PMQs verdict: You don’t need debating crutches Ed, so stop using them…

28th November, 2012 1:30 pm

This week’s PMQs felt in many ways like a repeat of last week’s. Cameron outperformed Miliband, but more on bluster and chutzpah than any substantial. Miliband again fell into the trap of believing that the right substance will somehow see him to victory in the weekly wednesday cock fight. He’s still wrong, unfortunately. Cameron puffing out his chest and beating it like Tarzan still beats Ed Miliband’s sixth form lecturer routine, chiding the Tory benches for their failure to properly comprehend the probity of his argument.

On the whole the performance was an improvement on the poor showing last week, but more worryingly some of Ed’s worst habits are starting to creep back in. Over the past 8 months he had grown into a confident and comfortable PMQs performer, taking issues in his stride, ploughing onwards against the tide of noise spewing from the opposite benches and sometimes even cracking the odd decent joke.

Most importantly though, Miliband had dropped some of the rhetorical and repetitive debating devices / soundbites that he’d refer to time and again to steady himself (like a crutch) when he was floundering, uncomfortable or playing for time. The problem is, it’s obvious to everyone in the chamber and many people watching at home what he’s doing. It makes his performances feel disjointed and repetitive. And as catchphrases go, they aren’t great. In fact, they just reinforce the idea that Cameron is winning the exchange.

Miliband needs to get back to the way he was performing just a few week ago. In a more loose and natural way. Without rhetorical devices or debating crutches, with confidence in his mastery of the subject, and certainty that he can beat Cameron in a blood and thunder tussle.

Because at the moment, Miliband isn’t backing himself in these exchanges, and as a result it looks like he’s doing PMQs by numbers. And that’s only sustainable for so long…

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  • AlanGiles

    The problem is, the public know that there isn’t that much difference between the “solutions” of Labour to the Coalition to our current state, “too far, too fast” means little to the employees in the 147 new Comet stores announced for closure today. When they are unemployed, is Miliband seriously suggesting that if the whip was cracked by Byrne it would be any less painful or humiliating then when it is done by the equally hideous Duncan-Smith?.

    Labour are so terrified of upsetting the tabloids and middle England they can’t say anything to inspire confidence that new and different solutions are needed to our problems.

  • AlanGiles

    The problem is, the public know that there isn’t that much difference between the “solutions” of Labour to the Coalition to our current state, “too far, too fast” means little to the employees in the 147 new Comet stores announced for closure today. When they are unemployed, is Miliband seriously suggesting that if the whip was cracked by Byrne it would be any less painful or humiliating then when it is done by the equally hideous Duncan-Smith?.

    Labour are so terrified of upsetting the tabloids and middle England they can’t say anything to inspire confidence that new and different solutions are needed to our problems.

  • AlanGiles

    The problem is, the public know that there isn’t that much difference between the “solutions” of Labour to the Coalition to our current state, “too far, too fast” means little to the employees in the 147 new Comet stores announced for closure today. When they are unemployed, is Miliband seriously suggesting that if the whip was cracked by Byrne it would be any less painful or humiliating then when it is done by the equally hideous Duncan-Smith?.

    Labour are so terrified of upsetting the tabloids and middle England they can’t say anything to inspire confidence that new and different solutions are needed to our problems.

    • Andrew Ben McKay

      Spot on. As much as I think we have a good leader in Miliband – I thought he would buck the trend of Labour leaders betraying socialist values in order to win Daily Mail votes.

    • aracataca

      ‘….the public know that there isn’t that much difference between the “solutions” of Labour to the Coalition …’

      It’s always a wonder to me that you have such stunning insights into the hive mind of the general public. Have you been doing extensive surveys into public opinion, or are you just projecting your own anti-Labour prejudices and assuming everyone else apart from me thinks like you do?

      No matter how often you repeat your shtick about Labour being as bad as the Tories, most sensible people realise that a Labour government, however imperfect, is still preferable to the miseries, the gratuitious spite, and indeed almost clownish incompetence of a Tory government.

      • AlanGiles

        We face problems in this country worse than any we have encountered since World War 2. All Labour is doing is tweaking the neo-Liberal policies introduced in the early 80s. Which is what the coalition are doing. I am sure many of the public see that the constant parrotting of phrases like “too far too fast” or “one nation” (filched from Disraeli), for the vacuous meaningless drivel that it is.

        It needs courage and imagination and new ideas to try to get the country back to some sort of stability. Old ideas warmed up, and “presentation” of the corporate identity (read Tom Harris’s asinine piece on a new logo for Scottish Labour on LL at the weekend), shows the paucity of the qualities needed in the current Labour, Conservative and LibDem parties. Harris seems to think political parties are supermarkets, and a pretty logo and a few more BOGOFs will bring people into the store.

        Nice enough man that he is, I honestly don’t believe Ed Miliband is ever going to become anothger Atlee or Wilson.

        On the whole people don’t trust politicians: they see them as careerists who will say and do anything to try to con the public into letting them keep their safe jobs for life – they also see the dishonesty and hypocrisy of so many politicians. The expenses scandal, the stitched up “short lists” of favoured candidates”, the general grubby behaviour. In the course of the week I talk to many people who have been affected adversly by government policy over the past couple of years – I have yet to hear one of them say that Ed Miliband and Labour 2012 will be the answer to their problems. They know things will remain the same for them whichever party is in power.

        We are in a terrible situation in this country, but the truth is all three main parties have proved they have no real and clear idea how to improve things – they think a tweak here, a fudge there, will make everything alright. It won’t and increasingly the public see politicians as part of the problem not the solution.

  • Gabrielle

    Labour under Blair and Brown were certainly very cautious about not upsetting the tabloids and Middle England, but Miliband has made a lot of progress in breaking away from that. News International were making very threatening noises to Miliband when he, Tom Watson and Chris Bryant (among others) were first doggedly pursuing the issue of abuses of press freedom. The right were unanimous in trying to downplay it all and hoping the issue would go away. It didn’t. But Labour had to fight every step of the way.

    It resulted in Cameron – as he privately admitted to Rebekah Brooks – having to set up the Leveson enquiry because ‘Miliband has me on the run’.

  • Gabrielle

    I don’t think this analysis (by Mark) is particularly fair on Miliband. Miliband’s approach is measured and he has a good grasp of the facts. Cameron responds by quoting false statistics and throwing insults around. Is that what’s meant by Cameron ‘outperforming’ Miliband? I know which approach I prefer.

    Miliband behaves with integrity, whereas Cameron is simply a disgrace. I concede that perhaps Miliband should go for the jugular a bit more, and be more fluent, but remember he’s trying to make himself heard and marshal his thoughts against the noise of braying idiots on the government side of the House.

  • Ed walked it this week. He was calm and reasoned, and Cameron lost it. And that’s the way Ed should play it. he isn’t a PR/Alpha male type, there won;t be the flourishes of rhetoric, but his calmness riles Cameron and he blows. and that’s what happened today

  • bk

    Disarm Cameron (and Tories).

    If Cameron were a CEO of a big company, which is analogy that should appeal to him (with the voters being the shareholders), for how long would be able to say I cant do a good job because of the the previous guy? Answer – not long. No one lasts 2 years.

    Yet Milliband and Labour seem to be quite happy to take a beating with that stick from the Tories every time. The next time Cameron says ‘its not working because of what Labour left behind ..’ the response should be ‘OK, at what point PM do you think you will be ready to take responsibility for your own performance and will stop needing to blame your lack of performance on others…

  • jack johnson

    Camercon is a car salesman, a class driven Tory and a tool of the bankers, so why shouldn’t he be a professional prick at PMQs? Honesty and integrity is expected to lose
    in such stupid games.

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