Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

"You have entertained me," Dominic Lawson - middle names 'Ralph' and 'Campden'.

Question Time 3rd December 2020


Michelle Donelan (Conservative)
Sarah Jones (Labour)
Peter Openshaw (Immunologist)
Tom Kerridge (Chef)
Liam Halligan (Economist)

Venue: Bath

The first, lengthy, question can be summarised thus: So much for the vaccine, what about the logistics?

A good public health message was required, said Sarah Jones (Labour). We have to get it right. She had a snipe at the Government by saying that they had not got it right so far, particularly with Track and Trace. Liam Halligan (Economist) said he was a neutral in this, but was pleased to see the British Army involved. He was crossing his fingers and hoping we would make a good job of it. Michelle Donelan (Conservative) called this a massive logistical challenge, she mentioned the ‘fantastic’ National Health Service, something about which had to be ‘green-lighted’. There was a long way to go.

Fiona Bruceless (Chair) decided that such things were being done differently in Scotland, especially regarding vaccination in care homes. Michelle Donelan didn’t know what to say and hid behind ‘batches having to be split’. Maybe it’s the minus seventy degrees thing? Maybe it’s just so much closer to minus seventy when sat next to the fire in an Aberdeenshire care home?

‘Tremendous’, said Peter Openshaw (Immunologist). The Health Service was already ‘tremendous’ at this kind of thing, no need for the army to do any of the actual command and control. Having said that, only four stages are allowed between the factory and the delivery point. Oh. In the guff that comes with Question Time, Peter, amongst other things, was described as an ‘experimental biologist’ which, during these troubled times, is unlikely to endear his advice to members of the vaccine-hesitant community.

Tom Kerridge (Chef) decided we had a poor track record with the virus and worried that we may fall into the same trap with the logistics. However, he also saw this as more ‘people’ than ‘tech’ based and therefore more doable.

Mr Kerridge is the husband of artist and sculptor, Beth Cullen-Kerridge. Her sculptures include ‘Dhow Sail’, a big stone seat which, according to those who understand such things, is a stunningly beautiful piece that represents everything Dubai Opera stands for.

She has also sculpted ‘Surface Wave’ which looks just like Dhow Sail. Her piece ‘Reclining Wave’ also looks like ‘Dhow Sail’ and, now I come to come to think of it, ‘Surface Wave’ as well. The discerning eye might also find her ‘Rhythm Wave’ familiar.

In contrast, ‘Daedalus’ doesn’t look like a wave (or a dhow) at all, rather like a bent piece of metal with a circle inside it. Whereas ‘Icarus’, is a bent piece of metal with a circle outside of it. Pushing the medium to the limit, ‘Plumb Force’ is two pieces of bent metal, without a circle.

‘Boardroom Sacrifice’ resembles a white shirt stuck on the end of a pole. ‘Droopy’, ‘Collar Tie’ and ‘Yolk’, insist upon the eye odd bits leftover from ‘Boardroom Sacrifice’. And why not?

Tonight’s panellist, husband Tom, is a Michelin starred chef, restaurateur and television presenter. He has a way with words. However, the menu at his double Michelin starred ‘The Hand and Flower’ Buckinghamshire gastro pub, is a tad more sophisticated than his Twitter feed. Especially when in conversation with a Mr James Isherwood, an amateur food blogger, who, in full view of his blog’s hundred followers, had the temerity to dislike a Claude Bosi starter.

For £67.50, Chef Kerridge’s menu promises, Sirloin of 30 Day Dry Aged Dovecote Beef with The Hand & Flowers Chips, Sauce Bordelaise and Bearnaise. Meanwhile, free on Twitter, in conversation with his friend and colleague Bosi’s detractor, Mr Kerridge is more direct,

“Now your just being a c*nt! Hashtag, Not welcome in any restaurant ever! Hashtag, Bellend. See ya Dickhead”

Back on the gastro menu, Slow Cooked Duck Breast with Plum, Sweet & Sour Onion Tart and Almond Crumble, will set you back £47.50. Whereas, perhaps not surprisingly, free of charge on Twitter, one can sample,

“Smash him in chef Bosi. Hashtag, chefs unite.”

If tired of the free abuse,

“Who is this guy??? What a loser!!”

sir might like to try a £21.50 Vanilla Creme Brûlée?

Away from hurling abuse at the customers and food critics, Tom is involved with five restaurants, has written seven books and presented thirteen TV series.

Michelle said ‘green-lighted’ again. Bruceless mentioned Brexit to Peter Openshaw. He noted lots of vaccines come from overseas but forgot to say that plenty of overseas lies outside of the European Union.

The second question was about Brexit. Has Brexit speeded up the vaccine acceptance process?

Good point. Instead of shouting, “Yes, yes yes!’, Michelle Donelan noted that we now regulate these things ourselves whereas the EU countries do it collectively and more slowly.

Cheshire born and raised, Michelle Emma May Elizabeth Donelan is the Minister of State for Universities and has been the MP for Chippenham since 2015. In an interview with the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald she insisted that she wasn’t a ‘machine politician’ adding,

“We have far too many career politicians not in touch with real life – we need more real people that manage a household budget and know what it’s like to struggle.”

Too many careerists like Michelle, who spoke at the Conservative Party conference aged fifteen, having decided to become a politician aged six? Michelle graduated from York University with a degree in History and, yes you’ve guessed it, Politics. Interestingly, rather than be the first in her family to go to university, Michelle claims to have been the first in her family to ‘finish’ university. Maybe the rest of them were sent down for fibbing?

Despite having grown up in the idyllic Cheshire village of Whitely, and having four fore-names, Michelle claims to have had a modest upbringing of second-hand PE uniforms and not being able to go on school trips. The Wiltshire Gazette & Herald informs us that her grandfather was born under a chip shop. Do they mean above a chip shop? Are those nice people in the South of England’s rural media confusing a northern chippy with a wine cellar equipped country gastro-pub?

Her secondary school, The County High School, Leftwich, may have been short of school trips but it is rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. A lack of PE kit is also accompanied by a lack of tinge and the lower orders, as Ofsted struggled to find Leftwich’s non-White British students and those eligible for pupil premium.

After graduating, Michelle struggled with even more gritty northern real-life realities. She worked in marketing at Pacific Magazines (in Sydney, Australia) and as a Senior Marketing Executive at SKY broadcasting in London. She has also been the International Marketing Communications Manager at WWE and a freelance marketing consultant in Wiltshire.

On the upside, Ms Donelan is a committed Christian who has completed the Christianity Explored course and has spoken out about the persecution that Christians face in places such as Muslim Northern Nigeria. Albeit without mentioning the ‘M’ word.

There followed a bit of a tangle which, interestingly, boiled down to nationalism versus globalism. Earlier in the day, Mr Hancock the Health Secretary had said that we had the vaccine early because of Brexit. Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg had even boasted about it. Dr Fauci, of the USA, had claimed our use of the vaccine was ‘rushed’, before changing his mind later in the day and apologizing.

La Bruce was behind that particular curve and quoted Fauci prior to his retraction, QT being recorded earlier in the evening.

Sarah Jones was unhappy that we’d got the vaccine before everybody else, or at least that we’d mentioned the fact. She found it crass. Somebody said ‘vaccine nationalism’.

Tom Kerridge had caught globalist virus, he found it ‘cringy’ and ‘toe-curling’ that we’d actually finally got something right.

Liam Halligan stated, as a point of fact, that we’d approved a vaccine earlier than the EU, as we weren’t stuck with their collectivism. However, he was bit globalist symptomatic too. This reviewer is almost sure he heard Liam dry coughing “Jacob Rees-Mogg is crass.”

Fiona Bruceless then introduced the next programme (she meant question). The questioner actually sounded like a son of Somerset. In amongst the drawl, he seemed to ask of the hospitality industry.

Tom Kerridge, in hospitality himself, summed up the situation well. Similar problems affected travel and tourism. There was huge pressure on hospitality, not helped by lots of contradictory government positions. Hospitality had spent a fortune on Covid security, PPE and social distancing and then been locked down again anyway. Furlough had helped. There was an anomaly over the application of rates of VAT and smaller ‘wet’ pubs were taking a real hammering.

Michelle Donelan caused more confusion by rattling off a list of helpful schemes. The £1,000 one, the £3,000 one and the previous £25,000 one.

Peter Openshaw took the epidemiology angle. Regardless of the way venues were classified by the government, the important points were; poor ventilation, loud music causing spittal generating shouting and the amount of space between people.

Liam Halligan informed us that hospitality was 10% of the workforce and that there might be another six months of lockdown, even with the vaccine being rolled out. A tiered response, by county, was too blunt an instrument. The tiers needed to be more micro-managed, more granular. He also argued the case for an age-based stratification to shield the elderly.

Economist Mr Halligan is a strong finance professional with a stellar training in economics and econometrics/statistics. This is according to, *cough*, himself via his LinkedIn profile. Liam goes on to tell us of his ‘recognised expertise and extensive experience in policy analysis, management and public speaking’. And, perhaps referring to his appearance on tonight’s Question Time, a ‘highly-experienced, multi-award-winning writer and broadcaster with a demonstrated history of working in the media at the highest level.’

Before his impressive career in unhinged self-promotion, Liam was privately educated at the John Lyon School in Harrow, before attaining a first-class degree in Economics at the University of Warwick. Further study earned him an MPhil, also in Economics, from the University of Oxford. After that, he moved into journalism with the Daily Telegraph. Liam has also contributed to CNN, GQ, Channel 4, Russian Economic Trends, the FT et al. Simultaneously, he has kept a hand in financial services at New Sparta Holdings and Prosperity Capital Management.

If you think his writeup is impressive, wait until you see his photo. Don’t be fooled by the fat guy with the dyed hair sat near Bruce. On planet LinkedIn, Liam is boyish and willowy, athletic and strong, looking like the idealised socialist utopian ‘New Man’, immortalised in many a 1970s Warsaw Pact ‘Gallery of the People’. Tonight, Liam, regardless of the look, continues to achieve that ‘highest-level in media’ by gigging the all-time low ratings at Question Time.

Sarah Jones swung her left arm about violently while speaking, like the Nazi scientist in the wheelchair in Dr Strangelove. “Systems need to be in place,” said Sarah. The kind of thing a Nazi in a wheelchair might say, I suppose.

The next question was about the trade negotiations with the European Union. By this point, the globalism virus had mutated into full-blown Remain. We were back to square one. The ‘Get Brexit Done’ vaccine seemed to have worn off on some of the panellists.

Michelle’s immune system was a bit more robust. We were taking back control, negotiations were still ongoing. Bruceless decided the negotiations were going less well. She quoted the BBC’s very own Remain virus typhoid Mary, Laura Kuenssberg. “She’s not a negotiator,” noted Michelle, as she slammed the isolation ward door in La Kuenssberg’s face.

Sarah Jones had decided that the EU deal was going to be ‘a thinner deal’. She moaned on about logistics and manufacturing industry as if she actually knew something about them. She even mentioned teh oven-ready deal.

Sarah Jones is the Shadow Minister of State for Police and the Fire Service. Privately educated comrade Sarah graduated from Durham University with a degree in History. During her studies, she fell pregnant with her eldest son, Joseph, which led her to join the Labour Party. Ms Jones boasts of having lived her whole life in Croydon She currently resides in South Croydon, the posh ‘Surrey’ end, where a modern rabbit hutch inspired three-bedroom house will set you back over £600,000.

After university, Sarah became a senior civil servant, working for Mo Mowlam in Northern Ireland and for Geraint Davies when he was MP for Croydon Central. She has run campaigns for the housing charity Shelter and for those old friends of Question Time Review, the NHS Confederation. She has also been on the board of Wandle Housing Association and was a communications director for the Government’s 2012 Olympics Executive. For some bizarre reason, Ms Jones describes this laundry list of civil service non-jobs and quangoland positions as,

“Understanding business as I’ve worked in the private sector.”

According to the Croydon Advertiser,

Away from politics, the mother-of-four said her favourite hobbies include camping, going to gigs with her husband, Ian, visiting National Trust sites and listening to the Archers. Her favourite band are Belle and Sebastian, her favourite film is Pretty Woman, and her favourite book is How to Be a Woman by Catlin Moran.

Which all sounds rather dull. One almost feels grateful to be able to look back upon a life that’s involved a mat in the corner of a cage in a Philippine prison.

Liam reminded everybody that there already was a deal, the Withdrawal Agreement. What’s being negotiated now, is a free trade deal. He expected one to come about, as the EU makes such a lot of money from trading with us. He also declared that any delays were being caused by the EU being stroppy, not by us. Squeeze the dead puss from his dry sores, smallpox style, and rub it into the Remainers.

La Bruce showed symptoms of final stage Remain, mentioning the Cod Wars. Silly tart.

Tom Kerridge was symptomatic too. He got himself into a tizzy. We only produce 70% of our own meat. Buy it from outside the EU, Tom. In doing so, save a few quid and pass it on to the diners. Likewise, Tom Openshaw. Physician heal thyself.

The last question, this year university education has been dire, how do they justify the fees?

Liam returned to his theme of an age-stratified lockdown. Schools and universities had been too quick to close. Fees should be refunded. He mentioned his two degrees. Everybody who taught him had been under 40 and therefore not vulnerable.

Peter Openshaw ignored the students altogether and concentrated on the magnificent do-nothing staff, especially his colleagues at Imperial.

Interestingly, Sarah was now gesticulating with her right hand. “Things needed to be looked at,” she said, meaninglessly.

Kerridge was a money-back chap. Are we allowed to call them Backkers?

Michelle is the Minister for Universities. Obviously, this has nothing to do with her. She advised students to complain to somebody else, whilst not doing anything herself. Rather than meaninglessly “look at”, Michelle preferred to meaninglessly “take on board.”

Next week’s Question Time, from Chelmsford, will be the last before the Christmas break. After Christmas, there will be a shuffle about with a national audience panel of fifty from which sixteen (?) will be chosen each week. I think. Presumably, that’s the end of any pretence of a national QT and from now on it will be stuck in London, with one or two trips to Edinburgh.

Rest assured, QT Review will continue as normal, broadcasting from the Debatable Lands, with its superior audience of well-informed Puffins.

© Always Worth Saying 2020

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