Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 23rd November 2023

The Panel:

Andrew Griffith (Conservative)
Alison McGovern (Labour)
Patrick Grant (Fashion Designer)
Isabel Oakshott (Author and Journalist)

Venue: Stevenage

Andrew John Griffith is the Conservative Party MP for Arundel and South Downs, elected to Parliament for the first time as recently as 2019. The 52-year-old holds the position of Minister of State for Science, Research and Innovation.

A graduate of Nottingham University (Law), Mr Griffith is a qualified chartered accountant and worked for investment bankers Rothschilds & Co, before using the tentacles of the giant octopus to climb the ladder at SKY TV, eventually becoming a board member and Chief Operating Officer.

A Fellow of the Royal Television Society, the year before his election to House of Commons Mr Griffiths benefitted to the tune of £17 million through his shareholding when SKY TV was sold to Comcast. The American entertainment conglomerate is also known as Communistcast, given its compromising investment in Chinese theme parks. Keep this in mind when watching LIE News

Alison McGovern (not her real name, Alison Kumar) is the Labour MP for Wirral South. The dullard of the family, Alison’s interesting grandfather was Peter McGovern, the songwriting author of Spinners hit ‘In My Liverpool Home’, whose much-altered lyrics have been aimed at Liverpool and Everton Wendyball fans for the past 60 years.

Not quite ‘born in Liverpool, down by the docks’ or having to, as the terrace wags would have it, ‘ratch through the dustbins for something to eat’, posh Alison attended Wirral Grammar School For Girls before graduating in Philosophy at University College, London. Comrade Alison used her degree to become a communications type for various quangos before being elected to Parliament in 2010. Her husband, Ashwin Kumar, is another pointless policy wallah and a one-time senior economic advisor to the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown.

The 42-year-old is currently Shadow Secretary for Employment and takes her mind off the cost of living crisis by forcing herself to allow donors to treat her to freebies to the likes of the Open (value £725), Wimbledon (£1,260), a trip to Minnesota (£1,776), Liverpool matches (£500 a time), the Mercury Awards (£570) and a jolly to Paris (£1,356).

Patrick Grant was born in Morningside, a district of Edinburgh so exclusive that, your humble reviewer is reliably informed, the ladies eat their fish and chips with their gloves on.

After attending £16,000 a year Edinburgh Academy and £28,000 a year Barnard Castle schools, Patrick graduated with a degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Leeds. Further studies saw the 51-year-old complete an MBA at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.

As ever, the family dullard appears on Question Time. Grant’s father, James, was an accountant to the stars, the manager of Scottish pop group Marmalade, and a rugby coach.

Described as a fashion designer in the Question Time guff, Patrick is more on the business side, having been in corporate sales and marketing before buying into Saville Row tailors Norton & Sons. In 2015, he took over Cookson & Clegg, the Blackburn-based military-grade clothing people.

Perhaps lacking his father’s accountancy skills, Norton & Sons, Cookson & Clegg and another of his businesses, Community Commodities, went into liquidation last year.

Heavily indebted following the coronavirus pandemic, big customer Debenhams entering administration, and a PPE contract gone bad, the 40 employees faced an uncertain future. Not to worry, perhaps having inherited his father’s accountancy skills after all, other companies connected to Patrick bought the struggling businesses’ equipment from the liquidators allowing Mr Grant to set off again debt-free.

As Lisa Nandy these days presents as an irritating Gujeratti auntie, likewise the years and too many appearances on Question Time have seen Puffins’ former pin-up girl Isabel Euphemia Oakeshott morph from being top-class totty to being your relative’s nasty second wife who gets booed at family funerals.

Westminster-born Isabel was brought up in Dunbar, thirty miles along the coast from Morningsdie. As another measure of the cliquey bubble nature of Question Time, Isabel and Patrick both appeared on the corresponding edition of QT this time last year (from Bishop Auckland).

Following £33,000 a year St George’s School, Edinburgh, and £42,000 a year Gordonstoun, La Oakshott attended Bristol University where she graduated in History. Pursuing a career in journalism, the 49-year-old began at the East Lothian Currier (first for news, sport and entertainment in Haddington, North Berwick, Dunbar and Musselburgh), before a Cook’s tour of Scottish and English regional titles earned her a six-year spell at The Times. More recent gigs include GB News and Talk TV.

In anticipation of last year’s appearance on QT, we took a look at the accounts of her tax-efficient Diamond Ink company, into which her TV appearance and journalistic fees are funnelled. Since then she has not filed any additional accounts but one couldn’t help but notice a charge upon her business earlier this month regarding an interest-free loan from a Las Vegas-based businessman regarding the purchase of a property on the Isle of Wight. Hmm.

Ex-husband Nigel Rosser (£20,000 a year Magdalen College and £33,000 per annum Dragon School) was also a journalist. Her present squeeze is Reform UK: The Brexit Party supremo Richard James Sunley Tice (£40,000 a year Uppingham School), a scion of the Sunley property dynasty.

Another disappointment posted to QT, the extended Oakeshott family is packed with Oxford dons, members of the House of Lords, diplomats, war heroes and archaeologists. Brainy sister, Veronica is part-time Head of Forestry Campaigns at Global Witness, from where, according to her LinkedIn profile, Veronica ‘uses my excellent understanding of policy-making processes’ to ‘help clients build networks and win campaigns.’ Currently, Veronica is using her First in Politics from the University of Newcastle to stop ‘irresponsible agrobusinesses’. Eat soil and bugs, plebs!

Poor relation Isabel has latterly surrendered to her inner girl bully. Her biography of Mr Cameron mentioned his porcine inclination and made an obtuse and unnecessary comment about Mrs Cameron. Boo. Later she broke a Non-Disclosure Agreement to sell embarrassing WhatsApp government pandemic messages to the Daily Telegraph. Boo. Let’s hope she misbehaves on tonight’s Question Time!

As for the yokel photos on the front of this week’s QT panellists’ desk, dare the BBC include images of the mean streets of the Stevenage ‘hood? In a 2018 interview, Puffins’ favourite and former Hertfordshire commuter town resident, Dame Louise of Hamilton, claimed in his go-cart driving childhood he dreamed, ‘For us to get out of the slums.’

Burned on Twitter, England paraplegic badminton player Gobi Ranganathan corrected Dame Louise by pointing out, “I for one am proud to fly the flag for Stevenage. It’s made me who I am today.”


Question one. Will the autumn statement alleviate the cost of living crisis?

The economy is to be more resilient than the forecasters’ forecast, forecasted Andrew. He blamed high energy prices on Putin rather than Net Zero. He spoke in a kind of gibberish peppered with numbers. Four hundred billion, no incontinent spending promises, an increase of 25% for those who are working hard over the length of this government. What does any of that mean?

The difference between our parties is the record, countered Alison, perhaps forgetting the Labour government wrecked the economy with the Blair credit bubble and subsequent crunch of 2007-2008. She thanked the audience for the dog whistle applause after she mentioned food banks. People aren’t being helped to move on and move up in their work. She’ll be dead against immigration then? We shall see.

As for the local photos of Stevenage, there weren’t any. Rather ‘Question Time Stevenage’ was displayed on a blue background. Perhaps Stevenage’s cathedral, botanical gardens and grand-arched central station, with accompanying clock tower and fountains, are on the wrong side of the ‘hood?

A public sector worker spoke. She relies on in-work benefits. One suspects the point she was trying to make is that her in-work benefits go down as her autumn statement enhanced wages go up.

Another public sector worker spoke.

Isabel spoke.

The autumn statement is a con. Four million more people are entering the 20% tax rate (as thresholds haven’t risen). Benefits are going up by 7%, making work less attractive. The forecasts are awful. ‘Bumping along the bottom,’ she said as if harking back to her days as Miss Going-Postal.

Help the cost of living crisis? Not at all, concluded Patrick Grant. He wondered if rising energy prices weren’t the government’s fault after all, but set off in the wrong direction by blaming a lack of investment in alternative energy rather than an over-reliance upon it. Bizarrely he also blamed the privatization of BP. For 40 years our incomes have stayed the same. Nothing the politicians have done has made any difference to wages but prices have gone up.

Garment manufacturer Patrick continued, ‘The minimum wage is a tricky thing. In principle, I’m in favour of the minimum wage.’ You know what’s coming next. From the goodness of his heart and in order to prevent higher inflation and unemployment, he would prefer not to give his low-paid employees a rise.

A lady in the audience mentioned Andrew’s £10 million mansion. La Bruce asked if she’d been looking him up. ‘Yes,’ she replied. Oi, that’s my job. The lady was referring to Mr Griffth’s Grade II listed five-story Westminster townhouse which Boris Johnson used as a base for his transition team in anticipation of becoming leader of the Tory Party and Prime Minister in 2019.

In his defence, Mr Griffiths assured the audience he’d been to his local comprehensive school. Wonder if he sends his kids there too?

Isabel didn’t want to talk down success.

The lady retaliated. Her parents were illiterate immigrants who worked in a factory and yet she has a degree and runs two businesses.

A subsequent question was about all-time high net immigration, estimated at 672,000 this year.

An absolute catastrophe decided Isabel. We are importing while having people out of work here. Plus we need the infrastructure; homes, roads, hospitals. The standard of living for all goes down. We have seen the impact on public services. The government has done the opposite of what it promised. She supported the best type of Net Zero – Net Zero migration – to a complete silence from the carefully chosen BBC audience. Her solution to alleged labour shortages – we need to pay our own people better.

Incredibly sad, we have lots of people who don’t have work, observed Patrick. We pay people lots to do jobs that are easy. Yes, you, Fiona Bruce, he forgot to add. And then pay people little for jobs that seem difficult. What do we value in the jobs available? If we pay more, they’d do them. There is an obsession with A-Levels and universities rather than broader opportunities – plumbers, carpenters, builders. Teach it at school, he suggested, to applause.

A tinged person in the audience repeated, unchallenged, a lazy racist trope and made a series of prejudiced remarks about ‘UK-born people’ not wanting to work. A ‘Canadian Brit’ thought the problem centred around having first-class stamps and second-class stamps rather than next-day and two-day delivery. I wasn’t expecting that. Neither were you and neither was Fiona Bruce. ‘Hold on a minute,’ interrupted the chair. For once capturing the mood of the British people she asked, ‘What has that got to do with it?’

‘We need a mindset change about the jobs we want to do.’ We need to do jobs we don’t want to do and start our careers from the bottom and work our way up. La Bruce twigged the stamps were a metaphor.

Yes, the system is broken, said Alison. One has to observe, the Labour Party is stuck. They have to claim their voters are ‘hard-working’ while being in favour of replacing them with even more cheap (Labour-voting) immigrants.

Back on the question, Isabel asked if Labour was committed to lowering net migration.

‘We think it will come down,’ was the reply. By magic perhaps.

Andrew on behalf of the government made no commitment to lower immigration either. The way forward is higher productivity. Somehow.

The final question was introduced by a surprised La Bruce. Many people had asked this. Is the jungle the best campaign tool? Presumably a reference to Mr Anton Dec’s ‘I’m Desperate For Publicity, Get Me Into The Jungle’ television programme.

Patrick mentioned contestant Nigel Farage’s sheer balls. Not the raw ones served to him at meal times on TV but the cojones required to ask for £1.5 million to be on a reality TV show.

All of the panellists and respondents from the audience pretended they didn’t watch the show while knowing all about it.

The best campaign tool is eyeball-to-eyeball contact on the doorstep while listening to the voter, said Alison wisely. Then why don’t they do more of that and less mainstream media claptrap like Question Time, wondered this reviewer between his regular Thursday night cries of ‘Get me out of here!’

© Always Worth Saying 2023

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