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