Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 20th February 2020


George Eustice (Conservative)
Alison McGovern (Labour)
Howard Davies (Economist)
Ash Sarkar (Journalist)
Michael Portillo (Broadcaster)

Venue: Weymouth

If you think that your humble reviewer was bitter and twisted about that low-speed speeding ticket in Liverpool (QT January 17th), wait until you hear about his Royal Bank of Scotland shares. Likewise, if you think the shares were bought by the taxpayer at 502p a share and are now (Wednesday’s close) worth 206p, then you’ve been badly informed by every financial journalist who can’t be bothered to do any research. The shares were consolidated at one for ten, which means that the taxpayer has lost £48.14 per share. Lucky them, your humble reviewer lost even more and was further shredded by taking up rights, issued by the bank when not a going concern. Wrongly assuming it to be good money after bad, he didn’t throw his hat into the ring for the class action compo case. *Very angry face*. Shall we take it out on the RBS chairman Howard Davies? One feels obliged to.

Weymouth, as part of the South Dorset constituency, returns a Conservative MP, the Monty Python monikered old Harrovian Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax. In the 2016 EU referendum, Weymouth with Portland voted to Leave by 61-39.

Question one was, possibly, Question Time’s first-ever double whammy, aimed at the government’s new points-based immigration policy (that we have all just voted for). It can be summarised as: Social care and hospitality versus immigration.

Alison McGovern (Labour) complained that it valued people only by financial worth (a reference to the salary requirement) but then contradicted herself by claiming that it also worked against the free market, where everything is judged by worth – that’s why it’s a market. She said it was ‘complex’, obviously too complex for Alison.

Michael Portillo (broadcaster) didn’t want labour shortages but saw the answer lying in being more adaptable. He said, ‘Chambermaids.’ When was the last time anybody said, ‘Chambermaids?’ Is this a Brexit effect? Let’s hope so. Michael saw jobs in hospitality as ‘careers’, providing a ladder to be climbed, rather than short term, low paid work for ‘foreigners’, another word we don’t hear enough of. Increase wages through advancement, he concluded.

A contributor from the audience said that hospitality was constantly looking for staff.

Fiona Bruce (Chair) teed him up for a ‘British people are lazy’ trope but he refused to take the bait. The work was seasonal, making it difficult for people to make a big commitment to it.

George Eustice (Conservative) said that the new policy will be skills-based rather than ‘anybody from the EU can come here’ based. Why not automate? Three million EU citizens were already here, there will be a seasonal agricultural scheme.

A redoubtable lady with lovely blonde hair opened fire from the audience. We’ve had enough, close the borders, public services and infrastructure are pushed to the limit. They can’t speak English, how much do the interpreters cost? The bombardment gathered pace, free NHS service? Why not a pay point in every hospital, as in every other country in the world?

Ash Sakar (Journalist) also has an abundance of lovely hair. It’s just a shame that so much of it is above her upper lip. She claimed that immigrants pay more in tax than they cost. The BBC director desperately sent his camera angles out into no-man’s land looking for anybody nodding in agreement (without much success).

Without immigration, Ashe the Tasche said her granny couldn’t have come here and Ash would never have been born. Oh, Ms Sarkar on our side after all. Excuse me.

A contributor from the audience said that this is nationalism. Excellent, he’s on our side too. We’re on a roll.

Returning to one of the questioners, she claimed that 12% of those employed in social care are foreign nationals. That doesn’t sound very many to me. Perhaps incentivising employers to offer full-time rather than part-time jobs (via the employer’s National Insurance system) might solve the problem?

Howard Davies (Chairman of RBS). Boooooo. Seemed quite keen on the new system and said that employers had been consulted about it. He saw the problem with social care as being the lack of any kind of a plan. In this reviewer’s personal experience, he is correct, social care is a disorganised shambles.

I’m sure I recognised the next audience member who spoke. I tried so hard to put a name to him that I didn’t actually make a note of what he said. It was former President of Pakistan, General Musharraf, without his toupee on. What strange times we live in.

Portillo interjected, it’s not good to depend on cheap labour. It drives down wages. The present system is decadent.

Ash the Tasche got overexcited and I couldn’t understand what she said.

There followed an odd contribution from the audience, written down and pre-rehearsed. Why should I bother to get a job when the foreigners can’t come anymore?

Howard Davies pointed her towards lifetime re-training and flexible working.

Question two asked, have we forgotten how to be kind?

In respect to the sentiment of the question, dear reader, your humble reviewer will be kind to all the of panellists (except Ash the Tasche).

Ash the Tasche droned on about Amy Winehouse and Princes Dianna while neglecting to mention that her own contribution to kindness includes urging people to support the BDS movement, i.e. boycott Jewish businesses. Vile, undeleted comments from un-blocked commenters crowd her twitter feed in a way that would make a white supremacist, castrating working-class children at a Bernard Manning eugenics night, blush. What a hypocrite she is.

As Michael Portillo prepared to answer, Fiona Bruce interrupted to remind him that he’s had his share of both types of media attention. That was kind of her. Does she have a collection of Scallywag magazines hidden under her bed? Does she hold a glass to the wall of her Dolphin Square apartment? She looks the type who might.

A gentleman in the audience had been a television producer for 40 years. This was the anniversary of a terrible family tragedy and he wanted to say that he was aware that media could suck people in and then spit them out of the other side.

Alison McGovern took the yes and no approach. There are lots of kind people. She mentioned the NHS.

Contributors from the audience mentioned suicides amongst veterans and the kindness of picking up the phone and saying something to a person, rather than using social media.

There was then an odd sound. Was it a real, rural, Dorset local? Or maybe an American? No idea what she said. Hunched in a blue coat.

George Eustice blamed it on social media and says we should ‘break the cycle’. A bit rich coming from the party that hired Reddit’s Mr Agony Aunt, with his unique (outside of 12th century France) view on incest, to be a special advisor.

Howard Davies was amazed by the virulence and anger. How dare they complain when Howard at the LSE trousers handfuls of cash from Colonel Gadhafi, in return for a PhD for Gadhafi’s son? As for complaining when you’re ripped off in a share issue, hush now, that’s not kind.

Question three was about the floods and Boris’s lack of reaction.

George Eustice is in charge of such things and had spoken to Boris about Storm Dennis. One assumes that means the weather event rather than a particularly unkind social media troll. Eyes down, look in, it was now time for statistics bingo, with thousands of this and tens of thousands of the other. People might like to ponder this in their flooded homes.

Howard Davies seemed to think it would just be a bit of a photo opportunity if Boris was more involved. He did mention ‘green revolution’, the sea is rising by 3mm a year. Around here, Howard, it rises by about 27ft twice a day. Can’t say were bothered by 3mm.

The Tory chap claimed that we are investing, whereupon Howard told a rather good joke. He has invented a new (imperial?) measurement, the HS2. Flood defences are getting 9% of HS2.

Asche the Tasche is a theory tutor at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam where she specialises in the future of the moving image master programme which, as you already know, is the successor to the temporary programme shadow channel. One prays for rain, while spending billions on lowering Amsterdam’s flood defences.

Tory boy (is that a toupee?) had another go, there will be a conference in Glasgow. Surely more, not less, hot air?

Alison didn’t have much to say.

I’ll answer the question for them. Boris is on half-term with his unknown number of children and somebody else can do the PR because it doesn’t make any difference anyway.

Contributors from the audience, rightly, suggested dredging the rivers and getting the Chinese to build HS2.

Portillo said he can judge the mood of the country. Something a bit bigger, exceptional, strategic. Flood defences just move the wet about a bit. A mega project is required to move the rain to the sea. And he’s in favour of HS2.

The final question was, should we continue to support the BBC?

Howard had looked at this 15 years ago and concluded ‘yes’. But nowadays it’s a poll tax that only 25% of people are in favour of. Freeview prevents the BBC from becoming pay per view. I thought there are subscription services on broadcast digital? Am I wrong?

Leftie Alison supported the BBC especially as it force-feeds Newsround to children in schools. She mentioned the NHS again.

Fiona Bruce asked Michael Portillo a different question, but he didn’t take the bait. Perhaps she knew what was coming? He conceded that the BBC pays him (for his railway programmes). Young people don’t even have a connection with the BBC anymore and nobody can see it when they’re abroad. He wasn’t keen at all. The licence fee won’t survive. Rather than bite hand that fed him, he chained it to the tracks to be chopped off by a passing freight train.

Challenged about his ‘abroad’ comments with ‘BBC World’, he forgoed the severed hand and began stamping on the testicles.

‘No one at the BBC has any confidence in BBC World.’ Ouch.

Ash the Tasche said that the BBC should adapt but the BBC charter allowed politicians to hold the corporation hostage. She was concerned of such things being ‘handed to Rupert Murdoch’, obviously unaware that SKY is now owned by Comcast and Rupert has left TV. What a cretin. She lectures in media. Silly tart.

A tinged chap in the audience with a squeaky voice and rather a camp manner appeared to say (I think) that they spend too much on presenters and he would do this next week. He was called, ‘Michael’. Next week’s Question Time is from Middlesbrough. Good luck to him.

And that was it.

© Always Worth Saying 2020

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