Questionable Time: Angela Eagle, bankers' bonuses and The By-Election Blues

My god, Claire Perry's got an abundance of jaunt. It all just screams Le Creuset and the ability to absolutely dominate PTA meetings

Good morning Lemmings and rejoice for unless I am mistaken, we appear to have a by-election on our hands. Now, I'm a by-election fan at the best of times but this one's had it all: The suitably dramatic demise of an incumbent to kick the whole thing off? Check. The first real prospect of a Blue on Yellow electoral throwdown where the stakes are high enough to matter? Check. A Conservative candidate who's in the process of wandering off the reservation, the off-chance of a UKIP upset and a Labour attempt to both have/eat cake ("We knew we didn't have a chance so we put a comedian up to show how unbothered we are about losing."/ "OMG! You guys got beaten by a comedian!")? Check, check, check! Today, Lemmings, is a good day to be alive (providing you happen to be a politics dork with a predilection for mid-term ballots). Right, let's do this...

Am I the only one who hears The Archer's theme tune whenever Claire Perry's about?

My god, Claire Perry's got an abundance of jaunt. That gymkhana posture, the liberal use of exclamation marks, her sharp elbows, they all just scream Le Creuset and the ability to absolutely dominate PTA meetings. Anyway, I bring this up because last night was an instructive guide to both the benefits and perils of employing Jolly Hockey Sticks as a QT tactic. Let's start at the very end, with the question about banker's bonuses. In this case Perry stormed in, Jolly Hockey Sticky flailing wildly above her head and hellbent on reorienting the question to Labour's less-than-stellar record on regulating banks. “I'm absolutely gobsmacked!” was her battle cry and the force of jaunt that built up behind her was enough to yank the crowd violently around to her point of view. Clapping ensued and so it would seem that Jolly Hockey Sticks are perhaps one of the most potent weapons in QT arsenal.

However, this conclusion can only be arrived at if one actively ignores the rest of the show, an episode which should act as a cautionary tale of Jolly Hockey Sticks Gone Bad to Shire-Tories across the land. Here's how it happened: For most of the programme we saw Perry waggle her stick so vigorously in Angela Eagle's direction that Dimbers was forced to intervene and what should have played out as righteous-indignation-spliced-with-the-invigorating-whiff-of-the-outdoors ended up coming across more like Grand Theft Auto: Waitrose (a game where the only car you can drive is a Volvo...Unless you buy the Saab DLC).

So yes, despite a late rally, this was a largely avoidable tragedy brought about by a surfeit of pushiness and a fatal misunderstanding of the way people react to unbridled confidence: Where you see a defiant call-to-arms, they see a wagging finger.

What to do with Angela?

Okay, so I had a bumpy ride with Eagle last night. At first, I was all 'Boo!' as she squandered probably the biggest open goal we've seen in ages. I mean seriously, how hard is it to take apart a government that spends numerous years buggering up numerous lives in the self-proclaimed quest to retain the UK's AAA rating only to go and lose it? It doesn't get any easier than this - it's like QT Christmas, birthday and New Year's all at once - yet thanks to a monotone delivery and a stare so vacant that the middle-distance started feeling uncomfortable, Angela fluffed it and the only injuries Perry suffered were largely self-inflicted.

Having said that, when it came to her response to the question about whether politics is a safe place for women, my 'Boo!' turned to a 'Yay!'. All of a sudden, she appeared to be animated, engaged and talking a fair bit of sense. The crowd agreed, applause was applied liberally and for a moment, she looked like she was back in the game. Alas, this run of form was not to last and as she slowly faded towards the end, my overall impression was sort of a 'Meh'... A doffed cap to her stout defence of women's rights followed by a cocked snook for her inability to articulate the easy.

Oh Jeremy Browne, you so funny...

I've often wondered how Jeremy Browne ended up being a Liberal Democrat MP. The only scenario that seems vaguely plausible was that someone at LDHQ got drunk, phoned up Central Casting and demanded a more youthful version of Colonel Blimp. Upon delivery, papers were signed, implicit contracts were formalised and the Yellow Team inadvertently took ownership of perhaps the most entertaining face in British politics: A slightly confused looking scrunch that never seems more than two minutes from yelling "Now, just you wait a bloody second!".

The 20th Century called and it didn't sound happy...

Ken Loach: He likes to harsh your buzz, usually through the medium of social-realist cinema and but also through the occasional QT appearance as well. Anyway, Ken was on last night and despite the general bleakness that comes with all things Loach, he was actually the star of the show and won by a country mile. Part of this is down to making some fair good points but for me the bulk of it is due to a sense of nostalgia: Ken reminds me of a world where ideologies actually had to compete and politics was able to look beyond the narrow confines of the electoral cycle. So yes, a good innings but I should really take this opportunity to warn younger readers: Never go to a Ken Loach movie on a first date. Yeah, I know... You think you'll come across as a compassionate-yet-edgy firebrand, but you won't. Trust me, the film will bum you out so much that the walk home will be conducted in muted silence and no good will come of anything. Just...Just take it from me.

You can't argue with the logic of Neil Hamilton joining UKIP...

Once upon a time, Neil Hamilton wasn't just a Thatcherite, he was an uber-Thatcherite - the sort of guy whose total faith in the virtues of the free market became almost sinister. Then his political career fell apart in a blizzard of scandals and, for the next decade or so, he wandered around the public's peripheral vision in various states of absurdity, wife dragged willingly in tow. Now, let me see, where could I find a home for a man who is both ludicrous and unhinged? Oh wait! I know just the guys!

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