Always Worth Saying’s Question Time Review

Question Time 9th May 2024

The Panel:

Nigel Huddleston (Conservative)
Lisa Nandy (Labour)
Grace Blakeley (Author)
Humphrey Cobbold (CEO of PureGym)

Venue: Stoke-on-Trent

Lisa Nandy is on Question Time too often. Tonight’s appearance takes her to a total of 24. This is her second time this year. Being brown, female, left and never having had a job ticks BBC boxes but one runs out of things to say about her.

Puffins already know the Newcastle University Law graduate is the daughter of an Indian public schoolboy, has a brainier sister called Francesa who went to Oxford, and Lisa has a husband, Andy Collis, who is a public relations consultant for blue chip corporations.

It is rude to comment on a lady’s weight but in this age of inflation, one feels obliged to observe the following. Across those 24 appearances, Ms Nandy has morphed from being one of those svelt gals from the subcontinent who might serve on table in an officers’ mess in Agra to looking like cook’s over-worked dessert taster.

Is there a young lady out there who isn’t on Question Time enough? Relief is at hand (so to speak). As if the MC at a middling provincial French cabaret introducing the mandatory ‘acte de chant bizairre’, it is my high honour and distinct privilege to announce to Puffins *Ian McShane voice*, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, heeeeere’s Grace.’

The Grace in question being the Daily Mail’s favourite Moet Marxist, Miss Grace Blakeley. Ms Blakeley was born in Basingstoke, her consultant mother is a Cambridge University graduate, her father an executive coach. Previously Mr and Mrs Blakeley were members of the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and volunteered to the war-torn Central American country to pick coffee beans for the (blood-soaked) revolution.

As Cambridge-educated South of England lefties are wont to, the couple returned to the Home Counties in haste and enrolled their daughter to an exclusive public school – Lord Wandsworth College (£44,100 per year ex VAT). Despite claiming to have ADHD and being expelled, Grace went to Oxford (St Peter’s College) to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

Remaining for further studies, Grace has a Masters in African Studies from St Antony’s College, Oxford. The thirty-year-old also has an out-of-tune guitar and can be viewed on YouTube attempting ‘Tear Me To Pieces’ and ‘Two Out of Seven.’

Following university, posh Grace became a management consultant for KPMG, on the government and healthcare side, before moving to the leftie think tank Institute For Policy Research. It was at the IPR that she began to do media work.

Slow to separate her personal and professional social media accounts and to set the former to private, as her profile rose, gentlemen of a certain age and level of IT competence were able to see Grace in her skimpies doing lots of girly girlie girl things. A very girlie girly girl by nature, Grace has to roughen up in public because of the feminist leftie thing. Eg pretending to have been expelled.

However, Donkey Jacket Grace did make herself useful on Good Morning Britain by doing to Puffin’s favourite Ian Dale what the other Grace did to Russel Harty. Unable to get a word in edgeways while discussing funding of mental health care, Ma Dale picked up his handbag, adjusted his frock and flounced out of the studio while girl-bully Grace laughed at him.

After the IPR, a tour of left-wing publishing (Tribune, Novara Media, BBC Question Time) followed during which Grace also became a published author. Her most recent work, Vulture Capitalism, a ‘galvanising takedown of neoliberalism free market logic’ will have pleased the neoliberal free-marketeers at her publisher Bloomsbury as it sits at 1,755th place in the Amazon best sellers list, a full 122,262 places above the Marquis De Sade’s ‘120 Days of Sodom’.

Nigel Huddleston is the Tory MP for Mid Worcestershire and the present Financial Secretary to the Treasury. A graduate of Christ Church, Oxford, the 53-year-old qualified in Politics and Economics before conducting further study at the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles where he was awarded an MBA. Another management consultant, Mr Huddleston was employed by Arthur Anderson, Deloitte and Google before being elected to parliament in 2015.

Mrs Huddleston is the interesting Melissa. An American and mother to two children, Melissa also studied at UCLA where one assumes she met her husband-to-be. A ‘strategic, results-oriented leader – driving results by creating and managing the best teams on the planet,’ Melissa’s impressive LinkedIn CV also boasts, and I quote for the benefit of less results-orientated results-driven Puffins, ‘Numerous Christmas Fairs, Summer Fairs and Ladies’ Nights: Coordinated schools’ fundraisers, including Summer Fair.’ Go Girl!

Born in Keyna, Humphrey Cobbold is another Cambridge University graduate and another MBA. His background, yet again, is in management consultancy. Concentrating on venture capital and private equity, Humphrey has a dizzying array of topco’s, bidco’s, midco’s, newco’s and holding companies to his name.

Without trying, I found fifty appointments for Mr Cobbold at Companies House. These include Chief Executive Officer of Pure Gyms which has become (via acquisitions funded by debt) the UK’s largest gym operator. Its parent, ‘Pinnacle Topco Limited’ is owned by private equity company Leonard Green and Partners. As noted during his previous appearance on QT, according to their 2018 accounts, Pure Gyms had over a million members and 222 gyms.

If I may continue to quote myself, there are two directors, one of whom is Mr Cobbold. The highest-paid director received £851,000 in remuneration plus an unspecified sum (but less than £248,000) via shares. Who needs exercise machines and weights? Mr Cobbold’s lungs heave and his muscles bulge, every time he staggers, laughing, all the way to the bank.

Prior to university, Humphrey was educated at Brooklands Preparatory School, Stafford. Whatever the fees, they were too low as it closed in 2013 and has since been demolished. For senior school, Mr Cobbold enrolled at Bromsgrove School, Worcestershire (£46,470 per annum ex VAT).

At Cambridge, Humphrey chose Gonville & Caius College, known as Keez by those in the know. Or was it destiny? Humphrey is the latest in a long line of Cobbalds who have been to Keez.

Father, Howard, an electrical engineer, attended Marlborough and Keez. Grandfather Rowland, a clergyman and one-time Bishop of Hong Kong, King Edward IV School and Keez. Great grandfather Rowland, a doctor, Dedham Grammar and Keez. Great-great grandfather, Robert, the canny one in the family, gave Keez a miss and instead invested his life in the brewing industry which, presumably, paid for the dullard descendants to go to Keez.


Question one, will Nathalie Elphicke be an asset to the Labour Party or a liability?

A gentleman in the audience found all of this an unwelcome distraction. The Health Service and cost of living were more important.

A wobbly Lisa Nandy was picked up on regarding Elphicke being allowed into the Labour Party whereas Dianne Abbott remains suspended. Lisa described Dianne Abbott as a trailblazer but pointed out that joining the Labour Party isn’t the same process as being unsuspended.

Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader had become the most shameful period in the party’s history. The Equalities Commission concluded the party was anti-Semitic. Never, ever again must factions within the leadership interfere in an investigatory process, therefore Lisa was keeping out of it.

But it’s taken a year countered Bruce (regarding the suspension of Abbott). I hope it’s resolved quickly responded Lisa.

This week’s foreign railway station among the yokel pictures on the Question Time desk was Tangiers Docks in the 1980s. However, mortals lesser than the average Puffin may have mistaken the gentle waves of the southern Med for the Staffordshire sky, and the davits and rail-borne dockside for the spitfire on the Etruria Valley Link Road.

Are we seeing the benefits of levelling up? Stoke had been awarded fifty-six million pounds which just seemed to have been spent on demolishing one mulit-story car park and building another. A tinged gentleman wanted a general election, presumably so the Tory Party can be levelled down to nothing.

In passing, he called Boris a liar, claimed Mrs Truss had trashed the economy and added that Mr Sunack is unelected. A lady complained about the northern part of HS2 being cancelled.

Can Labour level up? Croaky Lisa found the process piecemeal and thought it should be replaced by a long-term plan to create good jobs. She seemed miffed that these decisions were made in London rather than by the local Labour councillors who, let’s face it, are bankrupting local councils one by one. She blamed Liz Truss. Yawn.

Grace declared us a very unequal society and pointed out the difference in healthy life expectancy between the poorest and richest parts of the country. Grace was excited about a ‘Preston model’ which she defined as local communities being in charge of local spending. With few local people left in Preston, one assumes this plan will be levelling up the Weston Union office in Karachi.

Should we be selling arms to Israel?

Israel has the right to defend itself but rights come with responsibilities defined in international law, announced Grace. We should absolutely not sell arms to Israel. There is a man-made famine in Gaza with people in their tents now being bombed.

Grace imagined an international liberal rules-based order to a world organised through the use of force. Would you make the same argument to those arming Hamas? Asked Nigel. ‘Of course,’ replied Grace. And not sell to Saudi Arabia, she added, a corrupt and rouge regime. We should reduce the number of weapons that circulate in the global economy.

Another tinged gentleman in the audience, this time disguised as a tea cosy, wanted to know that even if only 1% of Israel’s war effort is British-built, how do we know they aren’t using it? We don’t, replied Nigel, citing the realities of war and the harsh world out there. He repeated that Israel had a right to defend itself and reminded the audience of the Jews killed and taken hostage last October 7th.

Humphrey also mentioned the Israeli dead and hostages, explaining them as a multiple of the size of that evening’s QT audience. He made no reference to the Palestinian dead.

Nandy disagreed and said the number of children killed in Gaza suggested the military action was against international law. It would be unconscionable that British parts or components should be used in an assault on Rafah.

She agreed with President Biden that export licences should be rescinded. Too many people in the world were picking sides but, as with Elphicke and the investigation into Dianne Abbott, Lisa felt unable to.

Should we consider a hybrid funding model of state and private funding for the NHS? La Bruce added that in 2024/25, 40% of government ‘day to day spending’ will be on the NHS. Is that sustainable?

Lisa believed in an NHS free at the point of use and that’s what you would get with Labour. Lisa blamed bed blocking and a lack of social care for the expense of keeping people in hospital. Lisa forgot to mention the amount of extra NHS spending that will never see a patient but go straight to increases in pay for the public sector classes.

Speaking of the efficiency of the hybrid, the Eurovision Song Contest hogging the schedules means Question Time not starting until even later than usual. Therefore, this week’s review has been cobbled together with clips from Twitter.

You might call it the QT Review HQ model. A tremendous success, it not only sees me at horizontal level in my bed at a more reasonable hour, but also takes £150 a year off La Bruce and gives it to me as I can now cancel the licence fee.

© Always Worth Saying 2024

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