Wednesday, February 20, 2008

PMQs on Sky News at 8.30pm

I'm on Sky News at 8.30pm commentating on PMQs with the ever fragrant Julia Hartley-Brewer. I'm quite clear on who came out on top in today's exchanges, but would be interested in your feedback. Issues to discuss:

* Gordon Brown's continuing habit of turning the question back on David Cameron
* Camerons's tactic of the 'vicious aside'
* Nick Clegg's tactic of two questions on different subjects
* Brown's weak response on FOI and Cameron's demolition in the 5th question


Anonymous said...

Brown's question turning is something that The Speaker should address. It is Prime Minister's Questions!

Newmania said...

He went out there a chorus girl....

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, you are all at it again. Cameron by short head..Nope - PMQ’s is turning into a calamity for cambo. Wasting his questions has become his new habit.

Gordon Brown is obviously beginning to enjoy PMQ’s. His performances are improving week by week, while Cameron slowly gets worse.

Brown correctly compared Cameron to a Student politician. Dave’s arguments and questions are simplistic and his idealistic expressive outbursts are reminiscent of a teenager. Cameron ranted on about the FOI and DNA databases, but failed to mention that he and his party voted against these two policies being passed in to law in the first place

Nearly every commentator today has Brown as the winner at PMQ’s, but more important most are commenting on Camerons poor performance.

Alan Douglas said...

y simple calculation :

If Brown wants be ASKING questions at PMQs, all he need do is call an election.

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

Personally I dont think Cameron is doing well at PMQs.

Both Brown and Cameron are trying to define their opponent before they define them. Cameron is trying to make Brown look indecisive and no up to the job. Brown is trying to make Cameron look like all words and no policy. Both are succeeding in running the other down; yet neither is building themselves up.

Unfortunately the Tory frontbench act like a 6th form smug debating group from a public school (I speak as a former member of one) which doesnt play well with voters. They seem more interested in playing the lawyers game of playing with words rather than defeating Brown on policy. Labour have had a bad, very bad time, yet I still dont feel that we have thrust the killer blow into Brown.

I have noticed that the Brown questions of "well what would you do then," are starting to stick in voters minds; raising questions over how suitable Cameron is as a party leader. Although Cameron talks and acts tough and shows little respect for Brown, he needs to show some policy or direction.

If you look at Northern Rock the only person who comes out of it with any good is Vince Cable. At least he said what he felt and stuck to it. Principles dear boy, principles.

Cameron has to up his game, and appear like a PM in waiting. We need policies; clear defined policies. Even if it means having a pledge card - at least we'll have a few policies around which we can all rally.

The momentum of anti Brown has go us ahead of them in the race to the next election; but we are really at risk of falling back and becoming over confident with ourselves; yet a point of view not shared by the country.

My fear is that at the next election the Tories hold a rally in Sheffield and introduce Cameron as the next PM of this country. Voters go to the polls and think smug gits aint voting for them. A reverse 1992 if you will. Time will tell. Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

I love to see Brown hammered at PMQs, but I do think the "student politics" jibe hit home, particularly in that he managed to get his timing right and use it in 'answer' to Cameron's final question.

Anonymous said...

Tory thinks tory leader won at PMQ's. Wow shock horror hold the front page. And what does everone else think yep, good point LOL LOL.

Chris Paul said...

Didn't catch it live today. But I think that Gordon's "student union politics" is on the money. So who did you think 'WON" this today?

The crankier and more manic Cameron and GOO are on this matter the less people will vote for the Tories. Evereyone that could reasonably have been helped in this business has come out if not exactly smiling then at least relieved.

The Tory latter day conversion to the nuclear option would very clearly have been far far worse - much as it was attractive momentarily as an alternative to bailing out foolish capitalists.

Answering a question with a question is absolutely within the rules of engagement for this particular sport. It's meaningless banter and yahboo for the most part. Like having to undertake a tap dancing audition when you're applying for a professional services job.

Tories are looking nasty, wild nay swivel eyed and the louder they wail the more their toff in-breeding comes to the surface.

That's not really a personal comment. That's just an appropriate way to critique PMQs. This was my take, yesterday.

AnyoneButBrown said...

For me the biggest issue apart from Browns tactic of turning it into PM asks the Questions (aided by the awful Gorbals Mick) is the lies Brown spouts.
Why doesn't DC ask Brown to correct his statements that clearly (inadvertently) misled the house. Today's corker was youth unemployment which has apparently fallen by 60%.
Er, if you examine the stats you'll easily see that the number of NEETS has in fact grown by 15% since 1997 (source Princes Trust)

Anonymous said...

See , I actually value the Prime Minister's habit of turning the knife. It is important because it has to be remembered that those in Opposition aren't Governing and its harder to act than to speak. Whilst I realise it is Prime Minister's Questions, I think that David Cameron can come across as a bit of a novice bully at times.

Nick Clegg' is proving to be a really sturdy performer at PMQ's - the Liberal Democrat's look like a respectable force, they will continue to play the role in pleasing those who are fed up with Labour but vehemetly anti-Tory.

Newmania said...

Perhaps a good time to start using the new Brown nick name ..'Culpability Brown '?

Anonymous said...

How Brown can't go for long getting battered by the other sides without falling back on regurgitating economic prowess figures. Or how most Labour MPs seem to use the event handily to ask questions that allow Brown to big up current high profile policy initiatives.

Or perhaps why it's only when there's less than 10 minutes left that people with real questions for the prime minister actually get to ask them after 20 minutes of planted issues and pantomime fights?

Anonymous said...

what about Sky's decision to cut away from PMQs in the middle of Nick Clegg's questions... to go to an outside broadcast from Ipswich!

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid that the only thing I can say on Brown's performance is that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot polish a tur-

asquith said...

Iain, you'll have to post a link to your performance. I haven't got a TV. I like watching you on Election Battleground and Heffer Confronted. In my humble opinion, you're really good at the format. And blogging for that matter.

Anonymous said...

iain the truth here is that dave's not very good at it either. i miss the professionals. you should say so, too. not just bang the bloody party line. i am a tory, always have been always will, but cameron needs help from people with a loud public voice like you, not sycophancy

Paddy Briggs said...


• Pakistan is in dangerous post election turmoil
• Kenya remains a bloodbath
• The Iraqi so-called ceasefire looks like ending
• There’s a cyclone in Madagascar and an earthquake in Indonesia
• The Serbs are revolting in Kosovo
• Bloodshed in Gaza

…all much less important, of course, than the “Westminster Debating Society” winners and losers. Will you say that on Sky? Will you hell!!

Mulligan said...

In the spirit of Brown's outrageous statistical claims I can report that 157% of viewers thought that Cameron won. The other 220% couldn't give a damn.

Pretty uninspiring stuff all round, might be less painful if Brown just read out his own clearly planted question rather than showing up another poor (in both senses of the word)backbench MP as having the complete inability to learn a 3 line script. If anything could make the most ardent Europhobe wish for a full blown EU Parliament and ditch the whole lot of these (mostly) mendacious, useless, parasites on society then PMQs is it. No wonder hardly any of us bother to vote any more. sigh.

Anonymous said...

Brown has improved over the last couple of months, of that there can be no doubt, and he looks a little more comfortable.

Cameron, on the other hand looks too damned comfortable, does he think this is an easy route to an election win? I think he needs to find new ways of exposing Brown's weaknesses, get a little more personal, start to look "hungry", mixed with a little gravitas.

Does he really come across as a better alternative just yet?

Perhaps he should drop Vince Cable a couple of tenners each week in exchange for acouple of questions.

Anonymous said...

Brown claims that the Tories would have had a fire sale of Northern Rock, with branch closures and job losses. What if it happens on his watch?

As for the pathetic student politican jibe, given Brown's tenure as Rector at Edinburgh Uni, I guess that that wasn't counted, Brown was grooming himself for higher things...

Brown was more self assured but clueless over Northern Rock. His government decided to nationalise it, his govenment is accountable for it, and his government will fail over it.

As for Brown's pathetic 'tribute' to the dead soldier, don't forget it is Brown that is not funding the Forces with new equipment or weapons which work well. He is a nausating little toad.

Old BE said...

It actually doesn't matter who "wins" PMQs, the economy is totally up the spout and people on the street are beginning to realise it. No more boom and bust is going to be no more Prime Minister come May 2010. Cameron will have to do a Sheffield Rally to lose the next election and no he's not as stupid as Kinnock.

Yak40 said...


How many non-political types care about PMQs ?

The Conservatives need to ATTACK, in public, all the myriad screwups, incompetencies, lies that "New" Labour commit every damn day.

Expose them for the class obsessed, small-minded utterly incompetent bunch they are and then don't forget to offer reasoned policy alternatives.

If the Shadow front bench doesn't get on the ball Brown will win the next one.

Oh, and where's the Con effort to derail the ramming thru' of the EU "Liesbon" Treaty ? The silence is deafening there too.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that PMQ should be about which side wins. I want to see a serious politicians giving serious answers to serious questions. Not two politicians taking turns to promote their policies.

Anonymous said...

My word Iain, Nulab trolls (?toadies or another T-word?) out in force this afternoon! Can't think why they bother even if your blog is seen to be a threat. Propaganda only works if it is believable.

Anonymous said...

Paddy Briggs, ever ready with a stream of consciousness irrelevancies, writes:

• Pakistan is in dangerous post election turmoil
• Kenya remains a bloodbath
• The Iraqi so-called ceasefire looks like ending
• There’s a cyclone in Madagascar and an earthquake in Indonesia
• The Serbs are revolting in Kosovo
• Bloodshed in Gaza


... What is this, a blog or a Third World news round-up?

Paddy Briggs would be the first to bawl that we're no longer an imperial power and these people's problems are not relevant to the British taxpayer or British politics if a Conservative suggested acting on any of the above.

At least he used words that were correct in the context today, which is quite refreshing, given his sub-standard literacy.

Daily Referendum said...


The link you are looking for is:

Anonymous said...

Travis Bickle said...
"No wonder hardly any of us bother to vote any more. "

The turnout at the last General Election was 61%. Not really 'hardly any of us'.

Anonymous said...

verity said...
"Paddy Briggs, ever ready with a stream of consciousness irrelevancies ..."

"At least he used words that were correct in the context today, which is quite refreshing, given his sub-standard literacy."

Er, 'a stream of consciousness irrelevancies' is a good example of sub-standard literacy.

Paddy Briggs said...

Julia Hartley-Brewer ****

Iain Dale **

Paddy Briggs said...


Do you think that you could stop insulting me? Disagree with me if you want to . And argue if you wish. But hold the insults and abuse please...

Anonymous said...

Iain, I just went into the lounge where Sky News was on but only heard the sound at first. Did anyone ever tell you that you sound exactly like Rick Stein?

Anonymous said...

Watched your discussion Iain, entertaining as well as serious. I think the panel's combined score was pretty fair, I wouldn't have marked Cam quite as high as you did but I wouldn't have marked Brown nearly as high as Julia.

I thought both of you were a bit generous to Clegg, possibly (even though this is politics) because you think he's a nice guy! I get the feeling that although what he has to say is sensible enough on most subjects (don't mention the Treaty) he hasn't really got the voice or the physical presence to command a listening. I'm sure he will improve, but he inspires me no more than dear old Ming did.

I didn't quite hoist in the implication of the public vote reported at end. I've not watched AB's PMQ slot before so assumed that it represented public input since 12.30pm though I'm sure I'll be put right if necessary! If 80% of respondents really did score it for Cam and most people thought Brown and Clegg were pants, both those two gents have a problem.

It doesn't really matter very much what you, Julia and Adam think, or what we your contributors think or even what your esteemed Nulab trolls think. It's the public whose votes will decide (at the last possible moment in June 2010).

Anonymous said...

AnyoneButBrown .... Today's corker was youth unemployment which has apparently fallen by 60%.
Er, if you examine the stats you'll easily see that the number of NEETS has in fact grown by 15% since 1997 (source Princes Trust).

Er, Youth Unemployment and NEETS are not the same thing. Don't forget that a lot of NEETS are housewives or single parents who are not looking for work.

strapworld said...

I thought you were very good although your jacket looked two sizes too big!

Why you didn't complain about the editing before it came to you. The best bit was on DNA when Cameron knocked back Brown by stating that Howard brought in the first DNA legislation. By SKY ignoring this knock back it did appear as if Brown had the better of Cameron, on that point.

I do believe though - on a wider point - that Hefner, in his article in the Telegraph today,is spot on.

Cameron needs to change his team. I think the redhaired one's idea for Redwood to be Shadow Chancellor is an excellent one. George sounds and looks like a little boy-=sorry! but he does.

The Conservatives should be 20 points ahead now and they are not. They must get out and about meeting and addressing ordinary people up and down the country- they should be seen and heard articulating what the people need to hear- that there is a political party concerned about them!

Start a blog on who should be in the shadow cabinet ! may be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Ian, you said on Sky that the Dutch data disk was 'lost'. It wasn't lost, it was just sitting there doing nothing.

Iain Dale said...

Oh. That's alright then. Is that the best you can come up with?!

Newmania said...

Oh no I could not allow there to be any let up in insulting Paddy Briggs . From his implausible bouffant syrup to his snotty nosed tearful self pity he clearly craves abuse.Without insults he would fade like the Cheshire cat his nauseating oily smile last.It is our sacred duty to insult the disgustingly self delighted bumbling slug.

I see there are plenty of fawning Labour toadies here opining about PMQs . Conservatives tend to miss it , what with our valuable role paying for you good for nothing parasites and all that. The problem with Brown is that he looks so pathetic a figure its dangerous appearing to brusque with him. The sentimental British will take to him like the runt or the mangy donkey .

Did he seriously accuse someone else of sixth form politics ……? Is someone seriously suggesting he has started to get the hang of this politics thing over the last month or two ….....

*Stan Laurel look to camera*

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Travis Bickle posted something over at Sky, similar to, but better than his piece here:

Don't see how supporters of any party can be happy with this weekly charade. Brown never answers any questions , merely listing off largely inaccurate statistics and figures, and god knows what strategy Cameron is trying to pull off. Clegg is just an irrelevance.

We should all be shaking our heads at the planted questions, not because of the questions themselves but because highly paid politicians cannot learn a 3 line script and deliver it without looking completely wooden.

None of them deserve the slavish support they receive on here. End of."

There is a voting facility on Sky on who won PMQs. I am definately on the "non of the above" team.

Cameron has an open goal at PMQs but signally fails to stick them in the back of the net. Compare him with the fabulous Vince Cable, who was funny and sharp as a Saturday night switchblade.

Cameron needs (ironically) to be deadly serious. He needs to ask why the Prime Minister holds the institution of PMQs in utter contempt, why he refuses to answer simple questions, why he thinks it is clever to criticise what the Conservatives were doing when they were in office and why he thinks that is a benchmark for his "success". We need to know, as Travis Bickle has mentioned, why he is a slave to planted questions. We need to know once again why the issue of "lost data" has not been addressed. He needs to be stuck like a pig on a stick, with deadly seriousness and then, he must see how ludicrous his constant reference to figures and specious facts makes him look. Brown's performance in the House is a disgrace - and yet Cameron had failed to exploit it.

Paddy Briggs said...


You cannot be serious! I wonder whether the world that you and Verity inhabit, where it is smart to simply throw venomous comments (unprovoked) at others, is one that anyone outside the psychiatric services recognises at all. I have not responded to these vulgar insults in the past (in similar vein) and I won't now. Only to say that if you were sober when you made your last post I can only wish you good counselling - and if, as I suspect, you were under the influence of something strong - well have a good night's rest – and don’t even think about taking the car out in the morning!

Anonymous said...

newmania. I think you mean 'Oliver Hardy look to camera.'

Anonymous said...

Henry Rogers. On the Sky blog where Cameron 'wins' every week, there is a small but busy group of Tory commentators. Usually by 12:35 Cameron has 'won' by 80%. If you check later in the evening, there'll be virtually no change.
It would be interesting to know how many people have voted. Not many I suggest.

The Sage of Muswell Hill said...

PMQ as a persuader of public opinion is more or less irrelevant. William Haig consistently made toast of Blair at PMQ and the effect on public perception of the opposition was . . . nil.

As ed implies, it's what the public sees in their own lives is what counts. Mind you even with economic and social disaster staring it in the face the electorate only gives the Conservatives an 8% lead in the polls - so it's not just PMQs where Cameron is manufacturing a pig's ear.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.08

Ah, those wicked Tory conspirators trying to corrupt the democratic process! And as it's a poll they'll all be anonymous too! Meanwhile all those enlightened citizens who could have saved the situation are too busy trolling on Iain's blog, ConHome and so on to redress the balance. You don't find quite so many on Guido of course, the natives there are so much less inhibited!

Anonymous said...

Could you have been up David Cameron's arse any further?

"Independent media commentator" my arse!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 11.08 pm said...
"Henry Rogers. On the Sky blog where Cameron 'wins' every week, there is a small but busy group of Tory commentators. Usually by 12:35 Cameron has 'won' by 80%."

On Teletext, ITV used to have a weekly poll, usually on a political issue. One of the reasons they dropped it was that there was an organised Conservative input which distorted the picture, e.g. on Voting Intention immediately before the 1997 General Election the Conservatives were on about 70% but the actual result was 31.5%.

Anonymous said...

STRAPWORLD rather wonderfully says 'Hefner' in the Telegraph. If only. Unfortunately he means 'Heffer' I think!

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Hey everybody. Paddy Briggs is a fat bastard in a shiny suit, but check his blog. He makes a reasoned and clear argument against boxing,(a repulsive and violent licenced form of evil, run by criminals, that exploits the weak and poor) for which I give him full marks.

This does not in anyway endorse Paddy's other flaky ideas and WW disassociates himself from his often hilarious comments.

Unsworth said...

@ Paddy Briggs

So you don't like how people talk to you?

Tragic, absolutely effing tragic.

Unfortunately for you, old chap, this is the real world. Learn to deal with it - it ain't gonna change for you or anyone else - if you don't then you're going to need massive medical intervention.