Questionable Time: Iain Duncan Smith is no quiet man, especially when confronted by Owen Jones

Two ex-party leaders and Britain's foremost Angry Young Man make for a heavyweight line up, but will a great show follow?

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Fact File
  • 5/10 IDS: Ticking (like a bomb)
  • 5/10 Yvette Cooper: Picking (one too many fights for my liking)
  • 5/10 Charles Kennedy: (Is welcome to stroke my hair but I draw the line at) Licking
  • 8/10 Owen Jones: (Gave everyone a right good) Kicking
  • 7/10 Deborah Meaden: (Has been) Tricking (me into thinking she'd be rubbish when she was actually great)
  • 7/10 The Crowd: (Would very much enjoy) Clicking (on the website mentioned at the bottom of the page).

Good morning Lemmings and welcome to a very heavyweight line-up for this week's Questionable Time in London. That's right, after shilly-shallying about with the likes of Munt and MacLennan in last week's episode we're now back in the major leagues again. You want the Shadow Home Secretary? Done! How about Britain's foremost Angry Young Man? Bang! Here's Owen Jones! Maybe a former party leader? Shutuppayourface, here's two! A suitably grand-sounding venue? I see your generic location name and raise you a goddamn palace! And of course there's Deborah Meaden. Oh.

Anyway, sky-high expectations aside, bitter experience has shown that a solid panel does not necessarily a good show make. Could this robust sounding blueprint for QT heaven deliver on its promise? Well let's just see about that...

I think I'm one step closer to cracking the riddle of IDS...

There are a great many things that vex me about IDS but one has been particularly bothering me of late: How did he ever survive as a junior officer in the Scots Guards? I ask this because the Scots Guards and IDS just seem like two things that should never really go together. Here you have - on the one hand - a man whose face is always contorted somewhere between self-doubt, uncertainty and a very terrible appreciation of his own awkwardness whilst on the other we have not just an infantry regiment, but one of the stuffiest and ritualistic outfits in an organisation that prides itself on engineering situations that freak out the socially awkward. It just struck me as very odd and I often wondered how 1st Lt. Duncan Smith – with that face of his so visibly playing out some horrible conflict within his soul – could convince a bunch of hard-bitten enlisted men to listen to him, let alone follow his orders.

Well dear Lemmings, now we know. He's a classic Long Fuse/Big Bomb and last night was the perfect illustration of this. To begin with, he actually had quite a good ride, doing his best to escape unscathed on female bishops and the EU whilst actually coming across as quite thoughtful at points. However, there was something niggling him and that something was Owen Jones, what with all his voting prisoners and disestablished churches. 'Troublemaker!' said IDS's face, but he managed to bite his lip and generally keep a lid on his growing sense of unease. Then the question about the proposed benefits cap came up and everything went mental.

In the general scheme of thing's, IDS first response, a semi-rousing 'It Just Isn't Fair', wasn't bad but he was comprehensively out-roused by Jones' crushing 'You're Damn Right It Just Isn't Fair' counter punch. Throw into that some sustained heckling that made Dimbers very cross and you could see it was all getting just a bit too much for him. “HOLD ON YOU!” he bellowed, his face now a picture of indignant certainty... and then it ended. Time's up.

So yes, we didn't get to see the full explosion (oh, for another five minutes!) but the early indicators were pretty telling. And that is how I reckon IDS survived in the Scots Guards: He'd take the 'Kick Me' signs, the backchat and name calling up to a point, but when that point was reached, boy did everybody know about it.

I'd love to shower Owen Jones with praise but jealousy prevents it...

If only I hadn't spent the best part of my twenties looking like “a homeless wizard”, trying to drive ice cream vans into pedestrians on Grand Theft Auto and being sick in nightclub toilets then maybe, just maybe, I could have been some sort of proto-Owen Jones. Except that I didn't and given that being Owen Jones seems to involve a level of passion, relevance and good-lookingness that I'd have great difficulty in summoning, I guess I'll just have to settle for what I've got. I'd totally beat him at any computer game though. Name your platform Owen, you will not win.

Yvette doesn't ride for free today...

I usually go easy on Yvette, mainly because she has a lot to put up with. As Labour's Appropriate Adult, she's the one who gets dragged out to straighten out whatever unholy mess they've found themselves in and you can tell by the faint whiff of exacerbation that it's got to her over time. However, she got so rattled by the matter of why Labour voted for the EU budget cut that she started talking really fast and getting a little over-eager with the maxim 'the best form of defence is offence', none of which peels my spuds. That, and I'm getting really fed up with Labour panelist trying to shoehorn 'The Squeezed Middle' and 'One Nation' into every damn sentence. Having said that 'The One Middle' or 'Squeezed Nation' would make perfectly serviceable boy bad names.

Chat Show Charlie may just be losing his magic...

I have a dream. It's a bit of a weird dream but bear with me. I'd love to lie on my sofa, with my head in Charles Kennedy's lap as he tenderly stroked my hair and told me that everything was going to be alright. You see, it's that wonderful Soda-Stream of a voice he's got, that voice that gurgles away all the bad in the world. Unfortunately, I am beginning to notice that while his voice is undeniably soothing, it is increasingly saying less and less. So c'mon Charlie, I know it's hard adjusting to a world where the Yellow Team can't look themselves in the mirror, but that's the way it is and dulcet tones alone won't sustain me any more.

I shouldn't have been rude about Deborah Meaden in the first paragraph...

Ok, I confess, I thought that Meadan was going to be your standard I'm An Entrepreneur And There's Nothing That Can't Be Solved With A Tax Cut, but she was actually really good and, shock horror, balanced. Granted, our views differ but at least she has views that aren't exclusively dictated by a fear of red tape and NI contributions. Deborah, you have my apologies.

For more of this visit questionabletime.com

Watch last night's episode of Question Time.

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