Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Prime minister's questions

I rather like the new-style PMQs with David Cameron asking questions that must make some of his backbenchers mutter disapprovingly. It was odd to see William Hague sitting beside him, I expected him to jump up with one of his witty but, as he admitted when he went, futile questions. His new leader chose Iran and then Aids and overseas aid as his two topics. On the latter Mr Blair, who seemed on very good form, resisted saying that the Tories had voted against all the increases that Labour has put through. Two Try backbenchers got a rougher ride being reminded that what they were asking for was the opposite of what was in the manifesto under which they were elected last May.

Sir Menzies Campbell was better than Charles Kennedy who never seemed able to alter his questions in the light of what the PM had previously said. But Sir M was a bit too like Michael Howard and deservedly got short shrift in return for his criticisms of public services under Labour. He left an open goal by asking why so many schools had temporary heads, a poor strategy for a temporary head. Mr Blair was able to have some fun at his and Simon Hughes's expense.

Much about antisocial behaviour and the new respect initiative, something about trams in Nottingham and games in Glasgow, lots of figures that are better than they were in 1997 and that was it for another week as Mr Blair made way for Peter Hain and his reasonably dramatic statement about Northern Ireland.

PMQs - the best daytime television is available to view or listen to at the BBC Parliament site or, if you're really keen, you can sign up for a Podcast via the Guardian.


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