PMQs 9 June 2010
Cross-posted from Calling England where you can view videos of the event.
Today's PMQs began with a one-minute silence in memory of the victims in Cumbria last week.
Cameron also paid tribute to this week's fallen in Afghanistan: Marine Anthony Hotine, Lance-Corporal Alan Corcoran, Corporal Terry Webster, and an as yet unnamed soldier from 3rd Regt Royal Horse Artillery who was killed this morning. Perhaps every PMQs should in future begin with a one-minute silence; it will give MPs time to reflect on the issues they support with their votes, influenced as they are by partisan politics and a gung-ho attitude towards the lives of others. (See this and this).
PMQs, as always, revealed little apart from the political leanings of the participants. In many respects it isn't a forum for intelligent debate but a chance to be seen and heard, to pose a question which will bring an ambitious MP to the eye of the leadership and mark him/her as one to watch.
Videos will follow so I won't bother writing out verbatim the Q&As but here are a few, very personal, observations:
Devolution and Assembly sharks are circling the coalition and smacking their lips. Albert Owen (Lab, Ynys Mon) asked about Welsh devolution and pressed Cameron to be transparent in his intentions towards greater powers. This really gets my goat because no-one ever mentions England in all of this horse-trading. We've already been traded off to Brussels but people don't realise it yet. The reason England fell first is because, for a long time, the rest of the world referred to us all as 'England' - no wonder the Scots, Welsh and N. Irish got upset. England fell first, through ignorance, so should be the first to fight back. It's time for St George to fight the dragon again.
Cameron did say that "the people of Wales" will have a referendum on the issue (as will the Scots). I think any referendum on such an important issue as the breaking up of the UK should be put to the English as well, but then what do I know? I'm not a politician.
One point was made many times in response to Labour whining: if it was so important to you why didn't you do something about it in the past thirteen years? The Labour Party: so desperate for power, so desperate to cling to power, that they dare not challenge their own leadership. Rank, stinking hypocrites the lot of them.
It fell to Dear Hattie, as Deputy Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (that's a joke - cf Dennis Skinner and pals), to set the pace and tone of the session. At first I thought she'd brought her mother along today but then I did a double-take and realised it was Tessa Jowell sitting beside her. Their copper-tinted haircuts and 'furnishings-by-Sanderson' suits were interchangeable.
Harman's first question concerned the regulation of guns following the shootings in Cumbria. She's still talking about 'learning lessons'. The lesson I took from this is that you can't legislate for nutters and that, contrary to quango opinion, if law-abiding citizens were allowed guns, crime would shoot down (bad pun, sorry).
Cameron said there would be a review (hooray for the change from Labour) and that ACPO (why is this unelected private limited company still in existence?) had also been asked to carry out "a peer review", but not to leap to conclusions. Don't forget about the UN's proposed gunlaw which I posted about ages ago (anyone interested in seeing the video will find it tagged under UN or USA).
Harman's second question was about the Electoral Commission and the number of people who are eligible to vote but not on the electoral register. She asked that changes to electoral boundaries weren't made until all these non-voters were on the register and what is the govt going to do about it? If Labour were still in office I think we'd be seeing compulsory voting legislation on the horizon - in fact it may still come.
Apparently it's half of all "young people", a third of all "black people" and "half of all private sector tenants" that concern Hattie most. So, no presumed vested interest there then.
Kelvin Hopkins (Lab, Luton North) asked about unsustainable fish stocks and whether Cameron would renegotiate the terms of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.
- Cameron has the beginnings of a wide parting.
- Purple ties are out of fashion on all benches and sprawling bellies are out of fashion on the Conservative benches.
- Clegg still looks like little boy lost in a man's world although he did manage to raise a few half-hearted "yeahs" and "hear-hears" to support his Leader.
- I thought Harriet had brought her mother along today then I realised it was Tessa Jowell. Her husband's problems with Silvio Berlusconi and their subsequent 'separation' seem to have taken their toll.
- Planted questions aren't a thing of the past.
Cameron responded that "there is a huge number of guns in society we need to get rid of". I suggest he doesn't follow Labour policy of targeting nutters and the law-abiding and look to our open borders and the criminals instead. I'm really coming round to the idea of law-abiding people in the UK being licensed to own guns.
It was good to see so many new faces: Pauline Latham (Cons, Mid-Derbyshire) and Claire Perry (Con, Devizes) have an honourable mention, as does Nadhim Zahawi (Con, Stratford-On Avon) for eliciting the response from Cameron that the flag of England will fly over Downing St for the duration of the World Cup. It's a small sop to the regions previously known as England but I'll take what I can get.
To be honest, and I mean this most sincerely folks, I'm really not interested in the whining and accusatory questions of the Labour Party; they should sit down, shut up, and f/ck off. I have no interest in what the likes of Caroline Flint, Harman or Straw have to say. They had thirteen years to do what was right and all they did was ruin the country. It annoys me that they're still there in Opposition: something went very wrong with the last election.