Question Time 24th November 2022
Richard Holden (Conservative)
Andy Burnham (Labour)
Ben Habib (Businessman)
Charlotte Ivers (Times Radio)
Darren McGarvey (Broadcaster)
What would the panel do to encourage the economically inactive into the workplace? La Bruce (chair) put the number of
scroungers those inactive at 9 million.
Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, worked hard at patting himself on the back, saying that in devolved Manchester they did a good job of such things already. Skills training should match the local economy. A good point spoilt by suggesting a green economy and green skills.
Although born in Liverpool, Andrew Murray Burnham was brought up in posh Cheshire in the posh village of Culcheth. Since graduating in English from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Mr Burnham has never had a job beyond party politics.
Burnham was Minister of State for Health between May 2006 and June 2007, during which time his responsibilities included the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust where during his watch patients survived by drinking out of vases.
A 2009 Healthcare Commission report claimed that between 2005 and 2008, up to 1,200 more people died at the Stafford Hospital than would have been expected. Burnham was Health Secretary again between June 2009 and May 2010 during which time he refused a public inquiry into the scandal. It wasn’t until Burnham and the Labour Party left office that an excoriating public enquiry took place.
Ben Habib said it had to pay to work, benefits could be too generous. There are now 5.7 million on social credit, double what it was before the pandemic. Increasing taxes and not increasing tax thresholds means there’s less of an incentive to work.
A lady from the food bank said in four years she’d never met a client who would not rather have had a job. How does she know? Is she an unemployed mind reader gigging at the food bank?
One of the Warwickshire Habibs, Benyamin Haeem Habib was privately educated at £39,000 a year Rugby School. Mr Habib is a graduate of Robinson College, Cambridge, a 45-year-old institution embarrassingly not endowed by the East India Company, a mediaeval Archbishop or the proceeds of slavery, but from the fortune made by David Robinson, a television rentals tycoon. The shame of it.
After graduating in natural sciences, the Old Rugbeian moved into finance with Mr Habib working for disgraced Lehman Brothers and insurance brokers PWS Holdings before starting his own First Property Group. A fuller QT Review biography of Mr Habib is available here from his recent June 2022 appearance on the programme.
Puffins will be pleased to hear, despite the apparent financial difficulties at some of the 124 companies of which he is or has been a director, that QT Review can disclose (because as a Brexit Party MEP from 2019 – 2020 Ben was forced to declare his income) Mr Habib pays himself an impressive €960,000 a year.
Darren said the opposite to Ben. The inactive are not fraudsters but have issues in their lives. Mental health got a mention.
La Bruce asked Conservative MP Richard Holden what the plan was. There did not seem to be one. He wanted to reduce the ‘takeawey’ rate for people who are in work and claiming benefits. Ben thought this was a disgrace. Then takeaway rate is the reduction in benefits as income rises. People in work should stand on their own two feet. Ben claimed 20% of the workforce receives in-work benefits.
Charlotte highlighted childcare which is ridiculously expensive. It’s cheaper to give up your job and look after your child than work while paying the little one into a nursery.
Charlotte Ivers was herself educated as a boarder at £41,000 a year Dean Close School, rising to be head girl as well as top gun in the Cheltenham school’s Combined Cadet Force. After taking A-Levels in Maths, Philosophy, Economics and French, and also teaching herself Religious Studies, she attended Pembroke College, Cambridge, and graduated in History and Philosophy of Science. While at the near seven hundred-year-old college, Charlotte became editor-in-chief of Cambridge University rag The Tab and treasurer and president of the Cambridge Union.
After leaving Pembroke, the Old Decanain worked for the Conservative Party, firstly in the research department at Conservative Central Office and then at Number 10. Although the guff that comes with QT states that Ms Ivers ‘worked in Number 10 under Theresa May’, it was under the prime ministership of Mr Johnson that her political career took a turn.
In a sequence of events, more fully described in a QT Review biography here, that smacked of a jealous Carrie Simmons kiboshing a pretty girl becoming professionally too close to her husband, Ms Ivers was banned from being promoted at Downing Steet and then kicked out altogether in the general direction of Fleet Street. Having peaked too early, Charlotte has been reduced to slumming it at talkRadio, The New Statesman, Times Radio and the journalistic graveyard that is Question Time.
The second question was about the rail strikes which are carefully timed to cause disruption by the RMT for a month before Christmas.
Richard Holden wanted the unions and bosses to facilitate a getting together in a sensible space. It’s hammering businesses. Mr Holden said his first job was in hospitality. Not quite, QT Review can reveal it was a part-time job when he was a student.
Grammar school boy Richard, whose parents were both teachers, grew up in Lancashire’s posh Ribble Valley in the posh village of Grindleton. A graduate in Government and History from the London School of Economics, Richard has never had a job. Straight from college, he took a position at Conservative Campaign Headquarters where he rose to be deputy Head of Press. In the 2015 General Election, the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Blackburn, old boy unsuccessfully contested the Preston seat and resumed his non-jobs as a special advisor to the Ministry of Defence.
In a measure of how incestuous Question Time has become, Ms Ivers and Richard used to be a Westminster power couple.
A happy romance interrupted in 2016 when Mr Holden was accused of groping a woman at a party at the Kennsington home he shared with Ms Ivers who is ten years his junior. Although found not guilty after a ten-minute jury deliberation and released by the judge ‘without a stain on his character’ Richard had resigned from his government position and been sacked from his new PR job as the story broke.
After the court case, his career resumed with non-jobs as a special advisor to Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling and a campaign worker during Boris Johnson’s 2019 Conservative Party leadership campaign. In the subsequent December general election, Mr Holden was returned as a Red Wall MP for North West Durham. He is presently the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads and Transport and a member of the Carlton Club.
Although Ms Ivers stood beside her man during his legal tribulations, the couple later separated with, following a previous QT appearance, Ms Iver becoming romantically linked to then fellow guest Lawrence Fox.
Andy Burnham highlighted the need for the government to negotiate with the unions. He claimed £90,000 a year lever pullers are fighting for their family’s security. Andy has been on the picket lines helping the comrades to ‘feed their families’. He complained of profits being distributed to shareholders. Comrades, why not buy some shares? Andy quoted his ‘nighttime economic advisor’ at which point Bruce cut him off and allowed some audience comments.
A lady said there were ticket machines at Skipton therefore the three staff who supervised them could be sacked. All well and good but she referred to it as a train station instead of a railway station. Madam, there is always a railway in it, but not always a train.
Charlotte has a best friend from university who is a barrister. He’d been on strike too as his train fare to court is often more than his fee. Streuth. Charters the Orient Express for his commute, one assumes. The barristers did get their rise and this was a warning sign for the Tories.
Public sector wages have lowered by 30% in recent years, said Ben. There is not enough growth and deregulation. He defended Liz Truss. “Brave,” suggested the other panellists in unison. Liz Truss was knobbled by the Treasury blob. £500 billion was printed when Labour crashed the economy during the credit crunch. Why not print another £500 billion for Mrs Truss? Liz had the right idea. We must go for growth. The only way. A doom loop beckons unless we get growth.
“Trains,” said Darren, in Scotland the teachers are on strike as well as the railwaymen. Darren can’t drive but it’s not about him. Wages are suppressed and profits are skimmed. “Corruption!”, Darren shouted while playing to the gallery as the petulant Scot.
Darren McGarvey (not his real name – Loki the rapper) is a Scottish hip-hop recording artist, social commentator and Scottish independence activist. Darren’s auntie Rosie is former Scottish Socialist Party MSP, Rosemary Kane.
Mr McGarvey studied journalism at Glasgow Clyde College.
His mighty work, Government Issue Music Protest, is described as ‘a science-fiction concept album with significant contributions from Becci Wallace’ that describes ‘a dystopian vision of Scotland in the year 2034’. Hoping for an intervening period of improvement, Darren and Becci presumably think a vision of present-day dystopian Scotland would be too upsetting for listeners.
One feels obliged to log on to Amazon. I struggled to find Government Issue Music Protest but did find Darren’s Poverty Safari, Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass. As an encouragement to that underclass, this 8 hour 22 minute long ‘razor-sharp, fearless, brutally honest and unforgettable insight into modern Britain’ sits an impressive 59,980 places above the Marquis de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom in the audiobook best sellers list.
Interestingly, Poverty Safari was part funded by underclass expert JK Rowling.
If you’d like to book working-class hero Mr McGarvey, his theatrical agent is Vivienne Clore on New Cavendish Street, just around the corner from the Chinese Embassy in London. Ms Clore’s other ‘talents’ include Puffin’s favourite and side splitter Jo Brand whose hilarious observational comedy has included tales of squatting down and defecating through BNP member’s letter boxes.
Mr McGarvey’s last appearance on QT was during a pandemic lockdown when he Skyped from the sofa of his mother’s Pollock council flat which, judging by appearances, had been trashed by druggies just before he switched the webcam on.
Question three was audience driven. Fiona apologised for it in advance. It was about Matt Hancock’s appearance on Mr Anton Deck’s I’m an MP, Pay Me To Go To The Jungle. Apparently, Matt’s been doing rather well and surviving the jungle challenges. He had won many audience members over.
It’s a public relations campaign based on empathy, snarled Darren. Handcock has a book out, claimed the author. Shame! His wronged wife! Ranted Darren.
Charlotte doesn’t watch it but has had her own good idea for a book. Ritual humiliation on TV is asking for forgiveness. This, according to her book pitch, is a replacement for organised religion. Ben Habib pretended not to watch it either. Despite never having seen such a thing, he knew all about the eating of insects and kangaroo genitals.
Not an avid viewer but I’ve seen a few clips, said Robert, before quoting Boy George in revealing detail. He wanted George Spot to win.
Bad judgement, not a bad person, concluded Burnham. Look at The Guardian’s front page today. No thanks, Andy, I’d rather have Boy George crawl all over me. Or rather I wouldn’t, the front page of The Guardian carries an article about the money wasted on PPE. Burnham concluded that money would have been better spent on a bus service in Skipton.
Next question. Should the more wealthy have to pay for medical treatment? They already do, everybody well-established enough to be on Question Time has private health care.
Darren saw this as a red flag. There’s a fundamental inequality in health care between the rich and poor anyway. He wanted to redesign the environment. How does your local economy existing of a bookies, chipy and a pub help your health?
Ben was in favour of a two-tier healthcare system with himself and his rich pals in the top tier.
A poor doctor spoke from the audience. He wanted to treat all his patients for free – in Australia where he’s going because he’ll get paid more.
Now would have been a good time to reference the record immigration figures – 504,000 needy immigrants have arrived here in the year up to June. But nobody mentioned it.
Burham wanted to separate the model from the reality. The model is a great success, even though a lady in the audience had just said she was waiting 12 weeks for a GP’s appointment. He even said the NHS was the best in the world.
What would Labour do? asked Charlotte.
Pay the unionised staff more, replied Andy honestly, promising to spend your taxes on the staff instead of the patients.
“I’ve been a nurse for forty years,” said a fat woman in the audience. In those 40 years, she will have had 800 paid holiday days. Her total salary in today’s money, as the average wage for a nurse is £34,000, will have touched £1.4 million of tax-payer’s money. A self-employed person will have had no paid holidays and will have earned what the customer thinks their worth. There’s your answer, less public sector.
The fat lady having sung for more money, it was time for bed.
© Always Worth Saying 2022
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