Leadership Debate 4th August 2022
Kay Burley (Moderator)
It is not uncommon to hear of someone missing a plane that subsequently crashes. No doubt there were some on a Southampton quayside on a blustery April day in 1912 who stood, out of breath, beside their luggage watching the Titanic disappear over the horizon having missed the early train.
A shiver runs down the spine of this humble reviewer and more than one bead of sweat forms upon his brow when he is reminded of life’s hair’s breadth escapes. Back in the day and contemplating a career in journalism, I was advised to apply for a course down south in Lancashire. However, nursing a Third and feeling the trade winds call, instead I headed in the general direction of northern Syria on a circus train. My loss, not the written word’s.
Life could have been very different. Had I done the course, I might have found myself getting my fingers inky on the back row of the lecture theatre with a certain Miss Katherine McGurrin. According to my spies, she was then known as ‘Kate from Wigan’ and spent her studies monosyllabically looking at the floor while hiding behind her fringe and penning for the East Lancashire Evening Post or Wigan’s Evening Post and Chronicle, depending upon which spy one believes.
While I have been wasting my life, in the intervening decades Katherine has won a Bafta and been named the Most Desirable Woman on TV three times. Instead of being chained to the sink as Katherine Worth-Saying (barefoot and surrounded by ten children), Wigan’s finest has morphed into the Puffin’s favourite that is Kay Burley. Friends often ask, given we are contemporaries, “AWS, old bean, not calling you a Walter Mitty name-dropping fantasist or anything, but how come that KB gal on Lie News looks like a teenager and you look like a dead body?”
Explanation comes via another one of Reviews’ exhaustively calculated coefficients. Regular readers will be aware that hair age to face age dysmorphia (Max Clifford, Mike Reid) is a straightforward ratio. Bad toupes (Nick Ferrari) sit upon an Elton John Scale like cats resting upon the top of a skin-coloured post box. For plastic surgery we rely upon the Mary Tiler Moore Index where 1 is having had a bit of work done and 10 is looking as though, like Mary Tyler Moore herself in later life, you’ve been in a fire. Currently, Miss Burley is a seven – a face like pig skin stretched over a Sarawak medicine man’s tribal drum.
Ms Burley is also sensitive regarding the near-miss. In a Twitter spat over Brexit with Mr Steve Smith, a self-employed contractor who can cover all your building requirements in the South West but regrets he cannot accept direct messages, Kay’s would-be nemesis accused Ms Burley of ‘Having her [Remainer] prejudices injected at university’. To which the Sky News supremo replied, “I didn’t go to university”.
Kay attended the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) then known as Preston Polytechnic from where she was awarded her National Council For The Training of Journalists accreditation. Although her NCTJ page has gone 404, other parts of the internet have not forgotten. Not only was she awarded her NCTJ at university but modest Kate has been a hall of famer for over a decade. A May 2010 article in The Scotsman gushed,
“The National Council for the Training of Journalists has launched a new alumni section on its website for journalists whose career started with an NCJT- accredited course. The first alumnus is Sky News presenter Kay Burley who started her career as a 17-year-old trainee with the Lancashire Evening Post after studying at Preston Polytechnic.”
As well as holding that which is long and thin to her lips, Ms Burley has held pen to paper. (You know full well I meant a microphone, stop before you start). In the Amazon best seller’s list, her great work Betrayal is a record-breaking 1,251,022 places behind the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom, which is odd as they cover the same territory. Not only is the ‘irrepressible Sky journalist’s’ work a ‘scandalous page-turner’ but
Ms Burley Lily Dunlop and five other hostages become trapped in a vault as if late 18th-century innocents locked in a libertine’s castle.
Reviews were somewhat mixed, with one perceptively observing that Ms Burley’s writing career was only going in one direction. Undeniably true given that Betrayal was her second novel and that its predecessor, First Ladies, sits a mere 852,232 places behind the Marquis’s dirty book.
When not writing Kate is causing controversy. Briefly; asking a serial killer’s wife if a better sex life might have prevented his crimes, trying to strangle a photographer in a melee outside Naomi Campbell’s house, having to apologise to Peter Andre after suggesting his children might be adopted by someone else, prematurely reporting a missing child dead, etc etc etc and most recently being suspended from the screen for six months after partying during a Covid pandemic lockdown.
Incidentally, while looking on Amazon for her crap books your reviewer fell upon the Kay Burley (Smile) Celebrity Card Face Fancy Dress Mask (£3.97) and the Kay Burley (Sliver Dress) Life Size Cutout (£39.97). Puffin’s struggling with rocketing energy prices and the cost of living crisis need not do without. A Kay Burley (Purple Dress) Mini Size Cutout is also available and for an inflation busting £13.47. At only two foot high, one is reminded of the Armando Iannucci line that being interviewed by Ms Burley is like being talked at by a backward child.
Although not chained to a Debatable Lands sink, Kate is dependant upon Lie News proprietor Comcast. The giant American corporation are bigly exposed financially in China, not least via their $8 billion investment in the Universal Beijing Resort. Interestingly, during a recent increase in tensions in East Asia, Lie News reporters have fallen into the habit of referring to Taiwan as a ‘breakaway Chinese region’. It will be interesting to see if the subject is broached with candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss on tonight’s Tory Leadership debate.
The programme started very badly with Kay Burley announcing it would last for 90 minutes, as if a one-a-side wendyball match. No thanks, at supper time I shall pretend to faint, worked for Talk TV’s Kate McCann.
A Tory audience would ask questions and then there’d be an interview with Kay. First up was Liz Truss and question one was about mitigating the effect of an expected recession. Reverse the National Insurance increase and stop the green levy (which is only £150 a year), Liz suggested. Keep corporation tax low to help businesses. A quiet audience didn’t ask any supplementaries, has it not sunk in yet what’s going to happen to energy prices very soon?
A tinged member of the audience mentioned being tinged and then wanted to know how to restore the reputation of the party. Reach out, encourage, new generation, a strong party chairman. A confident Truss rattled through the buzz words. Merit, deliver, all parts of the country.
Kay told a joke. Unfortunately, not the best of straight women, Mrs Truss hadn’t mentioned that the Tory Party are a broad church. Never mind, Kay Burley announced the Conservatives a broad church and then reminded us that people get murdered in Broadchuch. Geddit? Say what you like about our near-miss but if the young Miss McGurrin really had sat on the back row cribbing me, she might have had some better gags.
Another tinged, with a squeaky voice, asked about the National Health Service. Liz would invest in social care even though she would abolish the National Insurance rise aimed at funding it. She would support doctors and nurses and take an axe to layers of management. Ominously, when challenged by the moderator, Mrs Truss’s axe proved blunt rather than surgical with the word ‘redeploy’ used rather than ‘destroy with fire’.
The Ukraine. Why not broker a deal between the warring parties rather than supply weapons? Truss said the war will only end when Russia leaves Ukrainian territory. Which they won’t. She suggested tougher sanctions including cutting off Putin’s gas to stop Putin from, erm, cutting off the gas.
A young man moving to London wondered about solving the housing crisis and making owning a home more affordable for young people.
I don’t want Soviet-style housing targets, replied Ms Truss. She wanted a local system controlled by Nimbies now that she relies upon the Conservative Party’s Nimbie voters. Burley pointed out that previously Liz said we need to build bigly on the green belt. Ms Truss had changed her mind.
How important is it to balance the books? Very, but over the long term was the answer, and in doing so there will be scope for tax cuts. Liz was challenged on her policy to set pay regionally rather than nationally – a policy commitment that lasted less than 24 hours. Not a core policy, she replied and I dealt with the controversy right away. Liz had been ‘up front’ not stupid.
The studio audience were stood down to allow Kay and Truss to sit opposite each other for an interview. Back to regional pay. Liz Truss claimed it had been aimed at civil servants, not teachers and nurses and it was no longer a policy anyway. Kay, having done some prep, claimed the projected £8.8 billion in savings came straight from a Taxpayers Alliance document and was costed by cutting the pay of doctors, nurses and firemen. Withdrew it immediately, repeated Liz.
Burley referenced the London media’s favourite stereotype, the single mum of two on £10,000 a year. What help would there be given energy costs are rising to £500 a month? The green levy would be stopped, but that’s only £150 a year. The National Insurance increase would be reversed, but that doesn’t apply to someone on £10, 000 a year. Burley’s prep scored a couple of tap-ins. We would get more out of the North Sea. Not between now and October you won’t and anyway, it won’t be sold domestically at near cost price, it will be sold to the highest bidder in a globalized marketplace. Cutting off the rest of the Russian gas supply will make things even worse, she forgot to mention.
In other words, they’re not doing much. There’s a £66 subsidy on average energy bills that will be going up to £300 a month in October. Average means using 2,700 kW of electricity and 12,000 kW of gas per year. Gas and electricity are different prices and there is also a standing charge which makes predicting the cost of your own consumption difficult. My supplier won’t give me a quote because of ‘volatility’. I will leave my 12-month deal and go onto the capped rate on October 1st, just in time for the next price rise. I am looking for an evening job to pay the extra. I would advise Puffins to do likewise if they can. As things stand, the price of energy is going to be eye-watering. The politicians are not able/willing to do much about it and the trend is only upward.
Should we arm Taiwan? We already licence equipment to Taiwan, responded Truss. That is as far as we will go at this stage. Will you visit? No. Was it an error of judgement to encourage volunteers to go to Ukraine? Liz responded that she supported their cause.
Quickfire questions. Going to apologise for wanting to abolish the monarchy? Or for calling Nichola Sturgeon ‘attention seeking’? Naughtiest thing you’ve ever done? Will you remove the whip from Boris? Truss didn’t answer any of them. She had more to say when asked how she would change the system to restore integrity. Not through more rules but by restoring the Chief Whip to no 12 Downing Street, an eviction that had originally taken place at the behest of Alaistair Cambell and New Labour. The next sentence included the phrase ‘zero tolerance’ and sounded like John Major’s catastrophic and counterproductive ‘back to basics’ anti-sleaze plan.
Burley ran through a long list of U-turns, as per previous questions and answers, and asked if the real Liz Truss would please stand up. Liz threw in a few more, such as being in CND and the LibDems. However, freedom and low taxation were consistencies running through her political life.
At which point the half-time whistle blew. After a quick orange and a rub with the magic sponge, Rishi Sunak appeared on the stage. First question, why not stand down because you’re behind even though nobody’s received their ballot paper yet? No, said Rishi, in every parliamentary round of voting I got the most votes. General election losers Michael Howard and William Haig support him. In this debate (perhaps his away kit?) Mr Sunak was finally wearing a tie, albeit green.
How will you unite the Tory Party? I can build a broad team, that’s what I’ll do. And anyway, the enemy is Kier Starmer and the Labour Party.
I was starting to feel hungry.
Kings Lynn has lost a dentist. What can be done? The questioner was running out of teeth. Rishi’s dad was a doctor and his mother was a pharmacist, he reminded us once more. As well as more funding for social care through the National insurance increase, there must be reform and more efficiency. We must be tougher on missed appointments but not necessarily charge a £10 fine every time. Around here GP services are appalling. There should be a £10 reward for turning up.
Illegal channel crossings got a mention. As a Hampshire Sunak, Rishi is an immigrant, of sorts, but we do need to control our borders. Bold and radical, he has a ten-point plan with a video. He would change the definition of asylum, challenge leftie lawyers and the EU and add taking back failed asylum seekers to trade and aid deals.
One of my chickens is lame and needs to be carried to its roost. Supper is at 9 pm prompt. There must be order. I closed my eyes and pretended to wobble. As the darkness fell, my life passed before me, including the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done. It involved a large purchase from a tombola stall, at special school’s open day, being run by a pupil who obviously couldn’t read what was on the tickets. Is it too late to put me on the ballot?
© Always Worth Saying 2022