"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, 16 December 2009

PMQs: Verdict


I suppose this should be the Jingle Bells Edition - everyone seemed to have a florid face, nose or bonce.  I must remember to turn down the colour for the next PMQs in January.

The beguilingly shiny-mop-topped Harman stood in for Brown, arguably making a better fist of it; at least those of us who watched it found PMQ's Bingo more unpredictable.  William Hague (Wath upon Dearn Comprehensive, Magdelen Oxford) subbed for Cameron but, alas, he is no attack dog.  He was civil, one might say he was almost deferential, but he forgets that Harman is no lady.  Given the opportunity Harman (St Paul's, University of York) would eat him up and spit him out, likewise Brown who hates the Conservative Party with an idealistic passion.  No reason, no debate, no quarter.  Why are the Conservatives so conciliatory, so sweetly consensual?

Anyway, on to the nitty-gritty:  Oxfam-beaded Harriet was flanked by Shaun Woodward (Cambridge University) and Bob Ainsworth (Foxford Comprehensive & Trades Unionist).  She opened with "profound condolences" to the families of the two soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday, "especially at this time of year."   I've always thought that a strange turn of phrase because it's not as if the pain would be lessened at any other time of year.  The govt has made a mess of Defence; the Labour Party was founded on a policy of appeasement and has never had any feeling for our Armed Forces hence the wars/international interventions and under-funding.  All for the good of the cause.

The first question was from Andrew Mackay (Con. Bracknell) about the BA cabin crew strike seeking assurances that Harman "would use her considerable influences" to ensure the strike was called off asap.

Harman replied that the PM and ' the whole House' would like to see the strike called off in the long-term interests of BA.  No-one in this government is going to rush to save a company called British Airways - it's just not European enough, dahlink.

Next off the blocks was Judy Mallaber (Labour, Amber Valley) who could reasonably be a Shona McIsaac stand-in whenever a government-planted question is needed.  It was nice to see Jacqui Smith gazing up at Mallaber from the seat beside her.  Hopefully, after the GE Smith and all those like her, of which there are so very many, will never grace our screens again.  The question itself was essentially about the Conservative Party not being fit to govern because they are not at the heart of Europe.  Hmmm, let me think about that... ...  Nope, I think she's wrong: they are and they will.

Much Christmas merriment from the Cons followed Harman's description of the PM being "at the centre of events" in Copenhagen - according to Harriet he was "the first world leader to decide personally to go to Copenhagen".  I love that word 'personally', it's as if it somehow makes things so much more moral.

Here's the first seven minutes, courtesy of Mr Swiss Bob at the DTP:

Hague had three things on his mind: climate change,  Ban Ki Moon and Rain Forests.  The Cons propose that "additional, significant EU financial support" should be given to developing nations to halt deforestion "set an example" and make "the import, possession and distribution of illegally-harvested timber an offence under UK law."

Harman responded that the govt is doing all that can possibly be thought of and then some more and that Hague should pay attention to his own Party. I think I've used the words 'trite shite' before - but they have quite a nice ring to them, don't you think?

Hague then went on to Livny and the warrant issued for her arrest.  From what Harman said, I couldn't deduce an answer - she simply agreed that Britain couldn't be party to Middle-East peace negotiations if this sort of thing went on.  No answer how to correct the situation.

Meanwhile, good old George Osborne (St Paul's; Magdalen, Oxford)looks like he has a bad case of the Marrakesh Munchies - Osborne, sort yourself out and stop looking so amenable.  Jack Straw (Brentwood Grammar School; Leeds Uni) (read his Wiki entry) sat to the right of Woodward.  It would be funny if only they didn't use us to assuage their self-imposed 'guilt'.

Meanwhile Miliband Maximus (Wiki entry) skewed his head around to gaze at Harriet with index finger thoughtfully poised on lips.  David's been very pensive since he found out that Foreign Secretaries aren't welcome in Brussels now we have a Glorious High Representative in the form of the unelected Baroness Ashton.  Still, his tie was rather fetching and I'm sure that brought him some consolation.

The Best of the Rest were:
Jim Devine (Lab. Livingstone, Scotland)
Heathcote-Amory (Con)
Munn (Lab)
Howarth(Con)
Mark Francois Shadow Minister for Europe but still a backbencher.
Mackinlay (Lab) - aggressive questioning of Dr David Kelly - though that seems to be his style, ie obnoxious at times.
Arbuthnot (Con) lost his way and would do well to remember the saying, 'Sweet & Sour'.  He was far too kind in his meandering question  = ineffectual.

All in all, PMQ's is just a fairyland, it's somewhere over the rainbow and a land of make-believe where we, the people, believe that this government is acting in our best interest.  It patently is not.  It's the only debate that sees a half-decent attendance by MPs; perhaps it's time to place more emphasis on the Committee meetings?  A voice inside me tells me it will make no difference: if politicians don't even listen to feedback from PMQs, what will they listen to?

My pendulum is swinging wildly and if I had my way this is what all MPs would sing at Recess on pain of a poker, which I volunteer to administer:

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