Question Time 9th February 2023
George Freeman (Conservative)
Lisa Nandy (Labour)
Sarah Olney (LibDem)
Matthew Syed (Journalist)
Inaya Folarin-Oman (Broadcaster)
One of the Kent Folarin-Imans, Inaya was educated privately at Tonbridge Grammar School before attending Leeds University to study Arabic and International Relations. After falling in love with the dreamy academia of Chapeltown and Armley and the sallow mists about the glue factories along the River Aire, Ms Oman lingered as a Leeds University ‘Intercultural Ambasasador’, student radio producer, Leeds Loves Ambassador and contributor to the university’s Gryphon newspaper.
In 2019 she even stood for parliament as the Brexit Party candidate in Leeds North. Speaking of the latter experience she described it as her life’s standout moment. “I got the opportunity to travel all of Britain,” she gushed. “I travelled through Yorkshire, Durham, Derby and many more places.” Should have stayed in your constituency, love, you might have got more than 1,700 votes and finished higher than fifth.
Elsewhere in her biodata Inaya mentions,
I often go foraging for wild food, from herbs and mushrooms to edible flowers. I have about four books on it. It brings me closer to nature and allows me to connect to something tribal and ancient.
Amazingly, Nigerian heritage Inaya is from a single-parent household and has done nothing since university other than park herself in a London media bubble. Her credits include The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Times, Spiked, GB News, BBC and Gal-Dem – whose headlines this week include, ‘The first time I owned my queerness was in front of an aunty doctor.’
Puffins paying attention will recall that it was to Gal-Dem’s fagony aunt Aisha Mizra (who answers your queries about QTI+BPOC health, love and life) that QT Review turned to when wondering over pronouns for lush pansexual half-Palestinian LibDem Layla Moron. Unfortunately, over-occupied with her other queeries, Ms Mizra was unable to reply.
A civic-minded soul, despite being only 26 years old, Inaya is already a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery. She has also set up a number of her own impressive-sounding organisations. Readers will be pleased to hear that her Equiano Project is set to become a registered charity in April (with Inaya installed as a trustee) after which Puffins will be able to make charitable donations to her.
The first question was about the Ukraine. Lisa Nandy (Labour) congratulated the government on the handling of the war but suggested the need for a long-term plan to help the Ukrainians win the war and reconstruct. George Freeman reminded us that we cannot afford to let Putin win or to allow bully boys to invade other countries. Unless it’s Iraq, he forgot to add.
George Freeman is the Tory MP for Mid Norfolk. His father was jockey Arthur Freeman who won the 1958 Grand National on Mr What. Public schoolboy George was educated at £43,000 a year Radley and then at Girton College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Geography.
Matthew Syed (journalist) noted the political consensus but wondered where it had been when the Russians were militarily involved in Georgia, Grozny, Crimea and Syria. What’s more, Putin’s money was recycled through London. He compared events this time last year with Chamberlain and Czechoslovakia in 1938. History is being airbrushed he claimed. It certainly is, Matthew.
An audience member wondered how we are going to train Zelenskyy’s pilots when we struggle to train our own. How much is it going to cost, asked another contributor, especially given our own problems.
Another lady called the panel hypocrites and referenced Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘You didn’t build anything there.’
Sarah Olney (LibDem) ignored the audience and told us she had been in Westminster Hall the previous day and had been inspired by Ukrainian president Zelenskyy’s address.
Inaya pointed out that foreign policy is always morally complicated and there are always trade-offs. There are consequences both to action and in-action. She referenced the brave and committed Ukrainian population but made the mistake of assuming they are fighting for ‘our ideals’.
Which country is the biggest beneficiary of what is happening, asked Matthew? China, he announced. ‘The West is suffering with inflation and squeezed in all kinds of ways.’ Meanwhile, one wonders what Matthew thinks is happening in China? Peace, prosperity and pandemic-free plenty? He identified a new Axis emerging made up of Russia, Korea, China and Iran. ‘We should give wings to Ukraine,’ by which he meant the warplanes asked for by Zelenskyy in his Westminster Hall speech.
The second question queried Lee Anderson’s appointment as Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party. La Bruce reminded us that Anderson’s comments regarding food banks, hanging and living on 30p a day made him (or at least his triggering of the BBC) literally worse than Putin.
George Freeman openly disagreed with his own deputy chairman’s views, to the accompaniment of seal-like clapping from the carefully selected BBC audience.
‘Then should he be in the job?’ asked Bruce.
George drew a distinction between the collective responsibility of Cabinet Ministers and the greater bandwidth allowed to constituency MPs. ‘We don’t have to agree with them.’
A large minority of people share his views, observed Inaya. She thought capital punishment illiberal as if liberal is always good and illiberal always bad. She didn’t think it serious politics.
A lady in the audience was astonished. The Home Secretary is right-wing and now this. It’s appalling.
Another contributor referenced the ‘House of Parliament’, ‘fruitation’ and ‘farticle’.
The terrible crime that Lee Anderson has committed, pointed out Sarah Olney, is to blame people for the consequences of their own actions. She helpfully warned that paedophiles, murderers and terrorists might be demonised by the threat of hanging. ‘It’s just not good enough.’
Surrey-born Ms Olney is a graduate in English Literature and Language from Kings College, London. Subsequently, she qualified as a chartered accountant and worked at a variety of blue chip, third sector and government organisations. As recently as 2015 the 46-year-old joined the LibDem party and was elected to parliament the following year after Zac Goldsmith’s disastrous resignation from the House in order to stand as an anti-Heathrow third runway independent in the resulting by-election.
After losing the seat at the 2017 general election, the tombstone teeth-bedecked MP was re-elected to represent posh Richmond Park two years later. Also opposed to another two miles of tarmac at Heathrow, perhaps surprisingly Sarah is vociferously, publicly and regularly in favour of the 150 miles of concrete, gravel and steel that is the HS2 rail link from London to Birmingham to Manchester. Then again, perhaps not too surprisingly as her husband, Benjamin Olney, is employed as, erm, a Planning and Consents Manager in the high-speed rail industry, albeit through HS1 at St Pancras.
Previous to that, carbonphobic ultra pro-nuclear power Mrs Olney’s husband was, erm, Deputy Head of Consents and Planning with NuGeneration Ltd, a company set up to develop a new nuclear power station near Sellafield. Previously Benjamin bigly triggered his incorruptible wife by being Town Planning Manager at the hated Heathrow.
I agree with George, said Matthew. Journalism and politics are too upper middle class. Lee Anderson-type oiks should be allowed to say something now and again so Question Time can disagree with him. This is why we (meaning them) missed Brexit. Having said that, organising your own budget shouldn’t be ruled out of order in a public debate.
‘Is that the view of the Conservative Party?’ Asked Sarah.
Never mind that, Bruce wanted the views of the audience.
The first lady suggested Lee Anderson should follow a fat £40,000 a year nurse around for a day and at the end of a 12-hour shift (or a day on strike) see if he could make a balanced meal.
A posh lady from a charity said that every day people walked through the door needing help. People who work in schools, people who work in hospitals. Hmm, the public sector…
A twelve-year-old said he’d been a lifelong Conservative voter but he’d left the party and they would benefit from a spell in opposition. Lisa mentioned she represents a working-class mining constituency (without any mines). Interestingly, so does Lee Anderson in Nottinghamshire’s Ashfield.
As a regular on Question Time, Puffins already know that Newcastle University law graduate Litha has never had a job, is the daughter of an Indian public schoolboy, the granddaughter of a member of the House of Lords and wife of Andrew Collis, of Andrew Collis Communications, yet another public relations consultancy political spouse.
‘We don’t pay you lot to be offended,’ a gentleman from the audience pointed out to the offenderati assembled on the panel.
Mathew invoked Sam Allardyce. Fat Sam was the most successful England manager ever and won every match. Despite this, he was sacked before tea time after unsubstantiated stories regarding payments from overseas. Due process should take its course before hasty calls are made to sack the likes of Lee Anderson, Dominic Raab and Nahdim Zadawi. It is not weakness on the part of Mr Sunak.
Despite being headlined as a journalist, Mathrew Syed self-describes on his website as a consultant who,
Works with an impressive portfolio of global clients in the public and private sectors. Building on the work of best-selling author and influential thought-leader Matthew Syed, we establish thriving growth mindset cultures that drive higher performance in individuals, teams and organisations.
Besides growth mindset, his area of expertise includes ‘cognitive diversity in order to activate an advanced agenda for growth.’ Wary of political and commercial success, the 52-year-old Balliol College, Oxford, graduate used his mindset advantage to excel at table tennis, being the three times Commonwealth men’s singles champion in 1997, 2000 and 2001, and competing for Great Britain in the 1992 and 2000 Olympics.
One of the Berkshire Syeds, Matthew was born in Reading to a Pakistani father and Welsh mother. In a 2013 piece in The Times entitled My Father The Immigrant, Mr Syed senior is revealed to be a civil servant from a wealthy Karachi family who rose to be a professor after lecturing in auditing at the Birmingham City University.
The kind of crafty chap one often encounters in the Subcontinent, when Matthew was a table tennis champion Mr Syed negotiated a 10% discount on a Talbot Samba in return for painting on the side: “The Syed Brothers: England Internationals, sponsored by Reading Garage.”
Chat GPT was the next question. This generates intelligent text and replaces humans. Will it create mass unemployment or solve labour shortages? Hold on a minute. Nope. Not intelligent enough to send a verification code over a landline. We shall try ChatSonic. Ok. This is true. I’ll copy and paste it.
AWS: Can you review BBC Question Time?
CS: Sure! BBC Question Time is a popular British political debate television programme produced by the BBC. It is broadcast on ….
AWS: Tell a good joke about Lisa Nandy
CS: Lisa Nandy was once asked why she always wears a coat, even in hot weather. She replied, “Because I’m the Shadow Foreign Secretary and I always have to be prepared for any diplomatic situation!”
I’m still in a job.
AWS: How would a rapier-sharp satirist describe Sarah Olney?
CS: Sarah Olney is a British politician who is known for her sharp wit and cutting satire. She possesses a rare ability to eloquently point out hypocrisy and injustice, while maintaining a playful attitude and humorous edge. Her whip-smart quips and quick-thinking have earned her both respect and admiration from her peers.
Not quite what I meant.
AWS: Would Question Time be better reviewed by an AI bot?
CS: The use of AI bots to review Question Time has been a hotly debated issue in recent years. While AI bots can be effective at analyzing large amounts of data and providing comprehensive analysis, they are not able to provide the same level of insight into human behavior and reactions that a human reviewer could. In addition, AI bots are not able to understand the nuances of the language used in Question Time.
Ah well 🙁
AWS: Can I go to bed?
© Always Worth Saying 2023
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