Well, by all accounts Brown was unimpressive in PMQs today. He stuttered and stammered, blaming the fact Hizb-ut Tahir are still not banned two years after such a move was recommended on the fact that he'd 'only been in the job for five days'. Firstly, isn't it seven? You'd think he'd know. Secondly, and more importantly, he's been in Government, effectively in control of domestic policy, for ten years: this is not a man who can realistically claim indulgence as a newcomer.
On the wider point, people were predicting that Brown's experience and weight would sweep aside Cameron's brittle public school charm. This 'Clunking Fist' school of thought has rather been debunked. It isn't hard to determine why either. Brown has become good, or at least better, at debates and interviews where he is in control. As Chancellor this was all he really had to do. Budgets are a 'dead ball' situation and whenever Treasury Questions looked like getting nasty 'Red' Dawn Primarolo was shoved on. People have noted the Macavity syndrome ad nauseam, but have usually looked at it from the point of view of what it said about Brown's courage. It has also denied him any experience of rapid response in debate or thinking on his feet.
PMQs, more than any other forum now, is where quick thinking comes at a premium. It is possible to predict the basic tenor of the questions, but there is always one that comes out of left field. Blair was very good at these, but remember his being floored over what was his underpinning philosophy? When Brown is taken off his brief he stammers and sounds desperately unconvincing. William Hague's brilliance at PMQs was always undermined by the fact that he sounded like a little squit. Cameron does not, and Brown, gloomy and stumbling, will come off worse on television coverage as well as transcript.
Brown may improve - Thatcher did - but first impressions stick, and the impression left today was of Labour MPs looking suddenly concerned, and Tories mightily relieved. Lets face it, a Labour PM being outdone at PMQs by Ming Campbell? It would never have happened under Tony now would it?
Labels: Brown, politics