Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Parliamentary Pugilism

Today's scenes in the House of Commons at Prime Minister's Question Time seem to have been rowdier than normal. David Cameron is normally pretty assured in these exchanges - must be that Eton training, giving him a slight edge over the equally expensive Fettes training received by Blair - but today he fell foul of the Speaker, Glaswegian Michael Martin (who came up from a very different background to the two pugilists he was refereeing). As Cameron asked Blair who he would like to see as leader of the Labour Party, Speaker Martin intervened, ruling the question out of order, as it was about the internal politics of the Labour Party - cue outrage from the assembled Tories, with Cameron himself nonplussed and almost willing to challenge the Speaker further. Only an excess of Speakers' latitude over Cameron's slightly re-phrased question (this time he asked who Blair would like to see as the next Prime Minister) saved the Leader of the Opposition from being thrown out for contempt.

All very entertaining of course, and if you get the chance go to the BBC site and watch the exchange in full - the Speaker's ruling, by the way, seems eminently sensible (the link is here). It does, however, do no credit at all to Cameron, the man who said he would do away with Punch and Judy politics, that he engages in this sort of trivia. At a time when there are serious questions being asked about the war in Iraq, with soldiers risking their lives in a war of ambiguous origin, and being asked to fight with often sub-standard equipment; at a time when the global issue of climate change needs urgent and creative attention from world leaders; at a time when the public services of Britain remain hampered and inadequate under reams of iniquitous red tape - does the man who would be Prime Minister really have nothing more useful to ask at his privileged weekly questioning of the Prime Minister than "who would you like to be your successor"?

1 comment:

Lestaki said...

I suppose the problem with "his privileged weekly questioning" is that it is weekly. The Iraq war, the condition of the army, global warming and public services, all crucial issues, are also hardly new issues. You can't talk about them all the time.

Nonetheless an amusing little scenario. I'll have to go look it up.