Private Conversations: Shock! Horror!
A big cheer, much of it ironic from the Tory and Labour benches, rang around a packed House of Commons as the latest leader of the Liberal Democrats rose to his feet for his first PMQs. Nick Clegg did the right thing: He kept it simple. No attempt to be clever, no attempted jokes, his job was to survive with his credibility intact.
Brown does a Hillary (again) – and fights back
An angrier Brown was in front of us today, holding handwritten notes for his exchanges with Cameron rather than anything given to him by No10. He would scribble furiously, and went on the offensive - asking Cameron whether he supports ID cards for foreign nationals. It seemed a bit daft at PMQs to hear the PM ask questions of the Opposition leader so often, but it won't be repeated on TV and he needs to show the House he is on the attack. Cameron appeared to say yes, but it wasn't clear. Those normally ashen Labour faces lit up.
PMQs - The Verdict
It was the first prime minister's question time since the festive break but any hopes of a fresh approach in 2008 were quickly dashed. On Tuesday David Cameron had praised US presidential candidate Barack Obama and vowed to bring some of the same spirit of hope to the British political debate. "I think his optimism and sense of hope for the future is inspiring a lot of people," the Conservative leader had said. But with Cameron and Gordon Brown harking back to their own and each other's records it was more a re-run of the past rather than an Obama-ite agenda for the future.
Nick Clegg's debut
The new Liberal Democrat leader did quite well at his first PMQs today, maybe because he chose the right topic: fuel poverty
Nick Clegg's first PMQs
Nick Clegg performed well for his first Prime Minister Questions today as party leader. Unlike his predecessors, he's now sat further away from the speaker, so no longer perched on the end of a bench, but surrounded by his colleagues. I think this looks like he's speaking "from the crowd" rather than picked up from a lonely perch, and does look more like he's part of a bigger team.
PMQ performance caps a very impressive start for Nick Clegg
At the risk of repeating myself, I am again prompted to observe that Nick Clegg really is making a great start as LibDem leader. We've had a flurry of media appearances and releases over the festive period.
Nick off to a safe start
Allthough technically based from home its rare that I am actually there so having the opportunity to see the leadership announcement and Nicks for PMQ is a bit if a shock to the system. So how did it go?
Brown fights his corner at PMQs
Was Gordon Brown to be the second comeback kid of the day? Not exactly. He was solid enough in the first PMQs of 2008 as his duel with David Cameron resumed where it left off - as a rather scrappy bout of mud wrestling. In essence, it boiled down to Cameron’s demand for a “straight answer to a straight question” against Brown’s heaping scorn on the Tory Leader’s economic record (based on Cameron’s time as a special adviser to Norman Lamont a mere 15 years ago, but we’ll let that pass).
It was Nick Clegg’s big day and generally the big hearted blogosphere is being kind to him. I am not so kind hearted and thought he did pretty average. Make no mistake, he is a world away from Ming who was just awful at these sorts of things – but he was no Vince Cable either. In fact, he basically asked the same question twice. It was a good question on energy, but definitely only worth asking once.
As for the big boys, well service has been resumed and I have to say I am getting a bit annoyed with the pair of them. I just get the feeling with Cameron he has not quite got it with PMQs yet. It is all very well taking the PM apart when he is snowed under by 101 crises, like he was back in November, but when he has to actually do the work himself he is not hitting the mark. Today he was clumsy and, while perfectly competent, let Brown take the initiative while he stumbled from one topic to another. Surely the man can do better; he is all about presentation after all and can wow people with his speeches. Why not at the despatch box?
As for Brown, well he came out like a pit bull today. He looked like he wanted a fight – though Cameron just didn’t want to give him one. His latest tactic to get us away from analysing his terrible personality is to answer questions with a question for Cameron. All very well, but this is Prime Minister’s Question, Gordon, not opposition questions. They say politicians are all too often guilty of avoiding the question when answering. The best politicians do this by making you think they have answered it. Brown is clearly not the best politician – he rarely answers the question and you are left in little doubt about it either.
These two need to up their game. Oh to have the performers they have in the US right now. I score it a disappointing draw.