Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 21st March 2024

The Panel:

Rachel Maclean (Conservative)
Sarah Jones (Labour)
Tim Farron (LibDems)
Philippa Gregory (Author)
Rod Liddle (Journalist)

Venue: Middlesborough

Rod Liddle is one of those embarrassing London upper-middle-class Metropolitan media types (Chairman of the Board, Alistair Campbell) who claim to be working class and report a northern hinterland. Liddle also claims to have been born in Bermondsey whereas he was born in Kent’s Sidcup and spent his early childhood in Abbey Wood. Bordering the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Abbey Wood is closer to Bermondsey than Sidcup but is still not part of the working-class docklands district famous as the home of Millwall Football Club.

Rod did spend some of his childhood in the North but, at times, skips a generation or two to write as if his family were railwaymen. In reality, his father and mother were civil servants with the Liddle’s re-locating to Nunthorpe, a select Teesside community sitting south of Middlesbrough in Yorkshire’s idyllic North Riding. After A-levels, Rod moved with his family to South Wales where he began a career in journalism at the South Wales Echo.

Returning to London as a mature student, he studied humanities at the LSE while speech writing for the Labour Party. A 15-year spell at the BBC followed where the 64-year-old rose to be editor of Radio 4’s flagship Today programme for four years. Amongst others, Mr Liddle has written for The Guardian and Spectator (his current position) and is a published author. One of his Spectator articles catches the eye.

Entitled ‘Millwall aren’t half as racist as you think’, one wonders if this state of affairs arose when Rod stopped going to the matches. As the internet never forgets, likewise the Millwall Online message board has an impressive memory. Posting in 2010 as MonkeyMFC, Mr Liddle’s observations include, ‘I’d get down to that polling booth. Vote early, vote often, vote BNP.’ Less enthusiastic about a Mr Kevin Amankwaah, his advice to the Swindon Town defender and former England U-18 international consisted of, ‘**** off you spearchucking African ****.’

The Spectator’s associate editor’s observations regarding ITV newsreader Miss Mary Nightingale can’t be repeated in a family review. Neither can comments aimed at blogger Mr Jo Owen who, given the medical references involved, Mr Liddle assumed to be a Joanne rather than a Joseph.

Other gems include, ‘******meat not ***meat; you’ve got to get your terminology correct’ and contributions to Gaz MK’s (Gary from Milton Keynes?) thread on Auschwitz. Here the former BBC Radio Four Today supremo noted, ‘I went a year or so back. It’s ****ing outrageous that you can’t smoke in Auschwitz. I had to sneak round the back of the gas chambers for a crafty snout.’

Re-christening the site as ‘Hitlerland’, the London School of Economics humanities graduate also observed the Jews had been allowed to smoke and he ‘wasn’t convinced by the newish Auschwitz Burger Bar and Grill.’


When not posting as MonkeyMFC, Mr Liddle remains in character and keeps the QTReview HQ research radar busy by ending his honeymoon early to spend time with his mistress. By being arrested and cautioned for assaulting a pregnant girlfriend and writing what stopped him from becoming a teacher was not being able to ‘conceive of not trying to **** the kids.’

In the 2012 Spectator article, the twice-married father of three went on to reassure, ‘I don’t think I’d have dabbled much before year 10’. In old money, this is the fourth form where pupils are fourteen and fifteen. You can take the boy out of the BBC…

Rachel Maclean is the Conservative MP for Redditch and has been since 2017. At present, she enjoys a majority of over 16,000. Before entering politics, she studied experimental psychology at Oxford and pursued a master’s at Aston University. Subsequently, she joined a fast-track management scheme for multinational bank HSBC and later founded a publishing firm with her husband. In response to the cost-of-living crisis, she suggested (rightly) people struggling should consider taking on more hours at work or moving to a better job.

Rachel didn’t follow her own advice and was demoted from Housing Minister to Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party in Mr Sunak’s November reshuffle.

Sarah Jones was also first elected to parliament in 2017 and is the Labour MP for Croydon Central. The locally-born 52-year-old was a pupil of the private Old Palace School in the London borough and later pursued History at Trevelyan College, Durham University. After graduation, she worked for Labour MP Mo Mowlam and at ‘charity’ Shelter, on the public affairs side.

Sarah served as a senior civil servant involved in the delivery of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games and held various roles in the public and private sectors. These included at Gatwick Airport, where she campaigned for a second runway and in doing so spoiled her copybook in anticipation of becoming the present Shadow Minister for Industry and Decarbonisation.

Tim Ferron is the Liberal Democrat MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale. The Preston-born 53-year-old studied at Leyland Technical College before entering the University of Newcastle where he read politics. Engaging in student politics, he rose to the national executive of the National Union of Students and became president of the Newcastle University Student Union.

After graduation, he worked as an administrator in the higher education sector at Lancaster University and Charlotte Mason, Ambleside. While serving as a local councillor he contested several parliamentary constituencies prior to reaching parliament via his present seat in 2015. In the following quarter century, his majority rose from 267 to a less than Putin-esque 1,934.

A family man and committed Christian, Tim is a husband to Rosie and a father to two sons and two daughters. Tim’s Christianity in a Christian country triggered the bigots in the LibDem Party. After the 2017 general election, Mr Faron stood down from a two-year-long leadership of the party due to pressure from several senior figures concerned about his views on homosexuality. At the time, Mr Farron commented upon the impossibility of holding a Christian faith while leading a progressive political party.

Putting his experiences into reading and writing Tim authored ‘A Better Ambition: Confessions of a Faithful Liberal.’ As proof the Devil stalks the shelves hiding virtuous tomes behind filth, Mr Farron’s work is the 424,195th most popular book on Amazon, a full 310,481 places behind the Marquis de Sade’s ‘120 Days of Sodom.’

Here’s something you didn’t know. Leyland Tech (AKA Runshaw College) is also the alma mater of Puffins’ favourite, the late Derek Draper (AKA Mr Kate Garraway). True fact.

Philippa Gregory hails from Nairobi where her father flew as a radio operator and navigator with East African Airways. After moving to England aged two, Philippa attended the private Colston’s, a girls’ school founded from a bequest by local slave trader Edward Colston. After school, Philippa studied journalism in Cardiff before graduating in English Literature from the University of Sussex.

Employment at the BBC followed before Ms Gregory completed a PhD in English Literature in the 18th Century at the University of Edinburgh. It was during this research, as well as giving birth to baby daughter Victoria, Philippa wrote the first of her many successful historical novels.

‘Wildacres’, a gripping 700-page powerful account of life in the 18th century, earned the first-time author a whopping £300,000 advance. At the time, in conversation with the Dublin Evening Herald, the three-times married 70-year-old boasted it had been spent on a vicarage and a Suzuki Jeep.


Question one was a strange one and amounted to, now that the Rwanda Bill is nearly passed, what’s the government’s plan B? We don’t need a plan B observed Rachel Maclean. The bill is a sensible plan that deters arrivals. La Bruce kept on interrupting. Rachael responded, those opposing the plan – unelected peers and the Labour Party – are turning their backs on the people drowning in the Channel.

Sarah Jones wanted to stop the boats, by flying them in straight from the Third World one suspects. She told the audience there is a waiting list that needs to be reduced. La Bruce interrupted again, what are you going to do with those on the list? There’ll be a returns team to work out where illegal immigrants are sent. Sent to a hotel near to you perhaps.

Rod found Rwanda a gimmick. A place under British jurisdiction would be better. Sounds like even Rod wants them to stay here. He blamed charities for encouraging people to head for Calais. The Conservatives have lost control of immigration anyway. It is not remotely sustainable. Nothing that Shadow Evette Cooper says makes sense. She talks for the sake of talking. Labour opposes for the sake of opposing. Likewise, for no other reason than to make a noise, the panel began talking over each other.

Where is your humanity, screeched a loon in the audience.

A lot of them coming over are drug dealers and criminals, observed a more grounded gentleman. The Rwanda plan was excellent and was being thwarted by idiots. At least the Conservatives have a plan, pointed out another lady. There are not enough services for the people already here.

Tim Ferron referenced the most desperate people in the world. He asked what you would like to happen to you if this country was an unlivable wreck. We’re getting their Tim, thanks to your enthusiasm for mass, uncontrolled unlimited immigration.

Philippa talked nonsense. She said Rwanda must be a safe country as the Tories say it is, in the same way that June must be in spring as the Tories say the first flights will be then but the date announced is in June. Hold on a minute, love, June is in the Spring – a season that runs from March 20th to June 20th. I hope she researches the previous centuries better than she researches the calendar. Shall we find out? Kindle calls.

‘Wideacre Hall, set in the heart of the English countryside, just off the M4, is the ancestral home that Beatrice Lacey loves. But as a woman of the eighteenth century, she is allowed to drive and fly an aeroplane but has no right of inheritance. Corrupted by a world that mistreats robots, she sets out to corrupt others. Sexual and wilful, she believes that the only way to achieve control over Wideacre solar farm is through a series of horrible crimes, and no-one escapes the consequences of her need to earn Bitcoin from the land.’

Worse than I expected.

Just think what climate change is going to do to these countries ten years from now. There is a constant need to move from unsafe to safe places. Many in the carefully selected BBC audience applauded the madness.

Straight back to France, said nobody.

Question two was about levelling up the North, given that only 10% of the levelling up money available has been spent by local authorities. Surrey Sarah knows all about the North. The answer to de-industrialisation, caused in large part by the madness of Net Zero, is carbon capture, hydrogen and ‘renewable ports’.

Westminster Tim claimed to be Mr North. He was keen on a non-existent thing called HS3, which one assumes to be an east-west high-speed railway.

Worcestershire Rachel doesn’t live there either but pointed out some of her Red Wall colleagues do. These big infrastructure projects take a long time to plan. More than the 14 years the Tories have been in power, by the look of it.

The government have spent 14 years levelling the North down, noted Philippa. As an author, she’d noticed three libraries had closed in the North East, including one in nearby Darington.

A lady in the audience pointed out local successes and gave credit to a Conservative, Ben Houchen the Metro Mayor of the Tees Valley.

Rod wondered why people believed Boris Johnson when he said he would level up. The area still suffers from the devastation visited upon it by Mrs Thatcher. He, for the first time on Question Time, correctly referred to eight years of recent Conservative rule, obliquely reminding his audience that Mr Cameron’s government was a coalition. The North needs big investment.

Rod must have arrived from his Metroploirain home by rail. He told a traveller’s tale of changing at Darlington (‘Darlo’ he called it, faking the local dialect) to travel through a desolate wasteland at 9 mph in a train made in Czechoslovakia in 1953. Industries that once provided a decent living were gone. Some, such as the steelworks, were closed by Labour.

But, he saw a solution through some kind of (1950s Czechoslovakian) central plan rather than through cutting taxes, making a bonfire of regulation and setting free the entrepreneurial energy of the local people.

At which point your humble reviewer changed into his pyjamas and, carried by his 1962 northern knees, navigated the desolation that is a dark Cumbrian staircase on a cold early spring night for destination bed.

© Always Worth Saying 2024

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file


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