Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dale in "Brown Wins PMQs Shocker"

I have to be honest and say that this week's PMQs was not David Cameron's finest hour. If I was scoring it for Sky News I would give Brown 4, Cameron 3 and Clegg 4. I can't really understand the logic of Cameron asking about internal House of Commons issues when there are far more important things to talk about. He did raise the question of an the EU Treaty referendum in his fourth question, but it came across almost as an aside. His final point about a TV debate with the PM was well made and made the PM look uncomfortable. Gordon Brown looked at ease throughout the earlier line of questioning and although he did his usual thing of turning the question back on Cameron on two occasions he came across as rather more fluent than usual. He also made quite a funny barb at LibDem Nick Clegg leader saying: It's nice to see the Rt Hon Gentleman back. Perhaps he will stay long enough to hear the answers". Clegg's response was good - especially as it appeared to annoy the Speaker - and his subject of questioning (mental health) was one which gets too little coverage.

UPDATE 6.22pm: The response in the comments have been interesting, and reflects what Iain Martin has said on Three Line Whip...
Did it work for the Tories? A Westminster insider would answer no. I suspect, however, that if it was shown to a focus group of civilians they would understand it much more easily.
That has caused me to pause for thought. I still think it wasn't one of David Cameron's better days but maybe my judgement on his choice of subject is indeed influenced by the thought that a "Westminster village" subject wouldn't resonate 'out there'. So far, it would seem, I was wrong.


Anonymous said...

How, exactly, did you post this at 12 noon?

Newmania said...

Sometimes its important to shut up Iain . 15 % clear in the SE and starting to make progress in the North Cameron probably like to keep things as they are. Dull PMQs comment suits nicely .

Iain Dale said...

The time stamp on a blog post is the moment when you create the post (ie open the blank document) rather than when you hit SEND.

I actually posted it at around 12.25. I can see how it is confusing though, but it's out of my control.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Clegg went on mental health. great stuff.

Also answered back very well I thought...

Old BE said...

I thought DC was careful working towards that referendum question but he should have changed tack when it became obvious that Brown had seen where he was going. DC needs to be a bit more spontaneous. The debate question was a good one. Brown never answers the question and always turns it into "what would the Tories do", DC should use that as a platform for outlining some of his principles.

JGS said...

Iain, perhaps an political insider like you doesn't see how outraged the rest of us are by MPs' expenses fiddles.

Oscar Miller said...

Seems I'm in a minority in thinking Cameron did well to change the tone and content of today's PMQs. He caught the public mood - if not the expectations of the hacks. Brown as usual showed himself incapable of adapting - and came up with absurdly inappropriate responses.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

You are not wrong. Cameron was all over the place.

Is nobody taking these PMQs to pieces in order to work out a strategy for him that is comfortable and that works?

By the way, I thought the Kaufman remark was a cheap, hypocritical, shot.

Anonymous said...

Gordon delivered his usual rehearsed catalogue of non-sequiturs. The only thing he won was the prize for stuttering, spluttering and inability to tell jokes. His most ridiculous claim today was that the Tories are responsible for the mass closure of Post Offices.

Anonymous said...


Can I reinforce gs's comment? Ordinary voters as opposed to political insiders are extremely hacked off by expenses fiddles and other behaviour which we think is deceitful, like referenda that aren't going to be granted. Cameron has spotted this and I can't help thinking that some of Brown's responses today will be used against Labour later, which might be more use than even a successful shouting match which probably wouldn't get much press coverage anyway. Must admit I think Guido's coverage of Parliament over the last week or so has been very much to the point, even if the 'unparliamentary language' is something you do well do ban here.

Anonymous said...

To Oscar Miller, no you are not in the minority - I thought it was rather atute of him to have Broon actually answer a question or 2 -even if he was as usual less than easy to listen to - most of us in the wider part of the country want answers over these issues - Labour likes it as it is - Conservatives are willing to change the rules - the Libs will try and be double sided as usual - Labour will only do what suits them in the end - like all Socialists they view the public purse as a bottomless pit so to speak.
(see I'm not really a nonny mouse!)

strapworld said...

I also agree with Oscar Miller. It is you, Iain, that is proving to be far too close to the metropolitan elite. Out here in the country I can tell you that people ARE talking about greedy MP's and the shocking Speaker!

Consider this. You are serving in the British Army and your wife and children are living in shocking army accomodation and you read that some MP's have bought second even third homes on allowances. That the speaker is claiming an allowance on a house which is paid for already.

Cameron is right. MP's are regarded as corrupt and this labour administration worse than most.

I am sorry that you do not consider these issues important, Iain.

You go on Sky News and give the ratings you want. Sky News is proving to be as biased as the BBC anyway.

Windsor Tripehound said...

Have to disagree Iain. As the Radio 5 commentators said afterwards, Cameron positioned himself as the Champion of the People

Us ordinary blokes out here, who have to account for every penny in order to make an expenses claim at work, and who get done for exceeding the speed limit by 1 mph, and who can't have a quick fag in the pub, are not best pleased to see MPs with their noses in the trough ignoring the rules that apply to everybody else.

For once DC seems to have tuned in to the popular mood.

I also think Brown's habit of returning to the previous question when he can't think of an answer to the current one is beginning to show through the waffle and bluster.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Speaker looked at all annoyed. He seemed to be chuckling away and smiling as usual. Perhaps that's why some people can't stand him, a man lucky enough to have a job he clearly loves and is competent at...

Anonymous said...

Big deal Mr Dale ...

Conservatives can now say Brown is running scared of open debate. Conservatives can say Brown is running scared of taking a lead in MPs wages pensions and expenses.

Are you saying PMQs are important? Its only when there is a government crisis that anyone really takes note. If any problems occur with Northern Rock, thats when PMQs might be interesting, or after a tax (stealth or otherwise)raising budget.

Performances at PMQs are only really important when they start embarrasing one sides back benchers and on the issue of the EU Cameron is wise to avoid getting his own backenchers at each others throats and wise not to make things too difficult for labour rebels.

Anonymous said...

What do you think qualifies Henry Rogers to pontificate on the feelings of "ordinary voters". How many of the 40+ million has he chatted to would you guess?

Byeck said...

People are teed off with MP's fiddling and Cameron was right to voice their concerns.
What kind of reduction in expenses do you reckon we would be looking at if receipts were required, as in ordinary business life?
My best guess is 40%

Anonymous said...

internal House of Commons issues ?

You may see it that way Ian but the public sees it as House of Commons fiddling on a massive scale and we are p1ssed off that until today not one political leader has spoken out against it.

AdamB said...

Iain, Iain, Iain. Shouldn't you stick to the party line?

Another crushing defeat of Gordon Brown. Cameron looking statesmanlike and Brown close to tears. Brown considering resignation, Cameron the new Thatcher etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

I take it 'extra-ordinary voter' is a bit too close to the coalface to hear the rumble of discontent. Does he have an alternative hypothesis such as 'the taxpayer loves being ripped off'?

Anonymous said...

Poor Iain. He demonstrates a semblance of balance but forgets that the Tory blogosphere is densely populated by perpetually incensed malcontents who reside here in order to convince themselves that they are right about everything. Hence it is factually impossible for Gordon Brown to do anything right, ever.

Of course should Cameron lose the next election, they will be the first to stick the knife into him for his misjudged tactics and betrayal of the legacy of our dear Margaret. With friends like these Iain, you should probably watch your own back if you intend to repeat the heresy of independent thought.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you haven't been shaking your genitals again, have you ?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr Rodgers.

The weird way MPs feather bed themselves annoys the dickens out of everyone.

Expenses are reimbursed on provision of receipts in the private sector, I don't see why MPs should be any different.

That MPs are able to buy houses on expenses is outrageous, and unheard of in any other walk of life.

MPs pension scheme was described on Mr Oborne's dispatches programme, by a pension bod, as the most generous she had ever seen. It doesn't look good and I think Mr Cameron's suggestion that it should come to an end is right.

I didn't listen to PMQs, but, in my view, Mr Cameron's focus on reform of MPs/House of Commons was the right one. These are topical issues, and they irritate all of us.

strapworld said...

an extraordinary voter.

obviously one of brown's
blog watchers. I mean only someone surrounded by brown rent boys could not feel the anger out here.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with you I think Iain. I said to my 2 year old son as he ate his sandwich, while being forced to watch PMQs rather than 'Me Too' on Cbeebies (awful prog!), that DC appeared to be drifting in the end and I wasn't quite sure of the point of challenging GB to a live debate at some point in the future when we're nowhere near an election, it seems!

I thought at first it was a brave move but got rapidly slightly fed up and confused by it all! My son appeared to agree and even gave up on his sandwich in the end, he was so bored!

Anonymous said...

Iain I totally disagree with you.
I began to be worried by David's 'full on' attack style questions every week.
This week he took his foot off the gas, and I for one was pleased.
He asked a coherent series of questions on a topical and hugely important issue i.e. the state of politics itself.
Unfortunately Brown continued his 'Two Ronnies Mastermind' approach wherein he answers the previous question rather than the question he has just been asked.
If Brown wants a more open ended discussion and the ability to ask David Cameron questions then he should indeed agree with the introduction of TV debates.

A resounding win for Cameron and for Democracy. (Pro-Castro MPs please take note)

Anonymous said...

anonymous of 2.46 - top post, I salute you. Anonymous of 2.29, ditto - see strapworld's comment for proof !

"Too busy earning another pile of dosh to fill in the neme field"

Anonymous said...

Cameron positioned himself brilliantly.

Brown now delivers answers one question too late -- weird or is he just playing for time?

Clegg was just embarrasing -- even Brown had fun at his expense.

Oscar Miller said...

Iain - seems there's quite some consensus here that it's Cameron who had his finger on the pulse at PMQs. Brown is hopelessly outdated and out of touch - dismissive of the expenses scandals - denies democratic rights on the referendum - and slaps down the very good idea of proper televised debates which are long overdue. On all these subjects the public are seething at being treated like fools with parliament increasingly behaving like a remote privileged elite.

Anonymous said...

Cameron answers the first answer before asking his second question. Brown then responds to the response before answering the next. It's a silly schoolboy game, and Brown shouldn't be joining iwith the silly schoolboy opposite!

Anonymous said...

Gay history month launched

Anonymous of 2.46 : With regard to Market Rasen, the epicentre of the earthquake, guess what?.....

"The fourth annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month has got under way in Islington.
The theme of this year's event is Claiming our Past, Celebrating our Present and Creating our Future.

A display commemorating the first ever gay rights demonstration in Islington and the first "out" mayor will be in the town hall throughout February."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2008

What next? Pestilence and plague?Shaking genitals indeed!

Anonymous said...

I thought Cameron came across very well. It was a thoughtful series of questions on a topic that people in the country are rightly exercised about. I think I heard some MPs almost gasp and tut that Cameron was questioning the juiciness of MPs' pensions and expenses, in a "don't rock the boat" fashion.

Well I'm glad he has rocked the boat. As well as being the right thing to do for the man on the street who pays for it all, it positions the Tories on the side of fair play and Labour on the side of defending the corrupt status quo.

Well done Cameron.

asquith said...

Speaking of Cameron, he has done a good job denouncing multiculti and demanding true liberalism in his speech. My humble opinion is that the LibDems are in danger of falling behind. We should be the ones making the running on secularism. But anyway, nice to see someone speaking out. I suggest you blog on it, it's to Cameron's credit. For once.

Anonymous said...

Iain Martin's conclusion seems to fit the comments on this piece:

"Did it work for the Tories? A Westminster insider would answer no. I suspect, however, that if it was shown to a focus group of civilians they would understand it much more easily."

Madasafish said...

As a voter far away from london what I see:
1. A bunch of self centred MPs who have zero idea of the real world.
2. And they have even less idea of how their greed and thieving play out to the elctorate.
3. to those who have to account for every 1p of expenditure, MPs appear a bunch of spoilt lazy ignorant kids.
4. Refusal to be open and honest and transparent shows they ALL have something to hide.
5. the Speaker? unspeakable. No common sense.

And the reaction to the latest security scare?

Bunch of incompetents who learn nothing. Frankly the HOC idea of security is a farce. In the real world, the Head of Security would be collecting his P45 tonight.

PMQs? Irrelevant. No questions answered. Children flinging insults.

Debates? Childish.

Frankly in a school debate, most of the speakers would be told to ".... off and don't come back.. you bring nothing to the debate".

It's living in the 19th century.. and on past glories .. with 3rd rate politicians (at least in the 19th century they had Gladstone and Disraeli).

As for walking out of the Chamber... well if there was any discipline the response would be : banned for 4 weeks until you behave.

And these are the people who complain about role models for the young!

Frankly I would be ashamed if any relative or friend of mine behaved as most MPs do. The fact they appear to take it as normal says it all.

Out of date, out of touch, out of control.

Anonymous said...

Cameron is being very clever. He realises that the only purpose of PMQ's is to get the headlines if possible. At the moment MPs as a group are in real trouble and Cameron's attempt to be seen to be on the side of those who wish to clean up politics will play well with the electorate. The trouble with many MPs is that they don't meet ordinary voters unless they visit their surgery and even then many of these individuals are sad nut cases.Pictures of the Speaker's house went down like a lead balloon with most voters. It showed how he has used being an MP to enhance his own wealth. He would never have been able to afford such a home if he had stayed as a sheet metal worker. The damage was then compounded by the attitude of Ken Purchase who came across as a really arrogant so and so.When building societies are asking for 25% deposits for first time buyers all this of this doesn't go down well with the electorate. The first time buyer might not vote but their parents do. Labour MPs want to wake up and realise the damage that Martin and other old Labour lags are doing to the image of the party.Last week's singing of the Red Flag regarding Northern Rock, for example, was just pathetic. Wait until sandler starts sending out the redundancy notices and then we will see weeping and wailing in the streets.

Andrew said...

My analysis, for what its worth

Andrew said...

Whoops, forgot to include analysis..

Quite an odd PMQs today. Aberrant in fact.

Unusual tactics from Cameron and a very vocal Labour team.

I'm really not sure what to make of today's exchanges. A little bit clever by Cameron? Possibly. A totally inept performance showing a lack of direction and planning? Possibly, but in the world of PR, advisors and stage management I doubt if there wasn't a plan. He appeared to be acting innocent and subservient, looking to Brown for leadership. Will anyone buy Cameron's innocence card? No, but he has been rather cunning today by the repeated subtle suggestion that Brown is scared of more transparency of MPs expenses, scared of allowing his Cabinet a free vote of the constitution, scared of letting the country have a vote. Brown, having just got used to dealing with Punch and Judy, didn't really know what to do with himself when faced with faux innocence and subversive suggestiveness. I certainly didn't see this coming, I bet the Labour lot didn't either.

Cameron gave Brown a number of chances to show himself to be taking a strong lead (both as Labour leader and PM) which he failed to take. However, I don’t think Cameron managed to score an obvious goal.

Also notice today, no script in front of Captain Cameron.

Today saw the return of the Lib Dems to the House but Nick Clegg’s confidence staged another House of Commons walkout. He was roundly heckled by Labour MPs today in a bid to knock him off his stride. The sickening smirk on Brown’s face as he got up to speak indicated he relishes the chance to bully someone at PMQs. As with last week Clegg raises worthy issues but he fails to make an impact on the House.

Result 0 - 0

Ted Foan said...

I'm late as usual in adding my support to those that thought Cameron's tactic to pin down Brown worked very well today.

Not only has he now put on record his support for Cameron's views on the way that MPs salaries should be decided but allowed Cameron to set the agenda on their pensions too. Cameron also scored a point by saying that Brown should be showing leadership. This all adds to the perception that Brown is not on top of the narrative.

Overall, a points win for Cameron with a well-crafted performance and Brown resorting to his default position of asking Cameron questions. Either Mr Speaker should intervene more robustly or the whole event should be called "Prime Minister Asks the Questions".

(Also, note that Cameron had few notes while Brown continues to fiddle with a cheap felt-tip pen and, admittedly, a thinner sheaf of papers than when he first became PM.)

Anonymous said...

He's a cunning one that Cambo.

I thought the Speaker's advice to Cleggy ("He should be careful where he's going with this one") was brilliant. At the same time, it reinforces the conclusion that he is unfit for office because, as funny as it was, the Speaker should not be making jokes at the expense of honourable members, particularly when it will have a partisan effect.

Anonymous said...

Brown won, did he?

I think not.