Watching PMQs today, you would have had to be almost comatose not to have picked up on Gordon Brown’s main point of rebuttal against the Tories: that they weren’t talking about the issues. Of course, it’s a convenient way for him not to answer awkward questions about his own leadership, but it has to be said, the man has a point. PMQs today had what seemed like more than its fair share of throughly pathetic, Westminster-village questions.
The Tory questions today included (and I paraphrase, here, but you get the idea):
- Cameron: You’re shit, and you know you are.
- Bullying in the Workplace! Arf!
- Look, an online petition for you to resign!
- How are you doing on the whole setting out your vision thing?
- Will Hazel Blears’s article be dealt with in “the usual way”? Titter.
But it certainly wasn’t all coming from the Tories. Labour MPs are often to be found offering fuckwittedly craven softballs to the leader, on the glorious achievements of Her Majesty’s Government. Today’s included:
- Rother Valley’s unemployment is not yet as bad as it was in 1997. So no worries, keep up the good work!
- Tell me all about your plans to exclude tips from the minimum wage.
- Let me tell you about my local football team, Brighton & Hove. They wunned at the weekend, you know…
- Swindon borough council is run by evil Tories. Would you like to join me in denouncing them?
- Please can you confirm that the £300m available for higher education building projects might include the plan in Blackpool to build, well, a higher education building? Just to clarify.
- Please will you give a meaningless, open ended commitment to do whatever you can to save jobs at General Motors factories?
- Please agree with me when I say that the government is brilliant, and creating 1000 jobs in Gloucester docks.
- Would you care to join me in attacking the Tories, who might cut police in Greater Manchester. ps. We’re building some new stuff in Bury, wooo!
There were, to be fair, some non-pathetic questions from the two biggest parties. From the Tories, we had:
- Will the Gurkhas vote be binding?
- Compensating the fund for Christie hospital for losses in Icelandic banks.
And Labour MPs offered:
- Will you secure a report to the house on the government’s actions to tackle child trafficking?
- Will you meet with me to discuss illegal gangmasters in the construction industry?
- What’s going on with the trouble at Stafford hospital?
And then we have today’s Lib Dem questions. Nick Clegg tackled Gordon on his big speech about children and education, in a similar manner to Cameron, only Nick had a point about an actual thing. Here’s the run-down of our questions:
- Clegg: Education and young people.
- Low returns on savings offered by bailed out banks.
That was it for us. Today also saw the DUP doing some special pleading for Northern Ireland, and Plaid Cymru asking about Trident.
So after all that, what conclusions can we draw? Which parties have made a good use of the opportunities that PMQs present? Here’s a little summary:
Labour: 11 questions, ~3 of them with much substance to them.
Conservatives: 12 questions (6 from Cameron), 2 of them with much substance to them.
Lib Dem: 3 questions (2 from Clegg), 3 of them with much substance to them.
That’s a success rate of
I know the Lib Dems have an easy time under this kind of metric, because we don’t really have the number of questions to piss some of them away taking the piss. But really, can we not expect any better than that from the other parties? If Gordon Brown is serious about wanting better questions from the Tories, he could start by planting some slightly less pathetic questions for himself from his own side.