Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 16th December 2021

The Panel:

Chris Philp (Conservative)
Lisa Nandy (Labour)
Chris Hopson (NHS Providers)
Fraser Nelson Olivia Utley (Journalist)
Stewart Hosie (SNP)

Venue: Stoke-on-Trent

While the topic is the six towns of the North Staffordshire potteries, and their attendant Stokies, I must tell you this. Previously, waylaid in Soke-on-Trent, I was obliged to eat. What old people such as myself recall as the sweat and toil and muck and brass district of Etruria had changed into a giant retail park.

Eighteenth-century pottery magnate Josiah Wedgewood’s mansion had become a Holiday Inn (or some such) with Lego extensions bounding its original Grade II listed neo-classical edifice. The orchards were a car park lined with company Vectras and fleet Mondeos. Nearby lay an adventure swimming pool and an infinity of business sheds, one of which contained a restaurant within a superstore.

Ordering at the till I was addressed with the local affectation,

“We’re out of chicken, Duck.”

“There’s no fish left, Duck.”

“Sausages are off, Duck.”

I wondered if sarcasm might improve my luck.

“Duck, Duck? There’s no duck on the menu, Duck.”

Resigned to a giant plate of chips, I made my way to a barren plastic cutlery tray. Not to worry, I’m not proud, I’ll eat them with my fingers. Heading for an empty table, I noticed something. As if happening upon a hospitaliers strike in Lourdes, I was the only one present who could walk. All of the other diners were on mobility scooters. The resulting problem being, the tables had no need of chairs.

If it had been a stand-up establishment in a sophisticated middle European capital towards the end of the Cold War, say The Savoy in the ludicrously named six-sided Octagon Square in Budapest, I wouldn’t have minded but it was Morrison’s cafe in Stoke.

I stood and ate my chips while they all gawped in my direction, gorging on the last of the fish and chicken while my greasy fingers burned. Had they never seen a pair of working legs before?


Missing the advertised Fraser Nelson we were rewarded with hereditary journalist Olivia Utley, the daughter of The Daily Mail’s Tom Utley and the granddaughter of T.E Utley of The Times.

Is another lockdown inevitable?

There have been warnings for a considerable time, replied Litha Nandy (Labour). Litha had been telling the government what to do for yonks. She’s pushed the government to do more. People in Wigan are desperate. And then there’s the pandemic as well, Lisa. We’re doing our bit, she said, but the government aren’t doing theirs.

Chis Hopson (NHS Providers) was unsure what the hospitalisations and fatalities were likely to be after acknowledging the Omnicrom infection spreads rapidly.

Stewart Hosie (SNP) suggested some kind of a furlough scheme and pointed to the mixed messages of Mr Johnson’s government.

Ms Bruce (chair) asked a gentleman at the back, who turned out to be a lady, for a contribution. Fiona blamed the gendering upon the wearing of masks and her short-sightedness.

Posh Olivia (journalist), wearing her attractive tiger patterned silk face mask around her head as if a scarf, wanted people to manage their own level of risk. People are more sensible than the government.

Unlike Fraser Nelson (journalist), Olivia isn’t an RAF serviceman’s son, educated firstly close to RAF Kinloss on the Moray Firth and subsequently privately at the £30,000 a year Dollar Academy in Clackmannanshire, an establishment founded in 1818 from the proceeds of the business enterprises of a Captain John McNabb.

A biography of the great philanthropist is available from the ‘Centre of the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery’. The naval captain’s pecuniary advancement appears to have hinged upon owing land on Tobago while simultaneously captaining a ship to carry his future workers from West Africa – for the educational advancement of future Old Academicals (like Fraser) but not Olivia who attended the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London’s posh Holland Park.

Question two, how have we gone from a world-beating vaccine to a chaotic booster?

Chris Hopson said the NHS was working incredibly hard. Capacity is being ramped up. The NHS and local government are moving at real pace.

Not quite a medical expert, more an NHS high panjandrum quangocrat, Mr Hopson hails from Newbury in Berkshire where his family owned the upmarket Camp Hopson Grade II listed department store. Ancestor Joseph started a furniture business in 1854 in West Street, Newbury. His grandson, Paul, married into the Camp drapery family with the two businesses merging in 1921. In 2014 they were bought out by Morleys Stores. In the meantime, Chris Hopson had been privately educated at the £40,000 per annum Marlborough College. Old Marlburians include Anthony Blunt, Siegfried Sassoon, Samantha Cameron, the Duchess of Cambridge and another QT dullard, Times Radio’s Tom Zoltan Newton Dunn.

Mr Hopson graduated from the University of Sussex with a degree in politics and was active in the Social Democratic Party under former Labour Foreign Secretary Dr David Owen. After taking an MBA at Cranfield Business School, and a few years pursuing corporate public affairs and media strategy, he enrolled in the Civil Service High Potential Development Scheme, a hothouse cramming school for Civil Service high flyers. Positions at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Department for Education and HM Revenue and Customs followed. Between those postings, he did a nine-year stint as a director of Granada TV. In 2012 he joined NHS Providers, a trade association for NHS trusts.

The focus had been wrong, said Olivia. The jabs shouldn’t be universally available at the moment but prioritised to the vulnerable. She wanted to send our jabs to other countries while keeping them here.

Chris Philps (Conservative) said the booster had been prioritised and reminded us it had been available before the appearance of the latest variant. He said more vaccination was the answer to stopping people from catching the illness and from spreading it.

Grammar school boy Mr Philp graduated from Oxford and become a management consultant and businessman. He was elected as the MP for Croydonistan South in 2015.

Stewart Hosie was concerned about the number of London boroughs where in excess of 100,000 had not been vaccinated. He wanted their hesitancy or inability to present themselves for vaccination to be addressed.

Litha gave credit to the heavily unionised public services that pay for the Labour Party, rather than credit to the government. The problem was the prime minister and his bluster and the chancellor of the exchequer and his trip to California.

Lisa Nandy is the MP for Wigan and the Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. A regular to the programme, we are running out of things to say about her. As if a bored married-too-young man-boy Wendyballer staring at the gold Chinoiserie mural decorated walls in a Cheshire mansion, shall we start on her sister? Puffins already know that Litha is a graduate of Newcastle University (Law), has never had a proper job and that she is the wife of blue-chip City PR type Andy Collis. But what of the rest of the family?

Her father, Dipak, was a public school Marxist quango-land race relations wallah from Calcutta. Older sister Francesca is the brainy one, having graduated from Oxford University with a degree in English Literature before managing a customer sales team for Experian in Clapham. From there she went to Reuters. Amongst the gobbledygook and claptrap, (‘aligned team goals’, ‘created clear portfolio’) she seems to have been in sales. After moving to Capita, she ‘implemented transition to a structured and effective relationship management programme’.

At the moment, Francesca is ‘looking for new opportunities in the Manchester area’ having, judging by her LinkedIn and Goodreads profiles, banged out babies for the last five and a half years while fine-tuning their racism, anti-Semitism and transphobia with two tomes of Enid Blyton, three Roald Dahls and a JK Rowling. Politically, according to her Twitter, Fransesca is a “Re-Join Now!”. Presumably a reference to that long-forgotten thing, the useless European Union.

God makes them and pairs them.

Question three. Stoke-on-Trent has lost great industries such as coal, steel and ceramics. What’s to be done? Stoke’s been robbed, it’s in tatters. The questioner blamed London-centricity and pointed at Salford to where some of the capital’s media had been relocated.

Stewart Hosie wanted a giant corporatist strategy, like in the Soviet Union and China during the famines.

Dundee born Stewart finished his education with a Higher Diploma (the equivalent of an A*-C GCSE) in Computer Studies. After working in IT for 20 years he was elected to parliament in 2005.

Whilst wondering what Stoke-on-Trent has to do with the Scottish Nationalist Party, we must also offer our usual reminder that the SNP has its origins in Nazism, fascism, racism and sectarian bigotry. SNP founding father Arthur Donaldson associated with the Hitler Youth. Another founding father, Alexander Dewar Gibb, was a self-confessed fascist who quoted Hitler in his speeches and expressed a visceral hatred of the Irish.

Looking through his parliamentary interests, we note Stewart receives a free season book and hospitality package from Dundee United every year worth £500.

Which is just as well as he might not be able to pay his own way through the rusty Tannadice turnstile having had his House of Commons credit card blocked in March 2016 on account of an outstanding debt of £3,446.95.

Only weeks later, the MP for Dundee East wrote to party leader Nicola Sturgeon relinquishing his position as her deputy. He explained,

As you know I have been admitted to hospital on three occasions in the past few years with very high blood pressure. In that regard, the stress of the intense scrutiny of my private life has been very difficult.

As well as by watching Dundee United, Mr Howsie’s blood pressure was being raised by events described in the Babylon that is The Scotsman newspaper.

The MP is alleged to have had an affair with Westminster journalist Serena Cowdy, who was previously said to have been involved with Angus MacNeil, who represents Na h-Eileanan an Iar in Parliament.

Although an unlikely swordsman, Mr Hosie had become embroiled in a sex scandal. At the time, The Daily Express reported the breathless Ms Cowdy, a former actress, gushing to friends that the two MPs were ‘romantic revolutionaries’ and ‘the Mujahideen of British politics’. Although further detail has no place in a family review, subsequently Stewart left his wife (another SNP trougher, Shona Robison, the MSP for Dundee East) and married 36-year-old blonde Serena, a graduate of Oxford’s St Hilda’s College.

Worse was to befall Angus MacNeil, as it was revealed he had claimed for his stays with Ms Cowdy in Waterloo’s romantic £141 a night Park Plaza Hotel on his expenses despite owning a flat 15 minutes walk from Westminster. Perhaps judging this a crime passionnel, standards commissioner Kathryn Hudson relieved Mr MacNeil by concluding that being caught red-handed was ‘no basis for a parliamentary inquiry’.

A lady in the audience said Stoke was fantastic and had two great universities and a science park. Notice she steered well clear of fish, chicken, cutlery and chairs.

Litha knew what needed to be done but wouldn’t tell us what it was, other than local young people should be able to ‘get on’ rather than ‘get out’. Too many digital jobs went to London. She’s been banging on about this for a decade. The investment decisions should be handed to local decision-makers i.e. the dinosaur comrade trades union placemen on local authorities in Labour’s rotten boroughs who destroyed places like Stoke in the first place.

Brexit, Brexit, squeaked Olivia, it’s an opportunity to sell pottery all over the world.

Labour had controlled Stoke for decades to no positive effect, Chris Philp reminded the audience.

Who has the biggest footprint? Who is the biggest local employer everywhere? Who needs another million employees? The NHS! Chis Hopson informed us.

Why would anybody want to come to Stoke? Asked a lady in the audience. Quite.

© Always Worth Saying 2021

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