idiothole: (chillin')
idiothole ([personal profile] idiothole) wrote2011-02-09 07:22 pm
Entry tags:

iceman vs. bully boy and other parliamentary adventures.

I am so glad I watched PMQs this week because it was a riotous occasion and much fun was had by all except Cameron, at the expense of Cameron. PiƱata party! If you're a Tory backbencher or a Labour MP, ready that baseball bat and come have a whack.

I almost felt bad for him but then, I kind of totally did not and just rolled in glee when Ed Miliband, in his zen mode asked Cameron about Big Society. While the Tories have been busying themselves with digging themselves waist-deep in Ed Balls' past (because they of course don't actually care about Balls and he is not at all a threat to them, which is why they more or less read out his CV and cited it as failure of everything ever happened at Treasury Q's and Project Merlin statement today), Miliband's kind of figured out some of Cameron's flaws.

Cameron is stubborn and just like he wouldn't let go of Coulson, he isn't going to let go of Big Society because it's his Big Idea and he's so proud of it and he's so certain it'll work. But when people - just about everybody apart from a couple Tory backbenchers eager to please - tell him it doesn't work because that's not how things work, you can't cut back on the voluntary sector and charities and expect them to increase, he's still adamant. Then he gets angry. And then he gets angrier, and Ed gets to make this joke: "He should not get so angry, it will cloud his judgment. He's not the first prime minister I've said that to."

I love Brown like Tories love the City but this joke was just perfection in itself and I wish to frame it. Ed was so good today and Cameron kind of lost the plot, implying libraries would thrive if they moved on with modern technology, because that of course costs nothing at all, and then having to resort to "13 years / deficit / Labour did this" when the level of fail rose too high. Oh well.

Another great joke this week was Osborne trying the label "deficit denier" on Ed Balls once again. Sadly Osborne couldn't resist going after the fact Balls prepares his speeches due to a speech impediment by remarking, "The right hon. Gentleman clearly had a lot of time to prepare that, but I am not sure it all came out as he expected." - classy! (To be fair to him, when I first heard this line I didn't consider it a joke about Balls' speech impediment, just as a general "well that was weaksauce" putdown, but re-reading it, I think it does contain that element.) Then Treasury Q's continued with planted questions from the Tory benches and attacks from the Labour benches, which Osborne put down with typical over-bearing smugness. The whole affair was rather frustrating.

Because of that I didn't even watch most of the statement today, which became Bash Ed Balls Day and they even attacked Ed Miliband's 1.6 million pound home (which IIRC is actually his partner's, hence the Daily Fail pearl-clutching that if they split, she can kick him out!), which is a bit rich (pun intended) coming from people sitting on what Dennis Skinner called "millionaire row", ie. government frontbench. (Oh Dennis, take my heart and keep it, too.)

Education Bill debate was a weird battle of two narratives, both convinced in their inherent correctness, when Michael Gove took the cause of bettering life chances of underprivileged children as the mainline of his speech and tried convincing everybody that if Labour voted against the bill, they would suck and forever be in opposition. He also endorsed prostitution ("before sex one should always discuss money", har har har) and had on the night before had to apologise his unparliamentary language when he FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT at Andy Burnham and accused him of rank hypocrisy.

Let's break this shit down. Gove argues that because Burnham is for vocational courses and tries to speak out for those kids whose education is seen as secondary to academic studies as they are in the vocational field, he is essentially saying the poor children, because they are poor, should be plumbers and not mathematicians or historians. This is why the English baccalaureate includes stuff like Geography, Languages, History and Sciences, which the top universes ask for. But of course, Gove is willfully misinterpreting Burnham's point that not everybody wants to go to university and getting into Oxbridge is not the goal of every child, and Gove's selection of subjects for his Baccalaureate is re-inforcing the idea that this should be every child's goal, and that vocational pursuits are not worthy.

Of course, you could also argue that Burnham is willfully misunderstanding Gove's love for academic subjects as wanting to back to 1950's education system where people learned Latin a lot and suchlike, and I'd probably admit to that myself - he is exaggerating for dramatic effect, essentially, BUT at the heart his point remains an excellent one. Vocational studies are seen as lesser and in some ways the jobs that result as secondary to that of a lawyer or whatever other academic professions have you.

Now, you know, I'm studying the fluffiest of humanities subject along with some politics and sociological stuff (like gender studies) so believe you me when I say, I appreciate academics, and think that certainly more should be done to make sure that kids from poorer backgrounds get interested in academical learning and then go onto the best universities to study the subjects that interest them the most. But I also think Burnham's point is an excellent one, especially in the British context where Tory peers harp on bus drivers and The Independent continues to call Alan Johnson "former postman", but it is not continuously highlighted that Gove or Balls are former journalists or that Blair, Sadiq Khan and Harriet Harman to name a few are former attorneys.

But I've run out of steam and have watched way, way, way too much parliament today so I'll just conclude with this:

WINNER: Ed Miliband - aw bb, we won't put you in a box like that Brooker man suggested. I promise.

LOSER: Justine Greening (Con), Treasury Minister - can't tell the bloody weather without mention that it was Labour who caused the deficit.

FAVOURITE: Angus MacNeil, SNP - Almost always righteously indignant and patronising when he opens his mouth, but ohgod that accent. I so would.


And here ends my sketch. :DDD

PS. Andrew Sparrow of liveblog fame continues to be a riot. His commentors so often accuse him of being biased towards Cameron - even when Miliband decimates him, Sparrow writes that Cameron wins on "substance". So what did he write today? That Cameron attacked Balls a lot, and that Miliband focused on Big Society. Not a word about winners or losers. Oh Andrew - Cameron doesn't love you like you love him...

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