Wednesday, June 03, 2009

PMQs: Brown Flounders, Cameron Scores & Clegg's on Fire (Again)

Gordon Brown squirmed like a wriggling eel at PMQs. He tried to explain away Hazel Blears's resignation by blaming it on family pressures over the expenses issue. That is an allegation he may well come to regret. If I know Hazel Blears, she will have exploded when watching that. As David Cameron said, if it was about expenses, she'd have resigned weeks ago.

Brown started off by saying: "I think people should take a step back here and understand what's happening". A poor choice of words. He then failed to answer Cameron's question on the future of Alistair Darling and couldn't say whether he would still be in the same job in a week's time, despite pouring praise on him. Time after time he refused to do so, which says everything we need to know. Cameron rightly pointed out that if Darling was doing such a good job why couldn't the Prime Minister say he would be in a job in a week's time.

David Cameron said everything he was expected to say, but there wasn't quite as much fire in his belly or anger as I was expecting. He still scored a clear win over Brown though, who struggled to say anything different to that which he has said over the past few weeks.

Nicl Clegg was on fire again, accusing Labour of being finished. He closed his second question with a corker: "Isn't it true that the real choice for the electorate is between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats?"

Brown 4
Cameron 7
Clegg 8


Russell said...

The Chipmunk is being urged to stand against Brown, it seems.

This wouldn't work. She wouldn't be able to reach the Despatch Box.

Boo said...

Cameron pitched it well. He must not be too vicious. He must be a Prime minister in waiting, not some bloke beating up a cripple.

Man in a Shed said...

What Clegg shoudl have done is picked up the insult Brown uses each week and throw it back at him on these lines:

"Since this may be the Prime Minister's last PMQs just let me correct another of his inaccuracies. The Party that is about to eclipse him in the local election's is the Liberal Democrats"

Too late now of course.

Anonymous said...

Dont agree. Nothing Brown said or done will have made anything any worse.

Man in a Shed said...

On balance I think Brown stonewalled well, for him.

But then its not the Conservatives who want him removed as leader of the Labour party - just Prime Minister.

DaveFY said...

I disagree, I wanted to see Cameron come out stronger. Iain, I think you scored him a bit high this week. Clegg had a great finisher though!

Anonymous said...

Agree with Boo - and Brown in place would be much better for Cameron when the GE finally arrives.

Anonymous said...

Cameron was strangely subdued, wasn't her?. He seemed to avoid capitalizing on the frenzy. Dealing so tamely with Brown is not reflective of the population's incredulous anger that Brown is still in the job.

Anonymous said...

I think you've got it pretty wrong here, Iain. Brown was pretty strong IMO - Cameron really does need to talk about policy from time to time, and Clegg shouldn't believe ANYTHING he reads on a LibDem leaflet!

golden_balls said...

are you serious ? cameron missed an open goal

Plato said...

I fell about laughing when Clegg did his version of prepare for government.

He was doing really well until that point - it may come to pass but he was a plank to say it .

Not a sheep said...

David Cameron asked six questions of Gordon Brown and Gordon Brown failed to answer a single one, this is not unusual but worthy of comment..

Anonymous said...

reflect the differing interests of Cameron and Clegg.

Cameron wants either Brown to stagger on OR an immediate election.

Clegg wants Brown to be replaced and Labour's support to bounce a little, offering the prospect of a hung Parliament rather than a majority Tory government.

John K said...


Much as I hate Brown, he was right that Cameron wasted his questions by not raising a single policy issue. Brown's continual recitation of tractor statistics doesn't help, though.

I understand why Cameron is doing this, I just think it's the wrong tactic.

Cleg was good again, though. He seems to be growing into the job...

Brown 5
Cameron 5
Clegg 7*

Anonymous said...

Iain what PMQ's was you watching? Cameron this time was appalling. He had an open goal and shot well wide.

Expat said...

Cameron was careful not to kill off Brown. Every week Brown remains as PM could be worth 2 seats to the Conservatives at the election.

Anonymous said...

I would not say Cleggs last question was a corker.

Cameron did what I was expecting, keep it on asking for a general election. He also tried to embarrass Brown over Darlings future. But why do anything to encourage labour backbenchers to feel sorry for him.

The other point which commentators have missed is that PMQs began with Brown reading out a list of 8 dead - I am surprised he did not throw in the Air France disaster.

Not easy to then go out and be partisan and aggressive.

Jonathan Cook said...

I scored PMQ as Cameron 7, Brown 3 and Clegg 1.

What you thought was a corker of a question, I thought sounded ridiculous. The result was Ed Balls laughing at Cleggy - and surely that can't be thought of as a bulls eye.

Jonathan Cook said...

Tricky for Cameron today - he really wants Brown to stay - it doesn't make sense for him to annihilate Gordon.

Alcuin said...

Not that much notable in Cameron's questions. I think he should be more attacking, a bit like Dennis Skinner, such as making allusions to cartoons of Brown.

Barry said...

Cameron was mediocre, Brown made a pretty good show of a dreadful hand while Clegg continues to improve.

Anonymous said...

Darling looked VERY deflated in PMQ's,no nodding at his furher's utterances,while Ball's looked like his eyes would pop out of his head in loyalty to Brown (in amongst the yawns he was trying to stifle - must be tiring,all of this plotting).

Clegg is simply like the whole of the British electorate - fed up with the conman and passionate in wanting him out.

golden_balls said...

take your tory cap off for once ian
cameron should have blown brown away.
Whether it was through choice or not he missed an open goal.

Anonymous said...

"Cameron scores"...what planet are you on. He had an open goal, the ball at his feet, many of the opposing team's players already substituted and yet all he could muster was an air shot...more Iain Dowie than Claudio Tevez

North Briton Hunter said...

You really misread PMQs. Cameron missed an open goal. Tory MPs admitting as much. Clegg actually surpassed Cameron which is a rare occurrence.

All gossip and no policy, just a day before the Euro elections. And the Tories getting in bed with the Polish Law and Order Party, led by the horrible Kacynski and Latvian Nationalists who honour the Waffen SS. Pathetic.

Brown 8
Cameron 5
Clegg 6

Bert Rustle said...

Annoynymous June 03, 2009 12:40 PM wrote

...Cameron wants either Brown to stagger on OR an immediate election.

Clegg wants Brown to be replaced and Labour's support to bounce a little, offering the prospect of a hung Parliament rather than a majority Tory government. ...

This indeed seems plausible.

However, to paraphrase a former party leader, perhaps the current party leaders should have collectively said go back to your constituencies and prepare for deselection!

Ryan said...

I always cringe at the Labour benches laughing at Nick Clegg; every poll edges the LibDems closer towards Labour. Good God, right now the Labour benches have got NO right to be laughing.

Clegg had a great day today. Every time a Labour Minister laughs at him, I feel more and more certain I will not be voting Labour for a very long time indeed. Their arrogance is beyond belief.

Anonymous said...

Cameron doesn't need to kill Gordon off. Gordon is helpfully committing his own political suicide before our very eyes.

Anonymous said...

Cameron easily won that PMQ's!

Clegg is an utter joke - he overeached himself by saying it was now a choice between Tories and LD!

I think Iain that you talk up Clegg and the LD because you think that the Tories will win more seats off Labour, if voters back the LD. But you have to remember that some target seats are held by LD anyway.

Labour may be about to be kicked out but you have to think the long game. I don't see seats like Bassetlaw as being potential Tory gains for more than a couple of elections where as some currently LD seats are potential long term gains.

Sunray said...

I came away with the impression that David Cameron was holding back. He is well able to give Gordon Brown a good kicking whenever he has a mind to, but on this occasion he decided against doing so. Brown is being battered from piller to post, mainly by other `comrades' in the Labour party. I am sure that DC will get stuck in when the moment is oppertune.

Anonymous said...

I must have watched a different PMQ's than you Ian.
After all thats been going on during the last 2 weeks, and given what a mess the government is in, Cameron didn't get in one decent question. Brown, for once fielded all his questions easily. He managed to get in, on more than one occasion that the Tories have no policies.

A bad day for Cameron. Once again he used all his questions on the same theme. He needs to up his game.

Anonymous said...

All these people who said Cameron missed an open goal simply do not understand politics.

Do you really think Cameron went fairly soft on Brown because he was incapable of kicking him to death?

Those people haven't been watching PMQs for the last two years if they think that.

Cameron could have EASILY slaughtered Brown today - but hey, why kill off your greatest asset?

Just shouting at Brown and humiliating him is too easy - he does that all by himself. Cameron is pitching himself as a future PM - not some foaming bully.

SHB said...

Agree that Cameron could have gone in much harder on Brown, but tactically he was probably right.

On the basis the election results will be in the range 'poor to devastating' for Labour then Cameron will be on much stronger ground next week which will only be enhanced if there are further resignations ahead of the rehuffle.

Liked Clegg's point about Labour being finished etc.

Brown - 5
Cameron - 7
Clegg - 6

golden_balls said...

do you still hold to your ratings ian ?

go on admit your wrong we will forgive you if you see the error of your ways lol

Anonymous said...

"All gossip and no policy," -- ha, on the day 3 or was it 4 or 5 ministers resign you expect questions on policy?

If Brown wants a debate on policy then let him call one. Jut because browns lies at PMQs we do not have to believe him.

Cameron did the right thing and its come across like that already on the News. Call for an election and ask about the future of Darling.

Frustrated said...

When Gordon says that he is staying put to sort out politics and expenses, Cameron and Clegg should be shouting at him -


Needs to be said with lots of visible anger I think.

wapping boy said...

Camreon was fine - very prime minsterial, measured rather than ranting, content to let Brown skewer himself with stupid soundbites like "all talk, talk, talk" etc. Brown may have looked commanding and Cameron did not draw blood, but Brown also sounded just so tired - the same old lines delivered in the same old way without any suggestion of why he deserves to remain in power.

Labour's been waving its "Cameron's all style and no substance" banner for years now - if this tactic is so effective, and the claim so true, then why are the Tories so far ahead in the polls?

Darrell said...

The beauty of this situation for Cameron is that he doesnt have to say an awful lot; he can just sit back and watch the government eat itself alive. Your right about Clegg, he is getting consistently better at PMQ's and he's actually starting to land some blows.

Deathly silence on the Labour benches for most of the time which says alot....

BexleyTory said...

In my opinion Cameron didn't nail it at all today. Failed to land the killer blow when the opponent was fumbling around bleary eyed. I've reviewed it on my blog here

Anonymous said...

Does it really matter who scored what at PMQs today? Brown and Labour are finished.

Nick Clegg is getting higher scores - but just remember one thing - Clegg is not pitching to be PM of this country - Cameron is.

Big, big difference. Clegg can say what he likes - and kicking a mortally wounded animal isn't that difficult.

Cameron has to have one eye on the future.

Fausty said...

I thought Brown did well to spin Cameron's attack into a failure to talk about policies.

I'd award Brown 5, Cameron 5 and Clegg 3. Clegg's point was sound, but was bound to be ridiculed.

Smith looked close to tears.

Barry said...

I am giving Cameron the benefit of the doubt on the basis that he wants Brown to survive until the General Election.

Chris Paul said...

Silly Iain. Your scores are not credible. Though North Briton Hunter possibly goes a bit strong in the other direction. Cam is bloody useless and doesn't deserve to ever be PM.

mouth said...

Who the hell is Claudio Tevez? Carlos' more attractive, less talented brother?!

Anonymous said...

cameron will not talk about the NHS and schools etc, i wonder why giggle giggle

golden_balls said...


I've watched pmq since it was first televised and been to commons to see it live. I do agree that cameron went easy on brown but ian commented that DC had a clear win. He fluffed it he should have shot brown down and humilated him quite easy in the current situation.

Even as a labour supporter i was urging cameron to put the boot in but he didn't. He lacked something today perhaps the killer instinct that all true great politicians should have.

I've challenged ian before on his ratings if cameron quoted the yellow pages he'd still win over the pm lol at least he's consistent.

Dimoto said...

Hmm, isn't the truth of the matter, that the LibDems are busy wasting their best ever opportunity of replacing Labour ?
Instead of working feverishly to present a coherant and radical set of policies, the limit of their ambition is to opportunistically grab a few ministries and some form of PR in a carve-up with Labour.
It's probably inevitable when they still can't decide whether they are Liberal or Social Democrat - two political philosophies which are diametrically opposed.
From the Labour blogs, there seems to be a lot of defections to the LibDems being planned.
The LibDems could end up as the New New Labour / Gang of 4 alliance, with the real core Liberals squeezed out.

Victor, NW Kent said...

David Cameron missed the obvious retort that he did not ask Brown about his policies because there are none.

Also, some research on the mortgage rescue plan might have been useful - the Mail says only 2 have been helped. It was left to a backbencher to question Brown's proud boasting about this and Brown simply said, that isn't true - we have helped thousands.

I have been an admirer of Cameron at PMQs but feel that today was his weakest performance.


Anonymous said...

Well, my advice to Cameron is to go back to being far more aggressive - to score an "open goal" - as all the "experts" here seem to think this is the only way to be effective at PMQs.

I sometimes despair at this mentality. Cameron has to be so much more than just a bully who kicks the crap out of a deluded PM.

Give the public at least some credit - I think they can see Brown for what he is anyway.

Anonymous said...

Brown had the calm of a lunatic at some point, said nothing, gave no answers as usual except to the plants. Cameron seemed a bit, well, limp.

In fairness I would have only really been happy had Cameron jumped the box ripped out Brown's heart and eaten it still beating.

Neil Mac said...

Just like Mugabe...

He just won't let go of power, it's a disgrace.

Autonomous said...

I wouldn't say Clegg was "on fire" - quite the opposite. He spoke well but only reiterated what Cameron has been sating for months.

acadman said...

I am a great fan of Cameron's PMQ performances: he either comes across as lacking passion or something of a public school bully. Today was the former. He seemed quite deflated.

Mind you, with William Hague sitting on the front bench, its a constant reminder of what a hard act Cameron has to follow.

Man in a Shed said...

Its worth noting that Brown said "electoral reform" in one of his answers. Not reform of parliament, or constitutional reform.

I suspect this was an unguarded answer, but perhaps shows that Brown wants to change the rules of the game about to eject him from power.

Surely any change of the electoral system without a party elected on a manifesto commitment to carry it out is just undemocratic and unacceptable ?

Duncan said...

I disagree, I thought it was a poor performance from Cameron and Clegg given the circumstances. The fact that Labour backbenchers were cheering along with their wounded leader with cries of 'nothing' at one point said it all. How did Cameron let that happen?

He allowed Brown to claim that apparently government is now about only two things, expenses and the economy (I'm guessing the top two issues in focus groups), when he could have responded that government was about more than that, not to mention his belated and chaotic response to the expenses problem which is currently being dealt with by all three parties. He belatedly and weakly responded to Brown's taunts on policy by asking him to test his policies in an election but he never brought up Brown's remarks about an election causing chaos because of a tory win. He could even have made a joke about Brown wanting some policies to steal since his government was paralysed, referring back to the Frank Field quote. I thought it was dismal and for Clegg to claim that 'Labour is finished'... That's totally ridiculous. If he was talking about the government then he should have said so but referring to Labour as a whole in that way can only make the party feel more united. It's nonsense anyway. Pah

Guthrum said...

Watching a different PMQ's to me !

I thought Brown performed pretty well considering, Cameron lined up to the open goal and missed-again. Clegg did OK, and was more impressive than Brown.

Dave is going to have to do a lot better

Anonymous said...

Iain: so you reckon DC came out well over PMQs? Not according to any of the media (both BBC and Sky) directly after the clash. David Cameron has no substance whatsoever and failed to put one on Brown in the commons today. He's a lightweight!!!

Will W

Anonymous said...

iain, dont get how you say Cameron had a good PMQ's.

Listening to most journalists and commentators today they though Cameron was poor, missed a golden opportunity and again was hurt by not mentioning polcieis again.

Poor PMQ's.

Iain, maybe you are seeking a safe seat to stand for parliament and hence not being your usual analytical self?

Iain Dale said...

Anonymous, Did you not read what I wrote. I was hardly glowing in my praise of Cameron. I wrote...

"David Cameron said everything he was expected to say, but there wasn't quite as much fire in his belly or anger as I was expecting. He still scored a clear win over Brown though".

What part of that would you disagree with? He did indeed win against Brown, but not as emphatically as I expected.

I also scored Clegg higher than Cameron.

Makes your accusation at the end look rather silly, wouldn't you say? If that was uppermost in my mind I'd hardly score Clegg higher than Cameron, would I?!

Tim said...

I thought Cameron was the clear winner today. I don't believe he was trying for a knock-out blow. Here are my reasons why I think so:

There's a wonderfully illuminating piece of information about Formula 1 racing drivers. It's that when asked to describe their actions on taking a corner at racing speed, no more than 5 seconds in length, they can talk lucidly for 15 minutes about their racing tactics in taking that corner.

And so it is with analysing PMQ's. I'll just pick out the benefits of Cameron's approach today, and why I mark him as 9 out of 10 for his performance. So, here goes,

Previously Cameron has been accused of being 'shouty' and bullying at PMQ's, mostly derived from his annoyance at Brown's inability to answer a straight question. Therefore, a decision to be more measured, calm and collected, perhaps even prime ministerial.

Using a short question has previously been seen to through Gordon Brown of balance, and to lead him to waffling and poor choice of words. It's comparisons that matter here, not the exact words, but the body language and confidence. Again, surely Cameron is a clear winner.

We shouldn't forget the date. Tomorrow is the day for County and European elections. Reinforcing perceptions, in the public's mind, of stability, ability and assuredness of your party leader really does matter. Voting research shows that while people's voting tendency is firms up some way ahead of elections, it's only in the final couple of days do those intentions turn into action. Again, surely Cameron was a clear winner.

The supposed clamour at the present time to have PMQ's discuss government economic policy is faulty. The public need the election and the expenses saga over before they return to thinking about the economy, crime, and so on. I reckon Cameron understood this.

I could go on, and on.

For me Gordon Brown was an emotional wreck at the end of Cameron's sixth question. Visibly drained. Another couple or three questions might have finished him off.

andanotherthing said...

I dont think Cameron came out particularly well. He was in one of his subdued moods. I understand he has to appear all Prime Ministerial but really when Brown is down and vulnerable as he is i really think he should have gone in for the kill.
When Blair was the Prime minister in waiting against John Major he regularly rang rings around him at PMQ`s which told everyone that Major was not in control and tired and defeated.

The Grim Reaper said...

Simply not a good enough performance from Call Me Dave, I'm afraid. Why does he never talk about policies on any given week? It's very, very easy to criticise this government's policies - but what are his alternatives?

Or does he not have any?

Chris Paul said "Silly Iain. Your scores are not credible."

Chris Paul talking about credibility. Oh, the irony.

louise1966 said...

I totally agree with Iain about Gordon's performance at PMQs. But all other sources were stating how well he coped, giving a good representation of himself.
I felt that he was becoming irritated and annoyed. If PMQs had been an hour long, I feel we might have seen the house experience his inner wrath.

Jess The Dog said...

I watched this on holiday - Pembrokeshire, temperature in the mid 20s, the beach beckoning...

Cameron was excellent, he has a real gravitas and played out his questions to excellent effect.

Clegg went for the jugular but I was surprised he didn't put the boot into the Chancellor again.

Brown was in full bunker mode, hunkered down, throwing out well-worn soundbites. His main virtue is dogged persistence, which is why he didn't simply crimple.

How much more can he take? This isn't fun anymore, regardless of politics. I hate New Labour with an abiding passion, ever since the Iraq War, but this beast needs to be put out of its misery.