Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 16th January 2020


Baroness Chakrabarti of Kennington (Labour)

Helen Whately (Conservative)

Alyn Smith (SNP)

Madeline Grant (Daily Telegraph Comment Editor)

Laurence Fox (Actor)

Venue: Liverpool

To this reviewer’s recollection, Brexit was only mentioned once during last week’s Question Time (from Oxford). And then not even by the BBC, rather by an audience member, in the context of British foreign policy towards Iran being closer to that of Germany and France than to the United States of America. Has the BBC finally lost interest in Remain? Perhaps as a tractor factory owner in Adenauer’s post-war West Germany might stop sending International Money Orders to his relatives still settling into their new ranches in Paraguay or Argentina?

For the time being, we shall keep our vigilance. As part of our de-Remainification effort, the Cynthia’s slaving away over the card index in the Registry would like to point out that this week’s Question Time host city (Liverpool) voted 58 – 42 Remain in the 2016 EU referendum. In the recent General Election, the five Liverpool seats returned five Labour MPs, an Eagle brother and four non-entities that even a political obsessive such as your reviewer had never heard of. Gone are notables such as Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman. Perhaps the chirpy, humorous, warm and inclusive left-wing Scouse welcome was too much for them?

The intel, therefore, suggests that the BBC is still behind its own little ‘Red Wall’. That being the case, the Ministry of Information has instructed all public buildings to continue to show the ‘This Week’s Question Time Host City in No Way Reflects Modern Britain’ poster which includes a very clever line drawing by Abram Games (showing an EU flag clad Rebecca Long-Bailey, in her new contact lenses, winding up a clockwork BBC Director-General).

Yes, your humble reviewer has a connection with the city. In his footballing days (so far down the league pyramid his boots were on the sand and he had to call the camels ‘sir’), his duties, when away at Liverpool, included helping to remove the burnt-out cars from the pitch before kick-off.

Many decades later, he received his one and only speeding ticket on his way to watch the youth team at Tranmere, flying past Cilla’s house on Scotty Road, on a deserted Sunday morning dual-carriageway, at thirty-two and a half miles per hour. Hold my beer Puffins. Will the BBC give your hard-tackling reviewer a half-chance at revenge? All will be revealed.

The first question was, ‘Will reducing passenger duty lead to more domestic flights and make the climate crisis worse?’

Helen Whately (Conservative) focused upon keeping Flybe flying but claimed that passenger duty might not be lowered, it was going to be reviewed. Places could be difficult to get to, and Flybe was a help. A laid-back Laurence Fox wasn’t against flying and in a deep voice told us that, as an actor, he had to fly but as a profession, actors made up for this by preaching about climate change. Did I really hear that? Yes, I did and Laurence got even better as the night went on.

Baroness Chakrabarti of Kennington (Labour) said that is was too cheap to fly and too expensive on the train. Suspiciously, Fiona Bruce was able to end the Baroness’s sentences throughout the evening and on this occasion had the numbers available to back her up. Going to Exeter by train was twice the cost of flying. The Baroness didn’t want to cut flying duty and wanted to create jobs in a green revolution. ‘We’re running out of time,’ she stated.

Helen Whately interrupted to say, ‘Northern Powerhouse.’

Madeline Grant (Daily Telegraph), pointed out that it wasn’t really Flybe that was being bailed out, rather the consortium that owns it, such as Delta and Richard Branson. Why can’t they pay for it and not the taxpayer? This got a round of applause.

Alyn Smith answered the question on behalf of the SNP. Speaking of which, given that it has its own parliament (and England doesn’t), given that they no longer hold the balance of power in Westminster, and given that the SNP vote share was exactly the same in the General Election as the 2014 independence referendum (45%) then perhaps SNP representatives, especially when speaking in England, should be ignored?

He was reminded that previously the SNP had wanted to cut airline tax, as Scotland is awash with remote places connected by air. He said there was a detailed plan, the Scottish Government were the first to declare a climate emergency and to declare that they’d be carbon neutral by 2040.

‘There is cherry blossom hay fever in Stockholm now this minute’, he claimed.

A gentleman in the audience said that hundreds of millions of people would be displaced by climate. This claim, and many others, remained unchallenged as a well-rehearsed narrative continued to be chanted. It should be said that, even if every single point of the climate emergency is true, what happens here in Britain will make no difference at all to anything. One wonders what the SNP’s detailed plan for China and India is?

Fiona Bruce preferred to quote a higher authority, David Attenborough, ‘Take the steps that need to be taken’. Those steps had already had been taken, according to Helen Whately, carbon dioxide emissions in this country have been reduced by 25% in recent years. Has it made any difference to the climate, Helen? Oh.

The second question asked, ‘Should the Sussex’s profit from their royal status?’

Laurence Fox felt sorry for them, mentioned the new baby, and then felt sorry for them a bit more, before touching upon the naivety of Meghan in not realising the difficulties of joining the royal family. A little bit of having cake and eating it, according to Laurence.

A tinged lady audience member had a better word for it, ‘Racism’. Panellist Fox contradicted the audience member very strongly, which isn’t really allowed. He told her the race card was boring. She called him a white privileged male which got the rest of the audience groaning and got Laurence calling her a racist, whilst becoming very animated indeed. He had a look in the eye which suggested he might find her car, push it to a football pitch and set it on fire. All hail Laurence Fox.

Baroness Charobati was itching to play the race card (‘Walk around in someone else’s shoes’) but Fox had shot her fox.

‘In this city, you know all about abuse’, she said.

Was she about to mention the bullying that Ellman and Berger received despite Baroness Chakrabarti of Kennington curing Labour Party anti-Semitism with her 2016 ‘Whitewash for a peerage report’? No, she was going to mention Hillsborough. She then went on to quote a Buzzfeed report which, suspiciously, Fiona Bruce had to hand. There was forensic proof of the Duchess being abused. Fox had been shot for shooting Chacrobatti’s fox.

But not fatally so, he had a go back and mentioned the Manchester grooming (Muslim paedophile rape) scandal as an indication of how unhelpful use of the race card could be.

‘Don’t call people racist just because they don’t agree with you’, he concluded.

Fiona Bruce mentioned the Merkle libel case and passed the baton to Alyn Smith who we shall ignore, except when he suggests that being a private citizen is incompatible with taking public money.

Madeline Grant focused on the hypocrisy of keeping the perks but having none of the duties. We will see them cash in on the brand and we will hear a lot of ‘Woke-like’ nonsense. Bit like a Question Time panel and climate emergency, eh Madeline? A lady in the audience pointed out that Fergie got it ten times worse and that Meghan’s too busy with the racism card.

Question number three pointed out Boris Johnson’s previous comments about Liverpool and asked what can Liverpool expect from a Boris Johnson government?

Bruce was kind enough to point everybody in the right direction by quoting from a sixteen-year-old Spectator editorial where the writer, possibly Johnson as he was the editor at the time, had complained about Liverpool people’s ‘victim status’. At least we now know that, if your humble reviewer is ever invited onto a Question Time panel and Bruce takes a dislike to him, then he will be battered to death with that speeding ticket.

While reaching for the race and bingo cards, Baroness Chakrabarti claimed that a long line of people had been insulted by Johnson. Letterboxes, pickaninnies, did she mention bumboys in tank tops? She should have. Yawn.

Madeline Grant had something interesting to say and thought that the expectation could be of greater economic intervention, e.g. in infrastructure and the NHS, because of the new Red Wall Conservative constituencies. She noted that Brexit would give Johnson the freedom to intervene and saw him, in Liverpool terms, as being more like a Heseltine than a Thatcher.

A chap in the audience called Baroness Chacrobati of Kennington ‘entitled’ and said that Liverpool people needed a hand up not a handout. Don’t support individuals, help them to get on in life. Speaking of handouts, the next audience member wanted London and the Tories to hand over the money to the great northern to cities to spend on themselves. (People of Liverpool, why don’t you want a tax cut?).

Having been reminded by Fiona Bruce that the Tories had cut Liverpool’s funding by several hundred million pounds, Helen Whately replied that she’d been to Liverpool twice in a week. She said that the place was wonderful and that fantastic things happened down at the docks. Gracious me. I may go there myself, and at more than thirty-two and a half miles per hour. Prompted by the laughter in the audience, Fiona Bruce asked Helen for one Tory policy to be excited about.

‘Ten pounds an hour’, Helen replied proudly.

It’s deal love, hop in.

A young lady in the audience also mentioned, ‘wonderful things on the docks’. Competition for Helen, thank God for the minimum wage. Laurence Fox was applauded for saying that Liverpool people aren’t victims at all and that, not just in Liverpool but across the north, people are a lot nicer than in London. Alyn Smith? Next question.

Which Labour candidate can connect with the lost voters of the north?

Madelaine Grant replied, ‘None of them.’ Lisa Nandy had said that the bus routes should be improved instead of HS2 but had spoiled the effect by then supporting continued ‘Freedom of Movement’. Bex Long-Bailey had given Corbyn ten out of ten for the Labour election campaign. Madeline wondered what he would have had to have done to get eight? Might I suggest attacking someone with an axe?

Baroness Chacarobati (I’ve given up trying to spell it, it’s nearly 3am) lied about what an audience member had said previously.

‘She’s an unelected Baroness’, she quoted, which isn’t what he had said. Because of this audience-described unelected privilege, she wouldn’t declare for any of the candidates to lead her own party. One might say that she was remaining neutral. Ten out of ten for leadership, m’lady. Of course, she has to keep in with all of them because she wants a job out of it. Oh, she would re-nationalise the railways.

She was then nicely skewered by an audience member who called her arrogant and condescending, reminded her that labour had had the worst election result since 1935 and that she was displaying a lack of a shift in policies that would leave Labour unelected for decades to come.

‘The electorate did not get it wrong,’ he noted.

The baroness ignored him and dragged out the race card for another round of letterbox and pickaninny bingo. And then she blamed it all on Brexit.

Alyn Smith sprang to the defence of Chacrobatti. Don’t forget that the SNP need the help of the Labour Party if there is ever going to be another independence referendum.

Laurence Fox, now God-like, called Corbyn the ‘Magic Grandpa’ and wanted him replaced by Sir Kier Starmer, as it was Starmer who could take Boris on. Challenged by Chacarobati with, ‘None of the women?’, Fox changed his position and said he would vote for all of the women as gender was more important than policies.

Madeline Grant recalled that Jo Swinson’s obsession with being a woman didn’t do her any good electorally. It’s about competence, Madeline claimed, you need a competent leader, not identity labels. Helen Whately sat on the fence somewhat but suggested listening to people, e.g. Brexit, lower taxes, and opportunities. The Labour Party should stop talking Britain down and talk Britain up.

The last question referred to A&E waiting time targets.

Helen Whately thanked the NHS staff. She had worked in hospitals before becoming an MP but she omitted to mention that it was as a management consultant for Pricewaterhouse.

Baroness Chactabati wanted to keep the A&E targets and said that she would talk Britain up by saying how marvellous the NHS was. Which begs the question, why do we have to wait for more than four hours to see someone in A&E? Laurence Fox was grateful to the NHS. Keep the targets, why not? In his experience, the NHS is very good at the ‘emergency’ end of things but he wasn’t so sure about the accidents.

On being returned to the audience, the questioner mentioned the lack of a big plan for social care, which therefore backs an awful lot of demand into A&E. That was it, and we have a winner, being crossed off the guest’s list as we speak, Mr Lawrence Fox.

© Always Worth Saying 2020

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