Question Time 25th April 2019
Caroline Lucas: Green MP (Remain)
Vince Cable: LibDem MP (Remain)
John Ashworth: Labour MP (Remain)
Victoria Atkins (Tory MP Remain)
John Rhys-Davies (Actor. Leaver)
In the first week back after the Easter recess and immediately following Charles Moore’s complaint that QT is always biased towards Remainers the BBC acknowledged that there was some truth in this – and accordingly fitted up the QT panel with an impressive array of no less than four Remainer MPs and an actor whose Brexit status is nominally Leave. One can only suppose that the producers of QT took the Moore complaint and deliberately decided to ignore it and actively rub his and our noses in a full-on Remain panel, including two frothing lunatics at the far end of the anti-democratic spectrum. It was noticeable that Our Fiona introduced the panel straightforwardly until she got to Rhys-Davies who she described as “actor and Brexiteer” as if to assure us that the BBC were indeed “balancing” the panel. It is a similar concept of balance that pits Manchester City versus a 10 man Accrington Stanley with a blind man as a goalie.
Nottingham, the city, voted marginally to Leave. Nottinghamshire voted in much larger numbers to Leave.
The two panellists I knew little about were Rhys-Davies and Victoria Atkins so I did a bit of pre-programme homework.
John Rhys-Davies divides his time between the Isle of Man and Los Angeles. He couldn’t vote in the Referendum in 2016 as the Isle of Man is designated a British dependency and since he has lived there for over 30 years he was classed as an ex-pat and not eligible to vote. Back in 2004 he caused some controversy in an interview to a Welsh newspaper by stating: “There is a demographic catastrophe happening in Europe that nobody wants to talk about, that we daren’t bring up because we are so cagey about not offending people racially. And rightly we should be. But there is a cultural thing as well. By 2020, 50 percent of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent.”
Victoria Atkins, daughter of a Tory MP, promoted by John Major. Barrister in her own right and a MP since 2015. UKIP came second in that 2015 election but she has one of those constituencies which, if all the other parties combined their votes, would still return a Tory MP – unless Tory voters sat on their hands or switched to UKIP en masse. If, by chance, she was flushed away at the next GE and as her husband is the CEO of British Sugar, she would fall back on a pretty comfortable lifestyle – and a parliamentary gold handshake and pension. Life is beautiful. For some.
The other three, Lucas, Cable and Ashworth are all too visible on the Beeboids political programmes and I was expecting, and was not disappointed, to be treated to much the same garbage that they have thrown at us before. It was the audience that provided much of the entertainment last night – for which one has to be eternally grateful. The questions were:
A. The Holy Greta Thunberg
B. The Brexit Party and Change Party
C. Trump – Bad Man and State visit
The climate change discussion was, naturally, right up Lucas’s alley and she perorated glowingly about Greta and the disasters awaiting us all. It is a strange phenomenon, is it not, that the audience seemed to give her a glowing reception but in the polls the Green Party sits at the bottom of all the recognised parties at 4%? It’s almost as if 96% of the population think that they are fringe loonies. Surely not. The thing that really annoys me is the total absence of any detail to the consequences of the demands to lower our carbon footprint. Stop air travel? All electric cars? And how would we generate all that extra electricity to power such a possibility? None of this was touched on. Atkins mumbled something about 50 million trees being planted between Manchester and Hull. Fine, but hundreds of acres of countryside are being concreted over here in the south to accommodate new housing – and the vast amount of infrastructure needed to support it. It was only Rhys-Davies who supplied a contrarian view – lower the population. Cue much scoffing from the rest of the panel who deliberately misconstrued this as some kind of forced euthanasia. The trouble with Rhys-Davies was he never stepped out of his actor’s role. His declamations were slow and delivered as if he were on the stage at the Globe giving it large to poor Yorick. By the time he had got to any points of force – and generally he was pretty spot on from a Puffin perspective – the rest of the panel, especially Lucas, were already interrupting. There is something about the constant smugness on Lucas’s face that makes me reach for a virtual custard pie every time she appears. It is no surprise that the only constituency she can be elected from is the quarter of Brighton that has a perpetual haze of puff rising from it.
It was when the question of the rise of The Brexit Party and its “dangers” to the mainstream parties was raised that we saw some real bite coming from the audience. Without exception the political panellists were heckled and booed (and cheered by the Momentum contingent) when they proposed their “answers” to the Brexit crisis. Atkins, in particular, was roundly jeered for her support of the WA and Ashworth totally ducked the question and went off on a rant that ended up with – yay! – THE BUS. If there was any evidence that Westminster and its inhabitants were totally deluded here it was spectacularly displayed for all to see. It was left to Rhys-Davies to pull them all up with a definition on the meaning of democracy which drew much applause from the audience.
The proposed state visit of Trump drew out the nastiest comments of the night. Who would have thought it? From her hand-made wicker basket (fashioned by blind babies of Bangladesh) Lucas picked out every Thesaurian pejorative that she could lay her hands on. It was even more fulsome than the bile she spewed over Farage earlier on and the rest of the panel joined in. Again it was left to Rhys-Davies, in his rambling way, to point out that Trump was the democratically elected President and chosen by the people of the United States. What is it about democracy you don’t understand, he asked.
It is a question that is likely to be much asked in the coming elections and, with luck, our politicians will find the answer uncomfortable in the extreme.
Next week a panel of four Brexiteers and Joanna Lumley. Or not.
© Roger Ackroyd 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file