Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Gordon Brown, when he is finally given the keys to no. 10, will be itching to prove that his talents and vision have been held for all these years - that he retains the sort of fresh thinking that led to the independence of the Bank of England. I suspect a target may well be the current system of Prime Minister's Questions. When Blair came to office, one of his first actions was to combine the two quarter-hour sessions into one half hour session. This had the effect of reducing the number of 'topical' questions that could be asked, and diluted to a degree the point of the institution. So, you might think, Brown might reverse that decision and re-instate the twice-weekly session.
I rather doubt this. Brown strongly dislikes being personally attacked, as can be shown by his shouty performance at the no-confidence debate last week. PMQs is, at heart, an opportunity for the Leader of the Opposition to try and give the PM a kicking. I think it's more likely that Brown will seek to re-invent PMQs or, if he feels he can, abolish it altogether. There would be something of a stink, but he could point, with some justification, to exchanges like these today for his reason why it is not worth retaining.
Tory Nigel Waterson asked what would be the PM's "greatest regret" when leaving office. Mr Blair said the Tories' three election defeats in a row should be "their regret".
Former Tory home secretary and leader Michael Howard said the plan to break-up the Home Office was "ill-considered". Mr Blair said that, under the Conservatives, crime had doubled.
What, frankly, is the point of this? Either the Speaker has to 'enforce' at least some degree of direct response to questions, or the whole process might just as well be called Prime Minister's Random Statements.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

With respect, the Conservatives may be benefiting from the show-biz nature of PMQs before long, and if they're in government they'll welcome the opportunity to put their point accross just as much as Blair does.
There'll always be 2/3 of the population against whoever the government is, including much of the media at any one time. PMQT is one of the few forums in which Prime Ministers stand a chance of putting a point on their own terms.

2:00 am  
Blogger Tim J said...

I agree with that up to a point - I'm not sure that many Prime Ministers enjoy PMQs. Blair, who has always been a more natural performer than Brown, has had most of his (pretty few) oments of discomfort there. Remember the 'what is the philosophical underpinning of Blairism?' line?

Brown, who dislikes direct attacks, will almost certainly like it less - and may prefer to increase the importance of the Prime Ministerial Press Conference instead.

9:46 am  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home