Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Dave Should Not Have Withdrawn

(for those that don't know, David Cameron called Gordon Brown "a phoney" during PMQs today. The Speaker objected, and Cameron withdrew the comment)

Let's compare and contrast the impact of the two possible options open to Cameron after the Speaker intervened.

Option 1

Cameron: "I withdraw the comment"

Option 2

Cameron: "No, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister and the party that he represents have repeatedly come to this House and evaded or avoided questions. So often, we have listened to their statements both here and elsewhere and found them to be seriously lacking in the necessary qualities of truthfulness and straightforwardness. The Prime Minister's reply was simply the latest in a long series of statements that are so clearly disconnected from the real world that, if he believed it, he is deceiving himself. He is, in short, a phoney, and from now on my party will devote itself to exposing this Government's spin, lies and hypocrisy until such time as it is ejected from the office that it no longer deserves to hold. You, Sir, have duties that go beyond merely protecting the sensibilities of the leader of your party; you have a duty to this House to ensure that the Prime Minister meets his responsibility to answer this House's questions. To date, he has established a pattern of refusing to do so, and if you wish to avoid outbursts such as my comment then I ask that you join me and others in this House in demanding that the Prime Minister starts to give straight answers to straight questions.

Speaker: "The Leader of Opposition will withdraw the comment or leave the House"

Cameron:"Mr Speaker, I am deeply disappointed that you have again chosen to protect Ministers rather than uphold the right of this House to hold them to account and expose them as the phoneys that they are when they evade this duty. That you do so in the name of protecting the dignity of this House, a dignity that is regularly damaged by the actions of those Ministers, is doubly upsetting. I shall therefore leave this House for the remainder of today's sitting."

What a shame. What a missed opportunity.

(I'll grant Cameron though, it is easier to do these things with hindsight)


  1. Couldn't all politicians withdraw and leave us to get on with life :-(

  2. One day, just before a General Election campaign starts (and purdah sets in), this would be a great idea.

    At this stage, with future weeks at PMQs still ahead, all it would have done would be to give the Left-leaning parts of the media more ammunition.

    Careful editing by the BBC would make sure that only the first bit and the Speaker's two admonitions, plus Cameron's last few words "I am therefore leaving…" would be all that the public would have seen and heard on the Beeb.

    They'd still do the same in the pre-purdah situation; but its impact would be curtailed and it wouldn't impact the following week's PMQs because there wouldn't be one.

    I think that's how I'd play it, biding my time for now. Interesting thought, though! Well done for posting it.

  3. Sometimes, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if our politicians occasionally went berserk in Parliament and started attacking each other, along the lines of those hilarious YouTube vids of foreign governments.

    There's something to be said for the well-thrown shoe or punch....