It’s getting close to panto season, so the BBC gave us an suitable episode of Question Time. The panellists were as follows:
- Rags to Riches everyman played by Comedian Russell Brand.
- Immigrant hating Villain played by Nigel Farage.
- Mary Creagh: One side of a comedy duo who speaks only in Labour buzzwords and catchphrases.
- Penny Mordaunt: The other side of the comedy duo who speaks only in Conservative buzzwords and catchphrases.
- Camilla Cavendish: Times Journalist. Perhaps she was there as a straight man.
Curtain opens and we get a jolly scene about whether there’s too much petty adversarialism in politics. “Oh yes there is! Oh no there isn’t!” Suggestions that the ugly sisters are indistinguishable, and both of them say pretty much the same thing about how very different their policies are.
Things get a lot more exciting when we get onto immigration. “Is the country full”. The panto villain declares it is, and how he wants to throw all the immigrants into the sea. Or maybe introduce a system of quotas where we allow people with important skills to come in on a visa but not everyone.
Highlights include the fat man. Tells Russell he has a destiny! A Destiny to stand for parliament! To fight for what’s right! But he’s interrupted by a blue dragon screaming her terrible roar of “Racist!! Racist!!”
After that we seemed to lose the plot a bit. Camilla Cavendish constantly using facts and arguing for a moderate position and getting somewhat drowned out by the noise. More of the step-sisters bickering about whether they should have part-privatised 17% of the NHS or whether 18% should be in a public-private partnership.Ultimately nobody really cares what the supporting actors say. The bickering sisters amuse us for a while but they never delight us. The straight man and the mentor tend to move things along but who do we really care about?The Hero. The Villain.Brand genuinely does seem to care about people but he is not good at expressing himself. He’s clearly frustrated that people are focussing on the wrong issues. He’s not doing any favours by attacking Farage before he’s ready. Nigel Farage can beat him off without blinking. Farage has the people enthralled. But they’re the people, not his evil minions. The people certainly think he’s the good guy. You need to win them over first. Painting him as a panto villain doesn’t work in the real world.