Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cammo : Fanboy meets frit-boy

There seems to be something about responding to Angus Robertson in the Commons that leads to David Cameron leaving his self-awareness at home.  I thought nothing could top his sneering reply a few weeks ago on the closure of the RAF bases - "you won't be flying planes, you'll be flying...(snigger) the seat of your pants!!!" - but he somehow managed it at PMQs yesterday.  Not content with doing what the public loathe most and simply ignoring the actual content of Robertson's question, he launched into this spectacularly ill-conceived attempt at 'humour' -

"I think you can topple those with an SNP that said they were going to have a referendum on independence but never did.  As a predecessor of mine once said - frit."

Yep, there's nothing like a fanboy Thatcher Tribute Gag to have the people of Scotland laughing in the aisles.  But let me just see if I'm missing something here.  Of the five parties and one independent represented in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP, Greens and Margo MacDonald all favour a referendum.  By way of contrast, and in spite of their claimed certainty that independence would be soundly defeated, the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour are all implacably opposed to a democratic vote on the matter, and used their combined parliamentary majority to block one from taking place last year.  Moreover, the last time I checked, David Cameron was the leader of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, and was not, in fact, the leader of either of the pro-referendum parties.

That being the case, was it really the wisest idea to invite the electorate to ponder the rather telling question of "fritness"?


  1. Personally I thought Angus Robertson walked right into that one due to his unnecessarily convoluted question - was he trying to look clever?

    If you're going to pull up a government on it's 'broken promises' you'd better be sure that you've fulfilled all of your own or you'll end up with egg (fritters) on your chin.

  2. At the risk of stating the obvious Jim, the SNP are a minority administration and have been at the mercy of the cynical oppositionism of the 3 unionist parties.
    For the benefit of the hard of thinking, the unwritten codicil to any parties' manifesto is "if we are in a position to do so."
    One can then judge the merit of their reasons for NOT doing so.

  3. Absolutely - if Cameron wanted to pull the SNP up on their own 'broken promises' there were arguable examples he could have used, but this categorically isn't one of them. They've stuck to the policy in their manifesto and were simply blocked by three of the four opposition parties, who between them hold a comfortable parliamentary majority.

  4. Yep. If Cameron wants us not to be "frit" then all he needs to do is make a call to Annabel and tell her to support the call for a referendum, and instruct his brain, who leads the Liberal party, to call Tavish and similarly order him, and just like magic, frit has turned to bold and brave... and Alex Salmond won't have had to do a thing.

    I never thought I could dislike anyone more than Mr Brown, but that was before I had the deep displeasure of watching Cameron operate. I really can feel a gagging sensation in the back of my throat when I hear his voice these days.

    He really does think he's amusing, but then I guess if you developed your adult sense of humour whilst being a member of the Bullingdon, and being semi permanently so drunk you weren't aware of which restaurant you were trashing, I suppose it is excusable if you're a tad feeble.

  5. I agree with both sides.

    Angus Robertson walked straight into it with a rather strange either/or question.

    And the PM doesn't even bother answering the question properly.

    Robertson should've simply asked about the fuel stabiliser policy without wrapping it around the Lib Dem student fees pledge.

  6. @ VoiceofOurOwn
    I assume that unwritten codicil applies to all parties - in which case there's no point ever asking the question is there?

    I'm extremely sympathetic to the SNP and have nothing but admiration for their efforts in running this minority administration - but Robertson fully deserved the withering dismissal he received from Cameron in this instance.

    @ James
    Cameron wasn't the one who instigated the 'broken promises' theme - it was Roberston, who did so ill-advisedly in an already hostile atmosphere. He set himself up for the cheap shot, got what he deserved. Worringly for us all he should have known better.

    FMQ's seems to me to be nothing better than a Student union rabble, but if you want to score points you're going to have to play the game better than Robertson did.

  7. But my point is that Robertson could only have "got what he deserved" if Cameron had actually cited an SNP broken promise. He could have done, but he quite simply didn't. He instead cited a promise the SNP did everything in their power to keep, but were unable to because the Conservatives (among others) blocked it. And why did they block it? Because, presumably, they were "frit" of what the outcome of a referendum might be. I'm afraid that is indeed a rather huge and obvious irony to what Cameron said, and one that he seems blissfully ignorant of.

  8. There you go again James. You seem to think that the substance of what is said in PMQs is important. Cameron's selling his version of events and Angus Roberston opened himself up to a cheap jibe which ultimately damages the SNP, as it allows the myth of that 'broken promise' to be further propogated unchallenged.

    You maybe expect integrity from our politicians but Angus Robertson should at least know better than that.

    Instead of talking about the inequity of fuel prices Unionist commentators were laughing at the SNP - well played Cameron, poorly played Robertson.

  9. Oh well, if we're going to worry about "unionist commentators" laughing at the SNP we'd never think about anything else - they need to keep laughing to drown out the absurdity of their own position!

  10. Unfortunately, the Unionist commentators I'm referring to were those members of the media charged with reviewing Parliamentary goings on for our benefit.

    If you were a not particularly politically motivated listener to any of the radio news programs I tuned into, all you would have heard was a pompous Angus Robertson question getting short thrift from David Cameron.

    Given that political party support in Scotland (West coast at least) is so stubbornly partisan, the main hopes for SNP victories lie in either the Labour support becoming so disillusioned they don't bother to vote or that the SNP manage to convince a large enough section of the floating vote they are the way forward. I felt that being so easily mocked in such a high profile situation reflected very poorly on Angus Robertson and the SNP in Westminister, whatever the truth of the matter.

    I didn't like the reply any more than you did, but the question, or rather the manner in which it was posed, deserved exactly what it got.

  11. Jim, whilst I can see what you are saying, and I'm not fond of Robertson or his style (he’s a boring windbag far too fond of the sound of his own voice), I'd beg to differ on Cameron's response.

    Regardless of the way that questions are asked, Cameron isn't paid to be some sort of second rate comedian, playing to the gallery for laughs on his own side. He is paid to give as sensible an answer as he can to questions posed. When questions were asked about RAF bases, to answer with a flippant comment about ‘flying by the seat of your pants’ (doubtless some old Etonian expression) was crass in the extreme. Clearly losing a job is nothing to the Camerons of this world. They simply call up the prime minister of Thailand with whom they were at school, or the mayor of London with whom they were at school, or the head of a merchant bank, with whom they were at school, and wait for something to come along, whilst living off the 40 million or so that is mouldering in the British Virgin Island earning loadsamoney.

    On the other hand to a guy who can't afford to move from a devastated town, and who only went to school with other guys who work at Tesco on the shelves, or as postman, the options are a bit fewer.

    It’s a pity Cameron can't remember that not all of the people of this country went to Eton, and whilst we didn’t vote for him, we still pay his wage.

  12. Tris, David Cameron didn't invent Westminister style politics, nor did he subvert the traditions of PMQ in any way by that smart arse answer.

    Angus Robertson earns his crust down there and if he continues to invite such derision upon himself and the SNP, then I shall be sorely disappointed.

  13. Jim, Robertson could have asked the best question in the world, and he would still have got a smart-arse answer followed by a sea of boorish laughter, with no possibility of a comeback. Those are also "traditions of PMQs" which no amount of skill can do anything about.

  14. Much as I disapprove of the beer garden come bear pit arena that is Westminster politics and PMQ, you have to take part in the system as it is. So I don’t understand why Angus could not have just asked a question about the fuel duty regulator and not tacked it onto a cheap political jibe at Nick Clegg. Something along the lines of “Can the PM explain why he is not going forward with the fuel duty regulator that he was so keen on in opposition?” and left it at that. At FMQ if Alex is asked a sensible question he gives a sensible answer but if he is asked a cheap jibe he gives as good as he gets, so I don’t see any reason why that should not be the same at PMQ. It is just a huge pity that Angus allowed the opportunity to obtain an answer slip by in this way.

  15. I agree that Robertson’s question should have been along the lines of "Why did the prime minister think that a fuel duty regulator was a good idea before the election and a bad one after?"

    But the point is that we would actually like to know, particularly in Scotland, why Cameron is burling like a peerie on this subject. First he wants one, then he doesn’t, does, doesn't and at the moment (well up to yesterday) he did... Perhaps because the subject seemed to have cross party support in Holyrood on Thursday.

    Of course it would be interesting to know why the deputy prime minister signed a pledge not to double English student fees because it would be a disaster and then voted to triple them, but that might best be asked of the Deputy Prime Minister at his question time.

    The reason that the SNP hasn’t had a referendum is that parliament made it quite clear that they would vote against it. Minority government is what Cameron may have to face very soon, and he could learn a lot about it from Alex Salmond. In the mean time he seems prepared to do more or less anything to avoid the situation, his political skills and intellect being a fraction of Alex’s, I suggest that he is wise, for his own career to do this.

    In the meantime, to paraphrase his great hero, Etonboy IS for turning and turning and turning....