Questionable Time: Chuka Umunna can dance with Will Smith, but is he the real deal?

Plus, a grudging respect for Francis Maude and why watching Leanne Wood on Question Time is the most fun you can have with your clothes on

Share
Fact File
  • 4/10 Chuka Umunna: :-/
  • 6/10 Francis Maude: :-I
  • 6/10 Leanne Wood: ಠ_ಠ
  • 7/10 Theo Paphitis: :-)
  • 5/10 Kirsty Williams: :-p
  • 6/10 The Crowd: =^_^=  ?
Related Topics

Good morning Lemmings and let us summon our last ounce of gumption for we are nearly there: One more show after this and then QT's Winter Term is over. However, before we get all giddy with dreams of double-digit temperatures and gambolling lambs I'm afraid to say that The Cruellest Month (“Oh, you liked that hour of sunshine did you? How about I follow it up WITH SOME HORIZONTAL SNOW?!”) is not yet done with us and the grizzly business of last night's episode still requires dissection. So tuck in those thermals and double up on those socks Lemmings – we're going in.

What's wrong with this picture?

He's young. He's ridiculously good-looking. He can dance on stage to the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Will Smith without looking like a totally prat, yet something just isn't quite right. You can usually count on something being not quite right with politicians, but in the case of Umunna I find it particularly galling because at this moment in time, I'm desperately looking for someone to believe in and that someone should be Umunna.

So where's he falling down? At first I thought that it might be a bad case of Professional Politicianism but having poked around a bit I'm not convinced: His back story, while not exactly the Bog Standard Bloke yarn that we all seem to crave, is different and interesting enough to give him a residual veneer. No, what's killing the feeling for me is that he still hasn't learnt when to let go.

Take the second question for example, the question that, by rights, he should have skinned the most cats on. It was about growth and thanks to Maude choosing to dig in rather go on the offensive, he had an open field. In QT terms this is a doozy as while you'll always have the Previous Labour Government Flank to worry about, the weak point in the Blue Team's lines (the We've Totally Stacked The Economy Gap) is wide open.

Instead, what we got was the horrifying spectacle of a politician trying to talk in a rational manner to an electorate he believed to be rational creatures. A big mistake. While I sympathise with his inclination to reason, it won't do him much good in the long run. We're not in the market for 'facts' and 'evidence'. What we want is jabbing fingers, cocks that are sure and jibs that are cut. We want blood that we can spread on the bread that you so kindly provided along with the circus.

Instead of charging hell-for-leather at the Tory trenches Umunna got thrown totally off-balance by Leanne Wood's assertion that Darling would have cut more than Thatcher. A QT-pro would have seen this for what it was – an interdiction tactic to stall an offensive – and powered on regardless but Ummuna went into a defensive posture and fell back on technicalities. Well, that was it, I'm afraid. I zoned out and what could have been a textbook rendition of a QT Blitzkrieg Done Right ended up bogged down in the Quagmire of Factuality.

I'm developing a grudging respect for Maude...

...because he's a wily sort who knows how to play the game. Now, I realise that's a fairly ludicrous statement to make about a man who single-handedly managed to instigate a highly flammable round of panic buying, but on QT at least, he's a steady pair of hands.

Maude's strength is that he knows when he's in a losing fight and isn't afraid to seek more favourable terrain, even if that means ceding territory. Again, it was the growth question that really brought this out. His response was darting eyes, a thin skirmish line of accusations and a whole lot of backing away slowly. None of that sounds particularly gallant or glorious, because it wasn't: The Tories are in a bind when it comes to the economy and no amount of chest thumping is going to change that. However, he did stop a tactical retreat turning into a rout and by the end of the show obviously felt secure enough to venture into no man's land and seize a few prisoners. Considering my usual aversion to Big Vision Tories, that's not bad going.

Leanne Wood is really rather fun...

...Fun in the same way it is to watch the playground misfit unsettle their more popular peers just by existing. In my day this was achieved via the means of West German army jackets (that's right kids, WEST Germany... Now get off my lawn!), Clipper lighters on shoelace necklaces, lurking and band t-shirts with swear words that showed through your school shirt. Wood, however, takes a more robust approach and spent most of the show picking fights in a wonderfully deadpan manner whilst stopping only to shoot the odd mucky look. Are my horizons broadened by this wanton display of stick-in-muddery? Not really. Was it entertaining to watch? Why yes, I believe it was.

And the other two?

Props to Paphitis, he had a great show. It's really easy for the Entrepreneur Panelist to drown themselves in a puddle of laissez-faire sermons but he kept it mostly grounded whilst applying just the right level of Couldn't Give A Toss. As for QT noob Kirsty Williams, well her bright eyes and bushy tail were a forgivable encumbrance but she does show a certain level of resilience. A little more breaking on the Wheel of Dimbleby and she may be in with a shot.

For more of this visit questionabletime.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas