Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

"You have entertained me," Dominic Lawson - Old Etonian.

Question Time 25th June 2020


Steve Barclay (Conservative)
Jess Phillips (Labour)
Iona Bain (Finance Blogger)
Theo Paphitis (Businessman)
George the Poet (Spoken Word Artist)

Venue: Under Thirties Special

First responder to BLM’s call to swap European qualifications for African, big chief witch doctor juju man Robert Peston, holder of the short white rhinoceros horn, can’t be with us tonight. He has been called to Gary Lineker’s Surrey mansion where a “White Lives Matter” banner must be removed from a severely stretched rectum. Ouch!

Rashford report. Further to last week’s revelation that “free” school meal vouchers were a Lucky Generals advertising campaign for the Co-op, it has been announced that St Marcus of Rashford has been signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation agency.

Rashford is managed by two of his brothers, Dwaine Maynard and Dane Rashford via their DNMay company. In January it was reported that they were taking advice on how to make more money grow their sibling’s profile, through talks with Monaco resident Mino Raiola. Raiola is a *cough* character. His clients have included Romelu Lukaku, famous for being frightened to get off the bench when his team played our local XI in a cup tie.

Raiola will have introduced Rashford to Roc Nation, Roc Nation will have introduced him to their sports subsidiary, they will have introduced him to their corporate partners, Creative Arts Agency (CAA). All of these people are taking a cut. There are an awful lot of very sticky fingers in St Marcus of Rashford’s pie. From now on everything you see in mainstream media about Rashford will be a brainless copy and paste of a CAA press release. Publishing anything else will result in the media outlet involved losing access to all of CAA’s considerable talent.

Is Rashford a good enough communicator, big enough name and clever enough person to push himself to the front at CAA? Will he achieve the ultimate goal, commanding $20,000 an Instagram endorsement? No he isn’t and he won’t. Expect him to fade away.


In every good thousand-page Russian short story there is a chapter where our aristocratic hero is interrupted before the billiard table, upstairs in a St Petersburg officer’s club. Just about to execute a remarkable cannon, he is tugged by a barefoot orphan. Bribed from the gutter by a few kopeks, the orphan delivers a letter.

It is scented, it is fragrant, it is written in an elegant but anonymous hand. From a consumptive cousin recuperating in a sanatorium in Murmansk? From the Princess, lonely in her subaltern husband’s barrack block in the Caucuses? A housemaid, breathless and shaking, after finding a dead body beside the railway line?

Upon reading, our hero is finally informed of what everyone else in the oblast has been gossiping about, behind his back, since the Saint Basil’s day ball. Is the Contessa illegitimate? Has Hadji Murat escaped again? Did Raskolnikov arrive at Belorusskaya stantsiya, his right cheek suspiciously scratched? Worse than that. Our hero concedes the game, kicks the orphan down the stairs and runs down the rain-soaked St Petersburg cobbled streets, towards the munitions factory, tears rolling down his cheeks, tearing the letter into a million pieces.

One sympathises.

Previously, in last week’s un-read comments, your now contrite reviewer became aware of a murmur, a mutter of a hint of a disturbance in the ether, that suggested that he hasn’t been watching Question Time before reviewing it. Had Mr Dominic Lawson (boooooo) instructed his lawyers to openly spread undiluted truth? I think he might have. He looks the type who would.

In my defence, this remorseful reviewer throws himself upon the mercy of the Puffin court, whilst pointing out that last week he was forced to ethnically cleanse the QT panellists and the week before that, to no-platform them.

Every Puffin has a plan. While lesser species squirm and shuffle while mumbling, “World-beating app, sometime in the future, later on, maybe,” the Puffin shouts in a big loud voice, “This is what we’re going to do!”. This week, your reviewer will watch the programme. Last week, he was sorely tempted. Murina Wilson’s giant teeth, proof of intelligent design’s victory over evolution, were somehow jammed, like tombstones in a tiny village graveyard during a pandemic, into her silly mouth. Your reviewer was sorely tempted to stay up, snigger at her and put pen to paper. Instead, like a television evangelist to a fallen woman, Satan dragged me to bed.

Puffin’s promise. This week I will dream of Helen Wheatley, Isabel Oakeshott (and especially Afua Hirsch), on Thursday afternoon and then sit up all night doing a proper review. Stick that in your jentlmens tabik rer, Mr Lawson, and smoke it.


As the programme began, the virtual audience was up on a screen on the studio wall. They were various shapes, sizes and tinges. Remember the audience on the Muppet Show?

The first question was about lifting the lockdown. Not only had Theo Paphitis (businessman) run out of razor blades but he had never thought to stock up on beard dye. He was keen on lockdown, pointing out, rightly, that there’ll never be a proper normal until there is a vaccine or a cure for Corvid.

Jess Phillips (Labour) was speaking from a charity shop, sat in front of a shelf of awful books that only an idiot would buy. She mentioned BAME and COVID inequality.

Grammar school girl Jess’s commitment to equality of opportunity in employment extends as far as giving a taxpayer-funded job to her husband. He was her constituency support manager, a job he was best qualified for, as he is a lift engineer. Jess is posh, her father being a teacher and her mother being the deputy head of the health services lobby group the NHS Confederation. Her parents had their own company, Healthlinks Event Management Services, which, after an exhaustive recruitment process, employed Jess. Ms Phillips’s constituency is Birmingham Yardley, whose good people, in the interests of equality and diversity, blockade the schools because of LGBT teaching.

Steve Barclay (Conservative) looked as though he’d been on the beach at Bournemouth, face tanned and hair somewhat bleached. Fiona Bruce showed him an awful lot of leg, does she like the lifeguard look? She mentioned a ‘rave’ in Brixton last night. Hope it was nowhere near the Black Lives Matter riot, in which over twenty police officers were injured.

Kirsty in the audience had kidney failure and was shielding. She was in Brighton. Kofe was a vulnerable person too. Was it the loud yellow and blue shirt that he was wearing? Did it make people vomit on him? Surat had asked the question. He wanted squares to be circled and water to run uphill.

George the Poet (word artist) read out one of his poems,

Want clear information,
from the government,
factor in the “R nought” number,
clear and consistent messaging.

It was rather good.

George the Poet (not his real name, George Mpanga) is also rather posh, his family being Ugandan aristocracy. In the interests of equality, he was educated at the exclusive Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, which sits on a twenty-three acre site on the edge of High Barnet. In 2019 there were 2,700 applicants for 180 places.

The school was founded by Robert Dudley the 1st Earl of Leicester who made his money from the Company of Merchant Adventurers who, in turn, made their money from a bit of slavery, a bit of tobacco and a bit of colonising of the New World. George forgot to boycott the school. They are rather proud of him, noting on their website,

After gaining A grades in English Literature, Sociology and Politics A-levels, George won a place at King’s College, Cambridge, to read Politics, Psychology and Sociology (PPS), where he went on to become Chair of the college’s student union.

King’s College’s website notes that the august institution, dedicated to equality,

lived through the entire history of British involvement in the Atlantic slave trade

Not to worry, George forgot to boycott them as well and “lived through” the nasty racists at King’s electing him Chair of the student union.

Previously, in a Guardian piece, George referred to the British empire as being “pure evil”.

So evil that his Grandmother, Joyce Mpanga, when Uganda was still part of the British Empire, attended one of the best universities in Africa, Makerere College in Kampala, and was able to continue her studies at the University of London. Later, she became a Ugandan cabinet minister. I bet she wishes she’d been born in North Korea!

If you’d like to book George, his agent is Brotherstone’s Creative Management, Mortimer House, Fitzrovia. Start saving up.

Hannah spoke, she was sat in front of the door. The top of her head was level with the door handle. She must have been, Muppet Show style, only two feet tall. The next speaker said that all of her family were NHS workers. She said that she was in Scotland, “But in England ……..”, her voice trailed away to nothing. Is there something they aren’t telling us south of the border?

George the Poet did a monologue without saying anything, a bit like Alan Bennet, but not as creepy. Back in the charity shop, those books were so bad that I wondered if it was the shelves that were for sale? Were Jess’s books just for show?

Iman asked a question, will there be opportunities for him? Iman had graduated in advertising but wasn’t very good at advertising himself. Currently he was working in “food supply”, which Bruce called out as shelf stacking. Ouch.

Steve Barclay ran through the governments job retention schemes and threatened to green the economy. Then he promised to green the economy, before mentioning greening the economy.

Iona Bain (Finance Blogger) wanted young people to be a top priority. She was in a motel room, in front of the big long curtain and next to the generic bad painting of a flower. She was sat on the big chair, as if giving instructions to a gentleman lying on the bed. Were we interrupting something more important? Does she have another blog that we should know about? She wanted money to be spent wisely.

The next young lady from the audience, had been doing “hospitality” for a number of years and had “a lot of experience behind her.” An old profession? I rubbed my ears until Skype moved on.

Theo spoke, given he’s in business, and given that he defined the economic outlook as being grim, is the beard a disguise? Is it to stop the bank from finding him?

After finishing his education, Theo Paphitis went into insurance, mobile phones, property and retail.

Being a mobile phone entrepreneur sounds very grand but all Theo was doing was shifting phone contracts to punters from a concession in Rymans. An insurance salesman has no liabilities, the insurance company takes all of the risk and pays the salesman a commission. Likewise, with mobile phones, a finance company pays a commission while it owns the phones. Theo then moved into retail which is risky. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, one of his companies, Boux, was struggling.

Don’t worry about Theo, his private wealth will be separate from the business’s. According to Companies House, he is involved in a stack of companies each of whose liability will be limited to the value of the company, not to the personal value of any of the individuals involved in them. Got that? We shall return to liability later.

In the interests of equality, Theo drives a Maybach.

George read out another poem, it was a bit like one of Roger McGough’s,

I express support
Self-employment is necessary
A new society, we think we’re going to embrace
Look at the shape of this show

He’s good. Jess reappeared, there were a few gaps on the shelves. Never mind the worst recession since the war, she’d sold a few books. Good for her.

The next questioner was Luke. He looked like Ted Cruz and, judging by his webcam, he was speaking from the 1950’s. The question was about social and affordable housing. Everybody acknowledged a shortage of housing, nobody mentioned immigration.

The next question was, what aspects of lockdown might we keep? Jess Phillips mentioned flexibility and creativity. Kofe and Fiona Bruce wondered about permanent face coverings. Theo Paphitis wanted more Zoom, Iona Bain wanted less Zoom.

Iona Bain self describes thus,

I am a financial writer, blogger, speaker, commentator and broadcaster. I founded the Young Money Blog in 2011 and am now widely considered the UK’s go-to voice on millennial money.

Note, despite all of the writing and broadcasting, she doesn’t claim to be a journalist. Ms Bain attended Oxford University where she read music. Subsequently, she studied “Advanced News Writing “ at the London College of Media and Journalism. This also sounds very grand, but it is a one day course which costs £599 plus VAT.

As for her financial nous, she studied “Managing my Money” at the Open University. This is an eight-week course which requires three hours of study a week. In other words, you could do it all in a day.

Her great financial acumen was further enhanced at the Chartered Financial Analysts Institute where she studied “Understanding Company Reporting”. Another one day course.


Deep breath.


So how does Ms Bain get to be a “go-to voice” on money? Because, in the interests of equality of opportunity, she is a hereditary media aristocrat.

Her father is Simon Bain, a real journalist who describes himself as follows,

Business correspondent and personal finance editor since 1998, four times Scottish financial writer of the year, and once journalist of the year. Likes bringing business personalities to life, responding to unhappy consumers, and investigating bust businesses and the murkier corners of money. Highly commended in the 2013 UK Regional Press Awards. 39 year financial journalist.

Iona’s grandfather was Richard Findlater, a St Paul’s School old boy who was a theatre critic, biographer and assistant editor of The Observer. Her grandmother was Romany Bain who was a show business writer for the Daily Mail and wrote the TV page for the Sun.

In the interests of diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunity, Iona is related to much of Fleet Street and telly land.

On referencing Companies House I can find no record of Iona Bain. Why might this be? It is because there is no need for Iona to limit her liability via a company, as she has no liabilities, only income. Her Young Money Blog is nicely presented but generic, out of a box, dirt cheap to run. She has no need for an office, it can be run from a laptop.

There is no time-consuming comments section, only fairly regular blog entries, many of which will have been written by her father. Other entries are write-ups of her media appearances, some will no doubt be re-hashed press releases. The site also includes endless clickable boxes, asking if you want to book Iona. She makes a lot of well-paid media appearances. She is nice to look at and well-rehearsed, no doubt by her father.

Iona is represented by the JLA agency, also in Fitzrovia. Upon contacting the agency, booking Iona for a speech will cost you between £2,500 and £5,000.

George made up a poem,

I would keep the
to person

Not one of his best. And that was it, both for this programme and, Fiona Bruce announced, for this series. It’s a good job that I did watch it. Next week I might have posted a review of a programme that, not only had I not watched, but that hadn’t even been on the telly. Long-suffering readers might even start to suspect that I was as fake as Fiona, George, Iona, Steve, Theo and Jess.

© Always Worth Saying 2020

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