"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 September 2010

PMQs: Clegg & Straw + Updates/Videos

I can't say I like the inferences that somehow the illness of Cameron's father is rather convenient and has been engineered to avoid a difficult PMQs on Andy Coulson - I think we need to keep a sense of proportion about this.

Clegg, back in his canary-yellow tie (he probably has several identical ties in his wardrobe, just in case he drips gravy down one of them) led with an explanation as to why Cameron was absent followed by a two-minute tribute to those killed in Afghanistan since Parliament last sat in July. I hope it fixed the mind of those in the Treasury and the MoD that they owe an enormous duty of care to our Armed Forces. It's all very well saying the right words, and they spout them often enough, but if they're not followed up by a genuine commitment to provide the very best in terms of equipment and healthcare, they don't amount to much. As grandma used to say: words won't butter your parsnips.

Mark Pritchard (Con, The Wrekin) was the numpty who pulled the short straw this week to ask the planted question effectively, 'does the deputy PM agree with me that the previous govt left the country in a mess?...! Some conventions serve a purpose, the first question does not and should be done away with as the self-serving,  waste of time it is.

Groans from the Labour benches as Clegg began his trite response. Labour, living in de nile according to Clegg. I wish they were then we could bomb the Suez canal and leave them there.

Speaker Bercow interrupted for the first time - too much noise and Clegg's response hadn't been 'pithy' enough.

Straw associated himself with Clegg's remarks about the Armed Forces and spoke of relatives living in greece, which he quickly corrected to 'grief'. He went on to raise the question of Andy Coulson. "Is he ([Clegg] entirely satisfied that while Mr Coulson was editor of the News of the World, at no time was Mr Coulson aware of any use of unlawful hacking of telephones?"

Clegg deflected by saying that Coulson had resigned over the matter. He went on: "When Andy Coulson resigned from the News of the world, the first person who called to commiserate was Gordon Brown. He told him not to worry that he had done the honourable thing and that he knew he would go on to do a worthwhile job." Cue gales of thigh-slapping laughter and another intervention from Bercow.

Straw, possibly remembering his last encounter with Clegg in which he received less than favourable reviews,  seemed rather uncomfortable.  Both he and Clegg would have had minimal time to prepare for this session so that possibly explains it but, personally, I think they're both weak as dish-water and would have performed the same had they been given a month to prepare.

Clegg even quoted from Blair's book about the best way of tackling the public deficit which caused Bercow to intervene for a third time - against Labour b/benchers:  "I haven't read the book yet.  I want to hear what Mr Blair has to say."

Clegg even mentioned the suggestions sent in by "100,000 members of the public" about how to cut the debt.  He did it without a hint of irony given that we now know civil servants are going their own sweet way and have ignored them all.

There was a shot of Osborne raising his eyebrows and smiling across at the Opposition Front Bench as if to say 'so what' when Clegg was up and down like a yo-yo at one point.  Also on the Front Bench were Lansley (Health); Huhne the hoon, nodding langorously throughout like a little doggy involved in a slo-mo car crash (Energy); Moore (Scotland); Gillan (Wales - poor Wales); Sir George Young (Leader of the House),  head down, eyes downcast, fiddling with intertwined fingers;

Of the waste of  space on the Opposition benches Alan Johnson sat with arms folded like a mini-Buddha (or a garden gnome waiting patiently for the fish to bite) while Darling and Peter Hain had an in-depth conversation which involved much finger-pointing and the exchange of rapt, earnest looks.  They really don't care about PMQs and  rightly so.  MPs know exactly what this show-case is about.

Backbenchers again had the best of the half-hour.  Some were quite spirited, some  pleading, some hypocritical and quite a few were downright fatuous.  On the whole though they were self-serving and meaningless.  I'm not going to die peacefully in my sleep; I'll have a heart attack ranting and railing during PMQs - even the cats have learned to avoid me in case I mistake one for a shoe and throw him at the screen.

Did Your MP Speak?
MPs and topics should tally:
Duncan Hames (LibDem, Chippenham);  Gregg McClymont (Lab, Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East);  John Redwood (Con, Wokingham);  Anne Begg (Lab, Aberdeen South); James Arbuthnot (Con, Hampshire North East); Gregory Campbell (DUP, East Londonderry);  Andrea Leadsom (Con, South Northamptonshire);  Jean Walley (Lab, Stoke-on Trent North);  Nick de Bois (Con, Enfield North); Ian Davidson (Lab Co-op, Glasgow South West);  Sheryll Murray (Con, South East Cornwall); Nic Dakin (Lab, Scunthorpe); Eleanor Laing (Con, Epping Forest);  Kevin Brennan (Lab, Cardiff West);  Richard Bacon, Con (Norfolk South); Ian Murray (Lab, Edinburgh South); Christopher Chope (Con, Christchurch).

The Wiltshire police sergeant who assaulted a woman yet was suspended on full pay for two years while the case went to trial.
The separation of high street banking and 'casino' banking.
Previous govt spent £10,000 for every man woman and child, this govt will spend £11,500 over next 5yrs.  The coalition can have cuts without damaging important public services.
Children and pensioners in poverty.
The 1994 Chinook crash on the Mull of Kintyre.
The 1972 Claudy bombing which killed 9 people and when an RC priest was allegedly helped to escape to Dublin by the Heath-led British Conservative government.
Equitable Life policy holders
2,000 frontline workers out of JobCentre Plus - any qualms?
Andrew Symeou & the EAW.
It's Ian Davidson's birthday and as a present he wants two aircraft carriers, exclusive to the UK, in exchange for membership of the EU.  I wish someone had recorded this.
Use of the NHS by foreign nationals and a visa scam
Cutting funding for the 'Play Builders' scheme in Scunthorpe against £100m on a referendum for the AV system.  Clegg's response was particularly puerile - saying that it was in the Labour manifesto not the LibDem's or Con's.  The fact is, Labour didn't win.
How can spending £100m on a referendum for the AV system be justified?  (Clegg was "amused" by the cheer from Labour MPs.  What a farce.  The Labour Party were the only Party to put it in their manifesto, yet they'll vote against it, and Gordon Brown apparently offered AV without a referendum to Clegg as a come-on to form a coalition.  Neither the Cons nor the LibDems had it in their manifestos - they think we're idiots, perhaps we are).
Sheffield Forgemasters.
Chinese lanterns -v- farmers.  There must be an underlying, unspoken problem here.  Surely it can't simply be a question of "posing a fire problem when lanterns fall into fields" or "wire frames cut into small pieces by harvesting equipment" so that wire enters the feed of animals.  Apparently it's a huge issue, causing distress to farmers and their livestock so the govt is looking into it.  The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is involved in talks with the manufacturers as an alternative to banning them.  How many Chinese lanterns are there in Norfolk?
Pakistan floods and the Gift Aid scheme.
Parliamentary Voting System & Constituencies Bill.

Someone should tell Cameron & Clegg that we know what Labour govt did wrong and we don't need the coalition to keep repeating it - it isn't a lucky mantra that will ward off disaffection.  What we need to hear is exactly how they are going to put the country back on it's feet again and, so far, I haven't heard it.  It's time politicians cottoned on to the fact that we're not impressed with this weekly show-boating exercise; it's time they realised that we've seen through them.



  1. David Cameron's father has now, (conveniently!), died, GV - Straw is such an arsehole, I bet he'll now be regretting making this nasty insinuation.

    BTW, editing blogger is a nightmare at the moment - it flatly refuses to leave any gaps between paragraphs, so I've been having to type spaces into the line I want to leave blank - and that's just one of the problems.

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one, Spidey. I'm so tired of error 503 and having pics refused - they won't even let me use pics I've previously posted. I haven't been able to log in properly for months.

    I'm sorry Cameron's father has died but we're all orphans of the storm now.


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