Thank you, thank you, thank you...
I don't often get the opportunity to watch PMQs, and in the last couple of months it would appear by all accounts I should probably be grateful because it seems David Cameron has been dishing out a thrashing to Gordon Brown, and he was ably assisted in this by the dry, laid back wit of Vince Cable.
Dogged resistance from Brown over Northern Rock
In India, Brown was full of beans – boasting at one stage that he’d outlasted Dame Kelly Holmes who had to retire to her hotel. He should have saved his energy. He looked exhausted at PMQs today. Until Cameron piped up on Northern Rock, that was. Then he sprang to life and put up a hell of a fight.
Live PMQs blog from noon
EDITORIAL VERDICT: "Emphatic victory for David Cameron. He talked about the big issues of the week - Northern Rock and economic weakness. He made the Prime Minister look evasive because he failed to answer questions about taxpayer exposure. Nick Clegg even helped the Conservatives by implying that Brown hadn't nationalised the Rock because he was running scared of the Tories. Who's the real opposition now then, Mr Clegg?"
PMQs - The Verdict
Prime minister's question time was dominated by Northern Rock but with Jacqui Smith's nocturnal snacking in SE15 and Only Fools and Horses being raised, Peckham provided an unlikely sub-plot.
Conservative MP Stephen Crabb began proceedings by asking: "What is happening on Britain's streets when the home secretary needs an armed police escort to go out and buy a kebab?"
Another week and the focus is yet again on Northern Rock. I think ePolitix sums it up best by describing Cameron’s performance as “Another far from devastating six questions on Northern Rock.” I do disagree with them on Brown’s performance however. He was every bit as poor and unconvincing as Cameron. The problem is, neither of these two have any idea what to do about Northern Rock and they both keep changing their minds on a week by week basis.
At least Cameron is sticking to the single issue, ensuring that it gets on the evening news, but as I have said a million times before he is not the polished performer we once thought he might be. Political Betting has an interesting article that really hits the money on Cameron’s PMQs performances. He has a clip up there of Blair taking on Major back in the 1990s. Blair looks hungry, as though he means it, is incredibly measured and puts the knife in brilliantly. The way he delivers the line “Weak..Weak..Weak” is so damning and convincing it doesn’t matter whether Major is weak or not – we all believe Blair. He makes Major look weak. Cameron has to up his game to this level if he is ever going to really take on Brown and finish him off. Until then, PMQs is just going to be a playground slanging match where both competitors disappoint.
All the tools and ammunition are there for Cameron. Now he just needs to learn how to use them.
On another point – Nick Clegg. Who side is he on? Labours? The Tories? He doesn’t appear to be on the side of the Lib Dems. First he decides to back the government over the EU Treaty referendum. Then today he does the Tories ground work for them by telling Brown he is "running scared of the Conservative Party." It went down a treat with the Tory benches. A poor start for the new leader in my book. Bring back Vince!