Friday, January 27, 2006

The Battle Royale with Andrew Neill



Seismic convulsions last night, as television's best politics show welcomed Lembit 'the Limpet' Opik, squaring off against 'Dangerous' Diane Abbott.

'This Week' fronted by the improbably sunny Andrew Neill, (who btw got his leg-over with Christine Hamilton - "It was 'purely sexual'.") rarely does 'controversial'. Rather it takes the form of a mature, well informed discussion of the issues of the day - but NOT last night.

Lembit, (who is to Lib Dem leadership contenders as ice was to the Titanic) began his sterling defence of Simon Hughes (if you need protecting from some disgrace call Lembit, he's had a lot of practice lately). Sad to say Lembit, for all his worldly irish charm, struggled to polish the turd that is Simon Hughes. Worse still, Diane Abbott, a long-time lefty, is old enough to remember the campaign that first elevated the 'Man-Talk' fan into his Southwark seat.

As Lembit blithely reminisced on Simon's all-round good guy image Diane stewed.

Diane is normally one to stew- and it showed. At first there was a slight trembling that built into a nervous twitch. Perhaps, just then, Lembit's gormless features pacified her momentarily, for she subsided into a deceptive stillness - just like Mt. St. Helens before it erupted.

Then Lembit, in the least well-advised move since Galloway went into the BB house, lit the match that blew the powder keg. "Simon, as a by-election candidate was at the mercy of the tactics of the campaign organisers."

Diane exploded!

Like a metric tonne of black dynamite she detonated all over the 'This Week' studio. Andrew Neil was powerless to stop her - Portillo didn't even try, and it was Lembit who caught the full blast.

You would expect that when Diane goes off on one she would roar in a voice that could split the ground and make mountains tremble. But our Diane is no alto, she lets rip with a pure soprano squeal of indignation. Like so much steam escaping from a kettle she blasted Opik for his numbskullery. "How dare he vindicate Hughes for THAT campaign?"

In the aftermath there wasn't much more to say. Lembit vainly tried to battle on, but it was no good. Andrew Neill, fearing for the asteroid dodger's safety, brought the piece to an early close. And poor Lembit never knew how close he had come to an untimely end.

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