Wednesday, March 04, 2015

#pmqsketch Blowing in the wind...

Now and again it has to be spelled out to MPs that the parliamentary session they are attending is called Prime Ministers Questions. If they think it’s called Prime Ministers Answers, they’re not only in the wrong place, they’re in the wrong country.

Every Wednesday, this lesson seems lost on MPs, as they stop off, on their way to lunch, to find out what the nation is up to.

The Prime Minister is, of course, present but only in body after spending the morning with his advisors working out his non-answers to all questions. His mind therefore can be left in the office getting on with the day job as the advance work negates the need for the thinking part to turn up.

Today’s major non-answer covered Tory Party policy on immigration and was a rightful recipient of the Order of Obfuscation.

It fell to Ed Miliband, five years of being non-answered by David Cameron, to kick off the charade. Had Dave not pledged his party would quit if it did not deliver on immigration, said Ed.

Putting immigration and quitting in the same sentence was immediately enough to add frenzy to the volume of noise that always accompanies the Labour leader from the Tory back-benches.

How their leader cope with this undoubtedly true charge which was clearly in the minds of all. Breath was bated, fingers crossed and interesting knot holes found in the floor to stare at.

We have delivered on apprenticeships, was the Prime Minister’s stunning answer - and his party visibly relaxed. We have delivered on loads of other things as well, he said, reading from a long list and his backbenchers went wild. The list appeared to have immigration missing and the Tories, at least, were happy PMQuers.

What about your promise on immigration, asked a surprisingly exasperated Ed, who seemed to have forgotten where he was. Dave would have put on a look of contempt if he had brought one with him but settled instead for another totally irrelevant answer. This PM was so dodgy on his promises, said Ed, that he made his deputy, Lib Dem leader Nick - no to tuition fees - Clegg look good.

Surprisingly present for the insult, Mr Clegg stared about him in some alarm until he realised he was only an aside at the main event.

As he returned to indifference, Speaker Bercow intervened to ask MPs to remember how they must look to the public watching proceedings. Having considered his request for a mili-second or two, the usual suspects got a second wind and turned up the volume.

Ed tried to change tack with a demand that Dave meet him on live TV since face to face in the House of Commons seemed to be a waste of time. But Dave, who didn’t get where he is today by answering questions, made it a clearly unclear clear that hell with have to freeze over first. 

As the PM’s bluster machine carved its way through the Commons Labour MP Paul Flynn
appeared to have forgotten he had been a member since 1987.

Mr Flynn suggested the Prime Minister should be sent on a course to learn the meaning of the words question and answer and the link between the two. MPs scurrying off for lunch paused to consider this stage request.

Today, said Mr Flynn the PM had been worse than ever at not answering. “His comments were completely irrelevant”, said the MP.

The Prime Minister beamed and left for lunch.