Good morning Lemmings and what's that I smell? Fish and chips? Invigoratingly salty air? Old people and a strong Tory vote? We must be on the South Coast! So yes, it's Bexhill-on-Sea this week and it's a rather timely turn of events since we haven't been to a Conservative stronghold since the last run of QT. Considering that the Blue Team vote has only twice dipped below 50 per cent twice in Bexhilll and Battle's 29 year history, this seems as good a place as any to redress the balance. Anyhow, enough prattle, on with the show.
Damian Green has the best 'I'm Somewhat Confused' face ever...
We first got to witness this thing of beauty when David Blanchflower was laying his economic charge sheet at the feet of the Government early on in the show. Now usually, politicians do the scrunched up 'Come Off It Mate' face when someone cleverer than them starts picking holes in their nefarious schemes (in fact George Osborne does it all the time, to everyone, regardless of the situation) and I suspect that's what Green was trying to do. However, something went wrong and he ended up with the sort of pained expression you'd get if you a) tried to work out whether the cat in Schrödinger's box is dead or alive, b) what exactly the lyrics 'What is love? Baby, don't hurt me' actually mean and c) why the alien invasion fleet in Independence Day were running Windows 95, all whilst faintly remembering that you might have left the gas on.
And it didn't stop there. Despite a genuinely good joke about voting to keep Nadine Dorries in IACGMOOH it all came apart again when the matter of the PCC elections came up, except this time he actually had to talk as well. It went like this: Chuka Umunna made a point about how the money for the PCC elections would be better spent on actual policing and Green's face lit up. 'Ah-ha!' it said, 'I have you now!'. The money - according to Green – wouldn't come from the policing budget and he visibly relaxed, safe in the knowledge that he'd dodged a bullet. Unfortunately, Dimbers rather unhelpfully interjected and asked just where it would be coming from. “The Home Office” he quietly spluttered. Well, that was it, everyone wanted a piece of him and he spent the next five minutes all over the place as he fended off blows from all directions. At this point, I did feel a little pang of sympathy as it was starting to look a little brutal, but then I remembered that I have absolutely no idea who the PCC candidates are in my neck of the woods and that the entire wheeze sounds like a hucksters' charter. My sympathy soon spoiled its ballot.
I'm fairly sure that Shirley Williams will outlive me...
Don't panic, I'm not planning on a premature exit, it's just I have trouble envisaging what exactly could kill Shirley Williams. A speeding car? No, she would stare it down until its axles fractured and bearings crumbled. A disease of the body? Mother Nature is no match for the solidity of her 20th century values. Then how about the assassin's callous blade? Well let me put it this way: Would you try to assassinate Shirley Williams? No, of course not, partly because your soul will have curdled if you ever got to that point but mostly because it's clear that Shirley Williams will not quietly into the night. 82, Lemmings. Shirley Williams is 82.
Chuka Umanna does strange things to me...
I'm a straight man, but I have to admit that one look at Chuka and I go slightly weak at the knees - it's like he's been lovingly crafted out of pure unicorn's tears by Christ himself or something. However, this in itself is a problem as I have an overpowering and automatic distrust of people who are ridiculously good-looking. Call it jealously, call it pettiness, call it want you want, I'm just very suspicious of things that look too good to be true. Having said that, he had a good night and it would be truly petty of me to say otherwise. Alright, so his dogged perusal of a single line of attack ('bring ALL the things back to the Tory's record on the economy!') looks a little threadbare after a full hour but he was right on point for the bulk of the night. Considering that Bexhill-on-Sea really shouldn't be his turf, that's good going.
And the others?
I like David Blanchflower but sometimes he doesn't make it easy for me. I think he's been one of the few economists who has broadly called most things right and I'll always have time for his opinion. The thing is that when he writes about those opinions he always starts his columns with a disconcerting little round-up of what he's been up to. They tend to look something like this: 'Had lovely day, played golf, went out on a boat, THE WORLD IS GOING TO END IF WE DON'T INJECT MORE MONEY INTO THE ECONOMY'. It's a little jarring. He's much better in person, even if he did try to shoehorn his American residency into the conversation, perhaps in the hope it would lead to a nice little recounting of his leisure time.
Conversely, I don't like Jane Moore and I'm struggling to find a reason why that should change. Granted, she didn't look as grumpy as she usually does last night and she got a couple of good gags in (the one about Nadine Dorries claiming for a second home in Australia draw a genuine chuckle from me) but I get a little riled when Moore tries to bring everything back to real dog whistle stuff (like the massive tangent she went off at on sex offenders getting cautions during the PCC question). That, and she's very right when she says “I am not an economist”.
For more of this visit questionabletime.com.
Watch last night's Question Time.