Sunday, October 28, 2007

Getting personal

Apparently Gordon Brown has a real problem with David Cameron: he hasn't spoken to him privately in weeks. While nobody would expect the two to be soul mates, the level of animosity goes a bit further than that. But the reasons given are rather bizarre:

The Prime Minister has barely spoken in private to Cameron since he lost his cool with the Conservative leader in early September. Brown abruptly ended a telephone conversation with Cameron, while he was explaining the second outbreak of foot and mouth, because he saw the Tory leader pop up on television lambasting the government in a pre-recorded interview.

So Brown refuses to talk to Cameron, because David Cameron gives interviews criticising the Government? That's really peculiar - what did Brown expect? Relations have broken down to such an extent that Brown sees everything as a personal slight:

Cameron, who speaks openly about his disabled son, Ivan, offered warm words for Brown and his wife, Sarah, when Fraser was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis shortly after his birth last year. Cameron expressed 'huge sympathy' for the Browns in a television interview in July, a move that upset Brown.

So expressing sympathy for his son was upsetting? Brown is becoming alarmingly irrational in his attitude to Cameron. The good thing is that this is probably also clouding his judgement as to how to deal with the Tories:

Brown regards their weekly encounter across the Dispatch Box as an important part of making him accountable to Parliament. But Cameron's theatrical success is not impressing Brown, who believes the Tory leader is failing on substance. Downing Street believes this was illustrated last week when Cameron ploughed on and condemned the government for planning to claw back schools' budget surpluses after Brown had said he was reviewing the issue.

Brown has said to MPs: 'The guy reads out a script, with a studio audience behind him. And it's the same script and the same response, no matter what answer you give him. It's not parliamentary debate: it's just soap opera and soundbites. I'm not going to do that rubbish.'

And if Brown continues to treat PMQs as an irrelevant sideshow, he's going to continue having his backside handed to him on plate every week. As for the schools issue, it was a crap idea, exposed as such by the Tories, forcing Labour to U-turn on it. If Brown doesn't see why DAvid Cameron talked about it on PMQs, it's easy to see why he's such a hopeless failure at them.

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