Question Time 5th March 2020
Matt Hancock (Conservative)
Margaret Beckett (Labour)
Layla Moran (Liberal Democrat)
Tim Stanley (Journalist)
Xan van Tullekan (TV Doctor)
Venue: Royal Tunbridge Wells
Your humble reviewer has previously been royally told off for missing the ‘Royal’ out of tonight’s venue and spelling ‘Tunbridge’ wrong. He has been to nearby Tonbridge, on one of the old boat train routes that took a travelling gentleman from London to the Channel ports, to connect with steamers to the near continent, in the days when everything was better than it is now. However, regarding Royal Tunbridge Wells, I must rely upon a friend.
Had he lived in the Soviet Union, he would have had a city named after him. America? He would have been a billionaire, but being an English Englishman in England, the said friend slowly starved, in a bedsit in Royal Tunbridge Wells, whilst doing something about electronics patents, that nobody else in the world could. Whilst billeted there, he made an interesting observation. It being expensive (commuting distance from London), many of the accommodations were let to those not paying for them, e.g. DHSS and hippy types. Is this still the case? We shall see.
The Tunbridge Wells constituency returns a Conservative MP, former BBC employee Greg Clark, who is Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In the EU referendum, according to the BBC, ‘Tunbridge Wells’ voted 45-55 to Remain. Thus far, according to local media, there haven’t been any cases of the coronavirus reported. There has been one in nearby Maidstone.
After many years, it is noticeable that the BBC has dropped from the Question Time formula the tradition of including an unfunny left-wing ‘comedian’ on the panel. In the feng shui of such things, Greg Norwood (Question Time, 30 January, Buxton) would be right-wing. At the weekend, I travelled down to London and was able to do some media studies research in a university library. On Tuesday, I flew to Zurich where a professor of modern broadcasting talked me through the mathematics of such things, proving from first principles that the BBC will never, ever, ever again book another unfunny lef
This week’s un-funny, cretinous left-wing parody ‘comedian’, is the ludicrous pan-sexual Wallace and Gromit cartoon-esque waste of space, Layla Moron, Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon.
The first question was, ‘How frightened of the coronavirus should we be?’
Matt Hancock expressed his condolences regarding the recently deceased. For nearly everybody, he continued, this virus will be one from which they will recover. He estimated a 1% fatally rate. This is a new virus, none of us has any have natural pre-existing anti-bodies in our systems.
The baton was passed to Dr Alexander van Tulleken. Christened Alexander van Tullekin, previously known as Xander and introduced tonight as Xan, in the highly competitive world of TV appearances Xan’s unique selling point is that he is a carrier of the Diminishing First Name virus. On his next QT appearance, he will be billed as ‘N’.
Dr Xan Van urged people to change their behaviour and wash your hands, it will slow down the spread. About 5-10% of those infected will need a lot of care. Dr Van Xan was wearing a cardigan, beneath that an open collar. For reasons of hygiene, he recommended air kisses or an ankle tap instead of a handshake. Very continental. Is he really a doctor? We shall see.
Margaret Becket was wary and cautious. This will illuminate problems in the health service. She had an awful croaky voice and looked as though she’d already died of something much, much worse than bat flu.
The loo roll already all gone, Tim Stanley wanted to go back to shaking hands, keeping calm and carrying on. Is he ghey?
Layla Moron was worried about her grand-parents rather than herself. How old must they be? Layla’s family were diplomats. She grew up in various foreign countries, couldn’t she have been left in one of them? She appeared to be remarkably calm tonight but she was worried about the homeless. How many homes do MPs have? And how many empty rooms do they contain, Layla?
There followed a series of quickfire questions, regarding the coronavirus, directed at Matt Hancock.
He was a great believer in the science of this. Gatherings are not a big spreader if you stay indoors and self-isolate. The money numbers could be juggled a bit to help the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts.
When will all of this happen? A sombre Fiona Bruce asked.
‘When you hear the alert state warning,’ Hancock should have replied. Then he should have told us to whitewash the windows, fill the bath with pre-fallout cold water and hide under the table awaiting the first air-burst.
The whole thing did have an approaching armageddon feel to it. It was a ‘Plague Special’.
There is no pasta, toilet rolls or paracetamol left in the shops, a lady in the audience mentioned. Just streets full of body bags and name tags, one expected her to add.
What would happen about the exam season? Which reminded me, Margaret Becket’s face is awfully triangular and she wears big round specs. Am I allowed to say that she looks like an A level geometry question?
Layla Moron told us to listen to the experts and went on to mention ‘epidemiologists’ a number of times. This is the new number one. ‘Pandemic’ is very last week.
Dr Xan Van, becoming involved in political point-scoring via unsubstantiated claims, said that he was tempted to blame austerity and a shortage of NHS staff and resources. In fairness to him, he added that any health service would be overwhelmed by a corona type virus outbreak.
Every self-employed person’s motto echoes Teddy Roosevelt’s instruction to, ‘Do the best you can, where you are with what you’ve got.’ Does that culture exist in the public sector? Let’s hope so.
This was a very sombre QT venue. Or maybe they’re always like this in Royal Tunbridge Wells? A nut in the audience decided that this was the new normal because of climate change. The next nut had detected racist rhetoric. The quality of debate fell towards boiler plating personal obsessions, medieval style, onto plague.
Margaret Becket announced local authorities to be heroic because of their great effort in social care. That must have been a joke. Social care has been hollowed out. All that remains are the wages and pensions of local authority wallahs, administering a system that doesn’t exist anymore, like something out of Kafka. Somebody apply the jump leads to Margaret and tell her. She placed her faith in long term planning and scientific determinism, like Stalin.
Incidentally, by rights, Margaret Becket should be in jail, having carried out a complicated fraud against the taxpayer during the MPs expenses scandal in 2009. This involved a flat in London, a second ‘grace and favour’ flat, and what she described as her ‘second home’ in Derbyshire. More details here.
Another point raised was the effect of coronavirus on the providers of adult social care. Layla Moron mentioned that there was a staff shortage and that 20% more members of staff will be off with bat flu. She was bursting to wave the flag for mass uncontrolled unlimited immigration but dare not, as she might be challenged about that spreading the illness.
On hearing that the questioner worked in dementia, Bruce, obviously, cut to Margaret Beckett who called for volunteers and help from the community. A kind of Dad’s Army.
At this point, Dr Xan Van shot my fox and spoilt my fun. This reviewer was not sure what kind of a doctor Xan is. He definitely doesn’t have a General Medial Council licence to practice in the UK. I suspected that he might have some kind of a medical diploma from a UK university alongside a ‘Doctors Certificate’ from a foreign country (George?). On the issue of retired health care staff being called up, he got his equaliser in before I’d scored by telling us that he isn’t a practising doctor, hadn’t been for many years and didn’t expect to be called up into that Dad’s Army.
Tim Stanley announced that the sombre mood and (sort of) political consensus was a kumbaya moment. Definitely ghey. He knew who better to blame. Various politicians had dodged the funding side of things for many years as the evil taxpayers refuse to cough more up cash. He then announced a Christian perspective. Plague was no longer the judgement of God. ‘Where is God?’ he asked. It’s up to us to step up and do God’s work. Tim forgot to mention evil and the Devil. Perhaps as the dead bodies pile up?
Layla Moron objected. The Libdems always promise, at every election, to increase taxes, an extra penny for the NHS, and nobody votes for them. Margaret Beckett was now so husky that I couldn’t hear what she said. Seemed to be blaming David Cameron.
The next question, only the second full one of the evening, changed the subject a bit and moved sideways, from plague to Priti Patel Derangement Syndrome (PPDS).
Through the grunts, Margaret Beckett ended the kumbaya moment, sided with the Devil and noted that Priti was nice to important people and (in effect) a prize bitch with the underlings.
Briefings were being coordinated against her in an old-fashioned pre-plague party political conflict, according to Tim Stanley. There was lots to do at the Home Office and the Home Office civil servants shouldn’t be telling the Home Secretary what to do.
Jumping to the defence of the Civil Service, Margaret Becket thought that they were the best in the world but omitted to mention that the previous Labour government had filled them with Common Purpose Labour cronies.
Layla Moron wanted an independent investigation into the allegations of bullying by former Speaker John Bercow. Oh, no she didn’t, just Priti Patel. Layla went on to name the Devil: ‘Dominic Cumming’. Non-Doctor Xan Van, came over all nasty, using words like ‘vicious’. The kumbaya is weak. The PPDS is strong.
Matt Hancock then dropped the airburst. The media-political bubble shuddered under their tables, as the whitewashed windows shook. Priti Patel’s views, Mr Hancock said, are similar to the views of the voters. Boom!
Layla Moron said ‘Windrush’ and asked Matt Hancock if he was comfortable supporting Priti Patel through these allegations? Handcock landed a good punch. It was better to support Patel than to judge her before an enquiry had reported. Tim Stanley chose to treat the PPDS by rubbing salt in it, he noted that it was ironic that the Home Secretary was not getting due justice. This triggered non-Dr Xan Van bigly. He used the word ‘odious’.
Layla Moron began to exhibit final stage PPDS, she blinked rapidly and started to screech. Layla and her Common Purpose Civil Service are being challenged by Patel and they, Dad’s Army style, don’t like it up them.
Next week’s Question Time comes from West Bromwich.
© Always Worth Saying 2020
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