Thursday, 24 June 2010

PMQs 23 June 2010

It was another good one. This is what PMQs should be; it's what we've missed for so many years and is a sharp contrast to the dirge of Labour. It was sparky, energetic, confrontational and revealing. I could go on but I'm in danger of sounding like a PMQs groupie. The truth is I'm just so delighted at the raised standard of debate, that questions are answered and backbenchers have more time to pose questions. Everything in this half-hour cruelly highlights the lack of respect the previous government showed to Parliament and to the people in the past thirteen years.

Cameron paid tribute to Marine Paul Warren, 40 Commando Royal Marines, and an un-named soldier from the same unit who both died this week. I can't find the words - the conflict and the roll of honour seem interminable. It's clear that there is a great deal of concern amongst govt backbenchers about the loss of life, how it's progressing overall and how well-supported our troops are.

The first question was to new Labour b/bencher,
Lisa Nandy(Lab, Wigan) who asked about freezing funding to the Coalfield (? sorry, I'm a northerner myself but untangling some of these accents is getting beyond me) Communities Regeneration Programme and referred back to the pit closures in the eighties. 'Is he seeking to close down the coalfields all over again?' Cameron said what you'd expect him to say plus there's to be some sort of additional announcement next week.

Simon Hart (Con, Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South) asked about the 23,000 TA Reservists who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans in the last six years. Twenty-two have lost their lives in these ops "and those who survive are twice as likely to get PTSD than their regular counterparts". He essentially asked what recognition & support the govt would give to employers who allowed them time off.

Cameron: Absolutely right to raise the contribution the TA plays in serving our country. Standing up for our Armed Forces is "not just a govt responsibility, it's a social responsibility, something we should all do and we should pay tribute to those businesses..."

Harman, resplendent in toning shades of bronze and copper, with a frisson of grey roots, referred to the govt bringing forward the linking of state pensions to earnings to 2011 rather than 2012 and asked how much money had been set aside to accommodate the increase.

Yvette Cooper (Balls) sat to her right and Rosie Winterton to her left. Unfortunately, the camera angle meant that PeterHain, he of the fuchsia tie, blue suit and orange complexion, was always in shot.

Cameron: 'It's more complex than this'. He spoke of the triple-lock (RPI, CPI and inflation rate) meaning a guaranteed increase of 2.5% and mocked Labour for their 75p increase for pensioners.

The rest of the exchange will be on video so you can see for yourselves how Cameron laid into her (the answer btw is £1bn over the term of the Parliament). We even have a new word courtesy of this govt: '
Greconomics'. Harman's an unredeemed remnant of a dying and archaic political system but, like the Terminator, they keep renewing themselves. It's time they were also melted down for scrap value once and for all and, since every penny counts, sold off to help pay our debts.

There were a few 'good' jokes - red book/unread book - which cheered the backbenches on all sides but not Yvette Cooper who threw metaphorical daggers at Cameron & Osborne and sat po-faced throughout. What a miserable life it must be to be a true believer; always envious, always denying human nature's innate desire to achieve and improve, always deriding those who do well for themselves while doing pretty good, thank you very much, for themselves.

There was a wonderful intervention at one point from the govt backbenches - someone, and no doubt the 'culprit' will be outed soon, shouted:
"Three-Nil" which amused everyone but the Labour MPs.

I think I feel sorry for
Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover). He has retained the reputation of being a firebrand leftie ('the Beast of Bolsover') but no longer deserves it. It's said that Labour are better in Opposition and, if by 'better' one means more bolshie, that could be true. When Labour was in govt Skinner was silent, obedient, supine but now they're in Opposition he's constantly on the edge of his seat, thrust forward, one buttock raised and hands resting on knees. He has the unfortunate appearance of an old man beset by piles.

Q.13 (
"What is the military purpose of routine foot & vehicle patrols in Afghanistan?" Julian Lewis, Con, New Forest East).

Other backbenchers who posed questions:
Topics raised (apart from the usual ones about Labour and the deficit 'legacy) included the EU (2), Sky News, Trident, Sinn Fein, Armed Forces Day, the NHS in Scotland, VAT.

Paul Maynard (Con, Blackpool North & Cleveleys); Karen Buck (Lab, Westminster North); Chris Pincher (Con, Tamworth); Chris Evans (Lab Co-op, Islwyn); John Thurso (LibDCem, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross); Pamela Nash (Lab, Airdrie & Shotts); Graham Evans (Con, Weaver Vale); David Crausby (Lab, Bolton North East); Andrew Selous (Con; South West Bedfordshire); Helen Goodman (Lab, Bishop Auckland); Peter Bone (Con, Wellingborough); David Cairns (Lab, Inverclyde); Matthew Hancock (Con, West Suffolk); Fiona Mactaggart (Lab, Slough); Julian Huppert (LibDem, Cambridge); Rev Wm. McCrea (DUP, South Antrim); Guy Opperman (Con, Hexham); Angus Robertson (SNP Westminster Leader); Jonathan Evans (Con, Cardiff North); Anne McGuire (Lab, Stirling).

I'll leave it at that because there's a football match to watch and a curry to stir.

A cross post from Calling England where you can watch the video.


Anonymous said...

I imagine that Mr Skinner is no longer a firebrand because he is very old and suffering from cancer.

He was a working miner for 20 years so he knows a bit about how ordinary working people live, unlike many of today's crop who've never done anything except be research assistants or PR people. He never misses parliament. It's his job, unlike certain who seem to feel they can swan in and out as they please. As he says, if he missed a shift at the pit he would have been sacked, why would the Commons be any different. He claims low expenses and takes no advantage of the subsidised bars and restaurants in the Commons. And he refuses to wear a suit, wearing instead the clothes of his age group and class.

He's still a fantastic constituency MP, one from whom many of the younger MPs from all parties, could learn a great deal. He's fought all his days for a decent life for working people. He is a hero in my book.

subrosa said...

I'd no idea he was ill Tris. I don't think Goodnight Vienna does either (she wrote this). Will let her know.

Goodnight Vienna said...

Thanks Tris - obviously I didn't know he was ill - I wouldn't have used what must seem like a cheap jibe had I known.

Anonymous said...

GV and SR: I was really surprised that he ran again actually. I was sure he would stand down and we would have lost not only a "character", but a brave and principled man, who worked tirelessly for his constituents, and never stole money from us. Rare!

I think he's fair game for comparison (maybe not criticism) given that he did stand and is working (although I'm sure I read that he doesn't take and has never taken his full salary).

I didn't mention it to chibe, just to add to the sum of knowledge as usual... LOL. It gave me a chance to write about a man I greatly respect regardless of his politics.

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