Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 11th January 2024

The Panel:

Andrea Leadsom (Conservative)
Lisa Nandy (Labour)
Anand Menon (Professor of Politics)
Lord Stuart Rose (Chairman of ASDA)

Venue: Oxford

Lord Stuart Rose, not his real name, Stuart Alan Ransom-Rose, Baron Rose of Monewden, is of Russian descent, his original real family name being Bryantzeff. His Lordship was educated at St Joseph’s Convent School in Dar es Salaam where his father worked in the Imperial Civil Service. He was subsequently privately educated at £30,000 per annum Bootham School, York, a Quaker establishment whose old boys include drag artist Lady Bunny. Previously, Rose worked in an administrative position at the BBC before becoming a management trainee at Marks & Spencer. There, after a retail Cook’s tour of ever more senior positions, he became M&S CEO and later Executive Chairman between 2004 and 2011. In the interests of equality, Lord Stuart’s salary at M&S reached £1.13 million per annum.

Subsequently the chairman of Ocado, he currently holds the same position at ASDA.

On the programme too often, QT Review has become annoyed by Lisa Nandy, Labour MP for Wigan and Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. She grates as if an irritating Gugeratti auntie stalking too long and too often the aisles at B&M asking stupid questions in an over-loud voice while kitting herself up for a nephew’s wedding back in the old country. Daughter of an Indian public schoolboy race relations wallah, Lisa studied law at a provincial university, went straight into party politics and therefore has never had a job.

Recently, when leafing through the post-Christmas unsellable books in Waterstones, your humble reviewer happened upon Miss Nandy’s ‘All In: How We Build a Country That Works’, the 244,207th most popular book on Amazon and an all-out 199,407 places behind the Marquis de Sade’s ‘120 Days of Sodom.’ In her mighty work, millionaire Lisa who lives in London with her lobbyist husband Andrew and owns a property in Wigan, complains of rich metroploitain absentee landlords owning property in the north. Oh.

Incidentally, if you’re in B&M and notice an embarrassed girl of about the same age two paces behind Lisa (while the MP bothers some poor soul trying to stack the shelves in the pet food isle for mosquito repellant), it will be Lisa’s brainy sister Francesca. An Oxford University graduate and client relationship manager, as ever the dullard of the family not only goes into politics but is invited on to Question Time.

One of the West Yorkshire Menons, Anand was educated at Wakefield Grammar School after which he attended Oxford University for nine years as a student before staying at Oxford and lecturing at the University’s St Anthony’s College (where he became a fellow) for a further six.

Presently he is at Kings College, London, where he is, despite not being European himself, Professor of European Politics and Foreign affairs. The 48-year-old is also a founding Director of the European Research Institute at the University of Birmingham, a director of the Political Quarterly Publishing Company, a director of Full Fact and of the rather grand-sounding Menon Advisory Ltd.

A prolific writer, Anand has published numerous works on European politics. Additionally, he is a frequent contributor to publications such as the Financial Times, London Review of Books, and Prospect.

A BBC box ticker, as long ago as 2002 Anand was presenting a BBC Radio Four series entitled ‘French Transformations’. According to the 22-year-old programme, the French work a 35-hour week, their economy thrives as never before and they make films like Ameélie that conquer the world. The BBC guff published at the time wondered if there might be a few things we might learn from our Gallic neighbours. Puffins with a long memory might recall Amand recommending the good people of Middle England to burn down their local town hall, dump their excess population in rubber dingies and ensure a 40% vote share for the National Front. Then again, Puffins might not.

Grammar school girl Dame Andrea Jacqueline Leadsom DBE left Tonbridge Girls’ Grammar School for the University of Warwick where she was awarded a degree in Political Science. There followed a career in the financial sector for the likes of Barclays, De Putron Fund Management and Invesco Perpetual.

A councillor on South Oxfordshire District Council between 2003 and 2007, the married mother of three became the Tory MP for South Northamptonshire in 2010 and is currently the Ruritanianly titled, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care.

Sound on Brexit, being a mother of three caused her to fall foul of the Woke Matrix when she had to pull out of the 2016 Tory leadership campaign after drawing a distinction between herself and opponent Theresa May on grounds of motherhood.

However, being married and having children does have its advantages.

Mr Leadsom, the three children and Andrea (until she was uncovered by the newspapers) were directors of Bandal Limited. Having acquired all the business acumen required at school, daughter Charlotte became a director on her 18th birthday. The company, according to their latest Companies House (unaudited) accounts, dated 31st August 2022, holds £6 million of assets.

According to the Guardian newspaper, these assets are Oxfordshire buy-to-let properties originally part-financed through a private bank in Jersey. Again according to the Guardian, a quarter of the company’s shares are held by Leadsom Children’s Settlement, presumably a tax-avoiding entity created to benefit those three children.

Remaining in the boardroom, Andrea copes with the cost of living crisis by accepting donations from her brother-in-law, old Etonian Peter De Pruton, a hedge fund manager resident in the Channel Islands with business interests seeded by George Soros and based in the British Virgin Islands. Hm. Eagle-eyed Puffins will have spotted that Mrs Leadsom was previously one of Mr De Pruton’s employees. Hmm. Mr De Pruton has also donated over £800,000 to the Conservative Party through a UK-based company called Gloucester Research. Hmmm.


‘Where better a place to be than Oxford,’ began Oxford graduate Fiona Bruce before eulogising about this being the very first Question Time audience made up entirely of undecided voters. She trawled the audience inviting them to comment on their predicament. We were off to a bad start. The BBC audience talked drivel. ‘There’s no excitement any more’, noted a covered young girl. ‘Labour has converged with the right’, she somehow managed to conclude. This led to the first question, ‘Do we have an electoral choice anymore and if so, what is it?

Andrea Leadsom referenced the 14 years of wasted Tory government before any of her opponents could but reassured us that Mr Sunak has an even longer-term view.

Lisa didn’t want to talk about the Tory’s record but what the Labour Party intends to do. Realistic policies, apparently. She had a plan for the NHS but she didn’t say what it was other than to, as she just said she wasn’t going to, bash the Tory’s record on the NHS. And a building plan. And an energy security policy. But she didn’t tell us what they were either. Lisa assured us her brevity was to ‘allow the others to talk.’

A loon in the audience said that 1 in 15 of us are destitute. The average billionaire is £720 million better off and he, on your behalf, wanted ‘our’ money back.

Andrea blamed COVID and the war in Ukraine.

Swing voters will make a difference in the next election noted Anand. Our first-past-the-post electoral system gives a narrow choice compared with proportional representation. Does it? Endless manifesto ignoring technocratic coalitions? Anand disagreed that the political parties were very similar. He referenced social care where the parties automatically shoot each other’s policies down. He would like to see the parties working with each other on long-term problems which span more than one election.

Lord Stuart waffled about democracy. His Lordship had previously done a six-month-long report into the NHS for the government but nobody had done anything about it. Government is talk, talk, talk rather than walk, walk, walk.

Returning to the questioner, his disappointment regarding the similarity between parties, and he had a point, revolved around the lack of a call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Question two, ‘Why has it taken a TV drama for the government to take the Post Office scandal seriously?’ This scandal began under a Labour government announced La Bruce. Lisa Nandy blamed it all on the Post Office. It had taken a while before the scandal ‘found its way to parliament.’ Lisa represents some of the Hillsborough victims and also a postmaster. They were crushed by the big legal system. Of which, surely, as a lawyer and legislator, Lisa is a part?

She suggested a Hillsborough Law obliging public servants to tell the truth and allowing fuller legal aid to those fighting miscarriages of justice.

Lord Stuart thought the problem was senior Post Office management assuming themselves to be above such things and there being only one shareholder – the government. A PLC would have attracted more internal and external scrutiny.

An audience member thought that if this was the USA, IT provider Fujitsu would have been in the dock. Only if they’d skimped on political donations, one is obliged to suspect.

Andrea had watched the programme and noted MPs had been calling for action for some time. It was in 2019 that the first court case found against the Post Office. There is an independent official enquiry underway at the moment.

Back to the audience. The big company rather than the little guy is believed, as per the credit crunch and the lives ruined by banks.

Anand made an important point. A good tale is a very powerful thing which is why the TV drama has had an impact the wronged postmasters, politicians and courts haven’t. He was also concerned about the assumed infallibility of technology especially regarding the approaching new frontier of Artificial Intelligence.

Question three was about a straight jacket of government debt throttling the next government’s options. Lord Stuart agreed. He should know. Take a look at ASDA’s debt – £4.2 billion. An article in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph began, ‘Asda’s private equity owner has insisted the chain can handle higher borrowing costs, amid concerns that the supermarket’s huge debt pile will hamstring the business.’ Physician heal thyself.

Anand was more confident. Tax levels here are middling compared with the rest of the developed world. But income is taxed rather than wealth, a situation that might be reversed. Oh. The problem with that, Anand, is that as you tax wealth it disappears whereas people can keep on earning income. He also mentioned ‘good’ public services rather than efficient ones. Anand is a tax and spend thief out to burn your money. Avoid.

Lisa wasn’t going into an election saying Labour would increase taxes for ‘working people’. She intended to grow the economy. Again, she didn’t mention efficiency but claimed there’d be growth via the grossly inefficient policy of Net Zero.

A genuinely weird individual in the audience wondered how you could justify extreme wealth in the country.

Andrea enthoused about new family hubs which aren’t anything like the Sure Start system which the Tories abolished. This all starts as soon as the baby is conceived, she assured us. Yuk. Shall we miss that bit out and fast forward to the directorships and tax avoidance, Andrea?

Bravely, £20,000 an hour Fiona Bruce returned the conversation to justifying extreme wealth. Fortunately for the chair, Andrea waffled about opportunity, getting inflation down and joining the trans-Pacific trade area.

The next question was about the housing crisis. As Puffins already know, there are three reasons for the housing crisis; immigration, immigration and immigration. None of the politicians and London bubble commentators ever acknowledge the fact, therefore the discerning reviewer may as well address his own house’s staircase and head for bed.

© Always Worth Saying 2024

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