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July 07, 2007

This Weekend on Nicholas's Obsession With the PMQs

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

I'm not sure why, but the UK's Prime Minister's Questions hour always cracks me up. Video editing is not my forte, so in the meantime here is the BBC's wrap-up of Gordon Brown's first visit to Parliament.

 

Update: apparently the Beeb, a publicly funded news organization, is not a big fan of allowing maximum redistribution of their content. Watch it here.

Catch the full video at Number-10.gov.uk (WMV, Real) or read the transcript. My main observations are (1) that David Cameron is so young-looking that any gain he brings among younger voters will be offset by older voters who are skeptical about his inexperience, and (2) for all the talk of the "New Conservative" party shifting to the left on policy matters, on rhetoric Cameron spent all his time haranguing Brown for not trumping up charges to shut down some Islamic extremists.

July 7, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

Oh, those vituperative bloggers British! How can they ever get anything done over there if they spend all their time disagreeing with one another?

It's a wonder that the English don't just collapse under the colossal weight of the despair generated when politicians speak different points of view out loud - and in front of one another!

And did you catch the way that horrible little Cameron boy treated the Prime Minister? I'm so glad we live in a nation of civility, and that our highest elected official is never contradicted in public like that!

Posted by: Stephen | Jul 7, 2007 6:37:46 PM

I hadn't really thought of it that way, but it's a rather excellent point.

As an outsider, though, it certainly seems that political discourse in the UK is less unseemly. Yes, there is disagreement, but there's no "white hands" ad, no Swift Boat Veterans, no "vote for the Tories or the terrorists win", no "the Tories want to starve poor children". Now, maybe that's just because Labour is in power, but I can't really imagine Thatcher stooping to that level.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Jul 7, 2007 7:40:48 PM

I guess I don't see the big difference in the clips and a Senate debate, except for the lack of "will the gentleman yield for a question" stuff. Seemed fine to me. Beats Dick Cheney's Senate floor antics.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 7, 2007 7:46:52 PM

no "vote for the Tories or the terrorists win"

Ah, there was this in 1997, but that wasn't tied to terrorism, and smacked desperation from a party on the skids.

British politicians are generally less eager to wrap themselves in the flag or the military, because few MPs have military experience, and because the commander-in-chief of the armed forces is actually a small old lady in a hat.

I guess I don't see the big difference in the clips and a Senate debate

Which Senators hold executive governmental functions? Or, to put it another way, when has Bush or Rice or whoever had to treat the legislative branch as anything like respect?

That said, the American response to PMQs always amuses me, because it's probably the most scripted bit of parliamentary debate: the more sycophantic upwardly-mobile loyal MPs on the government side will toss softballs and pre-clear questions in exchange for the chance to be seen doing something.

Now, one of Brown's early proposals is to beef up parliamentary committee powers, which is certainly inspired by Congressional practice. It's in hearings, I think, where Congress really stands out.

(P.S. The BBC's no-embed thing with YouTube is a product of weird internal politics.)

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 7, 2007 8:24:48 PM

"apparently the Beeb, a publicly funded news organization, is not a big fan of allowing maximum redistribution of their content."

True, but a bit harsh. Much of the BBC's content is produced by independent companies, or in cooperation with other companies, and they haven't had the legal right to "allow maximum distribution". That said, in less than a month, the BBC will be starting a service to allow PC users to temporarily download all its content for up to a week after it's aired. That's more than almost any other broadcaster I can think of is doing.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Jul 7, 2007 8:27:53 PM

Which Senators hold executive governmental functions?

The comment was about the style of debate, not the structure of the government.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 7, 2007 9:28:28 PM

The comment was about the style of debate, not the structure of the government.

Now you tell us. But I certainly notice a difference in 'grammar', not just stylistics, not least because it's an adversarial system in which ministers are subject to parliamentary questioning. Perhaps you're just unfamiliar with it.

Posted by: pseudonymous in nc | Jul 8, 2007 12:55:13 PM

Pseudo, you're still missing the point. My comment was in regard to the ones before it, about the supposed lack of civility. Thus the reference to Cheney. The "grammar," whatever that might be, is another matter.

Posted by: Sanpete | Jul 8, 2007 3:04:32 PM

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