Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 16th March 2023

The Panel:

Andrew Bowie (Conservative)
Bim Afolami (Conservative)
Lucy Powell (Labour)
Stephen Flynn (SNP)
John Allan (Tesco)
Anne McElvoy (Journalist)

Venue: Warrington

At the last minute, the advertised Andrew Bowie (Conservative) was replaced by Bim Afolami (Conservative). Perhaps he got lost? Not as unlikely as it seems. It always being a shame to waste one’s prep, read on.

Thirty-five-year-old Andrew Bowie was born in Arbroath and educated at Inverurie Academy. After school, Andrew joined and attended Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. After passing out in 2007, he rose to be a sub-lieutenant in the Ceremonial Events Commemoration Team. Candid Andrew conceded in an interview with The Herald,

“The original reason I left the Navy was I didn’t do as well in the navigation exam as I should have done, and the Navy told me to go to university and come back after I graduated.”

Sub-lieutenant Bowie did manage to find the University of Aberdeen from where he graduated in History and Politics. Following graduation, Andrew worked briefly for diving equipment supplier Divex before becoming North of Scotland Campaign Manager for the Tories in 2014. His career in politics saw rapid promotions that led to his election to the House of Commons in 2017.

As if a character in HMS Pinafore, Mr Bowie is currently the rather pompous-sounding Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Nuclear and Networks at the rather ridiculous-sounding Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. Admiral Nelson informed us it takes two years to build a frigate but 200 years to build a tradition. His Lordship could have added, “And a decade or so for Bowie to find the recruitment office again.” For, in March 2022, Sub-lieutenant Andrew finally rejoined the navy as a reservist, now committed to serving one evening a week and a few weekends throughout the year – assuming he can find HMS Reserve Centre.

Last August the MP became a father for the first time when wife Maddie gave birth to baby Emily Catherine Jane. Once a navy man always a navy man, Andrew tweeted the exact time of the birth down to the second and described her weight in both kgs and lbs. However, he appeared to be by flying the Swedish flag on his tweet instead of the White Ensign. Back to ceremonial duties that man!


Unsurprisingly the first question was about the previous day’s budget. A sensible budget from a sensible chancellor began Bin Afolami. He highlighted changes to childcare funding, business investment and investment in the regions. Lucy Powell (Labour) thought the budget was divorced from ordinary people’s experiences. She preferred to mention rising prices, struggling public services and a predicted fall in living standards. Finally, to applause, she referred to a pension advantage for the richest to be paid for by all taxpayers.

John Allan (businessman) is an optimist but there was little in the budget other than headlines. We need to forge a plan and carry it out. Thus far, too little, too slow. His daughter is baffled by the new action on childcare and suspects John’s grandchildren will be ‘out of the zone.’ When quizzed by Bruce (chair), John dodged a party political commitment and stated that it’s up to the voters to decide who to choose. Although, in passing, he did commit to levelling up. Hmm.

John Murray Allan is the non-executive chairman of the supermarket chain Tesco. The 75-year-old is a graduate of Edinburgh University (Mathematics) and a long-experienced businessman, formerly (according to Wiki) chief executive of Exel, CFO of Deutsche Post, deputy chairman of retailer Dixons Carphone and a non-executive director at Royal Mail. He was also previously chairman of Samsonite and he has been a non-executive director at National Grid, PHS Group and Hamleys. Subsequent enquiries revealed that Wiki had missed out chairman of payment processing company Worldpay, senior advisor to advisory service Alix Partners, a non-executive member of the Home Office Supervisory board and Regent of the University of Edinburgh. And a former chief executive of freight company Ocean Group. And a former boss of boss’ organisation the CBI. And a board member at Barratts.

Further further investigations revealed 54 directorships, ie too many to list.

After completing his education, John’s career began in marketing with Lever Brothers and Bristol-Myers. He entered food retailing in 1977 with Fine Fare where he was head of marketing, buying and retail.

After a full 9-year term as non-exec chairman of Tesco, Mr Allan will step down in 2024.

Puffins committed to levelling up will be hoping to be levelled up to John Allan levels. In 2022 he was paid £345,000 by Barratt Developments PLC. Meanwhile, his compensation at Tesco PLC totalled £690,000.

An audience member echoed the view of many Puffins and wanted the option of childcare being provided by a parent staying at home.

Stephen Flynn (Scottish Nationalist Party) was let down. People can’t afford the prices. He got carried away and after running through energy and food he continued all the way to barefoot urchins begging in the gutter. Meanwhile, there is new a tax break on pensions for the richest. He omitted to remind us that he is one of the richest who will benefit from the pension change. He wanted the Tories to be ‘stuffed’ at the next election. But Kier Starmer is David Cameron in a red tie. He wanted Labour stuffed as well and Scotland to be free! Groan.

Anne recognised that the economic bar is presently low. We need to make Britain grow and be attractive again. She used the ‘W’ word. Women are conflicted between childcare and their careers. Anne was keen on the childcare changes (but I bet she, like the rest of us, can’t understand them). Being competitive will make this country attractive, not squabbling political parties.

A lady in the audience suggested a social energy tariff for herself and a cerebral palsy suffering dependant.

A teacher, I think, spoke. She used terms like ‘early years’ and ‘practitioners’. Does that mean children and teachers? Bim joined in and waffled about ‘provision’ which presumably means there being a school to go to.

This is a good example of how not to do it, interjected John. The childcare muddle could have been better thought through. The policy looks half-baked.

Politician Lucy blamed the government for playing politics by stealing Labour’s ‘big offer’ in advance of the election. It’s a mess and needs looking at. Stephen blamed Brexit and said bringing back freedom of movement combined with free education would result in fewer children here. Erm. Lucy assured everyone that the Labour Party would solve everything in a manner to be announced in due course.

The back and forward been politicians doesn’t help, noted Anne, to applause.

Bim was allowed a supplementary answer. He wanted to nudge the over-50s back into the workplace. He seemed to think that they’d be employed in their old labour-shortage jobs and would benefit from the abolished pension cap. No and no. They’ll be working part-time in minimum-wage service industry jobs.

Lucy wanted the pension cap change only to apply to vital workers, such as her husband! A Warrington doctor, no less.

Q2 was about HS2, an issue in Warrington because the high-speed line isn’t going there, or is it?

John would rather improve transport both within and between regions. We shouldn’t have done this but it’s half-built now. Saving 20 minutes between London and Manchester doesn’t seem worth it.

Bim said he was doing all of the regional stuff. He isn’t. Costs need to come down. There’s a pause rather than a cancelling. It’s too expensive here compared with China, he noted, without adding that the Chinese just draw a straight line across a map and demolish everything along it in a weekend.

Bruce teased Bim as he stuttered which was unnecessary.

Nearby there has been the compulsory purchase of homes but then the work stopped, said a lady in the audience. The roads are so awful that getting to the new stations will take longer than any time saved by the high-speed line. Warrington is expanding, noted someone else, it would be more useful to extend Manchester’s public transport into Warrington.

Anne had misunderstood HS2. She thought it would connect to the North East where it doesn’t even go. The cost is out of control. More work from home and there isn’t bound to be a need for an increase in rail capacity. “HS2 is an expensive elephant,” she concluded confidently while managing to keep a straight face.

Anne McElvoy is a journalist, until recently with the disappointing globalist propaganda sheet The Economist. A Wadham College, Oxford alumni, her husband Mertin Ivens is another Oxford graduate (St Peter’s College), another journalist and a former editor of The Sunday Times.

In 2019, Anne was a member of the Wadham College celebrity University Challenge team which lost in the final to Leeds by 130 points to 235.

HS2 doesn’t go to Scotland. The unions should be in charge. Stephen added that high-speed trains were running in Japan before he was born but we are yet to build our first line. Stephen, why do you think it’s called High Speed Two? There already is another one between St Pancras and the Channel Tunnel. What a thickie.

What would Lucy do? Continue with HS2. Lucy was going to spend, spend, spend on everything national and local, London and regional. “Spend it and they will come,” she announced.

Comrade Powell (nhrn: Lucy Maria Williamson) is MP for Manchester Central and Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Lucy is an old girl of Parrs Wood High School in Greater Manchester’s posh Didsbury. Her husband James is an Accident & Emergency doctor, set to benefit bigly by the recent budget’s lifting of the pension cap as, now that I come to think of it, is Lucy and all of her colleagues in the House of Liars and Thieves.

The 48-year-old has never had a job. After graduating in Chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford, followed by further studies at King’s College London, Lucy embarked on a non-career of non-jobs in quango-land and politics which saw her elected to parliament in 2012.

Greater devolution of transport was in the budget, said John reminding us he lives in London where he is spoilt for public transport choice. Because he’s rich, he forgot to add. John wanted more devolved money for the regions and he’d spotted such a thing in the budget small print.

Question three, can the Tories win the next election?

In Scotland? No, the Tories haven’t won an election north of the border since 1955 and they won’t be winning one again, said Stephen. He thought Starmer would be the next PM but remained convinced the Labour leader is David Cameron with a red tie.

Stephen Flynn is the SNP MP for Aberdeen South and fatty Blackford’s successor as leader of the SNP in the Westminster parliament having organised a coup against Fatty, or not, depending upon which of the warring factions within the SNP is to be believed.

Speaking of war, one’s obliged to the regular QT Review reminder that the SNP’s origins lie within Nazism, fascism, racism and sectarian bigotry. Arthur Donaldson, a founding father, was pictured with the Hitler Youth and urged Scots to side with the Germans while Clydebank was being bombed by the Luftwaffe. Another founding father, Andrew Dewar Gibb, quoted Hitler in his speeches and was a self-confessed fascist who expressed a visceral hatred of foreigners.

A former pupil of Dundee’s Harris Academy and a Dundee University History and Politics graduate, Mr Flynn is also a Master of letters in International Politics and Security Studies and holds an MSc in Global Shipping Management.

Besides being a perpetual student, we learn through his old newspaper interviews that Stephen is married to teacher Lynn and is a proud father of two. Unfortunately, in among the cuttings there’s no mention of any jobs. After that long stretch at university, the 34-year-old was employed by SNP MSP Maureen Watt in her Aberdeen office, subsequently becoming a councillor in 2015 and being elected to the Westminster parliament in 2019.

Bruce wondered of a hung parliament? Yes, Stephen would form a coalition to keep the Tories out but his Labour partners would have to rejoin the EU, close all the power stations and make Scotland independent of England and dependent on Brussels and Berlin instead.

Ann had a raised eyebrow moment. She thought the Tories would struggle to form a majority but they have a strategy while Labour look lost. Labour people lack confidence and are mentally in hung parliament territory. She wanted more direction of travel from senior Labour figures.

Go for it, Lucy. 2019 was a low ebb for Labour, since turned around. Lucy mentioned no policies, just the party’s political position. There are big ambitious plans to restore our public services. How? She didn’t say.

The election result will be unpredictable predicted John. The Conservatives have the advantage of both a decent person at the helm and as chancellor. But, privy to inside information, he thought the Labour were better prepared than the Tories to form a future government. He wanted grown-up politics. ‘David Cameron in a red tie’ was trivialising. The audience clapped. We’ve got to grow up and learn to work together. The major parties should come together to fix child care and the NHS. They clapped again, all the louder. We have a populist! Maybe Linekar has a point?

Bim preferred the 2030s to the 1930s as by that time all will be well – if you vote for the Tories.

Stephen was triggered via Cameron in a red tie. The two main Westminster parties are the same. The Tories want to stop the boats, the next day the Labour say they want to stop the boats. Lucy was triggered by Stephen being triggered. There will be more of this as the election nears.

Perhaps campaign manager Sub-lieutenant Bowie isn’t lost after all. Perhaps he’s at the printers churning out the possibly election-winning ‘Vote Labour Get The SNP’ leaflets?

© Always Worth Saying 2023

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