Question Time 10th December 2020
Robert Buckland (Conservative)
Wes Streeting (Labour)
Malcolm Turnbull (Former Australian PM)
Julia Hartley-Brewer (Broadcaster)
Anand Menon (Politics professor)
your humble author your award-winning author must thank his readership for being voted winner of the Æthelberht Autumn 2020 Writing Competition. Given the literary ability of Puffins, the title of a Geoffrey Archer book springs to mind, “First Amongst Equals.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Jeffrey nicked the title from elsewhere. Likewise, this author feels he’s nicked his award by standing on the edge of the six-yard box, toe-poking the ball into the empty net over and over again, during the endless comedic open goal that Question Time has become.
Obviously, a Puffin would never let success go to his head. Unlike other world champion, living God, alpha types, such as Lewis Hamilton, who, having won his (lesser) trophy, didn’t bother going back to work, preferring to cry off with coronavirus. Rest assured, it remains business as usual at QT Review HQ.
Behind every successful man there is a surprised woman. On hearing the news, Mrs AWS, rather than express congratulation or admiration, responded, “At least that might change the record a bit.” A friend fluent in womanese informs me that this suggests having something new to listen to, glassy-eyed, as her husband holds court.
Further sincere thanks.
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Chelmsford is the county town of Essex and lies (by my calculation) 35 miles and 8 chains from Charing Cross. The local MP is Victoria Ford, a GP’s daughter who currently serves as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families. Previously, Victoria was an MEP. Prior to that, she worked in financial services after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge. Her husband is oncologist Hugo Ford. In the guff that comes with Question Time, the BBC inform us that Chelmsford became a city as recently as 2012 and that a wireless factory opened there in 1899. All rather dull.
One is grateful to be able to look back upon a life more interesting, which has involved flashing through Chelmsford in a snowstorm on an emergency dash to a place called ‘Leiden’ on the near continent.
One was paid a daily subsistence but, obviously, one went without food and slept on floors in order to keep the cash. On that particular night, the floor in question was the TV lounge of the Koningin Beatrix, having rendezvoused with the vessel at the Port of Harwich after blagging my way onto the last boat train out of Liverpool Street (via Manningtree junction) before the London terminus was closed by the worsening blizzard. As tugs wrestled with the Essex estuary sea ice surrounding the stricken ferry, two tweedie types sat at the front of the TV lounge and insisted upon watching Question Time, much to the dismay of the rest of us.
Having kept other people’s discarded receipts, for expenses and taxation purposes, I am able to note that the QT in question was on the 24th January 1985, a mere 35 years ago. Wiki informs me that the panel were Jack Cunningham (Grammar school, Durham University, Labour grandee, etc etc), Jo Foley (Journalist?), Geoffrey Howe (Winchester College, Royal Corps of Signals, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, cabinet minister, assassin of Mrs Thatcher, etc etc) and David Owen (Medical doctor, Foreign Secretary, founder of the SDP, UN architect of post-communist Yugoslavia etc etc). Chaired by Sir Robin Day. Better times.
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The first questioner tonight reminded us that it is final orders at the Brexit last chance saloon. The economy’s on its knees, he said. There are stubborn egos. How will it end?
Robert Buckland (Conservative) wanted it to end in a deal. Robert wasn’t asking for the earth, just for Canada or rather a Canada style deal. He would do everything to advance the interests of the citizens he served. He was going to push it to the end and strain every sinew. Robert is MP for South Swindon and Secretary of State for Justice, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain. Robert was privately educated before graduating from Durham University. He has pursued a career in law and politics.
Malcolm Turnbull (former Prime Minister of Australia) mentioned World Trade Organisation terms which apply to Australia and form a barrier between the EU and his country, not what Britain might want.
Julia Hartley-Brewer (Broadcaster) didn’t know what was going to happen and added that negotiators Msr Barnier and Mr Frost probably didn’t know either. As is customary in EU negotiations, she foresaw the last second of the last hour. She had voted for Brexit on grounds of sovereignty and found the EU were being stroppy with trade rules and regulations. She though the EU were treating us like ‘a tiny little Caribbean island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean’. The Caribbean isn’t in the Pacific Ocean. Daft mare.
Anand Menon (Politics professor) was worried about the consequences, but only the negative ones, he forgot to list any benefits.
At this point, let’s pause the panellists. Taking into account that none of them has any experience at all in trade, we shall allow the Office of National Statistics to do some heavy lifting for us instead.
According to the ONS, in 2019 non-EU trade (imports and exports, goods and services, combined) amounted to £642 billion, returning a net profit to the UK of £41 billion. Whereas, EU trade accounted for only £614bn, and ran at a loss of £67bn. In other words, if tariffs are introduced between ourselves and the EU, the UK will take more revenue from tariffs than we will pay out.
Our biggest export market, by a mile, is the USA, with whom we do not have a trade agreement. At £112bn, those exports are more than double the value of what we export to 2nd placed Germany. Germany makes a profit of £21bn in trade with the UK. Upon an introduction of EU trade tariffs, the biggest losers would be German corporations.
Tiny little dot on the map Hong Kong accounts for more UK trade than EU members; Sweden, Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Austria, Greece, Luxembourg, Hungary, Finland, Romania, Slovakia, Malta, Lithuania and Estonia. We do more trade with Taiwan than with Romania, despite the fact that, for many years, every Romanian had a right to come here, claim benefits and receive ‘free’ public services.
According to statista, UK GDP in 2019 was £2.17 trillion pounds. Our non-EU exports being £341bn and our EU exports, £273bn. As a proportion of GDP, trade with EU is 12.5% ((100/2170)*273), non-EU, 15%. The domestic UK market is therefore 82.5% of GDP.
But. The EU single market does not include services, only goods. Therefore, according to fullfact.org, the percentage of UK GDP dependant on the EU single market drops to 7.7%. In other words, 92.3% of what we do has nothing to do with the European Union’s single market. Since the economy tends to grow by a few percent a year, if EU single market trade fizzled out to absolutely nothing over the next few years, we wouldn’t notice the difference.
There was some sense from the audience, mentioning EU bullying, the importance of British sovereignty. A Remainer had her say as well. One audience member challenged Malcolm. You were the Prime Minister, how come Australia was getting a bad deal out of the EU? Malcolm waffled about rising protectionism. He spotted a good thing, the Trans-Pacific Partnership had survived despite not having American in it. He invited us to join. Something he couldn’t have done if we were still in the EU.
Wes Streeting (Labour) decided on all of our behalfs that none of us wanted a no-deal Brexit. Prove it. He wanted a deal and hoped the present impasse was choreography. He then wallowed in fear-mongering. The chairman of Tesco knows his business. He says prices will rise by 5%. Is this the Tesco that were passing off donkey meat as prime beef, Wes? Nice people. Wes mentioned teh oven-ready deal.
Malcolm said he would inject some realism. He stated that the EU had a self-interest in a trade deal with the UK. He made the mistake of assuming that trade decisions are based upon trade. He is wrong. They aren’t. Holding the failing EU together politically is more important to Brussels and Berlin than trade.
In an example that the Pommy parliament might like to follow, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull came late to politics, being elected to the Australian House of Representatives for the first time in 2004, aged 50. His life in the real world has involved being a journalist, lawyer (he defended Spycatcher Peter Wright), merchant banker (at Goldman Sachs) and venture capitalist (his personal wealth is estimated at over £100 million).
Mr Turnbull can trace his ancestry back to the First Fleeters, those evil white people who first brought things such as crops and the wheel to aboriginal Australia, in the late 18th century. Malcolm’s father was a self-made real estate millionaire, appropriately called ‘Bruce’. His mother was Coral Lansbury, a vivacious child actress, brilliant student, acclaimed writer, playwright and academic. How did Bruce and Coral meet? According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Coral recalled,
“he swum up and down outside [her] apartment, diving up and down, pretending to be a porpoise”.
As you do. Mrs AWS, herself previously a ten-pound-prefab-pom, informs me that Mr Turnbull is an ‘Eastern suburbs silvertail’. Whatever that means. After a miserable childhood at boarding school in Sydney, Malcolm became a Rhodes Scholar at Brasenose College, Oxford, before returning to the antipodes as a barrister.
Malcolm’s middle name, ‘Bligh’, has been passed down through the family in honour of thoroughly good egg, William Bligh, Captain of the mutinous HMS Bounty. Subsequently, Captain Bligh was appointed Governor of Australia (to keep him away from trouble) upon which he provoked a military coup by clamping down on an illicit trade in rum. All very, and refreshingly, interesting but what has it got to do with us? Or QT? Or modern-day Britain? We shall see.
The next questioner blamed a lack of personal responsibility for the spread of Covid. The virus doesn’t have arms and legs, it’s people who spread it.
Wes agreed. He suggested exercising personal responsibility and taking care of each other and, to his credit, didn’t try to score any party political points.
Julia was also a fan of personal responsibility, seeing it as a substitute for strict rules. Trust people to do the right thing. They will use their common sense. On the tube, odd people were not wearing masks. Is that what she meant? Then she said a strange thing, that all of the restrictions do nothing other than delay the speed of the spread of the virus. But that’s the plan, Julia, delay the spread so that people can be vaccinated before they catch it.
Birmingham born Julia Hartley-Brewer actually has experience of real jobs in the private sector, albeit only in the London media bubble. She is a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, after which she worked her passage from the East London Advertiser to the London Evening Standard, The Guardian, Sunday Express, LBC and Talk Radio, amongst others.
Her passage was very nearly interfered with when former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon scandalously and famously placed a hand on her leg during a dinner. When the revelation became public, Mr Fallon couldn’t avoid having to resign from the Cabinet, although at the time of the offence, he did avoid a black-eye from Ms Harltey-Brewer, just.
Despite being a GP’s daughter, last year Julia was no-platformed by the Royal College of GPs who un-invited her from making a speech at their annual conference. A petition, last signed by Qasim M. and Ariba K. as well as 759 other ‘medical practitioners’, called for the withdrawal of the invitation because of Ms Hartley-Brewer’s views on immigration. Although looking through the comments left by the petition’s online signatories, it was Julia’s support for Brexit that fuelled their chagrin.
At the time, a devastated Julia confided, “I am embarrassed for the doctors who want to no-platform me – and I am even more mortified for the RCGP for caving in to their pathetic demands,” whilst thinking, “I’m with the JLA speakers agency and that’s just cost me £2,500 to £5,000 for half an hours work. Grrrrrrr.”
Also in 2019, in advance of one of her previous appearances, there was a call for viewers to boycott the Question Time programme, following Julia’s Twitter spat with the ludicrous, unhinged, Remainer, fox batterer and kimono wearer, Jolyon Toby Dennis Maugham QC. Given that QT’s ratings are now at a record low, Jolyon may well be having the last laugh.
Anand said he didn’t know what common sense meant. Are we surprised? QT Review often notes that after completing their education, those in the political bubble never have an occupation beyond politics. Anand Menon goes one better, by not even having left school. After Oxford University, Mr Menon became a fellow at St Anthony’s College and a professor at the University of Birmingham. Presently he is at Kings College, London, where he is Professor of European Politics and Foreign affairs. Wakefield grammar schoolboy, Mr Menon, has also swotted at the Economic and Social Research Council as part of their ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ section. Mr Anand, as if a rebellious 4th form schoolgirl, wears gold earrings.
For some strange reason, nobody took this opportunity to give Kay Burley a good hard kicking but Wes Streeting was able to keep chanting ‘Dominic Cummings’. Wes, Dom’s gone, move on.
In the same way that lampposts attract dogs, QT Review seems to attract pink list compilations. Recently, Adam Price (Plaid Cymru) was seventh on the Welsh pink list and Rosie Jones (Comedian) the 94th most powerful lesbian in Britain. This week’s entry is Wes Streeting who, according to those who are able to calculate such things, is the 33rd most powerful LGBT politician in the UK.
Baby faced thirty-seven-year-old MP for nearby Ilford, Wes Streeting is Shadow Minister for Schools. After graduating in History from Selwyn College, Cambridge, Wesley served two terms as President of the National Union of Students before becoming the CEO of the Helena Kennedy Foundation. An organisation which allocates educational grants in order to ‘overcome social injustice’. Since then, Wesley has continued in a non-career of non-jobs based upon politics and political advocacy.
At Stonewall, he was Head of Education. That’s the Stonewall that in 2015 published what it titled, ‘An Introduction to Supporting LGBT Young People – A Guide for Schools’. On page 17 the guide encourages children to meet strangers from the internet and elsewhere forbids parents or schools from challenging such a child under the threat of being labelled ‘homophobic’. The line used on page 17 is:
“Meeting strangers from the internet is extremely appealing as it doesn’t share any of the threats that talking to people in your social circle has.”
By all means complain about this to your school’s headmaster, advisory board and Ofsted (as I did) but bear in mind that their first priority is to protect an agenda, not to protect your children.
We shall keep an eye on Mr Streeting, who seems to have a nasty side to his character. In 2018, Skwawkbox reported a ‘disgraceful’ House of Commons corridor encounter between Streeting and friend of QT Review, Hackney MP Dianne Abbott. In a subsequent flurry of solicitors letters, Skwawkbox stood by their allegation that in April 2018, a number of persons had witnessed an ‘aggressive’, ‘threatening’, ‘bullying’, ‘intimidating’, ‘disgusting and disgraceful’, ‘shouting/screaming rant’ from Streeting aimed towards Ms Abbott. A Member of Parliament had to place a hand upon Mr Streeting to lead him away, leaving Ms Abbott ‘shell shocked’ and witnesses ‘worried for Ms Abbott’s well being.’
In the House of Commons Register of Member’s Interests, Streeting declares his partner, Joseph Dancey, who is ‘a self-employed communications and public affairs adviser.’
In another indication of the incestuous and job-free culture of the political bubble, Dancey graduated from Oxford with a degree in PPE before going straight into advocacy quangoland at the Low Pay Commission. Next, he became a researcher at the Labour Party. From there, he was appointed as a political advisor to another well known dancey boy (am I allowed to say that?), Peter Mandelson. At the moment, Joseph is the founder and director of Endeavour Advisory Ltd,
a consultancy providing advice on government relations, strategic communication and stakeholder relations to clients in the UK and internationally.
An occupation that no doubt benefits from having a partner in parliament.
Also from the list of member’s interests, we learn that Mr Streeting has been paid £500 an hour by the Association of British Insurers and has had jollies abroad funded by Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism Foundation.
The final question was about Millwall v QPR. Apparently, BLM doesn’t just stand for ‘Boo Like Millwall’, but also black lives matter. You learn something every day.
Adnan was irritated by the black lives matter logo appearing during football matches. Being told what to think irritated him. He mentioned virtue signalling. As a boy in Wakefield, he’d heard monkey noises at football matches. Wakefield is in Kirklees. He must have heard today’s headlines,
Police have charged 32 men, mainly from the Kirklees area of West Yorkshire, following an extensive investigation into child sexual exploitation
Why didn’t he mention it? Surely there isn’t a double standard based upon race?
Julia thought that the fans should be allowed to express an opinion if the players were. She claimed there was no other politics in football apart from the Poppy. She’d obviously missed those interesting people from Stonewall’s rainbow laces at Saturday’s matches. She found the gesturing inconsistent.
Wes mentioned that sometimes world-changing injustices occur. He was going to mention Kirklees. Wes was going to suggest that the platform of football be used to protect British girls. Oh. Ah. George Floyd. La Bruce intervened, the Millwall supporter’s club had said this booing wasn’t to do with race but with the desecration of the Cenotaph and Churchill’s statue. Wes wasn’t outraged by that, but by booing by the fans, even monkey noises. I’ll give you a choice Wes, you can listen to monkey noises or listen to your daughter…..
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Having announced business as usual at QT Review HQ, regular readers may be disappointed to find out that ‘usual business’ at the BBC and Parliament means giant holidays. Question Time will now take a break until well after Christmas. For this year, all that remains for your
humble award-winning author is to wish yourselves and your families a happy, healthy and spiritual Christmas, followed by an excellent New Year and a prosperous 2021.
© Always Worth Saying 2020
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