Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brown Fails to Impress at PMQs (Again)

No one yields to me in my admiration for the political acumen of the Spectator's Fraser Nelson, but I do think he has called today's PMQs wrongly. He reckons Brown came out on top, whereas I thought he was all over the place. He clearly wasn't expecting a question of 42 days and was all over the place with his first two responses. He couldn't find an answer to the point Cameron made about the Director of Public Prosecutions saying there was no need for more than 28 days. There was no knockout blow from Cameron, but that rarely happens anyway.

What is also as interesting is the total eclipse of Nick Clegg at PMQs nowadays. He just hasn't been the same since the GQ episode. He's made little or no impact in the local elections either.

If I were scoring today's PMQs I'd give Cameron 8, Brown 6 and Clegg 4. Now it's your turn. Who's right, Fraser or me?

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought Cameron's performance was a bit middle-of-the-road. Tee 10% tax hike still has a lot ot run - I think he should gone more on that and left the equally serious 42 day question for later.

I can't take Clegg seriously - I don't know whether that is because he was at Robinson College, or whether it is because he denies he was in CUCA.

As for his leg-overs, well a lad can blagg a bit...

Anonymous said...

Give me a break with this Clegg nonsense. To say that he has been non-existent in the local elections is purely partisan rubbish. Name me one Lib Dem leader who has got coverage in the local elections? It doesnt happen, because the press simply look for the two main party leaders.

To say that this is an indication that he is not doing well is disingenous to the extreme.

Anonymous said...

The startling thing about todays PMQs was the obvious discomfort on the government benches regarding the 42 day issue. The silence at the end of each of Brown's responses from large sections of his own party was telling. Kind of reminds me of the Maastricht Debate - 80% of the Tories were cheering John Major, the important thing however was about 20% of them were sitting on their hands stoney-faced.

Cameron beat him without having to utterly duff him up and he has become very good at the pained, exasperated expression any time the Brownies attack him - like he so much above their childish sniping.

Cameron 8
Brown 5
Clegg 6

Slaughter The BBC,Don't Water It said...

Well I was sort of listening to the BBC News at 1:03pm and I heard Daniel O'Donoghue (sp?) saying that Nick Clegg had stood up and stated why no-one would support David Cameron.(On the video) Clegg then stood up and gave a list of reasons finishing with (paraphrased) 'and that's why no-one will vote for the Government.'
Freudian slip from O'Donoghue? I think it was a recorded report so slack production (not uncommon near election times).As the BBC is trusted (mistakenly imo) to tell the truth then these things matter as people are pondering the process of voting tomorrow.

Rob said...

To be fair to Clegg, this is only the 2nd Question Time he has done (with Cable doing one and there being a break inbetween) since "Cleggover" so that's quite a conclusion you've drawn.

I do think he is lacking a certain something though which is odd because his body language is quite swaggering but he's almost like an over exuberant backbencher rather than a party leader. I know the Lib Dem leader will always struggle to be heard with jeering from both sides but he seems particularly inaudible. I seem to recollect that Clegg has positioned himself in the middle of the bench, further back than previous leaders, and I wonder if it is less advantageous in terms of the microphone.

Anonymous said...

Agree that Clegg is getting poorer at PMQs - when Ashdown and Kennedy were leaders Tory and Labour MPs would shout them down, Clegg gets laughed down.

I think Cameron made a mistake going on 42 days, just prior to local elections. How many voters tomorrow give a damn where suspected terrorists get locked-up for 28, 42, or 365 days? It is a westminister issue and does show "new tories" but I think Cameron would have been better going on the 10p tax, leaving 42 days until after the elections.

Also it was an error as after his first question - basically Cameron said Brown will do a U turn - the Tories were laughing away. Fine about the issues of government confusion but the impression was laughing away at terrorist legislation. This allowed Brown to appear more robust and, in effect, give him an easier time as he played the tough politican image.

Scores: Brown 6 (1 own-goal from Cameron); Cameron 5; Clegg 2.

Man in a Shed said...

Brown has hit on a formula for PMQs. He now says whatever he wants to say and doesn't even pretend to answer the questions whilst trying to pin the same attribute on Cameron.

What this means is that Brown doesn't lose as easily as he did. But he achieves nothing politically.

He's like Geof Boycott in defensive batting mode - boring.

PS Do you think Fraser might be signed up to the Save Gordon campaign ? ;-)

Henry Rogers said...

PMQs were just boring. Brown looks such an idiot it doesn't matter what he says even if, rarely, it isn't complete bollox. Cameron looked rather low key, careful I thought not to seem a bully, but there isn't much left to attack anyway.

The whole exercise is utterly pointless as Brown never answers anything, even planted questions from his side, other than by BS.

Clegg clearly isn't up to the job either but keeps working at it.

My guess is that Cameron will have a soundbite on the news this evening but even if Brown gets anything on, nobody will believe it, especially if they've just received a payslip.

The only effective Labour blows today were struck by Heffer in the Torygraph. Thanks a lot! Heffer's local taxes may not pay for the present Mayor but mine do and I don't want another 4 years of him. Presumabably at some stage Boris injured Heffer's self esteem by a thoughtless joke and personal scores are now being settled.

Chris Goodman said...

I cannot help noticing that Labour Party supporters in the media have such low expectations of Gordon Brown in PMQ's these days that anything better than embarrassing is deemed a triumph.

The biggest embarrassment was the BBC coverage which was so biased in favour of Brown you would think that the BBC was the broadcasting wing of the Labour Party.

Are there elections coming up or something?

David Hughes said...

I think you're wrong about this one, Iain. I thought this was one of Brown's strongest performances, particularly on 42 days -- though i completely disagree with him -- and I think this is dubious terrain for Cameron as many Tories like 'tough' security positions. I also think Clegg was right to go on popular current issues the day before the locals. This approach was borne out by the lunchtime news which carried the best of his attack but none of Brown's rebuttal!

al b said...

Cameron did well, Brown as ever was hopeless. He barks at Cameron saying the Tory leader doesn't answer question, but he can't seem to realise that it's "Prime Minister's Questions". If he wants to ask Cameron questions, all he has to do is call an election. The nearest Brown has come to a popular vote so far is his creepy appearence on "American Idol".

Cameron was more measured and dignified, which was good. It strikes a very good contrast between the barking ways(in more ways than one) of Brown.

Clegg's a bit of a nonentity. He always seems on edge - you'd have thought the amount of "action" he gets he'd be quite relaxed, but ti seems the opposite.

As for the backbenchers...Stephen Pound made a prat of himself, shouting like a drunk. And who was that mousey Labour woman in pink? She was very unimpressive, typical of the calibre of many femle Labour MP's.

Richard said...

On balance, Brown edged it as his comments were more weighted towards policy and less towards rhetoric (but only just).

Anonymous said...

The media is talking about Cameron attack on the government's 42 days plan. Skynews have not taken well to the personal attack on Cameron by Brown.

And Clegg failed again.

Cameron played a smart game plan today. Very good.

machiavelli said...

You as ever Iain :¬)

horlicks said...

perhaps Brown was lulled into a false sense of security after the Dorothy Dixer session he was given by John Humphreys on Today.

andanotherthing said...

Clegg reminds me of Pitt the Younger from Blackadder. The voice is exactly the same!!

CROWN said...

Gordon Brown has picked up the pace since he started to take himself a little less seriously. He was actually laughing at some of Cameron's digs.

His boast of no more boom and bust is now finished.

http://thecrownblogspot.blogspot.com/2008/04/time-to-make-stand.html

Truth Seeker said...

Cameron clearly came out on top - as he nearly always does (could be his somewhat better grasp of the English language).
Brown drives me, us, his own party, everyone mad, by trying to turn PMQs into questions to the leader of the Opposition.
It is not for Cameron to answer questions or "get to the real substance of the issues" (which I happen to think he does more often than not). It is for that bloody PM of ours to justify his increasingly irrelevant administration, the abuse of taxpayers, soldiers, the removal of yet more of our liberty, the list is endless.
We are sick and tired of this government, this party, its unelected leader and its cabal of disingenuous party apparatchiks who have somehow come to run every facet of our lives - despite having not one iota of experience of running anything between them.
It's hard to credit how Ken Livingstone dares complain about Boris Johnston's lack of experience in running something - take a look at the Cabinet!!

Oscar Miller said...

I'm with you on this one Iain - I think Cameron was being astute and tactical and this will come back to haunt Brown.

And here's an interesting item from the archives. Proof that Gordon Brown is playing politics with 42 day detention comes from an amusing quarter. In the heady days of Brown's honeymoon last July Martin Bright wrote a hubristic article for the New Statesman headed 'Brown v Cameron. Game over?' (and he didn't mean for Brown!). He wrote this:
"Proposals to extend the 28 day period that terrorism suspects can be held without charge, which formed the centrepiece of Brown's statement to parliament on 25 July are designed to outflank the Tories and make the new PM look tough on terror". So if Martin Bright thought it was all a PR stunt - who can be in any doubt that it is?

Anonymous said...

Iain, now I think you are deluded. At least Fraser Nelson looks reality in the eye. There's no way even a committed Tory could pretend that Brown's performance at PMQs today was poor. He swatted away the DPP, just as Cameron swatted away the police and security chiefs. That's part of the game. But Brown gave a coherent rationale for the policy, for example explaining that rushing to pass bad laws in a future emergency would give oxygen to the terrorists. I've been the first to criticise Brown's earlier performances, but today was a master class.

Anonymous said...

Cameron declared war on Brown today.

Going on the 42 days detention showed he thinks he's already got the local elections in the bag - and he's moved on to the next battle.

And this battle is about inciting a backbench rebellion and forcing Brown out.

Cameron's declared that he no longer wants to be in opposition - he wants to be in government, and he's not going to wait for an election - he's going to force one.

Jingouk said...

In my view, Cameron misjudged PMQ's. The day before the local elections it was going to get good coverage.

The general public are getting cheesed off with the abstract and at the moment are reeling from the tsunami of cost increases washing over their lives.

Cameron should have played the Westminster-work-up-the-old-bulls-in-the-labour-party bit next week. This week the media was going to report what he said if he had howled on behalf of the down-trodden, debt-sodden electorate. It would have motivated the Labour won't vote to not vote and got the protest vote out.

As it is the media had to run with Clegg. Yes, they covered 42 days but without heart - the events are the local elections.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:53

You got it in one.

Cameron thinks about what he is doing. He thinks very carefully indeed, and to my understanding has got virtually everything spot-on. Whether I personally like it or not.

Its almost as if he is employing myself as a political adviser. Whenever I gain an opinion on what Cameron should be doing and saying. One or two days later up he spouts and does it better then I could have possibly have scripted it for him.

Sublime and uncanny are two words to describe Camerons seemingly endless natural talents and abilities to communicate.

I dont know how much Cameron works all this out for himself, maybe not much. But whoever it is deserves a pay rise and a promotion.

Atlas

Anonymous said...

"Cameron's declared that he no longer wants to be in opposition - he wants to be in government, and he's not going to wait for an election - he's going to force one."

Wishful thinking. Labour are not going to oblige him. The usual Labour rebels will not vote against Brown when their own livelihood is at stake.

wrinkled weasel said...

PMQs has no heuristic value; it's pantomime of a pathetic man dribbling doctrinaire pap. I am afraid it has also revealed the limits of David Cameron's rhetorical skills. He is no William Hague.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Just watched it. Cameron correctly predicting another climb down (on 42 days). Brown already hedging his bets, taking care to say only, 'We shall bring these proposals before the House' (Translation: We shall blame the Tories when the bill is defeated.)

Chicago Bear said...

The whole point of PMQs was missed by every other comment here. What really happened was that Brown clearly got caught out by the question re what he knew about the dodgy loans. No tractor statistics - just a quick denial and hope that it was so brief that no-one noticed. See http://adamboulton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/gordon-i-knew-n.html
Iain - well done for picking it up in the Daley Dozen - however, this is the true story and what will do for GB as it did for TB