Question Time 8th June 2023
Lee Rowley (Conservative)
Jonathan Ashworth (Labour)
Ayesha Hazarika (Broadcaster)
Lord Sumption (Former Supreme Court judge)
Venue: King’s Lynn
Jonathan Sumption, not his real name (Jonathan Philip Chadwick Sumption, Lord Sumption, OBE, PC, FSA, FRHistS), is a former senior judge and barrister who sat on the Supreme Court between 2012 and 2018. He is the first lawyer to be appointed to the Supreme Court without previously serving as a full-time judge since its inception in 2009.
Sumption is a well-known historian and author, having written a narrative history of the Hundred Years’ War. He has represented several high-profile clients as a lawyer, specialising in Russian oligarchs, and has earned millions in fees.
Sumption’s final case before being appointed to the Supreme Court was in representing Roman Abramovich against Boris Berezovsky in a multimillion-pound dispute over an alleged oil deal. His fee for that one case alone is thought to have been north of £5 million.
He also defended Alastair Campbell at Lord Hutton’s enquiry into the untimely death of Dr David Kelly during unindicted war criminal Anthony Charles Lynton Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sumption criticized lockdowns and associated British government policies, which led to controversy and criticism from some experts.
He has been described as the cleverest man in Britain and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2003. But does he have his own weekly review column and can he describe the locations in old family photos? Perhaps not.
Sumption speaks French and Italian fluently. He reads Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Catalan and Latin but admits that his Greek is a bit rusty. One sympathises.
A hereditary lawyer, the 74-year-old’s father, Anthony, before retiring to St Tropez, was a tax law expert, barrister, part-time judge, founder of a merchant bank and submarine commander.
Jonathan was educated at £46,000 a year Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. After graduating with a first in medieval history, he accepted a fellowship but, with the help of his father, moved to the law and began a Lincoln’s Inn pupilage four years later.
Lord Sumption’s brainy and oddly irresistible goggle specced and gap-toothed daughter is Madeleine Sumption a director of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory.
La Bruce began the programme with a quote from the great political intellectual that is Prince Harry and continued by informing us eight of the nine Norfolk MPs are Conservatives and the county voted bigly for Brexit. Will the good people of King’s Lynn, therefore, be able to break the Remainer Wall that fortifies Question Time? Doubt it.
In Papal white and yellow, La Bruce invited question one. Are newspaper articles obtained by harassment and surveillance in the public interest?
Ayesha thought Prince Harry and his legal case are honest and expressed sympathy for the kind of life he has had to live in the public eye.
Where should a line be drawn, asked La Bruce? Ayesha announced the press fantastic but in need of being fair and ethical.
Ayesha Hazarika, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is a broadcaster, journalist, and political commentator. One of the Coatbridge Hazarikas, Comrade Ayesha was born on December 15, 1975, and educated privately at Laurel Bank Girl’s School in Glasgow, now part of the £16,000 per annum Huthesons Grammar. The doctor’s daughter, whose brother is also a doctor, studied Law at Hull University before heading further south, taking a master’s in Communications and Politics, joining the Civil Service and finding her political and media home in Camden.
Besides working as a press officer at the Department of Trade and Industry, Ms Hazarika took to standup comedy and was a semi-finalist in both BBC and Channel 4 new talent competitions. One of her unfunny, lazy standup routines is critiqued here in a previous edition of QT Review.
The 47-year-old later became a political adviser to senior Labour Party politicians and co-authored the book ‘Punch and Judy Politics: An Insiders’ Guide to Prime Minister’s Questions,’ with fellow Labour speechwriter and special adviser Tom Hamilton.
Despite rave reviews from other London media-political bubble nonentities; ‘Supurb! – John Rentoul’, ‘Sent shivers down my spine’ – Harriet Harman, ‘Genuinely informative, funny and original’ – Andrew Marr, Ayesha’s mighty work sits an informative and spine rattling 290,466 places behind the Marquis de Sade’s ‘120 Days of Sodom’ in the Amazon best sellers chart.
Hazarika has also become a regular media commentator and a columnist for The Scotsman and the London Evening Standard and was one of the launch presenters of the Times Radio digital radio station in June 2020.
Some methods are illegal, began Lord Sumption, but most intrusive journalism isn’t illegal and defining it as such would be a legislative nightmare. The real complaint of Prince Harry isn’t of the method but the of unpleasantness, and you can’t have a law against unpleasantness – according to Lord Sumption. Rather, what is required is an improvement in the culture of the media.
Furthermore, Prince Harry has to prove he was hacked, otherwise, he won’t win.
The politicians, Ashworth and Rowley, were sympathetic but not sympathetic enough to do anything about it. No doubt keeping in mind their need of media support to gain electoral advantage.
Ayesha announced things were better post-Leveson Inquiry but members of the public are still exposed to press intrusion too. Self-regulation was the best way but it’s not just about Prince Harry and the rich and famous but also about how ordinary people are treated.
Question two, what do the Tories have to do over the next 12 months to stay in power? La Bruce wondered if the questioner knew what Prime Minister Sunak’s five pledges were. He didn’t. Forgetting about Question Time, she segued into Catch Out Time and asked Rowley if he knew them. He did.
Additionally, Rowley said the government had to get on top of things and show the voters that things will improve.
Lee Rowley has been the Conservative Party MP for North East Derbyshire since 2017. Not quite Mr North, prior to his role as an MP, Rowley worked in financial services and management consultancy and was a Conservative councillor for the Maida Vale ward on Westminster City Council in London. In 2022, Rowley was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Local Government and Building Safety in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Before his successful election in 2017, he unsuccessfully ran in the 2010 (against Dennis Skinner in Bolsover) and the 2015 general elections (finishing second in North East Derbyshire).
After being head boy of his state school in Chesterfield, Lee attended Lincoln College, Oxford, from where he graduated with a degree in Modern History. After completing a master’s degree in history at the University of Manchester, he embarked upon a career in financial services with, amongst others, Santander, Barclays, KPMG and finally as Head of Change (bags of shrapnel out of the tills? That kind of change?) at the Co-op.
One of Mr Rowley’s donors is the lovely Lubov Chernukhin. Overall the biggest female political donor in UK history, Russian Ms Chernukhin, wife of Vladimir Chernukhin, Putin’s former deputy finance minister, is a British citizen these days so that’s all right then.
From her £8,000,000 property, owned by an offshore trust and overlooking Regent’s Park, Lubov keeps a low profile while, according to The Times, lobbying government ministers “against raising the tax burden on high net-worth individuals.”
La Bruce pointed out Labour have five pledges too. Jon Ashworth rhymed them off. However, waiting lists are going up. He is going to reduce them by taxing you more in order to pay heavily unionised NHS workers higher wages instead of spending it on the sick.
A gentleman in the audience declared all the politicians useless and invited them to say behind at the end of the programme so he could have a word with them. Jon Ashworth took up the offer and said they should meet for a pint. Pint of what? One suspects John’s palate is more sophisticated than a King’s Lynn ruffian’s.
Lord Sumption said something half sensible, ‘People have an unrealistic view of what the state can do for them.’ If he had said, ‘The left and their allies at the BBC encourage people to have an unrealistic view of what the state can do for them in order to politicise the difference between expectation and reality,’ he would have been wholly correct.
He pointed out politicians only have a small amount of influence. They can nudge rather than control. It’s too easy to make these political promises. Honesty would mean admitting to limits.
Ayesha said governments could do a lot. She claimed there’d been cuts. Has there? Public spending is an outrage. She referenced growing waiting lists but forgot to mention that NHS workers are on strike. She declared the country in decline. She blamed … Brexit. Yay!
She also announced a good and stable government to be a high-tax government. She mentioned the housing crisis without mentioning immigration, immigration and immigration.
Question three was about quality dental care for all.
Jon got bogged down in the difference between dentists’ and GPs’ contracts and started explaining things that nobody cares about. La Bruce joined in, talking about blocks of care and individual treatments.
Jonathan Michael Graham Ashworth is the Labour Member of Parliament for Leicester South and has been since May 2011. Ashworth was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 2021. Prior to his parliamentary career, and never having had a job, he worked as an adviser to Gordon Brown and in a series of Labour Party HQ non-jobs.
Ashworth’s educational background includes studying politics and philosophy at the University of Durham. He was appointed Shadow Health Secretary by Jeremy Corbyn in 2016 and was reappointed to the position by Keir Starmer in 2020.
To abate the cost of living crisis, Mr Ashworth sticks his snout in the freebee trough. With no need for food banks, Jon dines out on donations, enjoying £70 of catering paid for by Global Radio Ltd during a Classic FM jolly last October. A sum of money with which Lee Rowley’s Conservative Party namesake Lee ‘30p’ Anderson could feed a family of ten for a week, and still have enough loose change left over to deport them to Rwanda.
Jon’s other recently declared jollies include Beautiful: the Carole King Musical, value £168, Billy Elliot, £106, Wizard of Oz, £172, Berlin (the place not the musical) £1,305 and Madrid (likewise) £2,285.
Ayseha mentioned dental deserts and do-it-yourself dentistry. La Bruce asked if anyone in the audience had tried that. They hadn’t. Unlike here. There is a tale to tell of myself, a drill, a mirror and a volunteer with a steady hand (an 88-year-old uncle) but instead, let’s cut to the quick.
There is no NHS dentistry within striking distance of QT Review HQ. Take it from one who knows, if a Puffin’s teeth are so sore that he or she can’t sleep, can’t eat and the painkillers wear off before it’s safe to take any more then you are an emergency and can get NHS treatment via the emergency system. Here, emergency treatment is carried out at the local district hospital. There is a set price of about £20 per visit. You may qualify for free treatment through Tax or Universal Credit, or through the equivalent for pensioners. Good luck!
Lord Sumption passed, saying he knew nothing about the subject but was happy to listen to others. One does doubt the £5m a gig classes are on the NHS.
The next question was about the Covid enquiry. Lord Sumption thought the enquiry would take a long time, lacked a single purpose and was likely to be distracted by solace to victims – too many of whom had already been invited to contribute to the enquiry.
Sweden has already published a 1,700-page report outwith lawyers and individuals with specific complaints.
Bad news for Jon Ashworth, who wants such things to drag on forever and provide political ammunition to bash the government with.
He wondered why the lockdowns had been longer in his constituency in Leicester. No need for an inquiry to answer that. Because the Labour Party has turned it into the Third World, with developing country levels of hygiene, superstition and immune system debilitating in-breeding.
Interestingly the angle from the audience and the panel was that the government has too much power in deciding what’s to be released to the inquiry, rather than too much power regarding lockdowns, vaccines, furlough and the like.
The endless enquiry, both above and below the line at Going-Postal, means that Puffins already know better.
© Always Worth Saying 2023
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