Cameron, Brown and Erskine May
Far be it from me to tell the Speaker his job, but he needs to grab Dave and Gord by the scruff of the neck and give them both a good shake about their unparliamentary habits. The Prime Minister has taken not just to asking Mr Cameron questions, but to shouting "why won't he answer?", when he know it's PMQs, not Leader of the Opposition Questions.
Cameron gets the better of Brown in clash over Northern Rock
Great fireworks today over Northern Rock. Cameron started with sombre questions about taxpayers’ money involved - Can Brown guarantee the safe return of the taxpayers’ money given Northern Rock? Was he advised the liability could rise so high? Could it rise higher than £55bn? No answer. Brown tried his trick of last week of asking Cameron a question so often that Michael Martin intervened. “He doesn’t have to answer the Prime Minister’s question,” says Michael Martin. Not until the next general election, at any rate.
PMQs - The Verdict
As is now traditional at prime minister's questions, proceedings began with a whips' planted enquiry designed to give Gordon Brown a friendly warm up and use as much time as possible. This week Stoke-on-Trent North's Robert Flello obliged, praising the economy and allowing the PM to trot out the usual list "proving" the health of the UK's finances. Unfortunately Flello had not learnt his lines and Conservative backbenchers enjoyed themselves chanting that he was "reading" every time he glanced at his notes - which he did every other word. Reading from notes is of course against Parliamentary convention.
Live blog of PMQs
Editorial verdict: Forgive the capitals but WHY DOES THE SPEAKER ALLOW THE PM TO QUESTION DAVID CAMERON AGAIN AND AGAIN? It's bad enough that Brown doesn't answer the questions that are put to him but he's abusing what is Prime Minister's Questions, not Leader of the Opposition's Questions.
I could hardly belioeve my ears at the beginning of PMQs when a Labour MP, Robert Fello, read out a list of government economic achievements. There was an interruption and the Speaker stood up and said: "Let the honourable Gentleman continue with the good news"!!!
Prime Minister's Questions - Live (almost!)
I've just been sitting in the House of Commons for the weekly Prime Minister's Questions, and have come 'hot foot' to the HoC library to report back on what happened. The way PMQs work is that the first question is always asked by a backbencher who has come first out of the hat. Today it was a loyal Labour backbencher who had clearly been 'lent on' by the whips. He asked a toadying question which enabled Gordon Brown to list the Government's achievements on the economy. MPs on all sides groan when we go through this charade.
PMQs becomes OQs… Again
Just as he did last week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has avoided difficult questions from David Cameron (this time on Northern Rock) by asking him a question. Surely the Speaker can’t hold this in order for much longer? It is, after all, Questions to the Prime Minister, not to the Opposition’s Questions.
First, let’s get the gripes out the way. I am not the first one to pick up that Gordon Brown is just starting to look a little ridiculous by refusing to answer questions and also turn the whole thing round and start to ask Cameron questions.
Secondly, the Speaker really needs to get a grip. Incredibly, when Brown persisted to ask the questions, he felt it necessary to call order and say:
“Let the Leader of the Opposition answer in the way he wants to answer”
He quickly realised that the reason he had to call order was because the Tory benches were going apoplectic because Brown was asking the questions in the first place! So he covered his tracks with:
“Order. He does not have to answer the Prime Minister’s question.”
Well thanks for the clarification Michael Martin! He then described Robert Fello’s list of Labour achievement in the form of a question as “Good news”. His tongue was firmly in his cheek I hope...
On a plus side Cameron has finally learned to stick to the main issue rather than flick between one issue and another. Unfortunately he chose Brown’s specialist subject – economics. It was one of those days where the left would score it a Brown win, the right a Cameron win. Despite Brown’s poor start, he actually finished off much the stronger. Given the potential hypocrisy that Cameron faced if he went full on about Hain, he had to stick to Northern Rock and he just couldn’t break the PM down. I’m going to have to sit on the fence this week and score it a draw – but only just. If anyone was to take the points I would have to say it was Brown, even he can’t answer the question! Cameron just didn't land any big blows. Again.