hutch0 (hutch0) wrote,
hutch0
hutch0

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he is not tony

I've been battling a thumping cold for the past few days, and yesterday the cold won and I spent the day in bed, alternately dozing and staring in wide-eyed horror at the nightmare that is daytime television, but I did get to watch Gordon Brown's first Prime Ministers' Questions live from the Commons.
It wasn't quite what I - or, I suspect, anyone else - expected. If Gordon thought he was going to get an easy ride he was mistaken. David Cameron came out swinging, and so did Menzies Campbell, and somewhat to my surprise Gordon faltered. If anyone's interested, there's more
He doesn't seem to be a sociable man and I always think he's awkward speaking in public, but he's spent the past ten years as Chancellor and his Budget statements are always well-handled, but yesterday he seemed hesitant and ill-prepared, and at one point John Reid - not his best friend in the world - had to stand up and come to his aid. In response to a question from Cameron, he also said something along the lines of, "I've only been Prime Minister for five days."
It's fairly obvious that he meant, "Hang on, chum, I've only been in the job a couple of minutes and I've been busy, give me a break," but it sounded like, "Oh my god, I've not been doing the job very long and I'm sorry but I haven't done my homework, sir." The House fell about. If Blair had made a slip like that he'd have come back with a gag, but Brown Does Not Do Funny.
Now, I'm not sure whether this is simply a presentational thing. Blair was always massively prepped and scripted and, whatever else you say about him, he always had great delivery and a way with an ad lib, whereas Brown does not.
You saw it at the weekend, when he came out of the Cabinet Office briefing following the attack on Glasgow Airport and made a statement directly to camera. It was brief to the point of being curt, no questions were allowed, and then he turned and walked away. In the same situation, I suspect, Blair would have held a full press briefing. And I thought then that we might have caught a glimpse of what Brown's government will be like - efficient, matter-of-fact, with a minimum of Blair's showbiz glitz and not a lot of humour.
Of course, the enormity of the occasion yesterday might have got the better of him. Here he is, after ten years of hurt, finally standing up for his first PMQs. Maybe he just got tongue-tied, although he's been in the Commons long enough not to. Or maybe he had other stuff on his mind - he'd actually been in the job seven days, not five, which is not a detail he'd usually get wrong, although he had  had a busy first weekend as Prime Minister.

Brown faces an awkward time. At the moment, he has no mandate as leader. As I said before, I suspect he'll call an election early next year, and as I thought he's starting to do all kinds of stuff which is designed to make us feel better about the government and ourselves to pave the way - the thing about flying the Union Flag in particular. He's also managed to get in a couple of crafty jabs at his predecessor - giving to Parliament the power to take the country to war and at least nodding towards the possibility of a Bill of Rights.
Still and all, he has only been in the job a little over a week. It's still early days. When someone on the news refers to `the Prime Minister,' I still find myself thinking of Blair. 
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