Be careful when picking on George Galloway

I reminded myself of this clip from 2007 – love him or loathe him, if you’re going to pick a fight with gorgeous George, do a bit of prep, he’s not a soft touch on the subject of Iran (skip to 04.32).

I was also walking through Bow last night; scary looking person running for Respect, weird posters.

Nick Griffin not alone in QT audience

It has been a week now since the BNP’s Nick Griffin made his disastrous debut on Question Time, and even his own members are calling for him to leave owing to his shit performance, but he was not the only member of the far-right party in that studio who instead of opening his mouth, should have burrowed down a hole, set up home, and veiled himself away from public speaking forever.

The other party cohort who made his BBCQT debut was one John Clarke.

John Clarke

You may remember that his question was cut short, due to his lack of conviction, allowing another more eloquent member of the audience to wax lyrical about how difficult it can be for asylum seekers to integrate and find work in this country, though many manage to do it against all odds.

I remember thinking, oh what a wally this guy is, hasn’t even the bollocks to carry out his cut and paste facts, at a time when, scarily, the BNP could’ve made a significant name for themselves. Imagine my surprise when, by chance, I realise he is a fairly high ranking member of the BNP. His profile on the BNP website reads:

John is 41 years of age, currently single and has lived in London all his life, mainly in the Croydon area.

He attended Croydon College where he obtained City and Guilds qualifications in mechanical engineering and is now working as a mechanical engineer, setting and operating CNC machines (computer numerical control).

John has many interests and hobbies including reading, music, chess and watching cricket. As a younger man John enjoyed boxing, Kung Fu, football and cricket.

Imagine my further amusement when I find out the controversy that surrounds his homeplace as ‘mainly in the Croydon area’. Many BNP members have criminal backgrounds, but not so many as trivial as Clarke’s. The Standard ran a piece that tells us of Clarke’s amusing home story:

Mr Clarke sought election as a BNP candidate in Merton in 2006 but used a false address on his nomination papers to get round the rule that council candidates must live or work in the borough. As his current biography on the BNP website confirms, he actually lives in Croydon.

After the Standard exposed the front address used by Mr Clarke, as well as another BNP candidate and the BNP supporter who actually lived there, Merton council called the police. Asked why the BNP was claiming three men and their families lived in the twobedroom maisonette, a party spokesman said: “People live in all sorts of ways these days.”

The photo attached to the Standard article was this one (Clarke stands third from the left):

06a_15_BNP-line_415x275Here he is with the rest of the BNP’s candidates for London Assembly (including, most prominently in that familiar suit, Richard Barnbrook, who is still on his ban from City Hall for making up a murder story as backup for the nonsense he peddles for the BNP in Barking and Dagenham), shortly before standing for the BNP in the 2009 European Elections for London.

Today is of course Thursday, meaning another episode of Question Time will be showing tonight, which also means that we will no longer be able to watch last Thursday’s episode again on iplayer, but just as a memento for remembrance, here are the stills that show Mr John Clarke in those moments he’ll probably wish never happened, timelining the moment he asked the question, to the point where he quite literally died on his arse:

John Clarke 2Happy as Larry here

John Clarke 3

Mid-sentence, dreaming he was anywhere else but asking a stupid question, on the set of Question Time

John Clarke 4

Seeming to either say ‘fuck’, or vomiting in his mouth (at this point, the crowd were shouting, laughing, booing, quiping, skitting etc)

John Clarke 5

Melancholy and despair, the realisation that all who know him, all the BNP London Assembly members hoping for a ray of hope from their man in White City, are now cursing him, raising their eyebrows, sticking pins in dolls or vomiting blood over cut outs of his image.

And we laughed…

A consoling thought for Ian Gibson

A number of well meaning comments made on BBC’s Question Time is a testament to the fact that Dr. Ian Gibson is a well loved man in Norwich. You wouldn’t imagine that only a couple of months ago, about the time of the European elections, voters were beside themselves with anti-political sentiment. The teary-eyed electorate giving up on both parties rimming the trough were not to be found among the audience last Thursday. One member even saying that Gibson was regrettably dropped without the opinion of his constituents. And now there is talk that he should be candidate for Norwich at the time of the General Election.

How many politicians around the country can claim to arouse support even after being involved in a little bit of naughtiness concerning a London flat and an in-family half price sale. Geoff Hoon was surely not spared that night.

Of course, the notion that Gibson was fodder for Brown, at the time appearing to fail where his shadow was standing strong on tackling untoward behaviour and expenses fiddles. And who is to know whether the decision to select Gibson of all people had political motives, given his leftist credentials and opposition to the Brown/Mandelson strategy. John McDonnell is surely correct to call the affair a self inflicted political disaster.

Proof that this was an own goal by Brown – if proof were needed – needn’t look any further at the differences in turnout for this byelection and the election of 2005. With a 61.1% turnout Gibson’s majority was 5,459. The byelection was won by Chloe Smith with a majority of 7,348 only with a 45.9% turnout. What seems to be clear is that Gibson’s voters didn’t turn up, but also the message was aimed at the Labour party in general (it was quite obvious the effect this would have on the structure of the leadership). There were plenty of smaller parties used for protest votes this time around compared with 2005. Its not for us to speculate on what could’ve happened if Norwich North were given the opportunity to reinstate Gibson, but what is clear is that many of those loyal to him abstained or sent a damning message to Westminster.

The mystery of it all found wise words from a less than palatable source recently, also, as Bob Piper noticed, on Question Times‘ sister programme Any Questions on Radio 4, on which Peter Hitchens noted;

“Very rich people, I name no names but you can guess, getting taxpayers to finance their mortgages on large country homes that they didn’t need. That’s OK, that’s fine. But whereas someone like Ian Gibson in Norwich is punished, for reasons I cannot fully understand, in some entirely selective way in which some people are punished and some are not, then people say they want change. And then they vote in Norwich, not in very large numbers, but in distressingly large numbers for me, for a party which plainly offers no change at all. Which constantly tells us that it will govern as New Labour, and will govern as New Labour if it is allowed to become the government.”