell you that! I’ll merely let this picture I made a couple of months ago do the talking for me:

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

So yes. Anyway. On with the show, comrades.

Mayday! Mayday!

Our line-up for this week consists of Priti Patel, noted padawan of Iain Duncan Smith, wearing a hip pair of nerd glasses, Lisa Nandy, the up-and-coming soft-lefty, who seems scared of said nerd glasses, Tim Farron, leader of the Lib Dems, who are now so irrelevant that QT can easily get their dang leader on the programme, Stewart Hosie, Deputy Leader of the SNP, probably known as Big Ears (and one of ~the 55~, Dimbleby states – because you’re one down, remember? Remember that, SNP? Eh? Eh? Eh? Dimbleby does), and Melanie Phillips/Noddy – a woman who needs no introduction! So let’s leave it at that.

Our first question hits like a freight train and oh boy oh boy I wonder what it could ever be after my long, long absence. Something new and fresh? Appropriate for the changing world of politics in the year of our Lord Labour leadership upset 2015? Nope, you gets your immigration question and youse are gonna like it. Glad those few weeks we had to pretend to care about drowned children are over. Anyway, let’s all debate Theresa May dissin’ them good.

Tim Farron, aka Owen Jones’ secret dad, calls Theresa the forthcoming leader of the ‘nasty party’ she once so criticised, and accuses her of stoking division. As a completely unrelated side note, you can’t have a leader of a political party named Tim, it’s just not right. Meanwhile, Pretty Polly Patel is tasked with defending AMayzeballs. She says the last generation of immigrants were cool dudes, but in these scary modern times of ours Labour has ruined immigrants and made them all lazy scroungers. Tch, you had a better class of immigrants back in the day! Lisa hits back saying that Theresa hands out jolly, candy-like contracts to private companies willy-nilly who don’t even curr about integration – and that she’s offensive, for that matter, like a dog that’s pissed on the carpet. Priti stares through her glasses menacingly. To be fair, they are very nice glasses. Then a man with a Union Jack pin on his lapel talks about ‘swaths’ so that’s where we are now. Then another man and a woman argue about whether immigrants ‘mix’, like a tasty smoothie.

I’m astonished by the ‘vituperation’ heaped on Theresa, says Melanie. I’m not sure what that word means. Anyway, she agrees with her, and sticks a metaphorical Melanie-style middle finger up to the IoD, as well. You can’t trust them and their dirty lies. Lisa Nandy slowly, ever so slowly, shakes her head. Then makes peculiar motions with her mouth. Then furrows her brow. She’s going to jump over the table and punch Melz in a moment.

Stewart ‘Hose-down’ Hosie says May’s speech was a pitch to be leader. Ain’t nuthin’ worse than that. Priti goes off on a tangent praising Jeremy Hunt, possibly angling for promotion herself. Stay tuned folks! In this topsy-turvy world of ours, anything could happen. Even Tim Farron himself could lead a (formerly) major political party. As a completely unrelated side note, doesn’t Tim look like a hobbit?

“If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” – Iain Duncan Smith, shortly before being replaced as Tory leader, predicting his own resurrection

Next: cutting tax credits – yay or a big horsey neigh? How, tuts disapproving audience lady, can we believe baconcrotch when he says wants to take people out of poverty? Why is Priti, pointy-pointying her hand around, wearing what looks like a friendship bracelet? Judging by her answer I certainly don’t want to be friends with her. But the living wage will replace those phony tax credits, she argues. Well, Pritt Stick, it’s not a ‘living wage’ for me, a poor struggling young person! But she presses on regardless. Use the force, Priti, the disembodied voice of IDS tells her…

Fig. 2

Fig. 2

Lisa gets heated and says that 200,000 people will be pushed into poverty, like when some snot-nosed kid in the playground pushes you down a dirty slide. Tim sits primly with his fingers clasped, not wanting to get involved. They’re telling us we don’t work hard enough, says Lisa, trying to act statesmanlike (stateswomanlike? Statespersonlike? Stateslike?!) in case Jez C accidentally gets pushed down an open manhole tomorrow afternoon.

ABSOLUTELY I WILL ANSWER THAT barks Priti. We have to make savings on welfare and difficult choices. DIFFICULT FOR WHO interrupts Lisa. Stewart tuts and looks like he’s angrily sketching something. Tories neverrr make society fairrrerrr says he, in a lovely accent which I love. He then calls us ‘friends’. Super. Priti gives him a death glare, magnified through her glasses, and refutes him. Then Melanie says something along the lines of that she wants young people to starve, but honestly I was paying as much attention to her as Priti was, who was turning a page and not even looking at Melz Bellz, her head leaning on her hand. As a completely unrelated side note, Tim is doing okay, I guess, but will anyone even care?

Lisa gets into a ””spirited debate”” with a woman in the audience who is jealous that her friends with kids have got more money than her. A man in a sharp suit sporting overly-groomed hair chips in to agree. The people who are being affected work as hard as you do, sir, says Tim. Ooh!

Then Lisa and Priti argue about what or what not constitutes a living wage. What is a living wage? We just don’t know.

Jeremy Corbyn/Picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been/Lives in a dream

Will we have to side with ASSad and POOtin to win in Syria? (Childish nicknames both! Coincidence? I think not!)

Putin is not going to defeat ISIS because he’s weakshit, says Melanie, weakshit that’s in love with Assad. Or thereabouts. Stewart sensibly adds that any action has to be approved by both Parliament and the UN, and involve an actual plan this time, or we’ll just be inviting more shit in our face. Lisa concurs and says that only a good plan will gain support and not just lmao bomb everything lol!!!! Tim rambles on in a similar vein to Lisa but I’m currently more terrified by Priti gritting her teeth and rolling her eyes at him. RIP hobbit, we hardly knew ye.

Next! Is Jeremy Corbyn a ‘Britain hater’? Well, he’s not showing patriotic tendencies, insinuates Priti. When you add ‘tendencies’ to that phrase, it sounds oddly dirty. Lisa sweeps back her hair with a look that could shatter glass. I’m loving the antagonism between these two, in case you couldn’t guess. David Cameron demeans his office, ooh, burn, she paraphrases. Melanie states Jeremy wants to change everything that makes Britain…Britain. What, you mean like the crap trains? Tim sticks up for Jezza a bit…but draws the line when it comes to a wishy-washy attitude towards Europe. Reminder: Lib Dems wuv Europe, in case you’ve forgotten who they are and are in need of a refresher.

Dave was in the wrong, adds Stewart, so why doesn’t he and Jezza just have a nice sit down and a cup of tea. New politics and all that. And with absolutely no spitting, punching and/or egging. I’ve got my eye on you two.

Time for the scores!

Patel: 6/10

(Doesn’t want you on the) Dole

Nandy: 8/10

(In favour of green energy and not) Coal

Hosie: 7/10

(Rides high in the) Polls

Farron: 7/10

(You could the) Whole (Lib Dem party in a single minibus,) lol

Phillips: 7/10

(Exists to make you stop) Scroll(ing)

The Crowd: 5/10

(Many seemed to lack a) Soul

Next time: UKIP returns…with a vengeance.

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #138


qt 138

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to another beauteous edition of Questionable Time! It’s sure to be exactly as exciting as the Labour leadership race, which is to say not at all. Most likely, anyway. Let’s get ready to bumble!

Owen Jones leaves One Direction – 100k retweets

Our panellists tonight include Not Michael Gove, a kawaii manga woman, a child on his first day of school, Edina from Ab Fab, and a ginger egg. Hilary Devey, in particular, is described as a ‘former Dragon’, which brings to mind images of her burninating the countryside, burninating the peasants, and burninating their thatched roof cottages. I mean, sure, whatever you like to do in your free time is cool, I guess. Meanwhile, Owen Jones has a natty new haircut and is looking sharp ‘n’ serious. They may call him Babyface, but get on his bad side and he’ll kneecap you at twenty paces.

Our first question: “is it realistic to reduce net migration by under 100,000?” – it remains to be seen if this is just a random figure plucked from the air, or an actual target, written on an Excel spreadsheet, which gives all things gravitas. Nicky Morgan, Gove’s underwhelming replacement who looks constantly startled to still even be in her job, thinks it’s a great plan, and very fair and fairful in a fair fairness-y way.

Tim Farron – upon hearing his name, one can only think of that Malcolm Tucker rant about what kind of men are actually named Tim in this day and age – gets a big ol’ clap for saying immigration is more of a blessing than a curse. A rare event on Question Time! The Lib Dems, cut down in their prime like a cheeky hedgerow, are more than a little peeved that Davey C is updating his ‘mess we inherited’ line to target his former coalition partners. Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary, is notably in the line of fire for blocking tougher immigration rhetoric. It’s incredibly obvious that Ginger Egg is gunning for the lefty vote in his leadership contest: the leadership of his eight MPs, including himself. Meanwhile, the SNP roar in agony that none of their bazillion MPs got picked to go on t’ telly. If they find the one that looks most like an egg, it might raise their chances!

Nicky disagrees that there was any sneaky demonisation going on, carefully ignoring the long shadow of those ‘go home’ vans that drove around a couple of years ago, looking ugly and not even featuring a novelty car horn. She goes on to say we need more control, reform, and most importantly: exit checks.

At this point, Owen appears, here to make the most retweetable comments of the night. This fear campaign is not bringing down numbers, says he. It wasn’t hard-working migrant nurses who caused the crash. It was the bankers. The bloody bankers. Put that on a t-shirt: the bloody bankers, innit? I’d buy it.

Hilary, ex-dragon, with a voice like an old motor to match, doesn’t see the problem if immigrants help the economy, it’s just that the infrastructure isn’t there to accommodate them. Stella Creasy bursts in, and my head promptly explodes from how earnest she is. Her pleading tones, sparkly eyes and appeals to common decency have been well-documented here at Questionable Time – she’s like a My Little Pony character with a degree (and a love of indie music). The Prime Minister, she says, is a silly-billy because he pledged to make “illegal working a criminal offence”. Everybody laffs/larfs/laurghefs. Nicky looks horrified and hits back. Didn’t you know, Stella? We’ve got this one. We’ve got Sajid Javid on the job.

A very loud man in the crowd begins to hector the panel about the EU. Tim is grossly offended and says that going on and on about keeping out the EU-ers makes Britain look like a “nasty” place. And, by extension, that means you, audience man. You’re a nasty ass. That can be Tim’s campaign slogan, by the way.

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living

Is a 7-day NHS really viable? Hilary wants to know where the money is coming from. As she croaks out her concerns, Nicky merely looks at this strange person, with her sparkly epaulettes, in utter confusion and shock. She says that it can’t be right that if you go to the doctor’s on Sunday you’ll drop dead in the waiting room. Saw it happen just last Tuesday. Tragic.

Stella agrees with the need for more MONAY but criticises the Tories for breaking everything up and selling it off so people are left running helplessly around trying to find a doctor like in a Scooby Doo chase scene. Owen Jones then goes on about the top-down reorganisation of the NHS, and the crowd loves this – goodness, this is quite a left-wing audience, isn’t it? Last week was Uxbridge, though, so it balances out.

Nicky is, frankly, hurt that you’re all doubting this cool pledge. This is just anti-Tory bias. Toryism. And she, for one, won’t stand for it.

Eggman, on the other hand, says that there is one way to solve this problem: a TARDIS. The Lib Dems have now gone so far over the edge that time travel has become one of their new policy pledges. Why not? It’s not like they have anything else left to lose.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

Knowing me knowing EU

Next up: is the British economy strong enough to pull out of Europe?

Owen says that while he supports staying in the EU, Labour should have supported a referendum. Stella shrugs and argues her magnificent point: that we’ve got one now, so whatever lol. Hilary wants more education about the issue, and Nicky bites back by saying that we shouldn’t be frightened of what people think (especially when they’ve just thought they’d like to elect the Tories again).

Owen concludes by appealing to give UKIP voters hope. Perhaps he’s making his pitch for the Labour leadership? Which brings us on to our next topic (going through ’em quick today!): are trade unions the kiss of death for a leadership candidate?

Jonesy cracks his knuckles, ready for another Twitterstorm. He goes on about Keir Hardie, probably because he named his cat after him. The trade unions have done more with their little toe than most of the underwhelming SPADS that fill politics today, he says. Why is it that they are the ones demonised, when rich nasty dudes fund the rich nasty Tory Party? Take that, society!

Nicky says that she liked Jim Murphy (chief disser of Len McCluskey) very much, probably because he lost all those Labour seats in Scotland. Tim is in favour of collective bargaining but not the union link: good job he’s in the Lib Dems, then, and not the Labour Party! Stella praises the unions, tears practically glistening in her eyes, and Owen gets in a tiff with Hilary, who is shrugging at MAXIMUM SPEED and questioning why we even need trade unions in this day and age. We have Candy Crush Saga instead, which is, like, almost the same thing.

For some horrible reason, we still have a few minutes remaining. Therefore, we come to the most important question of the week, or perhaps even our entire age: IS THE GAY CAKE PROBLEMATIC?!

Everybody agrees that it was. Does that mean we could get an infinite money cheat out of it, says Dimbles, by forcing anti-gay cake bakers to repeatedly pay fines for eternity? The answer, Nicky says, is yes. w00t!

Stella, however, remains too earnest for he own good. What if someone did it to you?, she says, looking at Dimbleby with hope in her heart. In response, Dimbleby looks…shocked. More shocked than he’s ever been in his life – and chairing this programme, he’s seen some seriously shocking shit.

Stella valiantly continues. She keeps referencing his sexuality, which is something nobody needs to consider. NO HOMO, screams Dimbledore’s facial expression. Stella shoots a glare at people laughing. This is a serious issue! Just what exactly is so funny? Funny how? Funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh, I’m here to amuse you?! Huh?!

With that bombshell, I think it’s time to wrap up.

Time for the scores!

Morgan: 6/10

(Sitting stiffly in her) Seat

Creasy: 8/10

(Tooth-rottingly) Sweet

Farron: 7/10

(The Lib Dem to) Beat

Jones: 8/10

(Re)Tweet(ed)

Devey: 7/10

(Probably frightening to) Meet

The Crowd: 7/10

(In for a) Treat

Next time: maybe an SNP panellist? Incredible!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #121


qt 121

Good morrow lemmings and welcome to a saucy edition of Questionable Time, now with extra sauce. Apologies for the horrible lateness, but I have a stomach ache (possibly due to ingesting all that sauce) and my motivation for analysing this very D-list edition was not exactly stratospheric. I mean, Dimbleby doesn’t even have an interesting tie on. That’s not a good sign. Let’s trudge on, shall we?

Girls just wanna have fun

Dimbles begins with an unexpected load of feminism, praising Question Time for its increased percentage of female panellists. Good work, QT. This isn’t Mock the Week. Women should have the same right to be equal parts boring and inane just like the boys. Then we go on to a question about Page Three. Ah, society!

Esther McVey goes out of her way (there’s endless limerick potential there) to point out how dated the feature is. There’s a-clamourin’ for a new style of Page Three, you see, filled with pictures of Simone de Beauvoir. At least there is in the fantasy kingdom ruled by myself. Paul Nuttall, Nigel Farage’s right-hand slaphead, looks piteously at the silly wimmins getting in a fuss over nothing and mansplains that there are more important things to be concerned about, e.g. FGM, because apparently feminist activism can only focus on one thing at a time. Diane Abbott, meanwhile, says that she is concerned as a parent about the example it sets, and Amoj Rajan, the Independent guy, plugs the Independent. This is getting off to a good start.

It’s ~*~cool~*~ that feminists came up with a hashtag, warbles Amol, wearing his cool sparkly earring and using words that the older half the audience probably don’t even recognise. Tim Farron, your next Lib Dem leader, says that Page Three was never cool and that everyone hates it, but sadly there’s nothing they can do about it because #jesuisjordan.

Well, that was pointless. Diane ‘n’ Paul predictable argument count: #1.

Ruff ‘n’ tuff choices

Next up, Chicken Cottage. I mean Chilcot. The inquiry. Yeah. I’m not hungry or anything.

There’s a lot of knowing looks about ‘Mr Blair’ and ‘Mr Straw’ which sounds like they’re gangsters in fedoras with machine guns working for Big G Bush or something. I hope those are the exact words of the inquiry whenever it finally gets published. Also, can we please not make the phrase ‘sexed down’ a thing? Thanks.

JUST PUBLISH IT, Amol half-yells to no avail. Diane is in her element, gleefully dissing Tony Blair and his civil servants. Paul too, funnily enough. Maybe they’ve finally made up and are about to kiss.

Oops, wait, the next question is on Ol’ Nige’s comments about the NHS (they just keep on comin’!). So I guess not! His deputy thus sombrely steps up to the pulpit. Apparently, the NHS is too large. Large and in charge. The only solution is to kick it about a bit. I mean – have a mature discussion. Involving UKIP, and large private companies. Large. I just like typing the word large.

Diane is Not In Favour, of course, and says so although in many more words. Dimbleby is constantly trying to get her to shut up, but Diane will not be silenced. Diane ‘n’ Paul predictable argument count: #2.

Apart from that, however, this particular NHS debate is dull. Maybe it’s just the medication talking but I was tuning out – which I usually don’t do when it comes to NHS debates. However, there’s only so many times you can look at Esther McVey’s boring face and boring voice and boring words and hear the words “tough choices” before you start to nod off. Get Jeremy Hunt and Andy Burnham on the programme and have them duke it out, possibly Gladiators-style with big foam spears and obstacle courses. I’d pay good money to see that.

By the way – uh, Tim, social care is in a state because you, um. Cut it. Oopsie.

Snerps

Our final question is on the SNP. There isn’t an SNP representative here. That seems a bit unfair, like when the popular girls in your school get together to giggle about you behind your back. Or is that just me?

Anyway, Nuttall goes the heck in.

“THEY’RE TAKING YOUR TAX!” he bellows, pointing out all the cool stuff they have and all the nasty stuff they don’t have while we, the poor, beleaguered English, suffer in silence with nary a badly-designed modern parliament of our own. This is some top scaremongering. Like the SNP are a race of bloodthisty beetledemons from space.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

I for one welcome our new Scottish overlords, although that is mainly because I am a little terrified of the so-called ‘CyberNats’ massing upon my ass and tearing me a new one. Digitally. A digital new ass.

Thankfully, Tim Farron is here to calm the tensions between the nations. He wuvs Scotland. He will hold it close, to his breast, and never let it go. Never. (Finally: Diane ‘n’ Paul predictable argument count: #3. We did it! We climbed this whole mountain.)

Time for the scores!

McVey: 4/10

Drone(d on)

Abbott: 6/10

(Had a good old) Moan

Nuttall: 6/10

(In the) Zone

Farron: 6/10

(That bird has) Flown

Rajan: 5/10

(I want to eat a) Scone

The Crowd: 7/10

(Had a) Bone (to pick)

Wrexham next time. Hopefully for our panellists, it WRECKS ’em. Dohoho!

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #97


questionable time 97 david dimbleby wolves moon native americanGood morning Lemmings and apologies for the pshop atrocity above – some men just like to watch the world drown in a tidal wave of Outer Glow blending options every now and then. Anyway, what’s it to you? Do you want me to come after you with a piece of “sharpened bone” because that audience member was right – that’s exactly the sort of thing we denizens of Leeds routinely carry around. Ha! Not so brave now, are you? Right, let’s get going…

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

How do you know when a marriage is on the rocks? Well, one of the more reliable methods is to see what happens when one half of the partnership gets in from work. In the case of Tim Farron’s union with the rest of the Yellow Team there has been a marked deterioration in the civility of the 6pm homecoming over the years but last night really did throw into stark relief just how strained things have become at Chez Farron.

Take for example the early years of the coalition: Here you got the sense that Tim – troubled though he was by the way his bride’s outlook and behaviour had recently changed – was at least trying to make it work. There was the obligatory peck on the cheek, the ‘How was your day?’ followed by that state of semi-listening and obligatory ‘uh-huhs’/’mmmphs’ before he’d plant himself in front of Pointless and try to push the awful thought that he may no longer be in love with the rest of the Yellow Team to back of his mind. As time has gone on though this act has self-evidently become harder to sustain and by the back-end of last year you could really see the wheels coming off:

Darling, did you manage to sort that redistribution of wealth out?”

Dammit Tim, I told you before – we’re not teenagers any more! Now for god’s sake put down that bloody SDP manifesto and help me raise these tuition fees!”

Last night though, well that was a different kettle of fish because for the first time he couldn’t even bring himself to step over the threshold, opting instead to stay in his car and listen to Born to Run on an endless loop while the neighbours looked on with a mixture of glee and anxiety (‘Hey, have you seen Tim from Number 3? He looks like he’s proper lost it! That’ll never happen to us, right darling? Right?’). Not once did he mention a coalition policy or even pretend to speak as part of a family unit, preferring instead to pretend that the wedding never took place and that he was still living the pre-2010 social democratic dream.

So what now for this unhappy household? Well, before last night I was happy to chalk Tim’s recent behaviour to a case of simply being on maneuvers (see Fig. 1) – you know, that sort of 7 year-itch posturing where he intentionally stays out late and switches off his phone in an act of measured defiance but now I’m not so sure. No, I think it’s deeper than that: I think he knows that divorce is inevitable and he’s laying the ground work to make sure that he gets his half of the house and access to the kids. What’s even more interesting is just how attractive (justified barbs about hypocrisy aside) this ‘I’ve Still Got It’ Tim was to the audience. They knew he was kind of living out a fantasy but it was a fantasy that they were more happy to indulge. Watch this space Lemmings because if the 2015 election pans out as badly for the LibDems as conventional wisdom would suggest then don’t be surprised when you get an invite to a housewarming at Tim’s new bachelor pad.

tim-farron-on-maneuvers-gif

Fig. 1

Bad news and good news with the Blue Team…

First the bad news: Nick Boles, the wobbly headed junior minister who I suspect will be absolute QT gold has once again stood me up and escaped a damn good Questionable Timing. He’ll keep, I guess. However, it’s not all woe and misery because his replacement – backbencher Conor Burns – has appeared from nowhere and pulled off perhaps the single greatest Response To Tragic Events in recent QT history. Seriously, his answer to the Corpus Christie question was exceptionally good – sincere, without schmultz and pitched perfectly in tone (it was actually like a really well executed sermon). The rest of his performance wasn’t bad either so keep an eye on this guy: If he can keep a lid on calling hecklers “spastics” he could be going places.

The Thwarting…

Last night should have been Yvette’s for the taking – after all she knows the turf around these parts, Leeds is genetically Labour and having a shiny new (and left leaning) policy in the bag never really hurts the cause – but she didn’t quite manage to seal the deal, largely because Tim At Number 3 was stealing a lot of her progressive thunder. That’s not to say it was a bad performance (it wasn’t) but you did get the impression that having to look both left and right threw her a little off-balance. Either that or the Ed Balls Day celebrations were really heavy this year.

Sighs of relief all round at UKIP HQ…

Watching Suzanne Evans last night reminded me of a PE report I got back in school:

Loudribs has done well this year despite himself”

And that’s because she did do ok – she didn’t seem too bonkers and gave the impression of being vaguely clued up by having a statistic for absolutely bloody everything. However, it was a close run thing that could have very easily gone sideways thanks to a) her permanently looking very pleased with herself and b) by claiming ownership of things that aren’t really hers (“my countryside”, “my beautiful rural school”). For a party that’s pitching itself as the bane of vested interests this probably isn’t the best semantic road to go down.

One ticket to Jenkoland please!

What would the world be like if Simon Jenkin’s ran it? Incredibly entertaining, that’s what. We’d all be free to do really stupid things in a land littered with lovingly conserved stately homes and sites of great cultural import. You want to drunkenly do handbrake turns in the grounds of Castle Howard with your hair on fire? Good for you! Go nuts! Just make sure you don’t damage the house. Fancy smoking PCP and racing diggers around Stonehenge? Then go, race diggers for it is your god given right! Just watch the stones ok? It would be like Downton Abbey meets Jackass.

Tl;dr

Cooper: 6/10

Thwarted

Farron: 6/10

Transported (himself back to 2010)

Burns: 7/10

Comported (himself well)

Evans: 5/10

(Would probably like to see a lot of people) Deported

Jenkins: 6/10

Snorted (at airport security in schools)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Were) Assorted

Hmm… pretty solid episode that (and I’m not just saying that out of fear of my sharpened bone wielding neighbours). Right, we’re done here. Go back to whatever it was you were doing and I’ll go back to figuring out just what I’m going to wear to Tim’s housewarming party…

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #75


questionable time 75 david dimbleby dimblescally

Good morning Energy Prices and welcome to Energy Priceable Time, a sideways look at Energy Price Time and the fascinating debates all the participants have about Energy Prices. The subjects we’ll be covering today include ‘Energy’ and ‘Prices’ but if we’re lucky we might have enough time to really explore what it means to Price Energy and I’m also hoping we can squeeze in a ‘fun’ final question where we all get to ask Vicky Pryce about her Energy. WHAT A FUN WAY TO SPEND OUR DAYS.

 

Alright, I’ve got that off my chest now… Let’s get down to business.

 

I had a little proud last night…

Screaming fishwives”. That’s what my mother texted me at precisely 11pm last night and aside from the numerous issues this statement raises (why did Caroline Flint and Liz Truss marry fish?) the sentiment appears to be valid: There was much fussing and fighting going on between our two lead protagonists that generated much heat but little light. However, my head was somewhere else at that point in the show because I was experiencing a strange sensation: I was starting to feel actually rather proud of Caroline Flint.

 

First of all a little context: I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now and during that time I’ve probably seen more of Caroline Flint than her fish husband has (I’ve just checked and she’s been on 10 times since Questionable Time started). For the bulk of that time we’ve been used to seeing the tooth-and-nail Flint who had a very straight forward approach to QT: Go in fast, go in aggressive and for God’s sake just keep moving. Sometimes this would work but more often than not it would result in pell-mell scuffles where she was going at such a rate of knots that she’d inevitably trip up on her own rhetorical shoelaces and go flying across the studio head first. To her credit though, she’d always dust herself down and be back a few weeks later to repeat the exercise with similar results.

 

Fast forward to last night and what have we got? Well, in many respects this was the same Caroline Flint – combative, quarrelsome and up for a scrap – but something in her demeanour’s changed in that she’s learned how to ride the tempo. For example, the Flint of Yore would have probably started well on the energy prices question but then got carried away by the thrill of the chase and talked herself into a corner. The Flint of Now knew better and gave Truss just enough room (and it really wasn’t much) to do all the corner talking herself.

 

So what’s brought on this change? Aside from the obvious (sheer practice plus the advantage of being a Shadow Energy Secretary who’s stolen a march on the government) I think this may all come down to one man: Grant Shapps. Now I know that sounds odd but cast your mind back about a year and you may remember a very weird period when both Flint and Shapps were always appearing on the likes of QT and The Daily Politics together. At first this seemed like quite a fair fight but after a while Flint clearly gained the upper hand and was regularly running rings around him. Why? Because she finally twigged that if you spend the whole time talking over Grant Shapps, Grant Shapps won’t have the opportunity to do what he does best – come across as a total blagger and self-hoisting petard. It seems that this lesson has now been thoroughly learned by Flint and in a weird way I’m kind of proud of her: We took a long time getting here but got here we did. Well done my Fishy Wife, have a gif of you riding various things to celebrate (see Fig. 1).

 

caroline-flint-riding-things-gif

Fig. 1

In Liz we Truss…

…Actually no we don’t given the torrid time she had last night but it was such a good headline that I felt obliged to go with it. Anyway, Liz… Not such a great performance and one that came across as very rigid as she doggedly tried to march her way through all the many obstacles in her path. In some ways this isn’t surprising as Truss is chiefly driven by ideology – never the most flexible of blueprints – but the rolled eyes and halting delivery didn’t do much to further her ends. I will say this though: She’s tough and I like her name. Truss… I bet she’s great at holding walls together.

 

hey pete, u ok hun? X

Just when I was growing grudgingly fond of Peter Hitchens he has to go and spoil it all by putting in possibly the most melancholic QT performance I can recall. Energy? It’s all a swindle to diddle me out of my dreams of coal-fired autarky. Education? That was abolished in the 60’s. Britain? Get out while you can. What a ray of bloody sunshine.

 

Stop fighting boys!

I’m beginning to dread Owen Jones being on because it’s become increasingly hard to find things to say other than ‘well done’. However, I do have a legitimate bone to pick this week because he started getting all leary with Tim Farron who, as regular readers will know, I have been hopelessly in love since our eyes first met across the QT studio. Come on now Owen, play nicely. Apart from that it was business as usual from these two who were more than happy to baste a sympathetic crowd with the goose fat of social democracy before roasting them in them in the oven of Things The Crowd Want To Hear. Job done, now lets all be friends and go for milkshakes and have a sleepover and make a den in the woods and build a rope swing and…

 

 

Tl;dr

 

Flint: 6/10

(Has) Learned (much)…

 

Truss: 4/10

Churned (her way through)…

 

Farron: 6/10

(Was) Burned (by Jones)…

 

Jones: 6/10

Spurned (Farron)…

 

Hitchens: 4/10

(Clearly) Yearned (to be elsewhere)…

 

The Crowd: 6/10

(Think – just like my Rhyming Dictionary – that) Zurn (is a legitimate word)…

 

Well, I guess it was better than the last couple of weeks but it’s all still a bit doldrummy in QT-Land right now. If only someone would give Godfrey Bloom a ring. Go on QT Production Team, you know it makes sense…

 

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #45


questionable time 45 david dimbley spectrum loading screen

Good morning Lemmings and rejoice, for we have a good episode on our hands – so good in fact that I’ll accept it as a partially apology for Liverpool’s behaviour of late. And what behaviour would that be? Well, a) they foisted The X-Factor’s Christopher Maloney upon us and b) if my suspicions are correct they then engineered a rolling-foist by voting to keep him in the show every week hence. Seriously Liverpool, you’ve made your point. You’ve had your pound of flesh. Now please, can we stop this madness? Anyway, enough of this and let’s do some Question Timing…

Burnham and Maude were a great pairing…

I was a bit nonplussed when I heard that Francis Maude was going to be on as he’s one of those figures who, despite being around forever, just seems to flit in and out of the picture, never staying still long enough for me to really pin him down. Similarly, Burnham drew a vague ‘meh’ from me as while he’s a very proficient QT-er who does a good line in the whole ‘local lad come good’ trade, he’s so constantly on-message that I can never really see past the bluster (or – for that matter – those shimmering, dazzling eyelashes of his). ‘Fair to middling’ was the best I hoped for. As it happens, these two turned out to be an inspired choice and what we got was a battle of wits that to’d and fro’d satisfyingly throughout the evening.

The key to it is that both protagonists are very ambitious but in different ways. Maude, with his hawk-like features and buzzard-esque stoop has the look of a man who Knows Too Much (although not, it should be remembered, about the safe storage of fuel) while Burnham is a classic Set Piecer, the sort who really hammers rhetorical points mercilessly whilst always making sure he ends with a crescendo. Both men can smell the other’s ambition and both men can’t help but be vexed by it.

To start with, the Set Piecer strategy seemed to be a nose ahead and despite putting up a pretty decent fight, Maude spent both the health and economy questions fighting a rearguard action with only limited success. However, he regained his balance in the Leveson question and did so just at the point that Burnham began to falter. It went like this: Maude got the first shot and did a pretty reasonable Next Stop Zimbabwe take on press freedom that garnered a fair few claps. Burnham though, well he fluffed his opening and had to resort to stealing Tim Farron’s answer almost word-for-word. As it turns out, the Set Piecer in him managed to blag it and parity was restored although not for very long. What happened next though was genius. Out of nowhere, Maude suddenly turned to Burnham and sincerely thanked him for his part in uncovering the truth about the Hillsborough tragedy. Well, that move was nothing short of inspired and not only did it earn him a metric tonne of applause, it also left Burnham with nowhere to go. The Well Timed Compliment: It’s the napalm of QT.

So then Mr. Farron, we meet again…

Following some extensive skullduggery, I was lucky enough to find myself in the crowd for the Leeds edition of Question Time that ran earlier this year. It was a pretty good show – one in which I thought that George Galloway was actually going to lamp David Aaronovitch – but the real revelation was Tim Farron. It boiled down to this: I automatically assume that politicians are up to something sketchy until they can prove otherwise yet the moment that Farron caught my eye, I remember thinking ‘Oh my god, I implicitly trust this guy’. True, I was high as a kite on adrenaline after asking a question and the self-inflicted dehydration didn’t help (I was terrified of needing a wee) but there was just something about Farron that overruled my default cynicism. I rapidly developed an alarming political crush, a crush that’s now so out of control that I find myself making gifs of an idealised chance encounter between myself and Mr. Farron (see. Fig. 1). It is also a crush that remains undimmed by last night’s episode.

tim-farron-loudribs-gif

Fig. 1

Tim Farron’s secret – other than his projectile trustworthiness – is that he appears to live in a world where 2010 never happened. That whole coalition business? Nah, you dreamed it. Never happened. The Lib Dems are still in opposition, the Tories are still caddish yahoos and Social Democracy is still very much on the Yellow Team’s agenda. Sure, he made the odd token defence of Blue Team/Yellow Team collaboration but they were never more than routine patrols conducted without vigour and by the end of the show I was happily set adrift on memory bliss. Ah, the pre-2010 world… A place where the Lib Dems stopped short of breaking their knuckles when wringing their hands…

The Welsh appear to have quietly annexed Liverpool…

Alright, I’m a little confused here. Why exactly was Leanne Wood on last night? Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a dig at Wood herself as I happen to rate her quite highly, partly because I like her viewpoint but mainly on account of her delivery: It’s just so nonchalant. Honestly, there could be someone running at her full-tilt, whilst brandishing an axe and she’d just quietly reel off a list of reasons why they shouldn’t until they eventually stopped dead in their tracks, perplexed by this barrage of dry reason. No, the reason I ask is that we were in Swansea last week and if you ask me, that sounds like a pretty appropriate venue for the leader of the Welsh nationalists. Liverpool though? Not so much… Unless of course we’ve somehow hoodwinked the Welsh into taking Maloney off our hands in which case I whole heartedly endorse this impromptu rearranging of borders.

Lionel Barber is an odd fish…

Hmm… Don’t know what to make of this one. On the one hand, he didn’t say anything massively stupid but the way his speech halts in the middle of every sentence is a little disconcerting as was his bungled joke at the start of the Leveson question (it was memorable only for the uncomfortable parade of tumbleweed that followed). No, there’s something about this guy that doesn’t add up and I found watching him to be like using an elderly relative’s computer: On paper, it should be a great machine but a combination of rashly installed toolbars, screaming demands from paid-for anti-virus software and the fact that the toolbar is now inexplicably at the top of the desktop just make it all a little fraught. I reckon we start with defragging but progress to a full format if that doesn’t get us anywhere.

Tl;dr

Maude: 6.5/10

Just (about beat Burnham)

Burnham: 6/ 10

(Needs a slight) Adjust(ment)

Farron: 7/10

(Is a picture of) Trust(worthiness)

Wood: 6/10

(Is very) Robust

Barber: 5/10

Must (stop for a few seconds on the middle of every sentence)

The Crowd: 6/10

(Displayed much) Gust(o)

Next week Lemmings, next week…

Questionable Time #25


Good morning Lemmings and welcome to a very non-standard Questionable Time. Non-standard why? Well, I usually have a pretty set process for covering QT that involves settling down on the sofa at half-10 with a note pad in the hope of garnering enough material to cobble together something vaguely informative for the next day. This week though I have no such notes. And why don’t I have any notes? Well dear Lemmings, I have no notes because this time I was physically there. Yup, Operation-Blag-My-Way-Into-The Audience actually came good. Here’s what I learned:

The prospect of being on Question Time can seriously mess with your week.

Seeing how Operation-Blag-My-Way-Into-The-Audience has fallen flat on its face many-a-time in the past I decided to ditch the usual approach of going through the official channels and took it upon myself (with some able aiding and abetting from my brother) to get in touch with the production team itself. After a slightly nerve-wracking conversation with a producer I managed to secure a ticket and for a split second there I experienced the thrill of triumph. ‘Yes!’ thought I, ‘My hour has come! I’ve bloody won!’. However, that intoxicating whiff of victory was quickly dispelled as a new and ominous truth began to make itself known. ‘Oh Jesus, that means I’ve got to ask something’. That’s when things started going sideways.

The Question Time application process works like this: You apply and if you’re lucky enough to get through you will receive an invitation which states that you have to email the production team a question tout suite. The problem in this case was that despite being something of a news junkie, I could not think of a single issue in the last two weeks that has aroused even the faintest flicker of interest in me. I mean seriously, it was as if the news had simply decided not to bother turning up to work and editors across the nation were reduced to covering the sinking of the Titanic for the ten billionth time. Anyway, this complete and utter dearth of workable material combined with the fact that two years of covering QT has made me a little irrational about appearing on the show led me to get my knickers in a right old twist. I had to find something – anything – in the news that week (and the producers are quite insistent that your question must relate to an event that’s very fresh) that I had even a smidgen of an opinion on in order to have a shot at a question… Yet for the life of me I couldn’t find one.

So it was that my week was pretty much one of being glued to my phone and praying that the Spanish economy would collapse in the most spectacular of fashions, taking with it the entire Eurozone and plunging the world into a dark new epoch of chaos and woe. As it happens, that didn’t quite to come to pass and nor did my efforts to feign interest in the Abu Qatada (Qatada-Shmada!) case bear much fruit. I was stuck and for some reason being stuck really steamed my bean. Eventually Thursday arrived and I dejectedly handed in a question relating to something that happened three weeks ago. Defeat had been cruelly snatched from the jaws of victory. Loudribs had been vanquished by the news cycle. Irrelevance had become me. Or had it?

If the Question Time team had been manning the Titanic, the evacuation would have been slick as you like.

The upside of flunking the question test was that for the first time all day I stopped feeling nervous and could actually enjoy watching how an episode is put together. In many ways it’s like a well-heeled version of Gladiators as a room full of self-evidently confident and opinionated people are expertly herded through a logistical obstacle course. First there’s the security check, then the brief lull as everyone arrives before you have a warm up with Dimbers (who in real life comes across very much like an Uncle Bulgaria who’s developed a taste for brandy) and are corralled into the studio. Anthropologists would have a field day at that point as the spectacle of a mass of overly polite people all trying to scramble their way to the front of the line is truly something to behold. Yet somehow it all works and it’s to the production team’s credit that the whole process seems so effortless. That however is just a taster as the really bizarre bit is about to happen: The dummy panel.

In order to get the sound, lighting and cameras all sorted out they ask for members of the audience to volunteer to sit on the panel and to have a debate with the crowd. You thought politicians were odd on the show? Yeah, well audience members can out-odd them by a considerable margin, particularly if they have views on the fringes of the political spectrum as one gentlemen did. Another guy who wasn’t on the panel but put in his two-penneth worth anyway provoked some very sharp intakes of breath as he opined on “the gays” and “the things they get up to in the bedroom”. Anyhoo, that rather surreal turn of events went on for quite some time before a producer arrived and read out the names of the people who would be asking the questions. At that point my new-found aura of serenity evaporated in the blink of eye.

‘Oh shit. They just called my name’.

I’d love to tell you what actually happened on the show but I was too busy clutching a piece of paper in a sweaty death grip to take any notice.

Once your name is called out you have to stand up for a minute so that the cameras can find you and then you are taken backstage for the briefest of briefings. The long and short of it is thus: The very first question will not be filmed but will serve to warm up the panel and the audience. After that it will go straight into recording and when Dimbers calls your name you read out your question in a prompt manner whilst preparing for him to come back to you at the end of the topic.

At that point you are returned to your seat, the panel arrive and things get under way. It is also the point at which your whole world becomes exclusively focused on the printout of your question.

‘Oh crap oh crap oh crap is the Bradford Spring an unseasonable OH MY GOD WHAT ARE THESE WORDS I DON’T EVEN!’

Yeah, that’s sort of what was going through my head and for all I know they could have been debating whether fish have the right to get married for the first 15 minutes. Happily though the words did manage to leave my mouth in reasonably good order when my name was called but that was by no means the end of my silent meltdown. Oh no, then you have another desperate 10 minutes of trying to figure out just what in the hell you’re going to say next. As it happens, Dimbers never did come back to me, the danger passed and I spent the next 40 minutes feeling like my jammies had been rustled in the most profound way – which led to another weird phenomenon…

It matters who you are sitting next to.

My immediate neighbour on the night was a very jaunty and engaging guy named Jonathan who had an absolutely infectious enthusiasm for what was occurring in front of us. Given my somewhat shell-shocked state and the fact that I was no longer capable of independent thought I found myself becoming nothing less than a human extension of Jonathan’s will. If he clapped, I clapped. If he grinned and nodded, I grinned and nodded. Whatever he said, I agreed with wholeheartedly. Luckily for me, Jonathan doesn’t appear to be a howling mad extremist and to the best of my knowledge I didn’t give my involuntary endorsement to bringing back the birch/sending Qatada to the Moon/replacing the Cabinet with a Facebook group.

If you think being on the show is weird watching it back an hour later AND following the #bbcqt feed will blow your head clean off.

So I survived the show and then scurried home in a somewhat agitated, hungry and dehydrated state (the dehydration was my fault. Fear of needing a wee in the middle of the show had led me to forgo fluids for a frankly ludicrous period of time). Given how late the recording had gone on I literally got through the door just as it was about to start and never really got a second to collect my thoughts. So there we were, myself and my better half, the show starts and there I am! My phone starts making all sorts of noises as friends start texting. Then I ask my question and the camera cuts back to me for a response shot and all I can think is ‘JESUS CHRIST WHY DO I KEEP LICKING MY LIPS SO MUCH? I LOOK LIKE A TONGUE PERVERT!’. Then my phone goes absolutely mental and I check Twitter to see what’s going on. People, it turns out, have opinions about my beard and quite diverse opinions at that. And then I realise what I’m doing: I’m sitting in my front room, watching me an hour ago whilst simultaneously watching what a bunch of strangers think about my beard. It was at that point that my brain gave in and conceded that I had in fact become stuck in the Matrix.

And the show itself?

It was bloody good. Tim Farron is now totally my favourite person in the whole wide world, the venom between Galloway and Aaronovitch was both very real and very visceral, Warsi wasn’t bad and I am now forced to admit that yes, I do have a weird and slightly uncomfortable crush on the Labour Party’s Appropriate Adult, Yvette Cooper (I think it’s her long neck. See Fig. 1). In some ways it was a shame that I was too distracted to really pick up on any of the real substance but if you were in the market for political theatre last night, you got it in spades.

yvette-cooper-david-dimbleby-long-neck-gif

So there you go, that’s how my little adventure into the real-life world of Question Time went and I must say that it was a pretty grand experience. No scores this week as my head’s just a little too mangled to spend half an hour searching an online rhyming dictionary but rest assured that no-one would have scored below 6, such was the calibre of the panel. Anyway, thanks for reading and normal service will resume next week.

Next week Lemmings, next week…


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