Monday, January 21, 2008

Mandy Rice Davis moment of the week

There is something particularly wonderful about this story:
After just 14 appearances at Prime Minister's Question Time, Gordon Brown has expressed his growing disillusionment at what he considers the poor quality of the weekly battle of wills across the despatch box. Mr Brown fears the 30-minute sessions have become so noisy and bad-tempered that the public will be increasingly repelled.
Brown has had his backside handed to him on so many occasions at PMQs that it is no wonder he can't find it with both hands and a map. From his shaking hands, to his ludicrous 'sorghum yields are up' lists, to his peculiar habit of insisting that David Cameron answer his questions instead, Brown has proved about as effective at the format as Helen Keller at a karaoke night. Brown's problem is that, for ten years as Chancellor, his experience in the Commons was limited to Treasury questions, where the minister can pick the questions he wants to answer (in ten years, he never answered a question about tax credits, leaving it all to Dawn Primarolo), and the budget speeches, which are heard without interruption in as close to silence as the House ever gets. He quite simply cannot cope with an audience that is anything other than respectful and cowed. Naturally therefore,
Mr Brown is adamant he will not change the current format. In private, however, he has contrasted the heat of the Commons chamber with the more sober but penetrating approach of members of the public. He was impressed by the calibre of debate at the Hay and Cheltenham festivals, where he has spoken to audiences of up to 2,000. He has also addressed several "citizen's juries".
For a man who keeps on having books written for him about courage, he's remarkably short of it himself.

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