Question Time 28th January 2021
Gillian Keegan (Conservative)
Kate Green (Labour)
Deborah Meaden (Businesswoman)
Layla McCay (NHS Confederation)
Camilla Tominey (Journalist)
Your humble author recalls two prominent local gentlemen of his acquaintance. They will remain anonymous. One, the biggest villain in England never hanged, owned a football club. The other was a businessman, a consultant to the aforementioned, who never got paid. He went through the usual procedure, nice phone call, nasty phone call, nice letter, nasty letter, a threat of the law. Advised to put it down to experience, not to waste good money by chasing after bad, and never to make the same mistake again, he determined to forget all about it.
Then one winter’s night, in his provincial businessman’s big house in the countryside, this is what happened. Initially, all was as it should be. Frost touched the roofs and lawns. The Labradors slept in their baskets atop a Persian rug before the dying embers of a log fire. Beside the orangery, his and hers Mercedes snuggled together on the gravel drive. Mousetraps lay in wait on the stone floor beside the kitchen Aga. But, at a quarter to midnight, his pretty young wife nudged him awake in mild panic.
Noise emanated from downstairs, clattering and banging from the porch as though they were being burgled. My businessman acquaintance crept along the landing brandishing his favourite four iron (yes, she allowed him a set of golf clubs in the walk-in wardrobe). And what did he find?
Michael Knighton The football club owner paying off the forgotten debt by tipping a sackful of pound coins and fifty pence pieces (still warm from the turnstile) through the letterbox. Hold onto that image, dear Puffin, we shall return to it.
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In the interests of diversity and inclusion, this week’s Question Time has excluded men and people of colour by presenting an all-white, all-female panel and chair. QT has also tried very hard to exclude motherhood. If a five-headed father Tiresias, Camilla Tomilly would be the only panellist who has given like the earth. Gillian Keegan has stepchildren, the three others have merely raged like the sea. As Mrs AWS observed, it being the BBC, have all of them even always been women? Or might some of them, as Tiresias and a certain Mrs Eddie Izzard (not of this parish), crossed between the poles?
Although a giant bitchfest has its attractions, it would be bad form to fantasise about a six-way jelly wrestling bikini tag match. However, some catty remarks, and even hair pulling, would be most welcome.
* * *
La Bruce opened the programme by stating that this was the first-ever all-girl Question Time. After fibbing that it had happened ‘by accident’, she invited the first question which was, “How far will the government go to protect its vaccine plan?” A reference to the catfight between the EU and the UK over the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine.
Gillian Keegan (Conservative) said that she was concentrating on our plan. Demand exceeded supply. There is a task force with a woman in charge, a venture capitalist. The vials are made in Wrexham, there are two other factories here making the vaccine. We’re on target. With a nod of gratitude towards BK (an anagram of KB), ‘Gillian Keegan, Conservative’ is an anagram of ‘A vile Karen, gone evangelistic.’ This Vile Karen is the MP for Chichester and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills. A full QT Review biography of Ms Keegan can be found here. The highlights being: Gillian pretends to have been an apprentice in a car factory while actually being a management trainee at General Motors. She made her money in financial services by hanging onto the coattails of her husband. In turn, his family, the Bermuda Gosling’s, made their money from rum and slavery.
After Gillian’s answer, La Bruce turned to the big screen and asked, *Geordie voice*, “Is there a Mrs Meaden in the room?” Being on Zoom, Deborah Meadon (Businesswoman) had already been introduced as a “Drag act down the line.” Perhaps Mrs AWS had a point? Oh. A Dragon on the line? Excuse me. No doubt a reference to Deborah’s appearances on the BBC’s ‘Dragon’s Den’ programme. Deborah thought that, after a slow start, the government was doing a bit better. From the QT50 audience panel, Donna *Belfast voice* was wary of vaccine nationalism, and continued by saying that she lived on the island of Ireland.
“Excuse me, Donna?”
Camila mentioned the ‘Astro’ Zeneca vaccine. Daft tart. Camilla thought it was the Gerries who were being vaccine nationalists, not ourselves. “The EU has dithered and delayed.” Leaving the EU had been a benefit. It was Brussels who was being protectionist. Puffins hoping that ladies night would mean the absence of a large Scottish windbag, will have been disappointed when Layla McClay (NHS Confederation) filled the screen and opened her mouth. She was wearing a cheap boarding house’s curtains. “Complex issues. Work together,” she said.
‘Food nite Caren’ is an anagram of ‘confederation’, perhaps appropriate for the portly Ms Layla McCay. A full QT Review biography of Ms McCay can be found here. This Caren is notable for her massive list of appointments and qualifications. Let alone bear and nurture fruit, it is difficult to see how she could find time to conceive it. One mourns for Layla’s social life. She has experienced the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing Secretariat, and the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, but not the wheelie bin lids behind a nightclub. Taken up by the Institute of Medicine at Harvard, and the research department of Osaka University, but never taken up the Ritzy on a night out in Batley.
Kate Green (Labour), dear God, was dressed as if East German torturer Rosa Klebb’s nasty sister from further East who even Rosa was terrified of. With her pinched face, black leather jacket, short hair and side parting, she looked like something usually seen sticking out the top of a Tiger II. And in big leather boots. “It’s important the government secure the
bridge over the Volga supplies of the vaccine,” she stated. Kate agreed with Donna, boo!, “The whole world needs access to the vaccine.”
Kate Green provides us with the anagram ‘Get Karen’. Ms Green was born in Edinburgh. More Muriel Spark than Irvine Welsh, more Bruntsfield than Leith Docks, her parents were both graduates, her father a headmaster and teacher training college academic. After herself graduating from Edinburgh University (in Law) she worked at Barclays Bank for 15 years. Two years at the Home Office was followed by a sideways move into the charities industry.
Remember Stephen Durrell? He was the Transport Minister who couldn’t drive. Childless Kate has been a director of the National Council for One Parent Families and Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group. She was the Chair of the London Child Poverty Commission and is currently Shadow Secretary of State for Education.
Get Karen became an MP in 2010 after benefitting from an all-woman selection shortlist in the Stratford and Urmston constituency. A self-confessed ‘policy geek’, since entering parliament Ms Green has joined a number bleeding heart leftie all-party parliamentary committees including, Migration, Gypsies, Roma, and Travellers, Women in the Penal System, Learning Disability, Legal Aid, Srebrenica, Anti-Epileptic Drugs in Pregnancy, Dalits. (Dalits are low caste Indians. What’s that got to do with the good people of Stratford and Urmston?). Whilst on the subject of diversity, inclusion and the defeat of the Dutch-led Nato forces at Srebrenica, it was American General John Sheehan who had something to say about selection based upon the nature and structure of society, rather than upon competence. Food for thought for the QT Panellist Selection Board. Where are the Starkey’s and the Fox’s when the BBC’s battered Question Time enclave needs them?
As for giving to the world, Miss Green looks, dresses and sounds like a certain type of Edinburgh Morningside spinster, more likely to hit a suitor’s gorged paramour with a cold dessert spoon than to embrace it enthusiastically with warm flesh.
Question 2. Should schools be reopening before the teachers have been vaccinated?
La Bruce turned to Camilla. “You’ve got three,” she said. Indeed, Camilla Tominey (Journalist) is the mother of three young children and is therefore, especially during a lockdown, allowed to yell at the cleaner on national TV during a Zoom contribution to Politics Live. A royal and politics correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, Camilla was educated privately at St Albans High School for Girls, before studying journalism in Sheffield. Camilla quoted the average age of a teacher as being 39, which is less than the average age of the people dying of Covid. So there. Camilla decided that five children in every class now have mental health problems. Reading between the lines, Camilla’s children have been driving her mental during lockdown. Bruce pressed upon the vaccination of teachers. Camilla didn’t care, she just wanted rid of the kids.
Kate mentioned the ‘death risk’. Pass me the blank piece of paper, Kate, I’ll sign it. Use the half-term window, she said. What for? To throw people out of? Oh my. Dan from the QT50 audience panel was a student-teacher. He thought teachers should be prioritised. He had some statistics too, a ten-year-old has spent ten percent of their lives in lockdown. Deborah believed that nothing was more important than investing in education. She thought social distancing was difficult in schools, so the risk was there. Teachers are a special case. Do the right thing for the young. She continued that it was really hard, as some priorities went up the list, others went down it.
Deborah Meaden was born in Taunton and educated privately at the exclusive Godolphin School in Salisbury before studying for a business qualification at Brighton Technical College. After a couple of false starts, Deborah found her business feet while working on her step-father’s Weststar caravan sites. Remember the piles of shrapnel falling through the letterbox? Deborah was in charge of the slot machines. Such is the quality of female business leaders, that sitting cross-legged behind a counter, swapping pound notes for a handful of tuppenny bits (what?), in between oiling the bandit’s arm (behave), qualifies one as the token female on the BBC’s spoof investment show, “The Dragon’s Den”.
As for Ms Meaden’s Dragon’s Den investments, your humble researcher got as far as ITAE Group Productions, “The world’s only live and interactive anatomical dinner and dissection experience”, before, perhaps understandably, finding an excuse to do something else.
As she climbed the ladder, Deborah became responsible for twelve amusement arcade concessions at Butlins and Haven holiday camps. Never mind Get Karen, we’re talking Get Carter. Cliff Brumby (played by Bryan Mosely, better known as Coronation Street’s Alf Roberts) was the slot machine magnet in the iconic 1970 Mike Hodges film of the same name. Both Deborah and Clifford realised the benefit of ‘slots’. Cash in hand, no need to burden the overworked tax man. Supplies? Logistics chain? Half a tin of oil once a month.
Ever wondered why Brumby, Michael Caine, George Sewell, Tony Beckley, Ian Hendry, John Osborne et al were stuck up the impoverished, freezing cold North? Is Deborah Meaden the type to have run the gangsters out of Mullion, Looe Bay and Poole? We shall see.
Education was the absolute top priority and so was protecting the NHS, said Gillian. There is no magic vaccine tree, if the teachers get it, others won’t.
“At the end of the day it’s a difficult question”, said Layla. “That’s why it’s being asked,” responded Bruce. Best of order, ladies. It is huge and it is happening right now, respond Lalya, let’s do it as safely as possible.
The next question was, where did we go wrong?
Kate thought the government had made mistakes, they had been too slow. But Labour had supported the government at the time, responded Bruce. Kate readout some carefully rehearsed bullet points based upon delay. Expect ‘delay’ to be the line of attack from the Labour Party as they try to weaponise and politicise the Covid deaths. Layla sighed, all sorts of things had gone wrong, she said. She mentioned the public’s ‘views’. Bruce took the opportunity to blame the public’s wrong think on Dominic Cumming! The people of the UK, Layla continued, lots of people have risk factors. We’ve had a bit of a perfect storm. Gillian Keegan called this a tragedy and tried to change the question. Slapped down by Bruce, she said there’d been mistakes to which Bruce replied, “Name a few.” Vile Karen’s mistake (asymptomatic transmission) wasn’t good enough for Bruce, who wanted another.
“Where did you go wrong?” Barked Bruce.
Gillian fell for the trap and read out a little laundry list of failings which the BBC will use to batter her with, possibly for the rest of her political life. Camilla referred to an exercise in 2011 which showed that we’d always been woefully underprepared. Nobody had ever done very much about it. She wanted to take it more macro. This was a failure of the British state, too much buck-passing had gone on in devolved institutions. Deborah had been wanting to come in for a long time. Having found a shotgun beside the chamber pot under the bed? “I just didn’t understand the rules,” she conceded. People had been making up their own rules. The Government’s PR had been too jolly, the messages should have been clearer. The communication has been absolutely dreadful.
“You’re big communicators, but you’re in bad shape,” she growled. Perhaps referring her own TV appearances, she continued, “With me, it’s a full-time job, now behave yourself.”
After a lot more waffle from Vile Karen Keegan, Fiona Bruce ended the programme with the usual pleasantries before growling between clenched teeth, “Take me back to London.”
© Always Worth Saying 2021
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