Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 24th February 2022

The Panel:

Nadhim Zahawi (Conservative)
James Cleverley (Conservative)
David Lammy (Labour)
Katherine Birbalsingh (Educator)
Radek Sikorski (Polish MEP)
Timothy Gorton-Ash (Historian)
Anne McElvoy (The Economist)

Venue: Harrow

Puffins with instant recall will be aware that in the 28th January edition of QT Review your humble author made three mistakes. He spelt Colin Crompton’s name wrong, confused Alison Pearson with Alison Phillips and, a tiny little bit more seriously, made an error regarding Russian intentions towards The Ukraine.

In the aftermath, amongst a flurry of strongly-worded statements, sanctions and diplomatic cables instructing embassy staff to ‘TAKE COVER!’ (never a welcome sign), for once a member of the Question Time panel made themselves useful through a telling analysis. Step forward and take a bow, Mr Timothy Gorton-Ash.

His September 17th 2014 weekly Guardian piece was entitled, “Ukraine: How to close the door on Putin,” and subtitled, “Europe can resolve this crisis and counter Russia’s aggression, but it needs a clear 10-year plan”. It was written in response to the Maidan revolution of that year which saw Ukraine tilt away from the Russian Empire and towards the EU’s.

Firstly, Gorton-Ash suggested the border between Ukraine and Russia should be secured to prevent Russian arms and agitators from moving at will. Secondly, ‘western countries should deliver carefully selected equipment, supplies and training to the Ukrainian military, and not least to their frontier forces.’

Gorton-Ash continued by suggesting visa-free travel to the EU for Ukrainian citizens and fighting the grotesque corruption within the country.

While complimenting the EU on the effectiveness of existing sanctions, Gorton-Ash mentioned energy. Half of Russian federal revenues come from oil and gas necessitating the EU work towards energy independence via a network of interdependence between EU member states.

Amongst his suggestions lay the following problematic assumption, “Sometime over these next 10 years, Putin will go.”

Written two years before the Brexit vote, Gorton-Ash assumed the EU to be a thoroughly positive thing that must constantly expand. Puffins know both of these claims are wrong but even the pro-expansionist EU didn’t take any notice of his advice. Interestingly, at no point did Gorton-Ash suggest Ukraine enjoy being an independent country, only to move to become part of an EU empire.

Regarding the border, there’s a lot of it to secure. Having said that, for decades, an Iron Curtain ran between Stettin on the Baltic and Trieste on the Adriatic.

As for supplying military equipment, that never happened. Ukrainian land forces are almost exclusively reliant on Russian and Ukrainian equipment with only last-minute (too late?) supplies of anti-tank missiles and MANPAD anti-aircraft missiles from NATO.

Likewise with the air force, everything is Ukrainian and Russian, Soviet-era even, with the only supplies from the US being a small number of surveillance drones.

EU/Ukraine visa-less travel was adopted but only allowed for 90 days of residence in any 180 day period. In the bizarre way the EU do these things, this year the system was supposed to be changed. Visas would be waived but, rather than apply for a visa, Ukrainians would apply for a visa waiver.

As for stopping corruption, Trading Economics Corruption Rank sandwiches Ukraine between Swaziland and Zambia.

Which leaves EU energy independence. Since 2014, ironically, Net Zero carbonphobia has made Western Europe more reliant on Russian oil and gas, not less. A dash for wind power has failed miserably, coal-fired power stations have been decommissioned, fracking has been banned. A previous generation of creaking nuclear power stations isn’t being replaced.

Putin’s resulting hydrocarbon windfall has gone on tanks and bombs (and lining his own pockets).

For those who believe in a stable Ukraine (albeit in an ever-expanding EU), Gorton-Ash offered sound advice that nobody took any notice of, contributing to the present catastrophe.

Back in the programme, the first question was will sanctions make any difference and how much death and destruction will there be before they do?

David Lammy (Labour) wanted to cut Russia out of the western economic system while giving humanitarian, political and military aid to Ukraine but not troops on the ground. Lammy thought there were more sanctions that could be imposed.

As David Lammy is a frequent guest on QT, Puffins are already familiar with him. They know of his two million pound house, that he lives outside of his constituency to get his children into better schools and that he makes a fortune in appearance money from corporations during Black Lives Matter and Black History Month events.

Radek Sikorski (Polish MEP) wanted to help the Ukrainians to help themselves and to stop the ‘laundromat’ which launders Russian money in London. Putin has $650 billion in reserves and therefore doesn’t care less about sanctions. Radek is going to form a European gas cartel and spite Russia by magicking gas from somewhere else.

“Putin is Hitler with nuclear weapons,” said a paranoid in the audience.

Tim Garton-Ash was scared. He quoted Chamberlain regarding countries far away of which we know little. Sanctions are slow. He criticised Chelsea but added he didn’t want a libel suit from Russian billionaire owner Abramovich. There is a limit to Tim’s courage.

Timothy Gorton-Ash is a historian, author and professor of European Studies at Oxford. Anticipating an invasion of Harrow, hirsute Gorton-Ash disguised himself as Tzar Nicholas II’s provincial 4th cousin, clad in scruffy beard and ill-fitting check jacket. Educated privately at Sherborne, Gorton-Ash is a graduate of Exeter and St Anthony’s colleges, Oxford, after which he studied in West and East Berlin. Formerly the foreign editor of Andrew Neil’s Ghislaine Maxwell supporting Spectator, Tim’s wife is Polish and his brother is a Church of England clergyman. Tim prefers George Soros to Victor Orban.

There is a limit to James Cleverley’s courage too, “We don’t discuss who we’re going to sanction,” he repeated a few times, trembling before a persistent Fiona Bruce (Chair).

Anne McElvoy (Journalist) promoted Putin from Hitler to ‘messianic’. She couldn’t see the Russians winning, even if they won, as the Ukrainians will always want an independent Ukraine. Luxury goods, opportunities, travel, these middle-class things will wear away at Putin’s support because of sanctions.

Anne McElvoy is a London media bubble lifer, a Wadham College Oxford graduate and Economist Magazine and BBC type.

Her experience of Eastern Europe is contained in her mighty work The Saddled Cow: East Germany’s Life And Legacy, which in terms of sales sits as far behind the Marquis of Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom as the French and Italian armies sit behind the Spetsnaz.

Tim was keen to fight to the last Ukrainian. He continued by fighting lots of previous wars instead of this one, all the way from ‘England’s invasion of Ireland’ to Hitler and Stalin via Archduke Ferdinand.

In case you’re wondering, Katharine Birbalsingh is a Zealand born Indo-Guyanese-Jamaican raised in Canada. Miss Katharine became one of the Warwickshire Birbalsingh’s when her father lectured at the University of Warick.

A graduate of New College, Oxford, Katherine is the founder and headteacher of Michaela Community School in Londonistan. In its only Ofsted report thus far, it is marked as outstanding in every area.

With only 360 pupils (at the time of the inspection), the school has a strict uniform code and no group work. Children sit individually in rows and learn by rote. Corridors are silent and negotiated in single file. A teacher stands at the front of class and imparts knowledge. Make-up is banned as are, judging by the photos, white people.

Unfortunately, Katharine Birbalsingh has been banned as well, kicked out of her seat to make way for Radek Sikorski who, despite being a Polish MEP, managed to go to Oxford and write for the Spectator like the rest of them. Nadhim Zahawi was another early casualty of war, originally announced as a panellist but replaced by James Cleverley.

Putin has been planning this for a long time, said James. The only way we will solve this is by ‘strategic patience’. James is on the phone a couple of times a week.

Next question. Will the panel explain the best and worst scenarios of a war with Russia? The questioner was concerned about prices rising.

Radick thought we would confront Russia rather than be at war with them. An economic sacrifice now, and higher defence spending, would prevent an even more expensive war.

James saw no choice. Costs will be coming knocking at our door no matter what. Do we deal with it now or sit on our hands and wait for the pain to come washing at our shores?

What should we brace ourselves for, asked Bruce?

James didn’t know. Defending ourselves comes at a cost. He was expecting pressure on fuel prices.

Food and petrol will go up, said Tim, no matter what. We’ve left the EU but not NATO. We have a front line at Belarus and Russia. He worried of a spillover into NATO territory from a long conflict in Ukraine. He hoped for a bloody nose for Putin which would result in the Russians having to agree a cease-fire. He thought this wasn’t a war with the Russian people but with Putin, with some Russians being apologetic for what was happening.

What other ammunition have we got apart from ammunition, asked a lady in the audience, rhetorically.

Spend more on the armed forces and less on Brexit, suggested a loon.

Radek wanted more spending on defence. Spending has been cut. France and Germany and Britain have about 200 tanks each. Russia have 13,000. The peace dividend should be spent on defence as there is no peace.

Lammy wanted to spend your money protecting ‘our’ way of life in the Ukraine.

Tim wanted to re-set and repair our relationships with European partners regardless of Leave and Remain. He pointed out Putin might cut the gas supply to heavily dependent Germany and Italy.

Never mind just the laundromat, this might be an opportunity to clean up the whole dirty money City of London embarrassment including the ownership of football clubs, said a gentleman.

James reminded us his responsibilities include being Minister for the whole of space. He hasn’t met the ambassador yet, he joked to total silence. He mentioned the unanimity in the House of Commons

Lammy disagreed. We need to know who owns what. London is the cocaine capital of Britain, he claimed. Guy’s a genius. Two million pounds have been donated by Russians to the Tory Party, said David, give it back or give it to the resistance.

James was bigly triggered to the point of at least one reviewer going ‘ooooooOOOOO’.

British nationals who happen to be Russian, said James. He said Lammy was deeply racist for saying Russians are dirty! Hahahahahahaha. Excuse for taking cash off crooks? It’s anti-racist. What a tosser. James forgot to mention Guangzhou Gardiner taking millions off the Chinese Communist Party.

Ukraine is not in the EU but the EU is in the Ukraine, said Tim. Ukraine is not in NATO but NATO is in Ukraine, he added. I sort of half-understood what he was trying to say but the crux of the problem is ….. the Russian Army’s in the Ukraine.

Who knows where we’ll be next week, wondered Bruce? Odd, she’d already told us we’d be in Norwich with Gary Neville.

What a strange time we live in.

© Always Worth Saying 2022

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