Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

"You have entertained me," Dominic Lawson - Princess Diana's friend's husband.

Question Time 19th November 2020


James Cleverly (Conservative)
Emily Thornberry (Labour)
Ian Blackford (SNP)
Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Bishop of Dover)
Fraser Nelson (Editor and columnist)

Venue: Windsor

An all blue Fiona Bruce took the first question of this week’s programme from Mike. It was about the bullying of civil servants. Should Priti Patel be sacked? This particular story broke this evening, announced Bruce. Shoehorned into the programme at the last minute to embarrass the Tories perhaps? Emily Thornberry (Labour) blamed the Prime Minister and wanted to see the full report. Bruce read out the report. It only ran to one sentence, “Shouting and swearing and belittling people”. Gosh.

James Cleverly (Conservative) wanted to see the full report too. Miss Patel drives them hard, by the sound of James’s comments. Priti was working the department efficiently, he claimed. You don’t do that by bullying people, interrupted Emily. Nor by interrupting, observed James. Fraser Nelson (editor and columnist) was on Skype from somewhere. In an oak-panelled room, four leather-bound books sat on a shelf behind him, next to a wall light, a pot plant and a giant ‘S’. Where on earth was he?

This week is anti-bullying week announced Marina from the audience. Zero tolerance. During the previous two minutes, James still hadn’t seen the report and he still didn’t want to judge. Caroline from the audience had lots of big pictures of New York bridges on the wall behind her. She spoke too quickly, I looked at the bridges instead.

Ian Blackford (Scottish National Party) wanted to make it clear that people in parliament needed full protection from “this kind of thing”. Rose Hudson-Wilkin (Bishop of Dover) went, “mmmmm”. Like the rest of us, she had only heard about this five minutes ago and appeared not to have been briefed on the BBC’s anti-Tory, anti-Priti ambush sting. Sensibly, Rose preferred due process to take its place and didn’t like to comment.

Rose Josephine Hudson-Wilkin, MBE, QHC, has been the Bishop of Dover since 2019. Prior to that, she was appointed Queen’s Honorary Chaplin. The palace she was appointed to was, unfortunately for her, Westminster. There, she served as chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the vile, bad-tempered, diminutive cretin, the odious Lord Bercow of Remain.

Born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Rose Hudson came to the UK in 1982 to train as a Church Army minister. During her studies, she met husband Kenneth Wilkin, also a clergyman. Having risen through the ecclesiastical ranks, mainly in the West Midlands, Rose moved to London in 1998. The reverends Hudson-Wilkin have two daughters and a son.

In 2019 Rose was elevated to the 100 most influential black Britons power list, on which she sits between Martin Forde and Segun Osuntokun.

The second question was from Elliot, who asked about lockdown over Xmas. Prompted by Bruce, Elliot said he empathised with people like himself. Not a big ask. Presumably he meant something else.

Rose wanted people to be patient and protect the vulnerable. In parts of Kent, the infection rate was exceptionally high. The church had done the best it could to be covid safe. She mentioned bothers and sisters in faith, Eid, Diwali. Oh dear me. The Government is not dictated to by the diary but by the epidemiology, said James. It’s about trying the best we can to balance health, the economy, even psychology.

“A terrible time for everybody,” said Ian Blackford, channelling his inner Private Fraser. “The R number is declining,” he continued, his Private Fraser voice making this sound like a bad thing. Ian Blackford is the Member of Parliament for Ross, Skye and Lochaber as well as the serving leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons. The usually verbose Ian is a former pupil of the exclusive Edinburgh Royal High School.

Upon leaving, rather than attend university, he joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, the start of a twenty-year-long career in financial services, during which he also worked for Deutsche Bank, UBS Philips and Drew and the mighty galloping herd that is CSM.

In 2012, Ian won an iPad in a trade magazine competition on condition that he gave an interview. At the time, Ian was living out a David-Brent-when-a-sales-rep type of existence as an investor relations advisor (PR man) for a Dutch bakery, CSM. Being their part-time representative in the Shetland Islands, he was very grateful for the iPad. After promising IR Magazine that he wasn’t just going to sell it on eBay, “Are you keeping the iPad for yourself? Yes, I will be,” Ian gushed,

“I’ve actually been using it this week. And I have to say I have found it a very useful tool. Given that all of us spend so much time on the road, you’ve got constant demand to be in touch with people – people looking for information, sending emails and all the rest of it”

As with the real David Brent, one or two of the other pies that Ian had his fat stickie fingers in came good. As a non-executive director and chairman of Commsworld, Ian’s 4% stake was worth £1.8 million pounds when the company was taken over. As chairman of the Golden Charter Trust, he is paid £3,247 a month for flogging funeral savings plans. In the House of Commons list of member’s interests, he declares a fee of £1,500 per day for ‘additional work’. Also in the House of Commons, in 2017-2018, Mr Blackford enjoyed the House’s second-largest expenses claim, £241,000.

Previously, Ian was a member of the Labour Party.

Although QT Review tries not to be as predictable and repetitive as the actual programme, it’s always worth reminding Puffins of the SNP’s links with the Nazis. The kilted gentleman photographed with the Hitler Youth is Nazi sympathiser Arthur Donaldson, leader of the SNP between 1960 and 1969. To this day there is an Arthur Donaldson memorial lecture during the SNP’s annual conference. Shame on them.

Tom from the audience had a drum kit behind him and disco lights to his left. To his right, a guitar was hanging on the wall. Dave had been nicking cushions from the departure lounge at Dubai airport. If you don’t say anything interesting, the viewers will notice such things.

Fraser wanted more discretion. I’ll tell you what he meant, as he couldn’t spit it out. He was suggesting a tiered approach, rather than the present full lockdown in England. Still not sure where he was. What would Labour do? Asked Bruce of Lady Emily. Different people have different priorities, she said, but in a much more long-winded way in order to avoid answering the question. “People need to have leadership from the government,” she said, but not, apparently, from Emily and the Labour Party. “Christmas is about the love we show to people,” said Rose, it isn’t an event that can be cancelled.

The next questioner asked, “Has devolution been a disaster in Scotland?” In Windsor they talk of nothing else. Blackford claimed a list of achievements, omitting to mention that they had all been paid for by the poor old, long-suffering English tax-payer. Fraser thought that Boris’s comments to that effect had been daft. There was ‘worst’ poverty and deprivation in Scotland too. Life expectancy is lower in Glasgow than in Rwanda, he claimed. Does he know about Guildford? Hmmm. Blackford thought Fraser’s comments were a gross (rhyming with boss) distortion. Blackford then mangled a factoid (about the change in life expectancy in different parts of Britain), whilst looking smug.

Fraser Nelson is editor of the Conservative-leaning Spectator Magazine. He spent his childhood in Narin, his father being a serviceman at nearby RAF Kinloss. After his father was moved to Cyprus, Fraser was privately educated at Dollar Academy, a boarding school which lies at the foot of the Ochil Hills in Clackmannanshire. Subsequently, he attended the University of Glasgow and the City University, London. Mr Nelson is married with two sons and a daughter and lives in Twickenham. His wife, Linda, is Swedish. He describes himself as a Europhile. He is in favour of same-sex ‘marriage’. His views on Islam are somewhat naive. Shall we invent an acronym? Conino, Conservative in name only.

As ever, it seems to be the dullard of the family who has entered the media-political bubble. I’m sure I’m not the only Puffin who would rather listen to Fraser’s father for an hour, presumably, it being Kinloss, talking about Nimrods.

Emily thought devolution had been introduced to improve decision making and democracy. Bruce contradicted her, it was to shut the Scots up, phrased as, “Take the fire out of Scottish nationalism.” Richard from the audience said that here in Windsor they were all very keen on devolution. Told you so.

“Boris is a big fan of devolution,” said James, “Boris is a passionate fan.” Bruce interrupted. James wanted as much time devolved to him as Ian had had. What James was trying to say was that devolved government is a good thing but the SNP are making a mess of it. He had another go, pointing out that devolution was being abused by the SNP, going on and on and on about independence when there were bigger issues to tackle; social problems, the economy, the Scottish budget deficit.

James Spencer Cleverly is the MP for Braintree in Essex and the Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa. His mother was from Sierra Leone, his father is British. Privately educated at Riverston School and Colfe’s School in London, James was in the army, briefly, before studying at Thames Valley University. On his constituency website, James cheekily refers to his qualification in Hospitality Management as a ‘business degree’. After graduating, James worked in publishing while simultaneously having a military career through the Territorial Army, rising to be a lieutenant colonel. James’s mother had been a teacher in Sierra Leone before coming to England to become a nurse. During her training, she met James’s father, also called James, who was studying chartered surveying.

Rose noted that the same problems exist in England as in Scotland, therefore she wouldn’t blame it on the SNP. She saw the UK as a family and the Scots as petulant, spoilt brats (more or less). She’s not wrong, you know. Rose loved the idea of one world. Suggest that to your ‘faith brothers and sisters’ that they might stop slaughtering each other, love.

The next question regarded the Equality and Human Right’s Commission’s report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and the tug of war that has broken out over it. James was shocked. Starmer had talked tough but there was a gap compared with his performance. James had Jewish friends who had been afraid of a possible Labour government at last December’s election. Anti-Semitism had crept into the Labour Party and Starmer was displaying weakness. Corbyn’s response to the EHRC had been “Shocking, shocking”, and the Labour Party had been trying to make him prime minister last December!

Lady Emily re-invented the past, claiming that she’d done loads at the time but then after seeing the report had decided that she should have done more. Can you remember her conference speech, bashing Israel? Palestinian flags being waved in the audience? Emily had been right to promote Jeremy after all, he was “kind and principled”. There you are Puffins, approving a mural of the Jews playing Monopoly with bones of the broken poor must be kind. Presumably, laying a wreath at the grave of a terrorist who’d mutilated and murdered athletes at the Olympics will be the ‘principled.’

James was shocked again. According to James, Corbyn spent decades associating with 911 truthers and holocaust deniers and yet, after reading the EHRC report, Lady Emily still supported him.

Jeremy had spent his life addressing racism, retorted Emily.

Fraser thought Starmer had been decisive, by not moving an inch in his original position of indecision. Oh. Starmer was a young Tony Blair, ready for election. That strange room we couldn’t place turned out to be a padded cell in an asylum. Expect The Spectator, and Andrew Neil’s new GB News TV channel, to dribble all over metropolitan millionaire Mr Starmer. The Conino is strong.

“We all bear the shame,” said Rose, oblivious to the fact that scapegoating people for things that they haven’t done is in itself an odious type of prejudice. Let’s implement the EHRC recommendations. Rose didn’t want people to be discriminated against or ‘knelt on’. You just have to laugh.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Ian. He grieved for our public discourse. It was a shame what had happened to the Labour Party. He clenched his fists and banged them together in front of himself, Scottish sign language for, “And they were doomed, doomed, doomed I tell ye.” Drive out the hate crime, demanded Blackford. Start with yourself and the bigots in your own party, Blackford.

Hold on a minute. If the BBC can get a question onto Question Time relating to something that hasn’t happened yet (the releases of the report onto Priti Patel’s ‘bullying’), how come they can never manage a question about the disputed American presidential election that happened two weeks ago?

Carolyn asked the final question. It was about the Netflix series about the Royal Family, The Crown! Fraser is midway through watching it. It had turned dark. It was beautifully shot, mesmerising but shouldn’t be seen as a documentary. The Queen appeared too hard-hearted in it. The Crown is too good, it’s too engrossing, he reckoned

Rose doesn’t watch it, being a Royal Chaplain, I don’t suppose she has to. Ian knows the Queen and knows what she’s like. It is television. It is entertainment, you can always switch it off. James seemed to be trying to pitch a series about himself. Did he turn his best side to the camera? I think he did. He said a programme about himself would be too interesting and then pretended he’d really meant ‘not interesting enough’. He definitely mentioned ‘The Full Monty.’ Couldn’t be any worse than the crap programme he was taking part in at that very minute.

Lady Emily had seen them all, every episode. At first, they had been a more comfortable watch. This series was about an anguished marriage, had become dark and was harsh for Princes Harry and William. Lady Emily was just about to come up with a better suggestion, a series about herself that the Queen might like to watch, when she was cut off by Bruce as she ended this week’s Question Time.

But it does make you wonder……

Emily Thornberry is the MP for Islington South and Finsbury and the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade.

In a 2017 Guardian interview with Decca Aitkenhead, Lady Emily recalled that in her childhood, she was so poor that she relied upon free school meals and food parcels. So poor even, that the cats had to be put down. All of this was happening in Guildford. To a diplomat’s daughter. One wonders how the Gorbals unemployed manage.

Later in the same interview, her Ladyship reminisces that her mother, “used to sit up late with me and drink whisky and talk to me about how terrible my dad was and how unfair things were.” One fears the cats laid down their lives to settle the tab at the wine merchants.

Pleading further poverty, she also said that in family photographs taken about the time, “Our eyes are very, very deep. Sort of black eyes, big rims under them.” Perhaps a slightly off Chateau Latour, left in sunlight in the school canteen? Or a corked Ichiro’s Malt washing down a food parcel?

As well as slumming it in the mean tenements of Guildford, the Right Honourable and Learned Lady Emily lived in London with her United Nations Assistant Secretary-General father. After graduating from the University of Kent, she attended bar school where she met her husband, Christopher Nugee, who was to become Sir Christopher George Nugee, The Right Honourable Lord Justice Nugee, a QC and a High Court of Appeal Judge (or some such).

Sir Christoper’s father was Edward “Ted” Nugee, a brigadier’s son. He attended Worcester College, Oxford, became a gunner in the Royal Artillery in Singapore and subsequently a captain in the Territorial Army Intelligence Corp. In his spare time, according to his Times obituary, Ted was, “one of the pre-eminent Chancery barristers of his generation”. Sir Christopher’s mother, Rachel Makower, was equally interesting and useful. The daughter of a Jewish silk merchant, she was educated at Roedean and, towards the end of the war, served at Bletchley Park, before reading English at Oxford. Active in the Mother’s Union, she rose to be their World Central President between 1977 and 1982.

How come all of these remarkable people end up being related to useless MPs? A strange karma is at work.

In retaliation, in order to use the officer’s mess when acting as a lawyer at military hearings, Emily claims to be an honorary colonel in the British Army. As your humble author used to remark amongst colleagues, during his previous life of derring-do (behind the iron curtain, sabotaging Saddam Hussein’s atom bomb, saving the Pope’s life by dressing as a nun in the Philippine Islands), “What a Walt!”

Colonel The Lady The Right Honourable and Learned Emily Nugee QC MP (Gorbals Cross with Bar) stood for the leadership of the Labour Party in 2020 but dropped out after failing to receive enough nominations from constituency parties. Ungrateful provincial plebs, do they not realise who she is?

© Always Worth Saying 2020

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