Wednesday, June 02, 2010

How Statesmanlike Should Cameron Be at PMQs?

Today's first PMQs of the new parliament may well be interesting for a number of reasons. Some will be relishing the prospect of David Cameron and Harriet Harman squaring up to each other, but my suspicion is that David Cameron will not go over the top in his attacks on her.

Cameron is no longer Leader of the Opposition and I think he may well decide that statesmanship is the order of the day. If anything, I suspect this afternoon will be a very tepid encounter. I'd be surprised if Harriet Harman went on the attack as she will surely realise that it would be to misjudge the moment. A series of questions on Israel is a probability, I suspect.

But if Cameron does decide to cut out the party politics of PMQs, will it last? We all remember when he first became leader of the party that he wanted to stop the punch and judy of PMQs. That lasted all of three weeks before the realities of PMQs kicked in.

In my view there is a happy medium for a Prime Minister at PMQs. Most of the time a Prime Minister should stay above party politics, but if he is attacked in a gratuitous manner by the Leader of the Opposition there is nothing wrong with firing back with a few choice salvos. Gordon Brown never quite got the balance right and almost spit at David Cameron. He would also come out with the same rehearsed lines over and over again.

David Cameron is a better politician than that, but I think a prolonged period of statesmanlike answers is the best way to go, whatever temptation is dangled in front of him.


John M Ward said...

That's about the right balance, I'd tend to agree.

What will probably happen is that Harman and her advisers will take the first few weeks to size-up how Cameron operates as PM at Question Time, thereafter trying to goad him into being non-statesmanlike with the single aim of generating "ammo" they can use to attack him personally.

It is Labour's way...

p smith said...

The whole thing is a game. The idea that the leader of the opposition is actually asking questions to which an answer might be illuminating, is outdated.

There are two types of question. One is the "Does the Prime Minister not accept that his policies on {insert as appropriate} issue are a disaster and that he is a c*nt?". This constitutes approximately 90% of questions asked at PMQs.

The second rarer category of question relates to unforeseen global events and national tragedies (such as today's shootings in Cumbria rather than the demise of David Laws) where both leaders feign concern and attempt to out-emote each other.

The whole charade is nothing more than an exercise in PR and spin but even then it is only of interest to the Westminster village and political anoraks all of whom have already decided how they will vote in the next election.

Mirtha Tidville said...

As long as he leaves the Tractor Statistics alone he should be ok..

Anonymous said...

Labour seems floored by the coalition's tendency to be respectful to friend and foe, alike.

Labour fights dirty - they know it, they know the public knows it, and they know the public doesn't like it.

They are also leaderless, and therefore rudderless at the moment. So I suspect that it will be somewhat subdued, apart from the Law/Alexander issue drawing jibes and guffaws.

Robert said...

I used to vote Conservative. Since Dave became leader I will not vote for him and his party. He can be a statesman like as you want, but I will not vote for this two faced .....

bladnoch said...

A controversial suggestion.

During the last Parliament it was frequently my impression that GB always started off praising the fallen soldiers to show how much he supposedly cared for the armed forces. This lead automatically to similar comments from DC and NC.

Should DC halt this? For all the efforts of the armed forces is this necessary week in week out?

I am anything but a pacifist but I do feel that it should be an exceptional thing rather than a matter of rote.

Anonymous said...

He should try to give the answer the question deserves. As yet the govt has no record to defend.

Anonymous said...


I don't necessarily want Cameron to be statesman-like at PMQs; to me it's a domestic event. I don't want him to be evasive; I want him to convince me and the other taxpayers that he's telling the truth when he's answering the questions.

[WV: bless]

richard.blogger said...

Cameron, statesman? Do me a favour.

He had an opportunity to behave statesman-like at the Queen's Speech debate and he failed. Nah, he'll just whine and squeal and hector like he usually does. Oh and he'll not answer a single question.

However, I am interested in what Douglas Carswell will ask...

Libertarian said...

@ p smith

Hear hear !

Totally agree with your post

Anonymous said...

I think Cameron is doing a very good job. Interesting about the lack of notes - it makes a change for the Prime Minister to be giving real answers instead of just a list of tractor statistics.

Anonymous said...

bladnoch ... Cameron has not stopped the practice. it may be too early to consult but I believe it should be stopped. PMQs is not the place.

The shootings in Cumbria is a bit different, with it being breaking news.

On the subject of this tragic shooting which has left at least 5 dead and who knows how many injured ....

It is a little over 13 years ago when we had Dunblane a tragic event which the then opposition took great political advantage of.
Since then we have had 13 years of labour rule and has anything changed?
Within days of the election we see a similar event despite all labours legislation.

Matthew Dear said...

It's happy 'median' Iain, unless you're at a particularly jolly seance.

Alcuin said...

You have to distinguish between politics and policy. Policy is getting things done - the dry hard necessary work of managing an economy and all its functions. Politics is war.

Tories do policy well and politics badly, Labour are the reverse. However, it would be a mistake to think that politics can be dispensed with in public encounters.

The Tories must hang the current mess firmly around Labour's neck, and keep hammering that point home. I wish such tactics were not necessary, but with an electorate having an attention span of an X-Factor episode and the BBC siding with Labour, it must be continuously and relentlessly done.

Alan Douglas said...

To Robert and Richard : What, is Troll Central still paying you ? Or are you putting up these pathetic posts out of sheer love of nastiness ?

You should be at ComeFourthWithLabour.

Alan Douglas

Paul said...

What's the point of a statesmanlike pmqs only point of this outdated exchange is to entertain.

Anonymous said...

Alcuin is right - on the politics policy divide.

And paul is right. Given all the spin all the news and interviews and all the press conferences - PMQs is outdated.

Silent Hunter said...

I see that Richard the Labour Troll is making his rounds of the blogs. LOL

Give it up - you LOSER!

I suspect that Labour will just play dirty; as it's second nature to them.

Labour are absolute scum - here we are, up to our necks in debt thanks to their absolute corrupt mismanagement of the economy and all they can do is snipe at the coalition government who have come together to sort out Labours bloody mess.

I wish the Labour scum would just FO&D.