Wednesday, 2 April 2008

PMQ Shock

Well I didn't think that Harriet Harman was all that bad at PMQs today. She had some obviously prepared gags but she gave as good as she got from Hague and he was unable to pin her down. She did try to pin a feminist jibe on the Tories (why was the Shadow Leader of the Opposition not asking the question) and she sounded pretty aggressive. I don't know what the rules for PMQs are now but the PM (or whoever's on facing the house duty that day) never seems to answer any question. Hague asked the same q 3 times on poor families being worse off this weekend but she never answered it, nor attempted to. And the Speaker? Is it his job to enforce answering or questions or not? He certainly stopped Vince Cable from asking a question involving the Queen and, if I remember rightly, did not call him for his second question which confused him somewhat. But Hague, like Cameron, did not press her with enough force, as opposed to rhetoric, of which he had plenty. He could only force a sense of outrage or disgust at the very end of his questions. Why was he not putting the government on the rack from the beginning? He just did not, to me, seem to argue with enough conviction - and I think this is still one of the problems of the modern opposition: they don't have enough conviction and they are holding back for fear of seeming to be "the nasty party" again. They don't want to be seen to be too aggressive. But they will need to be: one of those ideology-turning moments is coming, like 1979 and 1997 (possibly in 2010, more likely 2015) and it will be time for tough arguments and rolling-the-sleeves-up defences of liberty, trust in citizens and the rule of common law against Labour's ideology of written rights and victimhood. There will be hard days ahead and timidity of this sort will be no use.

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