Question Time 25th February 2021
Grant Shapps (Conservative)
Anneliese Dodds (Labour)
Tony Danker (Confederation of British Industry)
Jeremy King (Restauranter)
Joanne Grady (University and College Union)
The first question concerned contradictions within the change in covid regulations, particularly regarding covid safe hospitality venues.
Grant Shapps (Conservative) dressed an undertaker, reminded us that we all want hospitality to re-open but he was concerned that a premature re-opening might push us back to square one.
Jeremy King (Restauranter) said the industry didn’t know where they stand. He claimed the government said that hospitality was the safest of places but then treated them like children. There was a 5-week gap, that he didn’t understand, between strict rules and “all gloves off.”
Tony Danker (CBI) wanted funding for hospitality and aviation. Your reviewer has noticed an interesting thing. Just as comedians want to get a laugh, QT panellists are breaking a leg for a long, slow persistent nod from members of the QT50 audience. I noticed something else, unbuttoned shirts with a bit of chest hair showing are coming back into fashion. There was even a gold medalion to be seen – and from a doctor at that. Even Anneliese Dodds (Labour) was plunging, in a Midland maroon top and matching skirt. Fortunately, the neck became an oblong showing no more than a bit of sternum, as if an old boiler between smoke deflectors.
Anneliese Dodds is Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and the MP for Oxford East. By coincidence, last week’s QT panellist, the batty but somehow strangely attractive, Layla Moron is the LibDem MP for the neighbouring constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon. Comrade Dodds, an accountant’s daughter, was privately educated at the £13,640 a year Robert Gordons College in Aberdeen. Public schoolgirl Anneliese is so clever that she’s never had a proper job. After gaining a First in PPE at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, Comrade Dodds was awarded an MA in Social Policy and a PhD in Government at the London School of Economics.
In yet another difficult to understand blow to the QT panellist’s book club, Dr Anneleise’s mighty work, “Comparative Public Policy,” is only the 3,930,932nd most popular book on Amazon. However, it is the 569,222nd most popular book in the social sciences section. Know your genre!
Joanne Grady (University and College Union) said that she knew all about hospitality because she used to live in a pub – more of which later. Teachers are going back into non-ventilated spaces, another inconsistency, she added.
Back to the questioner, a publican who seemed to have undone another button. He wasn’t too concerned about not being allowed to open, he just had six outside seats in a crescent, not a terrace. Rather, he wanted to be paid a bit more for doing nothing for a bit longer.
Jeremy King had a top button undone too. He had some statistics about the economic effects and told us that the way in which Government money was being moved about between employers and employees made him feel as though he’d been put in charge of the Universal Credit system.
Two people drinking coffee outside is different from being inside a busy pub drinking alcohol, said Grant Shapps. The apparent contradictions were there for a reason, he continued. “Shaking heads and thumbs down from the audience,” remarked Fiona Bruce (Chair), as if the comedian was being pelted with rotten fruit.
Grant Shapps is the MP for Welwyn Hadfield and the Secretary of State for Transport with cabinet responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse. Mr Shapps has a background in business. Of sorts. Grammar school boy Grant completed his education at Manchester Polytechnic where he was awarded an HND in Business and Finance.
Whilst also being an MP, amongst other ruses, Mr Shapps called himself ‘Mr Green’ and sold a get rich quick scheme called Traffic Paymaster. This package created internet blogs by pulling content from other blogs in order to generate money via Google Ads. This practice ran counter to Google’s code of conduct and, according to The Guardian, may have constituted an offence of fraud.
As an aside, why not generate ad revenue by using content from high-quality lady and gentleman authors, augmented by sophisticated below the line commenters? Surprised nobody’s tried that.
Mrs Shapps, Belinda, is also in business, selling clutter on e-bay under the Auction Girl brand.
The Government is missing the business timescales, said Tony Danker (CBI). What does he know about business? The car industry were going to miss March when the registration plates change.
Surprisingly, Tony Danker is the Director General of the CBI. Belfast born grammar school boy Tony graduated in Law at Manchester University. After working for the Chief Rabbi, Tony began a career in public relations and political lobbying with McKinsey and Company. After which, he became a special advisor to the Treasury during the final 2 years of the last Labour government.
Subsequently, he moved to The Guardian newspaper on the policy and strategy side of things. If the strategy was to reduce circulation to a pathetic 110,000 copies per day via a policy of employing unreadable comedy adolescent lefties like Owen Jones, Poly Toynbee, George Monbiot, Afua Hirsh and Paul Mason, then you’d have to say that Tony was a tremendous success. Yes, these days as many people watch Megan McKenna (whoever she may be) on ITVBe (whatever that is) as read The Guardian.
After a short stint as chief executive of the Government and industry-funded promotion, Be the Business, Tony moved to the CBI in November 2020.
As a PR man, Mr Danker showed his lack of business nouse in an interview with The Guardian earlier this month. At the end of Covid lockdown, the CBI want to see a “1945 Labour government style postwar recovery”. What postwar recovery? The time after the war is known as ‘postwar austerity’. The economy did better during the war than after it. Postwar rationing lasted longer than wartime rationing, not finally ending until 1954.
Mr Danker’s boss at the CBI is Cobra Beer founder, and old friend of QT Review, Lord Bilimoria, whose charity’s accounts famously included the following immortal line:
“The Board acknowledges the ongoing advice of our lawyers Bates Wells that the provision of beer does not in itself constitute a charitable activity.”
Colette asked a question. She had pointed her webcam well above button and chest level. More of this please. She had a giant “H” on a shelf behind her. The H was for ‘hair’ as she owned a hair salon. The high webcam angle was to show off her hairdo. She wanted vaccine passports in order to get people back into the salon.
Jeremy wanted passports to be used but didn’t want forced vaccinations. Bruce said that young people won’t be vaccinated until later. Well, make the passports age-related, suggests me, if that’s the route that we are to go down
Anneliese didn’t want to be asked about this at all. She wanted vaccination to go quickly but would not mention passports. To her credit, Bruce persisted. But Dodds was terrified and didn’t have a position. It was like listening to Corbyn before the election not having a position on Brexit.
Joanna’s primary concern was a zero Covid state. Passports are ethically completely unacceptable, said an audience member. It was immoral, said somebody else. Nobody mentioned the elephant in the room, BAME hesitancy. They didn’t have to, one could smell the fear coming through the television screen like a big hard cough from a maskless mouth.
Grant said that a third of the population was vaccinated now. He wasn’t keen on passports but blamed it on children and people who can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons, rather than BAME.
QT50’s very own BAME, Vanessa, asked the next question, which was about shortages of PPE. Was there really never a shortage, as Matt Hancock had claimed? Bruce read out a long list of quotes about bin bags, and the like, having to be used by medical staff. Grant Shapps said that simultaneously we had and hadn’t had enough PPE, in the same way that a comedian, in a Boris Johnson voice, might say, “Stay at home, go to work, stay at home, go to work.”
Joanne Grady rattled off examples of the lack of PPE. Decades of underfunding, she claimed. It would be nicer if there was an apology rather than contracts for cronies. QT50 Bethany was ashamed to have Matt Handcock as Health Secretary and so was the next speaker. They were the two who were dead against vaccine passports, and both of them were now revealed as working in healthcare. Hmmm.
Dr Joanne Kathleen Grady is the leader of the UCU, the University and College Union which represents academics and administrators in the higher education sector. Born in Wakefield during the miner’s strike, her father was himself a striking miner. Jo attended Wakefield College before becoming the first member of her family to go to university and, given the hard-working West Yorkshire Wakefield working-class ethic, probably also the first member of her family to never have a proper job.
After studying Industrial Relations at Lancaster University, Ms Grady went on to further study at Leicester University, eventually being awarded a PhD.
Upon leaving mining, Dr Joanne’s father moved into hospitality by opening a pub. Perhaps by taking advantage of the very generous redundancy payments available after the strike? I wonder if Dr Jo will take tonight’s opportunity to thank Mrs Thatcher and the Coal Board? Possibly not. Ms Grady is such a loony leftie that she even retweets the vile anti-semitic IRA supporting bigot Zara Sultana MP. Ms Sultana’s antics were covered in a previous QT Review here.
God makes them and pairs them. The UCU is full of left-wing crackpots. A search of their website shows 496 references to LGBT, 771 to race, 191 to ‘trans’, 304 to Brexit but only 41 to free speech. Examination of those 41, shows the UCU to be opposed to free speech and in favour of people being banned from campuses and even sacked from their jobs for expressing what they think, particularly regarding the recently made-up crime of ‘transphobia.’
Not only that, the UCU are climate change nutters who want to ‘green’ the campus and curriculum. Their latest press release tells the new military government in Myanmar what it can and cannot do. What has any of this got to do with teaching and administration at colleges and universities?
However, the UCU are much more worldly when it comes to their pensions. In her bid to become general secretary, Dr Jo forgot about the starving polar bears, men dressed as women in the ladies changing room and the tanks rolling through the streets of Rangoon and pitched thus:
“I’ve spent the past 14 to 15 years researching trade unions, industrial relations and pensions. I’m not sure there’s anybody more specialised in that area in the UK than me.”
A reference to the long-running battle to keep, probably, the last existing gold plated with benefits pension scheme in the private sector. A scheme which the trustees say is £23.9 billion (yes, £23.9 billion) in deficit. The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) currently does have £67billion of investments. For some unfathomable reason, rather than North Korea, Venezuela, Sub Saharan Africa, Palestine or Cuba, the lefties have chosen to place their investments in the evil City of London via equities, property, government bonds, commodities and private equity.
Away from their mega-investment portfolio, life goes on as normal. At the moment the UCU are on strike at the “University” of East London because of “racist and sexist” job losses.
“Narcissistic denial,” said Jeremy King. If you shout it loud enough people might believe it. He mentioned Kate Bingham and credited her with the rollout of the vaccine. Tony Danker said he was going to be boring, Bruce told him not to be. Tony said they’re been too much PPE but it had been in the wrong place. A factory in Bangladesh? In order to supply a million loaves you need two million loaves, he said. I think I know what he was on about. This is a maths story, said Tony.
Bruce tucked away ‘narcissistic denial’ for future use.
Jeremy Richard Bruce King OBE was born in Somerset in 1954 and was privately educated at the £12,000 a term Christ’s Hospital School in West Sussex, where Lord Coverdale taught him German by use of the libretto from “The Magic Flute.”
If a Puffin is standing next to the “Careful Now” klaxon then please press the big red button now. Thank you. Shall we say that Mr King is a Somerset King in the same way that Mr Shapps and Mr Danker are Hertfordshire and County Antrim Shapps’s and Dankers?
After turning down a place at Cambridge University, Jeremy went, briefly, into merchant banking in London before finding his vocation in hospitality. His career took off at the show business watering hole, Joe Allen’s, where he rose to be assistant maître d’hôtel. His friendship with Langan Brasserie’s (co-owned by Michael Caine) Chris Corbin led to the two of them opening Le Caprice. A notable celebrity haven, as was the Ivy, purchased by Corbin and King in 1990.
Jeremy has been painted by Lucien Freud. Harold Pinter included him in a play. His earliest memory of London is of chatting in the street with Bob Monkhouse. Jeremy sent his son to Eton. His daughters to St Paul’s School for Girls (£24,981 per annum). That son, Jonah Hauer-King, was Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid. His daughters are in show business too. Margot dated Crown actor Josh O’Conner. Hannah is a theatre producer. His first wife, Debra Heuer-King, is also a theatre producer, as well as a therapist.
And if you think Layla Moron rather lush, prepare to be unable to breathe when you meet Jeremy’s second wife, the New Orlean’s socialite and antiquarié, Lauren Gurvich King. Not quite the average family, the Gurvich-Kings live in a five-story townhouse in Belgravia.
Unflusterable Jeremy looks like Carry Grant, is an excellent host, has a glint in the eye and can tell a tall tale or three. So far so good. Do I want to be Jeremy’s best friend? Do I want to tease him by ordering red wine with the fish in a dining car on an overnight train to Belgrade while swapping bawdy stories of the Contessa’s wayward younger sister? No, I’m afraid I don’t.
A friend tells me of a female acquaintance who, freshly single, joined online dating. She met lots of nice men but upon even the most superficial of further internet investigation found them all to be married, mental, just out of jail, gay, in the BNP etc etc etc. A salutary tale.
They say that you should never meet your heroes, neither should you research a QT Review biography of them.
Jeremy is unenthusiastic about Brexit. He thinks that London has been built on immigration. *Sad face*. 61% of his staff are European. When he announced, with a fanfare, his first ‘out of London’ restaurant, it turned out to be in St Johns Wood, a mere and disappointing 2 miles and 40 chains from Charing Cross.
As per last week’s Peter Borg-Neal’s Oakman’s Inns, Corbin and King expanded their business through acquisitions. Acquisitions funded by a £21million equity stake from Graphite Capital. In December 2017, Graphite sold up and, in the resulting shuffle about, Minor Hotels took a majority stake in the business. Minor is the vehicle of American born Thai billionaire businessman William Heinecke. According to Forbes, Heinecke has a portfolio of 536 hotels, 2,200 restaurant outlets and 480 retail stores spread across 65 countries.
The Puffin’s business maxim is “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is king.” There is a suspicion that Mr Jeremy has been living the high life on the turnover while some of the fundamentals go neglected.
Remember, as Jeremy pitches for taxpayers money for hospitality, it will find its way to the likes of himself and Mr Heinecke rather than to redundant or furloughed minimum wage, in-work benefit claiming, immigrant restaurant staff.
Stephanie asked the final question. It was about summer schools. Stephanie is a business manager in a school. Dear God. “School leaders know their cohorts,” said Stephanie. Stephanie, please go away and make space for a proper traditional teacher.
Joanne started by mentioning blended learning with people being burnt out. The rest was gobbledygook. Tony said it would take years to catch up, “We’re all going to be in the catch-up industry.”
QT50 Beatrice is at school in the 6th form. She needed a break in the summer, having not been to school for a year! Teachers need a break too. Do they? Young developing minds need an even bigger break, said Beatrice.
Grant’s twins are doing their A-levels. Mr Shapps conceded that they are desperate to get away from him and back to school. Jeremy felt very strongly that the children needed stimulation and loving. He does spend a lot of time with show business people! Many of the good types that he’s worked with had failed lots of exams. Exams weren’t the be-all and end-all.
Annelise said a cohort had been left behind. The children haven’t been left behind, said QT50 Jim, they’ve been working from home and so have the teachers. Annaliese was being disingenuous. What the children have missed out on, he continued, was being with other children. “They have missed out on fun.” Well said that man.
© Always Worth Saying 2021
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