Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 21st September 2023

The Panel:

Kevin Hollinrake (Conservative)
Thangam Debbonaire (Labour)
Matthew Syed (Journalist and Author)
Ella Whelan (Journalist and Author)

Venue: Ipswich

In the guff accompanying this week’s Question Time, the BBC informs us panellist Matthew Syed is the author of seven best-selling books. Really? As Marianna Spring has yet to set foot in QTReview HQ, we shall do our own fact-checking. We know where to look, and for once we are forced to agree begrudgingly with the fake news factory at Broadcasting House. Matthew’s mighty work, ‘Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance’, sits an amazing 81,879 places ahead of the Marquis de Sade’s ‘120 Days of Sodom’ in the Amazon bestsellers list.

Speaking of bottoms, an opportunity has arisen for provincial Puffins with a selfie stick. QT now advertises on Twitter for striking images of their upcoming locations to be displayed on the desk in front of the London BBC’s London Question Time’s London panel to pretend the programme is not all about London. Email your photos to Fiona Bruce! Here is your chance if you live in Sale or Wolverhampton (28th September and 5th October respectively). If bent in half with your trousers around your ankles before Sale Cathedral or Wolverhampton Castle as the shutter clatters, so much the better.

All the panellists have appeared numerous times before, making the programme even more tedious. We already know that journalist Ella Whelan is a London-born London media type and that Thangam Debbonaire is not Thangam Debbonaire’s real name. You don’t need me to tell you that Thangam Elizabeth Rachel Singh (one of the Cambridgeshire Thangam-Singhs) is Labour MP for Bristol West and has never had a job beyond being, briefly, a professional cellist.

We ken Matthew Syed, a Berkshire Syed with a Pakistani Professor for a father. Besides being a journalist and according to his website, Matthew is also an influential thought leader who establishes thriving mindset cultures that drive higher performance with an impressive portfolio of global clients. Well.

Incidentally, while we’re driving mindsets and critiquing the overly important, I must share this self-revelation with you. When reflecting upon the tomfoolery and bantz at work, I lamented to my young girlie colleagues that nobody laughs at my jokes anymore. I was met with the following telling reply: ‘Not so, Worth, you laugh at your own jokes.’ From the mouths of babes, sucklings and school leavers stacking shelves.

All except Kevin Hollinrake, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Thirsk and Malton since May 2015, who currently enjoys a 25,154 majority and appears on QT for the first time.

The present Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Enterprise and Markets studied physics at Sheffield Polytechnic but dropped out before completing his course to enter the insurance industry. After co-founding the York-based Hunter’s estate agency, the Easingwold-born 59-year-old (his sixtieth birthday is next Thursday) embarked on a successful career in property and retail.

Disappointing on Brexit but sound on fracking, Kevin claims his London rent on Parliamentary expenses while renting out five properties of his own.

Another controversy stuck Kevin in 2019 when the FT reported a conflict of interest while he sat on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Business Banking. The APPG was drawing up a scheme to help small businesses wronged by banks while Mr Hollinrake’s Hunter’s company was suing Clydsade Yorkshire Bank Group regarding a ‘contentious tailored business loan’.

If the guests are predictable, so are the topical questions. Mr Sunak’s partial abandonment of Net Zero and the mainstream media’s total abandonment of Russel Brand must feature.

Net Zero was always mental and is based upon the science of mass psychosis in a bubble of superstitious medieval media and political villagers in an insignificant dot on the map called Islington. Such true idiots believe thinking the wrong thing about gas central heating boilers in terraced houses in Burnley starts a fire in a field in Hawaii.

To reduce the global level of carbon dioxide from its present alarming 0.04% (with the guilty UK responsible for a mighty 1% of emissions), Net Zero was the brainchild of former prime minister’s mistress Carrie Symonds. Squeeze Boris Johnson lamentably not being big enough to stand up to the airhead twenty-five years his junior. If Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, Ms Symons would scrap your car and tax your meat (stop it).

Brand, a former BBC employee, was recently exposed by the Sunday Times, whose sister paper The Sun previously elevated him to Shagger of the Year, and by Channel Four who employed Brand at the height of his notoriety when he did not need to hide despite being in full sight.

As for the venue, the good burgers of the historic Suffolk town may have tweeted pictures for the QT desk showing the Ipswich waterfront, where visitors can explore a vibrant array of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Or of several significant buildings, such as the Ancient House, a Grade I listed building, and Christchurch Mansion. Perhaps of the New Wolsey Theatre, DanceEast or a selection of the county town’s museums and galleries or of the surrounding beautiful Suffolk countryside? Find out what’s on offer locally by looking below Thangam Debbonaire’s waist at the end of the opening titles. Behave yourselves.

After which, in the real world of London journalism, Westminster politics, media bubble excess and carbonphobia, La Bruce will call the programme to order and invite Mr Kelvin Grey to ask the first question.

Was Mr Sunack’s change of Net Zero policy a desperate attempt to gain votes?

There was some confusion about what that change is taking place. Kevin Hollinrake insisted net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 remained on target but would be done differently while the deadlines for ending gas central heating and non-electric cars are extended. He had a laundry list of dubious and expensive carbonphobic achievements, including constructing the world’s biggest (useless) windfarms and half-built over-budget nuclear power stations controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

Matthew Syed didn’t bother with the question and focused on trust and changing policies across the recent series of changing Tory prime ministers. He chanted trust in the way that others chant ‘stop oil’ or ‘keep it in the ground’. I lost count of the number of times he said trust.

Incidentally, the below-the-waist photos were of a new bridge, the Ipswich Marina and a French railway station, possibly Lille Flandres or Bordeaux-Saint-Jean.

Ella pointed out that the philosophy behind Net Zero remains the same but the pain will be more drawn out. She mentioned the unmentionable. Heat pumps don’t work and cost a fortune. The extra insulation for properties (more like hermetic sealing) requires another fortune. All this is to be funded through an economy which struggles to grow. She half-expected that a miraculous technological advance might appear from nowhere.

None of the audience challenged the global warming proposition but all wondered about the cost and timescale. The penny has partially dropped. The Tories might be on to something if the Labour Party are mad enough to commit to the original timetable. Via Thangam Debbonaire the comrades hurried into the awaiting trap. Clear and present danger. Insulation. First movers. Better world. Wind is the cheapest type of power. Her climate change purity matched the Jeremy Corbyn ideological purity that led Labour to disaster in the 2019 election.

A lady in the audience wondered why electricity is so expensive if wind power is so cheap. Because it isn’t cheap. Wind turbines have massive redundancy due to insufficient moving air to turn them. Some days in the still weather earlier this month, the vast investment in wind produced as little as 0.3% of our electricity. Barmy.

Matthew interrupted to mention civilisation. It has to be reinvented away from keeping warm and driving about. Nobody said that man-made global warming is bollocks and there’s nothing we can do about the weather other than to prepare for it and react to it. Get drilling.

Question 2: should Russel Brand’s comedy antics have been challenged years ago?

Ella thought he’d been vile from day one. His style is a personal preference, or not. As for the allegations against him, there is such a thing as due process and assumption of innocence. She wasn’t sure about YouTube de-monetising his recent content and wanted to shame the people who pretended they didn’t know how shameful Brand’s behaviour was.

Thangam wanted to change a culture. One that’s wider than one individual and one complaints process. It’s up to non-abusive men to challenge these things; women are tired of trying. There isn’t a due process, an audience member observed. Very few allegations of rape end up in court. Someone else in the audience blamed social media, as did Matthew Syed.

He mentioned his right to free speech and used his to call Russel a vile misogynist. Matthew had been shocked by the Channel Four expose and, as if one of Ella’s shameful deniers, had previously had no idea who Russel Brand was. Pillars of the media establishment, other than Matthew obviously, should have done more. Social media is making our young people sick as is online pornography. Despite being a libertarian, Matthew wanted such things better regulated.

Kevin hadn’t heard of Russel Brand either. He doesn’t watch Question Time, does he? Ella made an important point. The moralising BBC and Channel Four wagged their fingers at us sanctimoniously throughout the 2000s (and before and after she might have added) while all the time employing Brand.

La Bruce trumped all the shameful deniers by moving on without mentioning that, between joking on stage about choking girls and sexually shaming harmless old men’s granddaughters, the obnoxious Brand appeared on an edition of Question Time. A friend tells me that two personal assistants prepared Russel’s make-up and hair, including his chest hair, before the programme. Not only was Brand unchallenged regarding his vile behaviour by the then-QT chair, shameful David Dimbleby, but the Fortnum and Mason misogynist was given a pre-scripted killer line labelling Nigel Farage a ‘Poundshop Enoch Powell.’

The next question was about the pay of £60,000 a year junior doctors and £200,000+ PA consultants.

Thangam wanted to talk to the doctors but wouldn’t say what she would say to them. Doctors should be looking after patients and not standing on picket lines, retorted Kevin. How are you going to do it, asked La Bruce? We will force them to go to work under a minimum service law and ignore their demand for a 35% pay increase.

There was a nurse in the audience, surprise, surprise. She intended to vote to strike for more pay, to be appreciated but most of all for ‘patient safety.’ In which case, you’d think she’d want to be at work. Mathew thought the pay demands were irresponsible. The system needs to change. The world-beating NHS is supposed to protect us, not us protect them. The NHS should not be a national religion. It is not the best in the world. Look at the scandals. The government is right to stand up to the well-paid doctors. Backbone required from the politicians!

A lady in the audience, large enough to be a nurse, invented a new word. Health Service staff are being ‘villanised.’ A gentleman in the audience became overexcited and began shouting. Without them we are finished! In that case, pal, you’re finished – they’re always on strike.

I was finished too — time for bed.

© Always Worth Saying 2023

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file