Question Time 28th November 2019
Lionel Shriver (Crazy name, not so crazy lady)
Zanny Minton Beddoes (Crazy name. Bilderberger)
Caroline Lucas (Just crazy)
Andy McDonald (Barking)
Brandon Lewis (Carpetbagger)
53% Leave. The panel, as usual, does not reflect this being 80% Remain (Lewis, we may assume, is a very reluctant Tory Leaver).
I do wonder what the point is of QT any more. I see it as a vent act for the audience because what you are going to hear from the panel is the same old, same old. Lucas, McDonald and Lewis will rehearse the arguments that we have all heard before and the audience will clap dutifully with whomever they agree. Fiona will act as the tight-arsed Circus maitre d’ and pocket the £15k fee at the end of this third rate entertainment, and schlepp off pronto in the car waiting for her by the stage door. There is a regular feature on The Antiques Road Show in which our Fiona hovers in front of three objet d’art and is challenged to work out which is the cheapest, which is medium priced and which is the most expensive. I think we can usefully transfer this feature as a generic for QT programmes with the template “Shite”, “Real Shite” and “Utter Shite”. Last night’s definitely falls into the later category.
In fact it was almost a re-run of last week’s QT with the carefully planted Muslim perennially offended sitting next to each other in the audience who began a tag team screechathon when the question of anti-semitism and islamophobia was aired. Isn’t it strange that we never see Jewish men or women in the QT audience shouting and gesticulating at the panel? Considering that the question was primarily about anti-semitism in the Labour Party it quickly was turned around – with much help from Bruce I have to say who wheeled out quotes from, who else, Baroness Warsi – into a Boris bashing exercise. The shrieking Muslim girls in the audience hadn’t even read the Boris piece and weren’t going to listen to any counter arguments from Lewis or Shriver. That particular discussion came to a close with a monologue from what could only have been a black Labour supporter who expanded at length on how sainted Corbyn was. I have always been a little sceptical about the argument that there are plants in the audience but sometimes it is just too obvious to be refuted.
Brexit was not discussed at all and whenever Lewis tried to include it in an answer there were groans from the audience. From a town that voted 58% leave? You’re kidding me. And the uncritical reception of the twoddle being pedalled by Lucas and McDonald would lead an unbiased eye to assert that this was a strongly pro-Labour, pro-Green audience. Lucas, in particular, I find strongly emetic in her deluded hypocrisy and it was comforting to see Beddoes take her down a financial peg or two and teach her some lessons in fiscal responsibility.
The trouble with Brandon Lewis is that he has all the air of a carpet salesman who has been smooching with the lady customers for donkeys years and thinks he can sell them a rug made out of horse hair by claiming it will last years – and charging £299 for it. All this bollox about 50,000 “more” nurses in five years is just electoral semantics which only serves to give the opposition – by which I mean Bruce in this instance who kept needling Lewis on this point – plenty of ammunition to prove politicians untrustworthy. He could just have said 32,000 more nurses in five years and left it that but no, they have to try and big it up and as a consequence what could have been a great slogan falls flat on its face.
Lionel Shriver may be a good writer but she can’t get an argument out there to save her life. As the only Brexiteer on the panel and possibly the only one politically right of centre it was a great disappointment to hear her hesitate and be unsure of where her argument was likely to go. The hoped for fireworks fizzled out before even the touchpaper got lit.
There was much discussion about the NHS – Labour’s favourite topic – and how odd that the audience should contain two nurses, a midwife and a doctor. Who’d a thought that could possibly happen? But I suppose that if half the workforce is now seemingly employed by the NHS it may not be unusual to find it well represented in a QT audience of 150. Beddoes made two statements. One: the NHS is in crisis because of people getting older. Two: there needs to be more honesty about any discussions concerning the NHS. Of course this “honesty” excludes mentioning the additional 5 to 6 million people who have arrived on these shores in the last 10 years and the higher birth rate among certain communities. The elephant was running around the studio trumpeting it’s presence but no-one could hear it. The panel probably had their eye on the two Muslim fanatics in the second row and would prefer to be keep their mouth shut rather than be accused of “raaaaacism”!
Next week: Hull. Shite, real shite or utter shite? Whatever, it will just be a rerun of this week’s und so weiter, und so weiter….
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file