Questionable Time: George Galloway's Gallowstare confronted, and why Maria Miller is rubbish at QT

Plus: Someone's doing well out of horsemeat and why Susan Kramer is the BBC's answer to Punxsutawney Phil

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Fact File
  • 4/10 Maria Miller: Bah!
  • 7/10 Mary Creagh: Ha!
  • 6/10 Susan Kramer: Fnar!
  • 6.5/10 George Galloway: Gah!
  • 5/10 Fraser Nelson: Pah!
  • 6/10 The Crowd: Dah?

Good morning Lemmings and come, let us grab a body from the pile, shuffle grimly forth and then hurl it on to this, the Funeral Pyre of Dignity. That's right, once again the nation has dutifully assembled for this exercise in collective catharsis and so it is that we find ourselves in Leicester, home of Englebert Humperdinck, Showaddywaddy and other, more sensibly named musical acts. Lemmings, it is time; time to get Questionable Timed...

My dreams will be forever haunted by George Galloway's stare...

Jesus, QT! Any chance of a warning the next time you choose to open with a shot of George Galloway dressed in full Bond villain regalia and with a stare so intense it killed several hundred pixels on my TV screen? I mean seriously, that thing was so overpowering I feared the Earth's magnetic field was in danger of flipping polarity, or that the fabric of the Universe itself might be torn apart in the wake of his fearful glare.

Okay, so that might be a slightly over-dramatic way of putting it (a natural consequence of having just watched an hour of Gorgeous George over-dramatising pretty much everything) but I'm bringing this up for a reason: This is not the first time I've seen the Gallowstare.

At around this time last year, I was in the audience for the Leeds show and one of the panellists that week was none other than George Galloway. Just before the recording got underway, I noticed that he and the other protagonists were loitering just off-set, killing time before things kicked off. Understandably, they all looked a little nervous but with Galloway there's was more to it: He looked utterly terrified and as he gingerly made his way to his seat, I saw the Gallowstare in all its harrowing, appalling glory for the first time. Now, being the forgiving soul that I am, I chalked this up as a legitimate case of the jitters as he'd been off the scene for a while. Having witnessed it for a second time, I'm wondering if it runs a little deeper than that. I'm thinking it's a result of the kind of existential terror that only a true blagger can know, the terror that screams “This is it! This is the night when they finally discover that I'm nothing but a chancer!” Yet, all it took that night was the slightest whiff of blood and he was back in the game, confident beyond all reason.

So did he manage to shake the monkey off his back this time around? Of course he did, because crippling though his fear of being rumbled may be, give him a chance to fling around some derisive epithets (“Gordon 'Goldfinger' Brown” anyone?) or recycle his “third cheek” gag again and he's off. That's something that I sort of have to admire: Acting like a self-obsessed megalomaniac is one thing. Acting like a self-obsessed megalomaniac who knows he's a self-obsessed megalomaniac is quite another.

Someone's doing well out of horsemeat...

...And that person is Mary Creagh, Labour's Johnny on the Spot for all things foody and safetyish. Now, until very recently you be forgiven not knowing of Creagh's existence but in the last week or two she's been making plenty of hay at the dispatch box and a cursory scan of her credentials says that – potentially – this is someone whose time has come.

Her background (scholarship girl from a plausibly ordinary background) fits really well into the whole One Nation/Striver narrative while her very insistent style of delivery marks her out as someone who is more than capable of looking after herself on the field of battle. Couple that with the fact she backed the winning team in the post-Brown Labour leadership election and things start to look very promising for Creagh.

However, I say 'potentially' for a reason: First off, she's really got to watch that 'insistent' doesn't turn 'preachy'. Secondly, threatening to slap George Galloway's bum cheeks after the show can be easily misinterpreted and thirdly, it doesn't pay to boast about how much time you spend “at the school gates” of your Wakefield constituency and then go on to endorse Leicester as the rightful resting place of Richard III. They have long memories in Yorkshire. 528-year-long memories, to be precise.

Let's not beat about a bush, Maria Miller is a bit crap at this QT lark...

There are two problems here:

1. She's just not the sharpest tool in the draw.

Generating vast quantities of verbal styrofoam in order to gloss over awkward issues is an acceptable and legitimate QT play but it must be done with some panache. All we seem to get from Miller is a day-late/quid-short answer that doesn't even attempt to disguise its intent.

2. The 'Oh, For God's Sake!' look isn't a good one.

We get it: It's annoying when people don't agree with you but that's your job. You're in government. People are supposed to hate you. Suck it up. It's what we pay you for.

Something weird happened to me at around 20 minutes in...

…I could swear I heard Fraser Nelson advocating accruing more national debt in order to improve the lot of the poor. I blame the Gallowstare. It must have jiggered my pokery.

And finally, some good news...

...Susan Kramer has predicted an early spring! That's right, last night QT's answer to Punxsutawney Phil emerged from her slumber, poked her head out of her winter quarters and saw no shadow. Sunnier times are on the way! Obviously, this is good news for all concerned, none more than Kramer herself who made clear her delight by opining in a particularly loud and jaunty manner. All I can say is that I'm delighted that warmer weather is on the way and I look forward to seeing her in the autumn for the Annual Kramer Hibernation Ceremony. It's nice that there are some constants in this world.

For more of this visit questionabletime.com

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