Wednesday, April 29, 2009

PMQs: Clegg Shines and Puts Brown on the Ropes

Gordon Brown seemed to be in a very subdued mood at PMQs - almost contrite. David Cameron's two sections of questions were on Swine flu and the Gurkhas. The Prime Minister answered in a consensual way on Swine flu but seemed to be unwilling to take on board the constructive suggestions David Cameron made on the Gurkha issue. In fact, he seemed all over the place. As Nick Clegg said, he was evasive. Clegg must have been furious that Cameron stole his thunder on the Gurkhas, but he nevertheless put a good question to Brown. Brown, of course, decided to answer a different question and concluded by saying he would continue to do his duty by the Gurkhas. Clegg then went in for the kill and accused Brown of behaving shamefully. Labour MPs were said to be looking uncomfortable. Brown's final sentence to Clegg was "We will take the right answers" - an indication that he knew he was both nervous and on shaky ground. Cameron's questions and suggestions on how to solve the Gurkha issue were more substantial, but Clegg landed the political blow.

This was Nick Clegg's strongest performance yet at PMQs in his 16 months as LibDem leader. Despite being pre-empted by Cameron, he put Brown on the back foot.

Gordon Brown 5
David Cameron 6
Nick Clegg 7

UPDATE: Andrew Neil has just said that the Daily Politics has never had such an avalanche of emails after PMQs as today on the Gurkhas. Furthermore, every single one of them supported the Gurkhas. Every. Single. One.

UPDATE 12.35: Michael White has just twittered this: "The Speaker said: Statement from the Prime Minister on Afghanistan. But GB forgot and was walking out. Jeers. GB smiles." Oh dear.

I have just seen that Michael White scored is on the Gurkhas GB 4, DC 3, NC 2. Unbelievable. How out of touch can you be?


James said...

Resign petition now in the number 2 position

Anonymous said...

Surely shome mistake - Clegg out scoring Cameron?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

I agree. Clegg nailed a grade A shit to the wanker wall.

moorlandhunter said...

Brown has been let off the hook, again by Cameron. Why cannot the Tories do some damage to Brown in PMQ's. It might not be much but people watch PMQ's and make up their minds about the leaders. So far today Brown has won, much to my anger.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Clegg did a good job.

Tom said...

Cameron gave Clegg a generous hat-tip at the start of his question and I think Clegg made the most of it. I can't think he was too furious about it.

CC Baxter said...

Michael White is as deluded as Polly Toynbee.

Guthrum said...

Brown was on the ropes, Cameron has just help him up again by his poor performance... Why ?

Anonymous said...

Sir Michael white appears to be too busy selling pies in the South of France to pay proper attention to PMQs.

Shamik Das said...

No mention of the petition! Hopefully next week it'll be number 1 and DC'll go hard on it.

I reckon Brown will cave in on the Gurkhas, then try and claim credit for it.


kasou said...

As usual not worth the effort and missing lunch for. When o when will we ever get back to real political debate in parliament and maybe a little less semi-abusive blog comments.

We all know McBRUIN is a w...ker,a h..n etc, maybe now is the time encourage our politicians to make a stand for democracy and real leadership.

If we need to use the abominable treatment of the Ghurkas to get something going then I welcome that, but surely there is enough ammunition out there to get a real debate going IN PARLIAMENT as to whether this government is competent to carry on.

Daily Referendum said...

Because Michael White is Brown's No1 arse kisser. The man makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

I find it hilarious that anyone would take Michael Whites views on anything seriously.

The man is nothing more than a Labour shill.

Fitaloon said...

I suspect that Clegg and Cameron will do their double act again on expenses.
Clegg good today but once in a bluemoon is just not enough.

Dick the Prick said...

Only an idiot fights the Gurkhas, not only an idiot - a rude, petulant and disingenous idiot. Clegg did well - Swine Flu won - yawn.

Bob said...

Sir Michael scored it as he would like it to be, rather than how it was......

Usual nonsense from him then.

Dino Fancellu said...

Re the Gurkhas, I think this will play to the public very well.

As usual, Brown is quite out of touch with public opinion, and is digging a hole for himself. He has no idea how angry people are, this further erodes any claims to morality he can make.

Brown was, as usual, so disingenuous, claiming that Gurkhas could only come here after 1997, i.e. implying that it was the wonderful Labour gov.

He fails to say that before they didn't need to come here because they had a right to go to Hong Kong (much more suited to them), but we gave it back to China.

Hacked Off said...

What else do you expect from Sir Kneepads?

The Penguin

Trend Shed said...

Who is Michael White???? How on earth does anyone think Brown came out on that on top?!

Despite wanting to see Gordon Brown dramatically felled - I'm glad opposition politicians stuck up for the Gurkhas today.

William Blakes Ghost said...

Wouldn't disagree with Dale's weighting. Cameron soften Brown up on the Gurkhas, Clegg went in for the kill.

Given the flu situation Cameron had to go on that first and be measured about it. Clegg didn't have to as he will not be PM after the next election and could go in on the minority issue.

IMO good performances from both Cameron and Clegg. As for Brown - Dead Man Walking........

Anonymous said...

Come on Iain, let's be honest about your party's position on the Ghurkas shall we? Labour is the first party since the Second World War to provide UK settlement rights for the Ghurkas. What did the Tories do? Sod all. Why is that old fool Winterton getting into all of a lather when his party have ignored the Ghurkas for donkeys years. 6,000 Ghurkas have settled in the UK since Labour brought in rules in 2004 allowing this. So what the bloody hell is Thatcher going on about in The Sun claiming its a disgrace? What exactly did she do?

Trend Shed said...

I should point out that I have always thought Martin Salter one of the decent Labour politicians - certainly the polar opposite of the vile crew at the heart of Labour these days.

I think I heard Martin Salter is leaving parliament at the next election - if true - that would be a shame.

Oscar Miller said...

This was Nick Clegg's PMQs. Michael White scoring him worst is pathetically dishonest. But Cameron didn't steal Clegg's thunder on the Gurkhas and didn't try to. In fact he acted as the warm up and decently name checked him as well. Cameron wasn't trying to take the limelight today.

Dino Fancellu said...

> Labour is the first party since the Second World War to provide UK settlement rights for the Ghurkas

Read my above post. They didn't need UK residency before 1997, they went to Hong Kong.

If you want to know more:

More disingenuous pap from Labour. Its in their DNA.

Plato said...

I was a bit perplexed by Cameron's approach but think on reflection that he is 'being statesman like'.

The swine flu thing may be nothing or something massive. I think he's playing a long game on this rather than tactical points now.

Great stuff from Clegg.

wv noica - getting there :)

James Higham said...

Brown, of course, decided to answer a different question...

Unusual for Gordon, isn't it?

By the way, your infuriating word verification word today, Iain, was "suctose". Is Blogger making a suggestion?

Stepney said...

We’d keep the red flag flying here but we appear to have
a) left it on the train
b) out-sourced it at 10x the original budget and our suppliers can’t make it work
c) banned flags for health and safety reasons
d) lost it during a £7 million office rennovation
e) signed up to a non-flag flying treaty in Brussels without telling you.

Anonymous said...

Public opinion is trailing a long way behind the facts where the Ghurkas are concerned.

Want to know more than Dale's propaganda? Well, have a look at the article which appeared in Sunday's Independent by a former Chief of the Defence Staff Edwin Bramall.

It's headlined: Don't be sentimental, we have treated the Ghurkas well

It's a very interesting read and concludes by saying:

I suspect that if I didn't know the facts, I would feel as strongly as some of the celebrities who have spoken so vehemently about the Gurkhas. But the facts, not sentiment, are what needs to be considered here.

Anonymous said...

I'm not surprised all of the emails were supportive of the Gurkhas. The BBC 'Have Your Say' bit had a thread on it a couple of days ago and every single comment I read was supportive of them. For 'Have Your Say' that's unheard of!

Man in a Shed said...

Re Michael White; I thought being out of touch was a requirement for employment at the tax optimising, bonus paying Guardian ?

This is the left's route problem, a complete lack of either honesty or some mental impairment that leaves them unconnected with reality. Both of which means they should be kept a long way from government.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Funny bit, Stepney. Worth checking your blog for.

Anonymous said...

@ Moorlander

Brown is damaged goods - Smith, McBride, humiliated wherever he goes.

I was quite surprised by Cameron, then I thought 'you don't kick a cripple.'

Rather grown up, really.

BTW no one goes to PMQs for political debate.

Savonarola said...

Michael White is following the traditional journalistic route to an honour. Sadly the object of his sycophantic scribbling is heading for the knacker's yard.

I hope, 'Sir' Michael, that 'Lady' White will forgive you for raising and then dashing her hopes. The embossed name cards will have to be shredded.

Gareth Williams said...

One of the short-listed Turner Prize artists appears to have received some inspiration:

strapworld said...

Clegg may have been annoyed that Cameron asked questions on the Gurkhas BUT Cameron very graciously congratulated Clegg on putting the Motion for Debate Down.

It also showed that the two parties were united, again, on a major issue.

Also, and you should not forget this Iain, Andrew Neil corrected the Labour Party Member in the studio -the former welsh miner's union rep- when he said AS Brown had said that it was the Labour Party that allowed them access in the first place.

That was because of Hong Kong -to which the Gurgha's had for a long time been allowed to reside in- going back to the Chinese. So it is a bit of sickly politics to make people believe the moral highground is with Brown and his incompetent lot!

4 stars to Andrew Neil and Nick Clegg 2 Stars to David Cameron and a half to Brown

Anonymous said...

Cameron was poor again today. He fails to land good punches very often, he should be doing better.

Clegg was the better of the 3 today. Perhaps coaching from Paddy Ashdown is helping?

GB must be the worst Prime Minister ever to speak, or try to speak at the despatch box. He is atrocious.

Nick said...

Those of us with long memories can remember that Paddy Ashdown often struggled at PMQs, until he started raising the issue of the right of people entitled to British passports but living in Hong Kong, not being automatically entitled to live in UK after the hand over of the terriority to the Chinese. If I remember rightly the ‘establishment’ were issuing all sorts of dire warnings about how many thousands of people from Hong Kong would want to come and live in the UK if they were issued with passports – and of course we now know how wrong those people were.

Ashdown gained a lot of respect in the media, and with the public, over his principled stance on this matter and it was seen as the ‘making’ of him as the Liberal Democrat leader. I suspect that Clegg’s stance over the Ghurkhas will come to be seen in the same light and, coupled with his position on MPS expenses could be the turning point in how seriously he is seen by the media and electorate.

DaveFY said...

Personally, I think Mr Cameron made some tactical decisions in PMQ. By supporting Mr Clegg in taking centre stage, more labour supporters will leave to join the LibDems. This will further the gap between the blues and the reds.

Simon Gardner said...

O/T Anyone noticed how much Simon Hoggart has gone ‘off’? His sketches now seem to be a repeat of his previous ones. Time he was moved.

judith said...

Could someone better informed than myself comment on the alleged fact that the UK signed a treaty re the Gurkhas that deliberately made emigration very difficult, so that their homeland did not suffer a major loss of its finest subjects?

Anonymous said...

Cannot agree with scoring. Cameron supported Clegg in his motion. Quite rightly and so quite rightly he did not steel his thunder. This is called DECENCY.

I am glad our next PM will be a decent man.

Brown did not do as high as 5. He lied about conservative Education spending plans.

Plus in giving his answers he waffled shamefully hogging the time and restricting the opportunity for questions.

'Anon' should point out that before Hong Kong reverting to China Gurkhas could settle in there.
This govt have let million and millions of immigrants and dependants - claiming that it was economically beneficial. Now for Gurkhas they say it is uneconomic !!

Apparently Brown made an arse of himself after PMQs by walking out - only to come back to make a statement.

The Master said...

The more people that sign the reisgn petition the louder the calls for Brown to go will be from his own side.Men in white coats are waiting to be called.

Fox in sox said...

The Gurkha popularity is an interesting one. Clearly the British people are fond of the Gurkhas, whilst remaining opposed to other immigration in substantial numbers, whenever asked. I understand that as well as the Gurkhas around 5% of the armed forces are non British, with Africans, Fijians and west Indians represented in large numbers. A Grenedan won a VC the other year. It would be iniquitous to not extend the same priveleges to these veterans.

I think that the popular support of the Gurkhas shows that British people are happy for migrants to come to the UK if they are loyal to Queen and Country, with pro British attitudes. Seperatist communities would be wise to emulate.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Brown announced the new case of flu before the school and its pupils knew anything about it. They - the school and parents - are hopping mad

Unfortunately both Cameron and Clegg have had to share the unedifying experience of holding a meeting with Brown. This must surely give them a common purpose. They must both realise in what shaky hands the country now lies.

Clegg would make a half decent Tory. As would Laws.

Simon Gardner said...

trevorsden said... “Clegg would make a half decent Tory.” Clegg is a Tory. There can be no doubt which way he would jump in a hung parliament - which of course there won’t be.

Unsworth said...

@ Anonymous 1:31PM

So you'd rather take the word of Field Marshall Lord Bramall than that of, say, Ms Lumley?

What are Bramall's credentials to pronounce on the rightness or fairness of such a decision? He may have had an illustrious military career (and that is debatable) but does that make him an expert on morality and decency? Some might think otherwise.

To quote him: "As I say, I have a greater regard for the Gurkhas than anyone". Oh, really? How on earth can he say that? How does he know?

And "Yet I am confident that, rather, we have treated them with fairness and generosity. And I am also confident that a great many serving Gurkhas regard this recent activism as "trade unionism" that discredits their soldiers and is in any event counterproductive." What gives him that 'confidence'? Who is this 'we' that he refers to? Has he actually spoken to these people or is he speaking ex cathedra at his retirement home? Where is his evidence as to these reported views of currently serving Gurkhas?

Bramall's sole concern seems to be the financial cost of this exercise. There are those with long memories who regard this as not untypical of his military performance.

But, worse, he says: "It has been said that we are only talking about a handful of people – a hundred or so. But the government, which has to live in the real world and try to make the books balance, says the cost could be as much as £1.5bn. That sum, let me remind you, would have to come out of the defence budget."How can he possibly reconcile those positions? A 'few hundred' costing '£1.5bn'? And the money 'would have to come out of the defence budget'? Why? This is a new decision - the Government should be making our money available for it.

This is the voice of an accountancy clerk, not that of a Field Marshal supporting his loyal troops in their hour of need. And one has to question why such an upright military man would unquestioningly accept the assertions of a Government of proven liars. The noble Lord Bramall is a either a dupe or he is complicit - and possibly both.

I am not impressed.

Chris Paul said...

Must say I am bewildered by Tories on this. Completely failed to advance cause of Gurkhas in any way as govt. Hypocrites. Bramall is interesting and I'd like to see someone take down his argument other than by sentimentality, smears and ignorant rants. Clearly the Bn figures kick in if/when further concessions are made.

Also interesting to compare and contrast Cameron "simple idea" of letting all Gurkhas, Commonwealth soldiers, Crown servants resettle here vs Liam Fox a short while later talking about a few points for the standard immigration exercise. There are currently between two and three times as many other commonwealth soldiers as Gurkhas. They have parity on pay etc I believe. They need to apply for leave to remain and naturalisation if they wish to settle in UK. Five years legal residency required and no guarantees whatsoever of success with either ILR or settlement.

Can we be clear now please Iain. What do you think the Tories should do about this? And do you think Liam Fox and his weasel words are nearer what might actually happen that DC's unfunded open door policy.