Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The PMQs Battle 06 February 2008

PMQs - The Verdict

Normally politicians like nothing better than an attentive audience but not when it is the security services listening into a private conversation with a constituent, as was apparently the case with Sadiq Khan MP. And with Ann Cryer, Willie McCrea and Nick Clegg all asking the prime minister about surveillance, it became one of the proceeding's key themes. Brown reassured Cryer that a review into bugging was underway and that until it reports, "people should not play the game of speculation." It was a reference to shadow home secretary David Davis calling Brown a liar in relation to what he knew of the bugging of Khan. Having mentioned the bugging probe, David Cameron revealed that the prime minister had established another 52 reviews during his brief premiership.


Sense Of Deja Vu Descends On Commons

You would be forgiven a sense of deja vu. Again. The questions this time round were about Government reviews and the future of A-levels, but the weekly clash between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition is becoming as predictable as yet another Amy Winehouse freak-out. In one corner, David Cameron, asking for a straight answer to a straight question. In the other, a Prime Minister surely now delighting in failing to provide one, and instead choosing to ask some questions of his own.

Niall Paterson

"Dithering" Brown stumbles on Cameron's attacks

When they didn’t mention MPs expenses last week, it was odd. This time it was downright embarrassing – and adds to the impression that they all have something to hide. Which, of course, they all do. First thing’s first: Ed Miliband seems to have a new job. He now sits next to Brown making theatrical grimaces and facial expressions of mock astonishment when Tories speak. Quite fun to watch. Oxford, LSE, Harvard – and he ends up as the highest-paid mime artist in Britain.

Coffee House

What is the point of PMQs?

It's somewhat strange, I thought that the point was that the Prime Minister answered some damn questions, not ask them. Before this, Cameron's first question was to do with the government's reviews: after the Monocular Fuckwit's lack of answer, Cameron then pointed out there had been 52 reviews—fifty-fucking-two!—since Brown took over. The Gobblin' King then pointed out that NuLabour had created 3 million jobs. No, you fucking haven't, you cunt. Private businesses create the jobs in spite of your high-taxing fucking government, you fucking little shit. Good question on the "surveillance state" by Clegg though.

The Devil’s Kitchen

Could Gord get away with abolishing PMQs?

Another Wednesday and another PMQs for Gordon Brown to have to endure. He clearly doesn’t like them and being open every seven days to the fierce blasts that Cameron is able to master cannot be very pleasant. Ever since a piece appeared in the Indy a couple of weeks ago about Brown’s views of the weekly ritual I’ve been pondering over whether we are being softened up for a proposal to change the structure. Maybe they could find a way of blaming Cameron for the need for change because of the way the Tory leader handles the event.

Political Betting

The Verdict

“They say we're young and we don't know, We won't find out until we grow. Well I don't know if all that's true, 'Cause you got me, and baby I got you


I got you babe!”


PMQs is back and Brown is at it again. Refusing to answer the questions, accusing Cameron of learning his lines, dribbling out facts and figures about the past ten years that could mean anything to anyone.

I have been very critical of Cameron at PMQs of late and I think I am quite right to be. He is up against an absolute numbskull of a performer at the dispatch box, yet has not really landed any heavy punches for weeks. Well this week was an improved performance.

For a start he didn’t fall in to the trap of asking about the bugging of Khan. The government are employing a new desperate tactic at PMQs of late – the spoiler question. This week Labour backbencher Ann Cryer was the patsy. She asked a very soft and leading question on bugging that the PM could easily bat away and look good with. Had Cameron then gone on to ask about the bugging case it would not have had much impact. Secondly, the government do not appear to be at blame for any of this and the only impropriety that we can be certain of is David Davis' completely wild statement that the PM had lied over the matter. Brown would have had a field day asking (as he does at PMQs) if Cameron backed up Davis’s claims.

Instead, Cameron was far more shrewd, though it was a little bit Groundhog too! He tried, and to a certain degree succeeded, to paint the PM as an indecisive dithering. Heard it before, though this time it was done masterfully and in a way that Brown could not have predicted. He claimed the PM has established 52 reviews—one every four days! Yet no decisions. Ouch. It struck the bad tempered old bear right on his wobbly jaw. For the first time in weeks Cameron had the clunking fist shaking and stuttering. He made him angry – only for a few seconds did it show – but it showed. Brown never looks more undesirable, less statesman like, less like a man that you'd want as Prime Minister than when he loses his temper. It is lovely to watch, but an all too rare sight because of Cameron’s inefficiency of late.

Again, it wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a classic performance from Cameron nor was it the battering of Brown that these affairs should be. But it was effective and so much better than anything Cameron managed in January. Clegg’s half decent show was made to look all the more good for Brown’s illogical response – something about not supporting CCTV or something. He was starting to bore me by this point and I was switching off. It had little to do with Clegg’s question anyway.

All in all a win for Cameron and something to build on maybe. He still has such a long way to go before he can truly say he is a great Commons performer though. Brown on the other hand never will be.

Brown 0

Cameron 1

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