"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

PMQs: Verdict

With Brown away at the G8 Summit this week ...

... it was a Harman, Hague, Cable affair and all seemed rather low-key and enervating.

Harman, Leader of the House, was stand-in for Brown. She read the deja-vu roll of honour for those Armed Forces personnel kia this week and it goes on...and on...and on. Meanwhile Bollox Bob Ainsworth, Defence Secretary, sat on her right, shifting uncomfortably in his seat and shaking his head. What a waste of fresh air this man is. For as long as our Armed Forces are under-resourced and the Defence budget not increased, their words are just hollow flim-flam*.

The first question (Wicks, Lab Croydon North) about funding of long-term care costs for elderly people elicits the response that a Green Paper will be published shortly and allows Harman to spout about independence of choice, affordability & high quality for all. Take a look here Isabella Purves to see what 12yrs of Labour's choice & quality have done. Dorrell (Con, Charnwood) also has an interest in the topic and draws attention to Blair's promises in 1997, the reviews and Commissions since then and lack of action. Harman says that's why the govt brought in flexible working hours and thrown money at the NHS and Social Services.

The next question was from an undistinguished but pre-possessing Labour backbencher (Gilroy?) worried about public sector workers and their 'average' pension of 'only' £7k pa. Harman said: "We make no apology at all for pensions, public service pensions, remaining an important part of the remuneration package of public sector workers."

A small aside: when I was growing up one of the best jobs a school-leaver could aspire to was one with the Civil Service - a job for life and guaranteed pension if you kept your nose clean. Even then it had the image of tea-drinkers and rubber-stampers. The deal was: Stop thinking for yourself, come and have an easy life with us. In 'those days' it was seen as safe but harmless. The Civil Service is no longer harmless yet it still drinks tax-payers' tea and rubber-stamps policies which mitigate against taxpayers. Sorry for the digression.

Hague now, re-iterating the condolences to our Armed Forces.

His first question: "Is the government satisfied that everything possible is being done to provide the best possible protection & mobility for our Forces there including the earliest possible increase in the number of helicopters & armoured vehicles?"

Harman, in her silver-slubbed suit, spoke while Ainsworth nodded occasionally between naps. Harman's voice is stronger than Gordon's but shouting lies with conviction doesn't turn them into truth.

Hague now goes on the economy and Harman is laughed at when she refers to the govt's Budget Book in her reply. As you can see, it's more of the same old same old but with different faces. Harman tries to deflect with a reference to Shad. Chancellor Osborne which brings a cheer from Darling but, judging by the number of times PMQs has referred to George Osborne, I'd say they're actually frightened of him.

Nice put-down from Hague: "Perhaps the Leader of the House could spend 100% of the next minute trying to answer the next question." Even Harman couldn't contain a smile. When she spoke of "our honest & committed view" all mouths turned downwards on the Labour front bench while the Cons just laughed - it seems ridicule is the name of the game.

Hague pointed up 'Labour cuts brought in by a Labour Chancellor' - so this is what will probably make up the next GE slogan for the Conservatives.

Des Browne, former Defence Sec & proponent of Aqua Vitae, asked about Diageo.

The only time Speaker Bercow intervened was to quieten the Conservative's derision at Harman's statement that Labour has paid down debt. You only have to glance at the widget on this blog to see what a lie that is; I daren't work it out but it seems that each household owes an extra £50 pd.

As for the LibDems, 'Dr Vincent Cable' was announced by the Speaker and he "welcomed the Minister back to her temporary job of running the country..." (not as well-received as a joke about gender equality and Berlusconi).

Believe me, I really want to run to the hills. I found this video from two Scottish boys: "Please do not oppress the naked people. Or the native people for that matter. In fact, don't oppress anyone at all. It's just not cricket, and you certainly won't make any new friends".

Well, it made me smile - don't forget, it's all about perception. As for this week's PMQs? A big fat zero all round.
* flim-flam = sh*te


  1. AnonymousJuly 08, 2009

    Not such a good week then? I thought Vince Cable standing in for Clegg did well.

  2. Very flat, Anon. Hague must be under instructions not to rattle the cage too much.

  3. woman on a raftJuly 08, 2009

    Many thanks, I had to go out today and missed it.

  4. You didn't miss anything WoaR - it was very boring, as you can probably tell. There wasn't even anything worth poking fun at.


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