Coffee House

Question Time sketch: Adam Afriyie proves his enemies right

11 October 2013

11:41 AM

11 October 2013

11:41 AM

Question Time last night featured Tory bad boy, and granny’s favourite, Adam Afriyie. Gosh he was a spectacle to behold. Coiffed and primped like a Savile Row supermodel, he looked as if he’d spent six months in makeup.

His tailored suit was as smooth as Clingfilm. His hair was a combed flap of silvery darkness. His flawless white shirt was set off by a knotted tie of regal purple that nestled at his throat like a priceless jewel that faraway brigands are plotting to steal. Surely, one thought, this is not a politician. This is a kidnapped prince in a Tintin story.

Afriyie has learned some of the rough-and-tumble skills. Early on he delivered a great biographical quip – ‘I was dragged up lovingly in Peckham’ – which pushed a lot of emotional buttons: family values, tough background, common touch, sense of humour.

He’s got the grey vote in the bag. And the gay vote. And he’s bound to appeal to right-wing seditionists who long for Dave to be toppled in some fantasy putsch.

But he’s an incomplete performer. His slipperiness is far too easy to spot. Asked about his attempt to bring the EU referendum forward to next October, he smilingly declared himself a mere backbencher who wants ‘to let the people have their say’. He reckoned 12 months was plenty of time for a renegotiation. And he predicted that Europe’s leaders, desperate to keep us in the club, would race to Downing Street with baskets of goodies to seal our loyalty. It sounded like the last act of a pantomime rather than the delicate unraveling of a million-and-one long nurtured friendships.

Chairman David Dimbleby asked how would he vote in his own referendum. Afriye hid behind Michael Gove. If the choice were tomorrow, he said, he would vote No. But in twelve months, a different offer may be on the table.


Away from his comfort-zone, he became impulsive and unpredictable. He didn’t quite make a gaffe but he came perilously close. Asked about his leadership ambitions, he responded skittishly.

‘Oh, not that old one, David,’ he said, like a sex-starved cougar being quizzed about a departed toy-boy.

‘I support the prime minister,’ he rasped rather desperately. ‘And I hope he’s there for a thousand years!’

Steady on, mate. That ‘thousand years’ has a strange historical echo.

The discussion turned to the reshuffle and the simmering resentments it might cause. Afriyie floated the peculiar idea that bitterness was entirely absent from the Tory party.

‘Those returning to the back benches will be valued. Those moving onto the front benches will be able to contribute. It’s a vast improvement.’

At whom was this bit of gushy drivel aimed? Nobody. Afriyie isn’t a strategist. Under pressure, his eloquence deserts him and he retreats to his default mode of smirking blandness. ‘Offend none, please all.’ Great for your great aunt’s funeral but not for politics.

As the show wore on, the other participants relaxed. But Afriyie seemed to grow stiffer and more artificial. Perhaps the varnish was starting to dry. He sat at the table, ramrod straight and smiling joylessly, with his arms symmetrically disposed in front of him, like a crash-test dummy dressed up as a statesman for a piece of conceptual art.

His enemies call him a lightweight. Last night he showed all the substance and depth of a bouncy castle. One half-suspected he’d been tethered to his chair to stop him drifting up into the lighting-rig and going pop.

As for the Tory leadership, he’s got more chance of taking over the EDL.

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Show comments
  • Bonkim

    He is also a Bum with no brains.

  • LabLibCon_decadesofdestruction

    Obviously Adam has rattled a few cages!

  • DrCoxon

    Dear Mr Evans,
    I did not see the programme – I do not own a television any longer.
    I have to say that Mr Afriye comes over rather well in your essay.
    You come over as rather desperate to do a hatchet job.
    Is he that much of a threat?

  • global city

    Utterly inauthentic man. He reminds me of Jeffrey Archer.

  • dalai guevara

    You are playing the man, not the ball. Your own man!

  • Russell

    Surely his first name is Chuka not Adam!

    • telemachus

      He is not fit to lick Chuka’s boots

      • telemackus


      • global city

        an even less authentic personality. Chuka is bogus.

      • Andy

        No well you like his ar*e.

      • Steve Lloyd

        Well the trashy lowlife that inhabit Londinistans nightlife certainly aren’t, he said so himself.

  • telemachus

    ‘Those returning to the back benches will be valued. Those moving onto the front benches will be able to contribute. It’s a vast improvement.’
    A direct quote from Chloe Smith I hazard a guess

    • telemackus

      We regret the passing of Byrne, Twigg and Murphy; especially Twigg who we supported against the vile Mr Gove who is doing so much to improve the education of our children.

  • Austin Barry

    Watching Question Time, I became ever more convinced that sixth former Jo Swinson with her impenetrable Caledonian accent and kindly, earnest face, is our esteemed Coffee House host Fraser Nelson in drag.

    Mind you, I may be as befuddled and myopic as the average member of the QT audience.

    • telemachus

      ‘Cept Jo Swinson will be no good to the referendum debate, unlike Fraser


      We are exactly a year away from the referendum on Scottish independence and Swinson, who is married to fellow Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames, is due to give birth on Christmas Day. As she puts her case for the union being “better together”, it strikes me that the campaign is going to miss out on her voice for a large part of the crucial final year. Even if she takes six months off, there are only three months left for her to wade in. Wouldn’t she want to come back early to help make the case?

  • telemackus

    A strange Question Time that left me quite troubled. The Conservative MP Afriye was useless, Mathew Parris was his usual wet, insipid self, the American woman was the standard bien pensant liberal elite bambi Professor, Diane Abbott was the same mad, bad lefty numpty she has always been, and the Lib Dem Jo Swinson was actually quite good. What really staggered me though was the audience actually seemed, for the first time ever, to be balanced.

    By the Way, has anyone read Polly’s appalling piece in the Guardian today? She is getting hammered in the comments.

    • HookesLaw

      Maybe they have seen me coming but I cannot seem to access any of the 752 comments.
      I will resist the temptation to ‘follow Toynbee on email’

      Of course the babies in question died under a labour govt. The Guardian – giving away our national secrets and smearing people with lies.

      • telemackus

        It’s now 950+ but they have removed the offending article from the front page and hidden it in CiF. I would estimate over 95% against Potty and a possible complaint to the PCC.

  • Hello

    He’s such a wet. Such a bad performer. No backbone. At all.

    Imagine a Miliband-Afriyie contest. The wide eyes of vacuity. The grins of utter incompetence. The awkward giggles of situations misjudged. “No, Ed. I really…haha…think you’re more incompetent than I am”. “No no, Adam…teehee…you’re far more incompetent”. Chuckle. Chuckle.

    • telemachus

      Miliband, a towering figure, has the substance that both Cameron and Afriyie lack

      • HookesLaw

        A leaning-towering figure.

        leaning to the left.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …as does your boy Dave.

      • telemackus

        We agree, those nice people at Aardvark made a towering figure of Mr Miliband. Unfortunately, the plasticine fell over in the heat of PMQs and dribbled all over the charismatic Mr Balls.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Another quiet Public Sector Friday morning with telemachus peddling Labour party propaganda in time funded by taxpayers.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …so, pretty much the same thing that’s going on right now between Millipede and your boy Dave, then.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Coming to the programme with an expectation to scorn Mr Afriyie I was pleasantly surprised and did not think him slippery at all – certainly not as slippery as Mr Slippery of Slipperyville himself, the Right Reverend Cameron. I warmed to him and rather liked the cut of his jib. If that makes me a granny so be it but having watched the programme I am more suspicious of your description of his performance than of him.

    At least he didn’t mention that he was heterosexual whereas the infinitely more oily and smug Mr Parris had to remind us all, once again, that he is gay as he seems to do in almost every article he writes for the Speccie.

    • telemackus

      Normally I would agree with you my dear Colonel but in this I fail to see your empathy for the rather odd and under-whelming Afriye. On Parris you are 100% correct.

      • Colonel Mustard

        They all strike me as odd and underwhelming so my comment is relative. It was a counterpoint to the rather OTT attack by Mr Evans but I did not find I disliked Mr Afriyie for his performance last night.

    • HookesLaw

      Hoiw many pixels before you bring in homosexuality?

      • Colonel Mustard

        I didn’t – Mr Parris did.

        • HookesLaw

          And you repeated it for no purpose at all.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Not true. I was contrasting the attack on Mr Afriyie and his performance with the performance of Mr Parris who appears to mention his homosexuality at every opportunity. The point is his mentioning it so much not the homosexuality per se. Compare and contrast this behaviour with most heterosexuals who do not seem to feel the need to constantly and publicly advertise their sexual preferences. Is it now taboo to observe that?

            I really can’t help the fact that you seem to have a hang up about it whenever it is mentioned and yet it is in the public narrative constantly.

        • Graeme S

          I think He meant Afriyie

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …as did the muppet who wrote the blogpost at the top of this discussion. Homosexuality seems to be an obsession for the Camerluvvies.

  • Normandee

    Forget Afriye, what we are being treated to here is typical socialist “attack the man” rebuttal from a group who are desperate to support their Social Democrat leader, and speed our entry into Europe because “Dave says so”