PMQs A Damp Squib 10

This is not one of the many blogs that gives a regular critique of PMQs. But this is an exceptional week.

I thought that Cameron’s performance was weak – well below his normal form. Interestingly, the quotes read well enough when Sky flashed them on screen, but his delivery was peculiarly hollow. Cameron today eschewed humour, which he is good at and to which Brown reacts like a bear tormented by bees. Cameron instead seemed himself unusually ponderous and his points were all obvious party ones. Brown’s divided backbenchers therefore rallied around him with instinctive tribal loyalty.

Cameron really should have used one of his questions to recite the government’s manifest failings, particularly on the economy and civil liberties. It would have given some substance to his call for an election.

Clegg was not a great deal better, though he should stick to the line that New Labour is finished and the choice is now between the Tories and Lib Dems. For the first time in a generation it sounds believable, even if greeted by yells of derision from New Labour in parliament. I strongly suspect it will seem still more believable on Monday.

Brown actually performed pretty well. It was the same old line about getting on with the job, and he was plainly uncomfortable over Darling, though he did manage to talk of him as though he were still alive. But he really gave very little impression of being under pressure and managed to put in a confident performance with no signs of ill temper. Cameron and Clegg really let him off the hook here very badly indeed.

But the overall effect of today’s PMQs was to make the theatre of parliament seem completely irrelevant to the real political drama happening at the moment.

Which is the lesson of the last month, and has to be changed if we are to be any kind of meaningful democracy.

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10 thoughts on “PMQs A Damp Squib

  • KevinB

    perhaps Cameron’s terrified that the government will fall now and he’ll be forced to immediately break his promise to call a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

    He wants Brown to hang about and the Irish to change their vote (which they will probably be ‘spooked’ into doing)before he takes over.

    The danger will have passed and he will declare that Lisbon has been, de facto, rendered a non-issue.

  • VamanosBandidos


    You are an optimist, are you not?

    There is no policy form either side, we are all equally, and truly passengers, as the world economy gets on with the slow motion train wreck.

    This deliberate crash was coming, and now that it is upon us, the shakers of kaleidoscope have long gone leaving us to face the mess.

    Cameron is the placebo opposition, doing the minimum required and awaiting to see what turns up next?

    Ever noticed there is no questioning in the commons questions, it is more like “You Got Served” episode of South Park

  • rullko

    I think there’s something in KevinB’s suggestion. I also suspect that Cameron doesn’t want to hasten Labour’s assassination of the Tories’ main electoral asset.

  • KevinB


    I agree. Narrow comments on the passing detail of politics always, necessarily, misses the big picture…..which is much more disturbing than any little scandal, party disaster or missed opportunity.

  • Abe Rene

    Possibly Cameron did not push hard because the real reason for all these resignations – the row over allowances – affects the Tories as much as Labour. Perhaps they have reached a hidden understanding between themselves not to make too much capital out of it, since only smaller parties and independents would benefit.

  • sam

    As VamanosBandidos and KevinB and many others underline, this expenses kerfuffle is but a hint of the tip of the iceberg of the actual wholesale incompetence and fraud that NuLab has perpetrated on our nation since 1997.

    Previous incumbent at No10 had a far more effective spin machine and a far more efficient gang of henchmen to shut dissenters up, that’s all.

    Once this crew has been replaced, historians/sociologists/psychologists/anthropologists/criminologists et al will have more than enough material to build whole careers upon. The worst of the corruption is yet to be revealed.

    What we’re seeing this week is the inevitable descent into ludicrous farce that always precedes final denoument.

  • dreoilin

    “the tip of the iceberg of the actual wholesale incompetence and fraud that NuLab has perpetrated on our nation since 1997”

    along with an almost slavish following of US policies. This bothers me greatly. I’m faced with a referendum on Lisbon regarding a quasi-constitution that I don’t like. But what I would like to see is a much more unified approach from Europe on certain issues. For example, where was the outright denunciation of US torture policies from the EU?

    While Britain continues to try and have a foot in both camps, and tag along after US foreign policy around the globe, this won’t happen.

  • sam

    Dreoilin – 12+yrs ago after a couple of short spells at a US gvt policy think tank, I wrote a brief paper outlining the UK’s position as de facto the USA’s primary 51st state despite EU ‘allegiance’ and that choices would have to be made soon. With the advent of the NuLab regime that 51st state status has become all too obvious – coupled with a bizarre commensurate EU entrenchment (which could be understood as over-loud affirmatory protestation…?).

    Since ’97, the US-UK have enacted a catastrophic drama of the morally bankrupt leading the morally bankrupt and intellectually deficient ovine.

    There’s much to be said for co-operation, but using that MO to excuse one’s failure to state and adhere to clear humanitarian and ethical policies and strategies has nothing at all to recommend it.

    In the light of the past 12yrs NuLab performance, I can only interpret our former PM’s attempt at EU presidency as nothing more than a lust for power. Having failed to make the foot-in-both-camps-UK achieve prosperity/security/good standing/a unifying, peace-loving influence in the world, the guy’s off to Europe to make the same mistakes (what does it tell us that the 4 nations party to the Mid-East peace effort put Mr Blair in charge only of helping to restore Gaza’s shattered infrastructure? I believe his chief project was the rebuilding of Gaza’s decrepit sewage system….at the point of a grand reopening, it was then smashed apart by the latest Israeli aggression. Surely ‘Augean stables’ is soooo apt!)

    Until the EU can sort out ways and means to democratise itself and eliminate such pretenders as well as state/adhere to its ethical and moral stance clearly, then any quasi-constitution is always going to be suspect and unworkable. Unless, of course, the EU grandees have in mind the primary function of president as that of rebuilding e.g. arbeit-makt-frei systems where detritus like us democracy and peace-loving humanitarians can be ‘cleansed’ and recycled…!

    [errrmmm…it’s late…and today I’m feeling that I’ve really, really had enough of this abysmal NuLab farce!]

  • dreoilin

    Sam, I sympathise.

    Oddly enough, someone told me they heard Blair on the radio yesterday and that he sounded very unsure of himself, and produced nothing like the polished delivery of old.

    I wonder why …

  • George Dutton

    “Oddly enough, someone told me they heard Blair on the radio yesterday and that he sounded very unsure of himself, and produced nothing like the polished delivery of old.

    I wonder why …”

    Maybe his mind is on other things…

    It is said a murderer always returns to the scene of their past crimes…

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