Friday, 25 July 2008

Dispatch of the Day - Last game of the season

Both teams are already dreaming of thier flip-flops and cocktails.

Although both leaders had their pre-prepared 'leave the public with something to think about over the summer' rants, neither even comes close to scoring a goal.

A damp squib to end the season. Sad really.

Result 0 - 0

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 25th June 2008

Gordon wins.

Shocker from Cameron, didn't know whether his coming or going. Brown's win comes courtesy of a wooden pre-prepared rant, but at this stage of proceedings he'll take what he can get.

Result 1 - 0

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 18th June 2008

Poor today, from both teams.

Cameron sends out the question about the EU treaty knowing Brown won't answer so he can get in jibes about a lack of leadership and indecisiveness from Brown. The Jellyfish joke is weak to say the least.

The most annoying of Gordon's current stock answers is the one about the Conservatives record in Europe. Its outing today didn’t help his cause. His reputation took a knock today but more by his own doing than Cameron's.

Result 0 - 0

Dispatch of the Day - 11th June 2008

Well, today I’ve got to give it to Gordon.

Cameron flopped with his questions allowing Brown some easy comebacks. When Brown did start to gabble, his trusty friend Mr Martin was on hand to interrupt proceedings and give him time to think.

Cameron's attack culminated in accusations of ineffective authoritarianism, but the game was already won for Brown by this point.

Result 2 - 1

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 4th June 2008

So, we're back from our little break...refreshed and ready to go?

Well, Cameron was.

A well rounded attack on the PM today from Cameron covering U-turns, weakness, lack of respect from ministers and lack of honesty. The most repeated word at the beginning of the onslaught - TAX. Cameron said it a lot. Cameron went strongly on the new car taxes which will hit vehicles up to 7 years old. A good recipe for a goal, take a public already smarting over petrol prices and suggest the government is going to sting them again over car tax. Now sit back and watch Brown dig himself a hole, periodically stirring the pot with claims of dodgy figures and jibes about how out of touch he is with the public and how his own government thinks the idea is stupid. Easy.

The PM for his part stumbled over his joke about Cameron's bicycle and his similarity to a used car salesman. His points about Cameron shying away from a painful green tax merely served to remind everyone that this retrospective green tax is not helpful for families trying to run a car. Weak, really weak today.

The 42 day argument notable by it's absence today.

Result 0 - 3

Friday, 23 May 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 21st May 2008

Once again Cameron begins with Burma, but there is a by-election coming up and the niceties are soon dispensed with.

The theme today, Captain Brown won’t answer the question. And true to form, on the issue of whether the £2.7b to help those affected in the scrapping of the 10p tax band will continue next year. Brown hits back, albeit rather weakly, by asking Cameron what the Tories would do. Quite an annoying tactic.

Captain Cameron also teases Brown over his absence from the by-election campaign. His attacks are less effective than in previous weeks and although Brown was irritated I think this was a wasted opportunity. Brown gets his soundbite out at the end “get by without substance for some of the time but he'll never get by without substance all of the time” and scores a consolation goal. Sadly for Brown, the Tories are going to win the by-election and next week Cameron will be insufferable.

Result 2 – 1

Dispatch of the Day 14th May 2008

Cameron was in free scoring mood today and choreographed his attack well to fit in with Nick Clegg’s questions.

Cameron's discussion of the Burma and Chinese disasters achieves 3 things-
-Appears to forego the Punch and Judy of PMQs
-Shows compassion
-Subtly suggests Brown isn't doing enough or leading the situation

Very clever. He then sits down and allows Clegg to have a real swipe over the 10p tax fiasco and the 'charade' of the package announced by Darling. If Cameron had raised this Brown would have hot back over Tory plans and what their position would be. This way the issue is raised, Brown is damaged and Cameron can attack in a different direction.

That direction is housing and the theme of the attack - Brown isn't and won't be straight with people. This point is reinforced by attacks on the £2.7bn package and the by-election and the problems with Bendy Wendy in Scotland. Issues the public and media are highly cynical about and to which he knows Brown won't give a straight answer.

Brown, however, seemed in the mood for a fight. Obviously he didn't answer the questions but rather went on the offensive regarding previous Troy governments. While he managed to get off some good sound bites, I for one am very tired of this argument from Brown. Yes it happened and the country was in a mess and you know it will evoke bad memories of the Tories but it was a long time ago, get over it Gordon. If that is the sum total of the Government’s argument, the Tories would be worse than us, you have big problems.

Result 1 - 3

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 7th May 2008

So we start with Bendy Wendy. What will the less than Bendy Brown have to say about her recent statements? Ignore the question? Skirt around the issue? Not a chance, he seems to have heard something completely different to the rest of us so has no problem denying that she has called for an early referendum. Wasn't expecting that, even from Brown. Cameron gladly accepts this open goal, brown is 'losing touch with reality' he says and proceeds to quote Ms Alexander and add a nice jibe about no one following Gordon Brown.

Prisons next and the Post Offices and the point here being to prove that Brown doesn't listen (following on from last week where he refused to listen to the former director of Public Prosecutions). Brown sluggishly hauls himself to the Dispatch box after every question but Cameron springs up eagerly after every reply. You can see which one is enjoying today. Cameron's parting gifts to Brown are rants about the lack of leadership and vision of the Labour party and a bit of personal abuse to boot.

Cameron really piled the pressure on today and scored some decent goals. Brown finished in a stronger fashion than he started but the damage was already done. His response to the questions on Bendy Wendy really defied belief. Nick Robinson calls it 'Brownspeak', I have another word for it, also beginning with B.

Result 1 - 3

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 30th April 2008

So to continue last weeks theme of embarrassing climbdowns from Captain Brown, Cameron opens up with the suggestion that he will have to make major con sessions on the government's proposals for detention without charge. Brown simply says he will put the proposals to the House. Fair enough. He then tries to suggest that all the parties support the need for exceptions to be made in the cases of serious terrorists, but he stumbles over his words and ends up mumbling to himself.

Cameron quotes the Director of Pubic Prosecutions - "we do not perceive any need for the period of 28 days to be increased" and "our experience is that we have managed comfortably with 28 days". Why will the Prime Minister not listen to him asks Cameron? Brown ignores the question but instead says the police and Lord Carlise have both backed the idea of increasing the detention period. Brown then suggests that not to would give oxygen to terrorists and that the Tories should be ashamed of itself.

So here we are, a little bit of gentle sparring and now back to the 'deeper message' both sides are looking to get across.

Cameron quotes some Labour MPs in an attempt to show that Brown is only concerned with his own view. Brown then complains that Cameron won;t deal with the 'substantial issue'. Oddly Cameron is able to counterclaim that the Tories have addressed the substantial issues and goes on to list their policy ideas. And Cameron continues his line on Brown, how long will he ignore his parties wishes and will they get a vote of conscience on the proposals? Brown skips answering this, simply saying it will go before the house, I doubt the truth would be popular so I guess we'll have to wait to find out.

Cameron suggests the the DPP would know more on the subject than the Prime Minister, so why won't he listen? So Gordon, will this be subject to a vote as a matter of conscience?...Same answer from Brown, it will go before the House. This sets up Cameron nicely for his repost - "everyone knows what is going to happen: another rebellion, another backdown, another U-turn, and the collapse of stout party". There is reference to the recent 10p tax fiasco and then Cameron's finish with a flourish (which the Speaker interrupts) "The Prime Minister is putting political calculation and self-interest ahead of the right decisions and the national interest".

Brown again complains that Cameron won't address the substantive issue, but by the time he has finished saying it everyone has stopped listening.

Brown was at his bumbling, arrogant worst but Cameron failed to score any real blows.

Result 1 - 1

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 23rd April 2008

10p or not 10p.....

So, the MPs are back and straight into the thick of it after Brown's climbdown over the 10p taxband. Plenty of political capital to be made here so I foresee a battle of the soundbites. Who will get their quote onto the afternoon news?

Cameron - Today's session should be called Prime Ministers U-turns....massive loss of authority....panic concessions

Brown - Tories are the 'no, don't know, yes party'

Cameron - Pathetic figure...why not be straight with people?

Brown - No quotes just waffle

Cameron - Weakness and dithering by the budget

Brown - (Tories) no credibility...not a party cares about the poor

Cameron - (Labour) always about politics, not about policy...calculation not conviction...(Brown's) self interest not the national interest...Can the PM's reputation ever recover?

Brown - A million pensioners out of poverty...a million children taken out of poverty...

Cameron - 600,000 more people in extreme poverty...(Brown's) massive loss of authority...Lord Desai said Brown's leadership style was like porridge, Another week and it will be like Cheerios....Loser not a leader

Brown - Why does he never address the central issues....I know what side the country is on

Cameron - weakness....humiliating climbdown...weak and incompetent government...enough is enough...

Brown - We are for opportunity for everyone. They are for opportunism in everything.

And just for good measure Captain Clegg weighs into Brown, despite a barracking from Labour MPs. Well done Cleggy for holding your nerve. Nice quote from him as he relishes sticking the knife into Brown - I thought penalising the poor to reward the rich was the job of the Conservative party, Why is he doing the Tories' job for them?...what is the point of this pointless prime minister?

Brown won't have enjoyed today, he has been humiliated. Nick Robinson gives a good commentary of the ten pence tax rate trip there's a mouthful

Result 1 - 3

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 2nd April 2008

The Captains are away for the week so we'll count this one as a friendly.

Harman is in for the Reds, Hague for the Blues and a welcome return for Captain Cable!

An easy one on Zimbabwe to start the lady off and an easy one from Hague allows her to get her retaliation in first with a jibe at Theresa May. So, the gloves are off but presumably the stab vest remains. Hague’s repost about wearing a clown suit to cabinet meetings is a good one but if all the 2 stand-ins are going to do is woodenly trade jokes then this is going to be dull.

And so it is.

Blah cap....blah blah....basic rate of tax...blah blah....remember what it was like under the Tories....zzzzzz...labour is out of we're not.

Hague is well off form and Harman is wooden and unable to cope with anything slightly off brief.

Vince Cable's contribution turns the whole thing to farce.

Poor show all round

Result 0 - 0

I'm sure there will be commentators who claim a brilliant victory for Harriet and those who claim she was flat. I don't suppose once the day is out, either side will want to remember this session.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 26th March 2008

I can't believe it. Cameron goes on the economy and doesn't suffer a crashing defeat.

The first question is on the FSA and it's recent damning report. Should the Bank of England take the lead Captain Cameron asks? Brown responds by saying the FSA has done a good job, but also needs to improve. He also quotes Frederick Forsyth who says Cameron has 'no basic grasp of arithmetic'. Pretty pathetic in my eyes, and Cameron agrees.

So Mr Brown, can you name 1 other major country that has responded to the economic downturn by putting up taxes? Nope. Another chance for Cameron to suggest that Britain should have been putting something away while times were good. We're investing, claims Brown. Cameron's next attack is on the price rises people see on milk, eggs, petrol et al. So this is it Gordon, your big chance to slam Cameron and the Tories over their economic record. Open goal.....and he fires wide! Brown claims the Tories want to cut tax to the tune of £10bn and will follow the same model as they did in 1992. And who prey tell was an economic advisor during that dark time in the 90s? Captain Cameron. Surely you can do better than that Gordon? Cameron jumps straight back up, and the theme of 'Brown won't answer the question' comes back into play. To demonstrate his mastery of basic arithmetic Cameron scoffs 'One prime minister plus one chancellor equals economic incompetence'. Brown hits back with a jibe about slogans over substance but he must know in his heart that he has messed this one up a bit. He said all the right things about unemployment, recession and interest rates and so on but he failed to make anything of it. I honestly can't believe this opportunity to slam Cameron has been lost so cheaply.

So, no news here today. Brown doesn't like answering questions or admitting he was wrong. The Tories were in power the last time the economy went belly up and favour slogans over substance.

Better again from Clegg, although he was again swatted away a little to easily. Nice questions on home repossessions I thought.

Result 1 - 1

I can hardly believe it.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 19th March 2008

Bit of an odd start this week, Cameron goes on China/Tibet and uses his second question to congratulate Brown on making the right decision over the Dalai Lama and not delaying the decision. Brown doesn't really know what to make of it and as he remains seated roars of laughter come from the Tory benches. It seems as if Brown may have inadvertently answered Cameron's second question on the Dali Lama before he had a chance to ask it. I don't suppose Cameron's plan was to praise the PM. Brown's quip about all his decisions being correct brings more laughter from all sides of the House (and my desk).

After only 2 questions Nick Clegg is allowed a stab at the PM and unsurprisingly brings up the issue of Gurkha's pensions and rights to remain the UK after bravely serving in the British Army. Personally I can't see much justification for Brown's position and his answer doesn't really give one. He jumps to Iraq for his second question, which I was surprised at. He should have stayed on the Gurkha question especially with the protests going on outside the House. Clegg seemed much more confident today and really had the bit between his teeth but his second question was batted away rather easily by Brown.

Cameron's second set of questions is more of the sort I had been expecting. With the economic bad news featuring in the media daily, there is no need to have a go at Brown on such issues. His questions hark back to previous ones, which Brown has failed to answer. So first up - the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and the whipping of the peers and the potential for MPs to be whipped on matters of conscience. I have previously expressed my views on this but still Brown refuses to answer saying that the party will decide in due time. Cameron snipes back at him before moving on to ID cards. Brown says he is still in favour (a pretty straight answer) but then follows this with a direct question to Cameron about compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals. Firstly, this practice is incredibly annoying. Secondly, it sets Cameron up (and weeks ago I made the same comment) for a easy goal - Call that election and you can have 6 questions every week.

Ed Balls, after his performance at the budget, gets nicely put in his place by Cameron - "nice to see him sitting quietly" - before he moves onto A levels. Cameron wants them to stay as the gold standard, does Brown? Obviously, there is currently a ..... wait for it....government review on the subject and Brown won't commit pas the review date. Now for the killer blow and an open goal for anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Google. David Muir is the new strategist at No 10, and can you guess the title of his favourite book? The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organisations. Everyone has a good laugh and Brown's reputation takes a big hit.

Brown answers by saying that Cameron has not gone on the economy or health service because the Conservatives 'have no answers to the problems of this country'. And what problems we have.

Result 1 - 2

Happy Easter

Friday, 14 March 2008

Additional costs 'top trumps'

Additional Costs Allowance for my MP

2006/07 (ranking out of 645) - £8,502 (571st)
2005/06 - £10,027
2004/05 (ranking out of 659) - £9,537 (570th)
2003/04 (ranking out of 658) - £10,524 (557th)
2002/03 (ranking out of 657) - £9,254 (592nd)
2001/02 (ranking out of 657) - £9,232 (575th)

From here...

The list of what counts as an additional cost is here

How has yours done? can you top trump me? Have a look here for the 2006/7 breakdown.

The maximum claim per year is £22,100 and doubtless the MPs will claim that the 'John Lewis list' details the maximum they can claim and the figures should not be used to beat them around the head. So the number of members claiming between £20,000 and the maximum...388 by my count! 184 of those claimed the maximum.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Budget special


Now we've all woken up after what was a very dull hour or so the bones of the budget can be picked over. See here...

My concern is, that my mind and that of Nick Clegg seemed to be temporarily aligned. At 12.56 I blogged with Nick Robinson that Brown was an amazing ventriloquist and that I could hardly see his chin waggling. Barely an hour later, up stands Clegg and comments on Brown's ventriloquism skills. Almost word for word, although the Hon. member was much more polite than I was. Perhaps he reads the blog.

I thought Darling delivered the budget without passion, although there was not much to be passionate about. It almost looked as if he was reading it for the first time, but I'm sure Gordon had showed him a copy before today.

One might have expected Cameron to launch an offensive against Mr Darling but instead he chose to eloquently pick holes on the Budget and expose the naughty details Darling left out of his speak. It was a measured response from Cameron, who obviously hoped his indignation with the figures would speak for itself. Brown and Darling sat pulling a variety of faces from the government bench but they failed to knock Cameron off his stride.

Clegg slipped slightly from his PMQs performance but he made a few decent points. Not that anyone was listening.

The government didn't really have a lot to play with today and didn't do a bad job of covering that up. We shall see the fall out over the coming days.

Just peered from my window and the sun is shining, I better go and mend the roof.

Dispatch of the Day - 12th March 2008

In a week of giant killings in the FA cup will Cameron be able to turn around his poor recent form? The budget is also coming up today so Prime Minister turns Puppet Master for the remainder of the parliamentary session.

I suppose PMQs will take a back seat today as Captain Cameron won’t want to use his best lines before his budget speech.

Darfur first up from Cameron, a very reasonable line of questioning with the undercurrent of inaction by the government. Brown responds with his desires to have proper peace talks. This is all very reasonable stuff and the 2 captains agree, Cameron presses on the details and Brown bemoans the difficulties and need for a ceasefire. No real political point scoring, I expect that Cameron is waiting for the Budget for that.

Half time sees Captain Clegg have another bash at PMQs. His question on election expenditure and donations sees Brown stumbling over his answer. Here we have our cup upset analogy, the condescending sneering Brown tripped up by lower league Captain Clegg. His second question snipes at the Tories major donor (Lord Ashcroft) and ends with a little flourish as he tells Brown to stop sitting on his hands and do what is best for Britain not his party. Much better from Cleggy this week, but he still persists in holding that folded scrap of paper like a school boy. Surely the Lib Dems have public speaking coaches or similar?

Cameron returns to ask about whipped voting, specifically with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. Many of the subjects covered by the bill (hybrids, saviour siblings et al.) are matters of conscience and should not be whipped. They were not whipped in the original bill in 1990 but are being so now. Brown really doesn’t like this and has no come back. Either doesn't know what decision to make or doesn't want to announce an unpopular one. Personally I find the whipping of votes on such issues abhorrent. Goal for Cameron but I’m not sure there is enough public knowledge about the issues for it to be more.

Result 0 – 1

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 5th March 2008

Another poor show from Cameron saw Brown close the gap between the two teams today.

I was quite surprised that Cameron chose the tack he did on Europe. Yes, it added to his campaign to show Brown can’t answer a simple question ('and answer came there none' quipped Cameron) and Brown's breaking of the manifesto referendum promise, but the line of questioning allowed Brown to expose the divisions within the Tory party. Far from embarrassing Brown, Cameron left the goal open for Brown to score an easy ‘Tories and Europe’ goal. Cameron’s clever comparisons (or in fact contrasts) with Blair, designed to rile Brown, seems to miss the target although I’m sure privately Brown was irritated.

Half time saw Captain Clegg get nervously to his feet to put his two questions to the PM. Or at least I think he did, it may have been a mouse squeaking. Brown continues to relish the opportunity to do down the Lib Dems and highlight the current shambles that is the party leadership. On another note, why does Clegg persist in holding a scruffy rolled up piece of paper in his hand like a school boy. Have a full set of papers in your hand man, give yourself something to flourish!

The second set of questions from Cameron focuses on the race to be London’s mayor. Brown’s policy of refusing to answer questions backfires slightly as he can’t condemn possible sleaze in the Mayor’s office. Is there a mayoral election coming up?

Result 2 - 1

The table

Position.... Team..... Won..... Drawn... Lost...... F.... A..... Points..... Form

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 27th February 2008

Quite an odd PMQs today. Aberrant in fact.

Unusual tactics from Cameron and a very vocal Labour team.

I'm really not sure what to make of today's exchanges. A little bit clever by Cameron? Possibly. A totally inept performance showing a lack of direction and planning? Possibly, but in the world of PR, advisors and stage management I doubt if there wasn't a plan. He appeared to be acting innocent and subservient, looking to Brown for leadership. Will anyone buy Cameron's innocence card? No, but he has been rather cunning today by the repeated subtle suggestion that Brown is scared of more transparency of MPs expenses, scared of allowing his Cabinet a free vote of the constitution, scared of letting the country have a vote. Brown, having just got used to dealing with Punch and Judy, didn't really know what to do with himself when faced with faux innocence and subversive suggestiveness. I certainly didn't see this coming, I bet the Labour lot didn't either.

Cameron gave Brown a number of chances to show himself to be taking a strong lead (both as Labour leader and PM) which he failed to take. However, I don’t think Cameron managed to score an obvious goal.

Also notice today, no script in front of Captain Cameron.

Today saw the return of the Lib Dems to the House but Nick Clegg’s confidence staged another House of Commons walkout. He was roundly heckled by Labour MPs today in a bid to knock him off his stride. The sickening smirk on Brown’s face as he got up to speak indicated he relishes the chance to bully someone at PMQs. As with last week Clegg raises worthy issues but he fails to make an impact on the House.

Result 0 - 0

It was nice to see today that the smell from the dispatchoftheday skunk has caused Cameron to at least raise the issue of MPs pay and pension. This issue which now engulfs the whole House including the Speaker has fallen slightly from the media, however, Nick Robinson's reporting has certainly ruffled a few feathers.

The comments feature on the blog has now been fully enabled, so anyone can post a comment on the dispatchoftheday analysis.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 20th February 2008

The dispatchoftheday skunk is still wandering the halls of the House and everybody is still ignoring it. The speaker of the house, far from driving it out, has seemingly been feeding it titbits and the stench is getting worse. Thank goodness he is in charge of the 'Union of Turkey's Christmas Committee' looking into the subject of MP's expenses.

Pretty dire today, the first question from Cameron on more mishandling of data is met with news of, guess what, another Government review. Joy. The 2 leaders trade slogans with neither getting anywhere.

The half time interval sees Captain Clegg come to his feet and bluster his way through the Northern Rock issue. Not an assured performance and he will need to improve. Good to have the issue raised in the House and Brown provokes Cameron into using his remaining questions on it.

Cameron goes on the offensive regarding the freedom of information issues of the nationalisation. His supreme leader jibe is lifted from the pages of Private Eye and his topical Castro comparison fails to land a blow as he gets visibly cross. Brown swats him off quite easily, the killer question wasn't quite there today. Even if it was, it wouldn’t have been answered.

Result: 0 - 0

The table

Position.... Team..... Won..... Drawn... Lost...... F.... A..... Points..... Form

Mr Cable told you so...

So the Rock has eventually been nationalised, more dithering from the Reds. We shall see if the prisoner scandal takes over from this at today's PMQs. Whenever I see Darling and Brown sitting on the front bench I am reminded of General Melchett and Captain Darling from Blackadder Goes Forth. In that spirit here is a quote from Captain Darling (Blackadder Goes Forth: Episode 6) just before he goes over the top, which is appropriate for the other Darling as he waited to give his press conference (image BBC).

“I made a note in my diary on the way over here. It simply reads - bugger.”

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 6th February 2008

That skunk I spoke about last week is still wandering the halls of the House of Commons, the MPs must spend a lot of time with pegs on their noses as at PMQs everyone is still pretending they don't smell it. My political skunk got a mention on The Daily Politics today and raised a chuckle from Nick Robinson and Andrew Neil!

As expected no mention of expenses today. Cameron led on a subject about which I have often wondered, the number of reviews the Government sets up. Cameron gave a figure of 52 since Brown came to power, which is quite a lot. Again this was a cover for an attack on the PMs dithering over just about any issue you can name. The attack, which was a little nastier than usual, included a couple of jokes about Peter Hain's permatan, Brown not opening his post and needing more time to think about his answers at PMQs. New questions on A-level exams (once again Brown refuses to answer a straight question and sends questions back the way of Cameron - why does the speaker continue to allow this?). And so to the punch line - "This is a hopeless, dithering Prime Minister". At the start of the season Brown may have been flustered by this but he seemed to deal with it a little better today although his sound bites (one borrowed from the former chancellor) fail to land a significant blow on Captain Cameron. Having said his response was less flustered, he did appear physically irritated by Cameron as he spoke.

On the subject of Brown asking questions to Cameron I say this - Call an election and you may well get your chance to do it legitimately. In fact you will have 6 questions a week.

Again a bit of a disappointing performance from both sides and the referee today. There has been a bit of disquiet regarding the officialdom of the House recently, although no team members dare utter a word on the record.

Result: 1 - 2 (but only just)

The table

Position.... Team..... Won..... Drawn... Lost...... F.... A..... Points..... Form

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 30th January 2008

Considering all that has gone on since last Wednesday's match, today was a bit of a let down. The Police 'Stop and Search' form was the thinly veiled cover for Cameron to further his 'Brown won't answer the question' argument. Of course, Captain Brown doesn't answer the straight questions put to him, but thankfully there is not too much bickering about who thought of the policy first.

The Blue quest for a straight answer continues during the second half with a discussion on allowing hate preachers into the country. No answer is forthcoming, surprisingly.

Some mischief making from the Speaker is the highlight of the exchanges, Captain Brown's unwillingness to answer Captain Cameron's questions obviously gets to the best of us.

Something to watch during the rest of the season, the timings of the Speaker's cries of 'Order'. A cynical man may have thought today that the timing allowed Captain Brown to recover his composure on more than one occasion. Just something to watch.

The elephant in the room today was MP's expenses. Not so much an elephant in the room as a skunk in the House leaving a stench wherever it goes. Both leaders smell it but my cynical side says they want to ignore it as I suspect both sides of the house are happy about the current situation regarding expenses.

A welcome return from ex-captain Cable.

Result: 0 - 0 (and a very disappointing one at that)

The table

Position.... Team..... Won..... Drawn... Lost...... F.... A..... Points..... Form

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Breaking transfer news

Peter Hain has had his transfer request accepted, a blow for Captain Brown.

The reds will have to utilise the January transfer window to bring in someone new.

Implications for Harman and Alexander? Maybe, maybe not.

Purnell comes in for Hain, sparking a reshuffle in the team. Team Red now looks rather youthful. You'll never win anything with kids, someone once said.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Dispatch of the Day - 23rd January 2008

Another nervy week for the economy so it will be no surprise to see that feature today. Again I don’t think the issue of Police pay (they are marching as I write) will come up as we still don’t know the Blue's position is on the issue. But today of all days they can't complain there are not enough police on the streets.

As expected it’s the economy first up and a little bit of dé·jà vu as Captain Cameron continues where he left off last week and attempts to get Captain Brown to confirm the level to which the tax payer is locked in to Northern Rock. This tactic was fairly fruitless last week and proves so again this week. Brown seems more confidant and strokes the questions aside with some ease. Indeed he also manages to turn the tag of ‘ditherer’ around and attaches it to Captain Cameron and the Conservative flip-flop over what to with the ailing bank. Cameron hits back with a few nice sound bites, some contrived and one on administration/liquidation seemingly off the cuff. “Damaging-Dodgy-extra Debt from a failed PM” cries Cameron, but his previous question on Richard Branson seemed ill judged. ‘No substance’ retorts Brown, his accusation of opportunism from the Blues seems a fair one.

Captain Brown steers his team to victory today with a much more assured performance from the man himself. Captain Cameron never really got going and perhaps the ‘no substance’ argument applies to today’s performance more than others. Well done Gordon.

Result: 2 - 1

How does this affect the table?

Position.... Team..... Won..... Drawn... Lost...... F.... A..... Points..... Form

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Why do I write this blog?

Since its inception in the 1950s, the constitutional convention known as Questions to the Prime Minister has altered in its purpose if not its format.

Both sides of the House use the media on a daily basis to spin their politics so the need for a Wednesday afternoon PMQ time to find out about policy is largely gone. We are left with a PR exercise where the leader of the opposition has 6 questions to undermine, contradict and infuriate the PM and score a few political headlines in the evening news. For the purpose of this blog I score the 2 leaders as if it were a football match, for it may as well be.

It is entertaining most of the time and even though real politics may be left at the door, issues of interest are mentioned. Recently the notion of Q&A seems to have been dismissed as Gordon Brown seems reluctant to fulfil his part of the deal (that would be the answers, don‘t think we haven‘t noticed Gordon). Present day PMQs is an exchange of speeches, incorporating relevant sound bites, on a variety of political issues.

The scoring involves the awarding of goals when a good political or personal point is scored by either of the 2 leaders. For example, the first match of the season was scored 3-1 to Cameron and the Conservatives. Cameron scored goals for his attacks of Brown’s fluffing of the election and the European constitution, while Brown gets a consolation for his European repost. To be honest, after the election fiasco there was pretty much an open goal for Cameron to attack Brown’s decision and his leadership attributes.

Those looking for a close race will be disappointed. Cameron is a far better orator than Brown and invariably wins. It could be argued that the scoring system in stacked in favour of the opposition leader but Blair seemed sufficiently able to hold his own.

PMQs…Its only a game…?

Results catch up January 2008

9th January
So, 12pm Wednesday, no changing of the fixture for television. David Beckham has been to Downing Street this week, helping my little football analogy a bit.

To business and we start with ID cards of all things. Perhaps Captain Cameron is seeking to carry the last of his 2007 momentum into the new year. Will they be made compulsory? Will they? Will they? No straight answers from Captain Brown, maybe because of the sensitivity over the reds record on data protection. This leaves Captain Brown slightly on the back foot.

Second half and the Bank of England and the economy gets an outing, although its more about slating Brown’s character than anything else. We shall see in coming weeks whether the economy gets more attention, it will depend on what happens across the pond. Bit of a let down today, no goals scored on either side.

Welcome to Captain Clegg, decent start from the young man. No calamities.

Result: 0 - 0

16th January
Nick Robinson gives a nice summing up of the quandary facing the reds at the moment. I would be surprised if this doesn’t feature as the main thrust of Captain Cameron’s attack today. The taxpayer’s money angle is the one to take, how much capital can the blues make?

Peter Hain may also find himself publicly questioned (as he has in Welsh Questions) but this time with a less than convincing Brown defending him.

It is the Rock that gets the attention, Captain Cameron pressing hard for conformation of the figures involved, something Captain Brown cannot bring himself to confirm. He retorts with more questions for Cameron, which we saw last week also. Not convincing at all Gordon, smacks of indecision (or dithering if you wished to be unkind) over which route to take to resolve the problem that sees many many millions of tax payers pounds committed. This is a bit issue for both teams and neither wants to commit too much until they feel they have the knock out blow, a new black Wednesday for the blues or a solution from the reds. Let us not yet mention the N word.

Result: 1 - 2

A look at the table and we see the Blues under Captain Cameron are well ahead, will Brown's growing confidence at the dispatch box help redress the scores or will Northern Rock (and anything else that may go wrong) keep the Reds fighting fires till the summer.

Results catch up December 2007

5th December
Back to trust again this week. The Committee on Standards in Public Life gets a mention, as does the Lord Whitty inquiry. More Cameron repetition on the subject of Captain Brown’s promises. The big question on defence fails to land a killer blow, although he raises a good point about the part time defence secretary. Lots of emotive language from Captain Cameron and more references to broken promises. The question on jail places follows in a similar vein. It has to be said that Captain Brown performed well today and batted off the disparate attacks from Cameron. Has the blue PMQs juggernaut faltered as we reach the end of 2007?

Could Captain Cameron be leaving his goal open with questions on party funding. Their own Roman Abramovich(s) may be brought up and reluctance to have an open debate may be challenged more thoroughly.

Lacklustre match today, is it Christmas yet?

Result: 1 - 1

12th December
The last fixture of this year, will the police pay issue be a feature today? Perhaps not as we don‘t know what the new blue budget has in store for them.

Indeed not. Kosovo is up first and for once the Punch and Judy is dispensed with. Well done chaps. During the half time interval Captain Cable signs off the year with a timely reminder of the Government’s failings, not least Northern Rock or the 25 million lost details. A very witty repost to the Captain Brown’s snide comments about the Lib Dem’s leadership seals his place in my parliamentary hall of fame.

Early in the second half the issue of police pay is raised by a blue squad player. Reasonably dealt with by Captain Brown and as Captain Cameron remains in his seat there is no chance for him to face questions on the subject. When he does arise his remaining questions are used to attack Captain Brown personally, listing failures and quoting from Brown ‘friendly’ sources. A decent attempt to define Captain Brown’s year for those writing such reviews in the media. Brown sees him off fairly well with (some would say) robust claims of ‘no substance’ and both score sound bite goals. Again a little better from Captain Brown but still not a patch on Former Captain Blair.

Merry Christmas

Result: 1 -1

Results catch up November 2007

Queens speech debate
We‘ll call this one a cup match. This was supposed to be Gordon’s day in the sun, however, Cameron rather spoiled the Captain's party. Captain Cameron has certainly developed a real knack of getting under Brown’s skin and my didn’t it show today. I wish I could come up with a witty phrase to beat this little gem, but sadly I’ve nothing better to offer. Captain Cameron steers the blues to victory in a match Brown was banking on.

14th November
Today kicks off with a small amount of self congratulation on the Glasgow 2018 Commonwealth Games before Captain Cameron gets to his feet. Smith, the Labour right back has had a poor week in training and leaves Captain Brown with a huge problem today. Captain Cameron makes hay with the news that four months previous, the Home Secretary was told that thousands of illegal migrant workers had been given clearance to work in sensitive security posts. Specifically he focuses on the government spin over the reporting of this and when his opposite number knew about the problem. With the goal at his mercy Captain Cameron seems to scuff his shot and fails to score anything. Brown's rebuttals are less than inspiring (and indeed his refusal to answer the straight question will irritate some) but he makes a marked improvement from previous weeks. He has obviously been training hard during the break.

There appeared to be a missed opportunity today with Captain Cameron and his team holding off the Lord West issue, one suspects that mention will be made in the debate following PMQs. Should the Smith story run on we may see it return, unless another player finds themselves in the papers.

Captain Cable again keeps Northern Rock in the minds of the two captains and the media.

Result: 0 - 0

21st November
More off the field problems for the reds this week, the news surrounding the loss of personal data has not made happy reading for Captain Brown. Shooting fish in a barrel is apt enough, but harpooning a porpoise that's got into your bath seems more appropriate.

The game kicks off and Captain Brown uses question 1 and the supplementary question to deliver a deliver a torpedo to the hull of HMS Tory Incredulity. “I profoundly regret and apologise” began Captain Brown in a solemn tone, “for the inconvenience and worries that have been caused to millions of families who receive child benefit”. And just like that all the wind was taken from Captain Cameron’s sails (not sure where this developing nautical theme will take us). Predictably, questions followed on the HMRC fiasco but without the vigour and determination that perhaps everyone had been expecting. In fact the questions designed to embarrass and befuddle Captain brown served as a foil for his contrite apologies and explanations of the mistakes of the week. The match ends without Captain Cameron managing to score an obvious goal. Perhaps some faint praise for not playing party politics with an issue causing distress to 25 million people, but not enough to rescue the match. Capital for another day, perhaps.

Once again Captain Cable, having charted a worthy course, articulately reminds the House of the problems facing Northern Rock and more than ever, the tax payer.

Result: 1 - 0

28th November
There are days when I wake up and wish I didn’t have to go to work, it is usually a Monday. Captain Brown’s bogey day is fast becoming Wednesday, although I suspect his winces every morning as the morning papers are pushed through the number 10 letter box.

It was a complicated battle this week with extra details being released minutes before PMQs. the big one for today is the donations from David Abrahams et al. Equally as interesting, in my opinion, is the setting up of a rather weak looking enquiry. The attack from Captain Cameron focused on the former issue and was relentless, simple and focused firstly on Honesty and Trust and then moved onto Captain Brown’s duty towards the Great British Public. We saw Brown wriggle, then squirm, but eventually limit the damage to a few goals for Captain Cameron. It may take a little time and a few more details before a more robust attack can be formulated. The release of the statement from Jon Mendelsohn, Director of Labour Party General Election Resources, just before PMQs may have worked to soften the blow or at least cloud the issue further.

“Stalin to Mr. Bean”. Quite simply brilliant from Captain Cable. I will be very sad to see him hand over the captaincy of the Lib Dems.

Result: 0 - 2

Dispatch of the Day - Results catch up October 2007

The ‘season’ will run to correspond with the football season so the scoring begins after the summer break. This first post will backdate the results beginning with the opening fixture on the 10th of October.

But first the summer transfer window saw the departure of the Labour captain, Tony Blair. Like many former club favourites, some debated whether he had stayed a season too long. Gordon ‘chopper’ Brown appointed new captain and sets about changing his team….but no election.

10th October
The first question of the season flashes past the post, has Captain Brown lost his bottle? The election farce over the summer leaves the new captain open to a variety of attacks. Captain Cameron focuses on attacking Brown’s character, questioning his credibility, then his courage and his honesty over the draft budget. Browns comebacks are weak and the contrast between his ability at the dispatch box and that of the former captain are clear for all to see. Cameron continues his articulate attack by demanding an election and rubbishing Browns claims about the ‘new’ European treaty. Brown argues his case with more gusto than the during the initial exchanges but its not enough to level the match. The crowd clearly enjoying the opening game of the season, call for more!

A decent enough clash but I was expecting more fireworks considering the events of the summer. The blues just edge this one although Cameron seemed to run out of steam towards the end, but I worry for Brown if that’s all he has to offer.

Result: Labour 1 - 3 Conservative

17th October
A lively match today with Captain Brown finding his feet. The health service, and associated government targets were where the goals were scored. The captains exchanged quotes from the Health Care Commission over the dispatch box with neither landing a decisive blow. A much better performance from Brown so far. The referee, Michael Martin, has to step in after a series of fouls from Labour squad player Mr. Austin. Mr. Jackson follows him into the book for a similar offence. Brown scores an own goal on the issue of the new European treaty by calling Mr. Hague the Foreign secretary. It’s only a matter of time crows Captain Cameron. Whoops. Brown fights hard to level the game late on, but his shots over Maastricht are parried well and countered with more claims about a loss of trust over the whole affair.

It was looking like a draw for most of the game, but a slip from Captain Brown gives all 3 points to the blues late on.

On another note, a fine showing from Captain Cable today. Bravo.

Result: Labour 1 - 2 Conservative

24th October
A resounding win for Captain Cameron today, as his experience at PMQ’s tells. The first half was a slow affair with arguments about school funding and school reform. 0-0 at half time but the reds will be pleased after just edging the play, without scoring. The second half begins with the accusation that Labour put party interest before voters' interests during the Scottish election. Captain Brown obviously denies this and the pair trade quotes until Captain Brown commit’s a foul, accusing Captain Cameron of misleading the house (tut tut), and is given a yellow card by the referee. Players from both sides are warned by the referee during the exchanges, Mr. Austin again warned for back chat. Looking slightly red faced, Captain Brown has no reply to the following attacks from Captain Cameron who seeks to damage the PM though attacks people close to him within the party. The crowd is really on his back. Shame, again Captain Brown has conspired to give the blues opportunities to score by trying to worm away from the issue rather than taking a certain measure on the chin.

Captain Cameron seems to be on something of a roll here, will this fine run of form come to an end and if so will the background campaign to undermine Captain Brown see him though a baron spell?

Result: 0 - 2