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Impressive! I too thought he only asked 5 questions... but the BBC website wasn't at its best.

I believe he wanted to avoid the sweeping pre written dismissal that Blair lines up after answer 6. Howard used the same tactic when he first started. Maybe at Camerons suggestion.

I was left with the distinct impression that Labour (Blair) really didn't know what to make of DC. And that is a good thing - as they aren't quite sure how to attack.

John Pienaar on Five Live was equally praiseworthy.

The tide has shifted, my friends.

This was the most brilliant PMQs of a Conservative leader since.....a very, very long time.

It most reminded me of Tony Blair memorably shouting at John Major 'weak, weak, weak'.

Labour absolutely had no idea how to handle him.

Unbelievably good.

The next step is to get those key positions filled and keep the momentum going. Labour may well start looking old and jaded. Could it be we start to look like a Government in waiting......

Very good showing, not just from Cameron, but from the whole party. All the Tory questions were excellent and hit the main issues. I don't know how organised the whole party was, but it certainly felt like key Davis and Cameron supporters were lining up to speak on each others' chief issues. I liked seeing Davis and Mitchell sitting by Cameron as a show of unity. Cameron was calm, collected and hit the issues he wanted. Got a few shots in too. Blair couldn't quite bring out his fangs -- he replied robustly, but now he's playing the game by Cameron's rules. So far, so good for Cameron -- and for the Conservatives.

Whenever Blair rattles off: "In 1997...." or "Under the previous government....", DC can hit him with "That was then and now is now. The Conservative Party has changed, but Labour apparently is still stuck in the past. Yesterday's men..."


He managed to avoid being destroyed, which was very important, a competent first PMQs, Cameron now has time to improve and get better each week. Cautious optimism perhaps.

I don't believe this, I can understand Nick Robinson praising DC, but I expected people on this blog to be a bit more realistic. Instead of highlighting Blair's acceptance of a Tory approach to education policies he made it look that we're now accepting Labour policies. DC's questions were weak. You can't attack 'Punch and Judy' politics and then accuse the Government Chief Whip of being childish. Instead it made DC look like a child.

As someone who backed DD I am really pleased with this first performance. Now performance at PMQs doesnt win elections - ask William Hague - but we have started on the right foot.

I am a touch surprised at the praise given here. Cameron appeared nervous, and not in complete control of his facts. I already miss Michael Howard. Blair looked uncomfortable because Cameron was so poor. I hope that Hague doesn't completely outclass him in the Commons.

I couldn't agree more Clare

Very confident and assured - I particularly liked his jibes at Hilary Armstrong and Blair ("You were the future...once").

Blair was beginning to fence back by the end. DC will need an answer to this question: if you are going to support our reforms, I presume you will also support our proposals to fund them. If not, how are you going to fund them? Another variant on an age-old theme, but DC will still need to answer it.

He will also need to be careful about where to draw the line on consensus-building - what are the "good bits" of the Education reforms, and what are the bad bits.

But all in all, an interesting and positive start.


If you ask me it was dull. The soundbite was quite petulant and I think it showed a lack of flair for thinking on his feet.
He isn't a Parliamentarian but he has other attributes.

Clare and Welsh Tory:

We must have seen a different PMQs.

This was, I believe, Cameron's sixth time at the Despatch Box, whereas Blair has been doing PMQs for 11 years. I thought DC looked pretty relaxed given the circumstances, and certain very much in command of his troops.

It's very important that Cameron is so much TALLER than any Conservative leader in living memory, and taller than Blair. It gives him a physical advantage in the pit that is the House of Commons during PMQs.

But this was very-well thought out.

1. Most if not all conservative questions were planted by the Cameron leadership: Stephen O'Brien, first question: "Does the outgoing prme minister agree...."; Phillip Hammond re-inforcing the collapse in productivity, to which Blair had no real answer; a question on the rebate; a question on the family; Theresa Villiers on crime and a lack of police officers; question on Darfur.

2. The public doesn't watch PMQs, so the point is for the press to write up the first one well, so that DC's positive moment continues. First impressions count. Despite your dissent, most commentators seem universally positive about DC. Just look at the grudging BBC write-up. Blair could, perhaps should have been able to, have slaughtered Cameron. He did not. Cameron instead bullied the Chief Whip, called Blair a thing of the past --without a response from Blair and with Labour backbenchers sniggering-- and taunted Blair for not being bold enough. All of this while keeping his promise for an a different style in PMQs. Very ennerving for Labour.

In three days, we had 34-year old Osborne performing quite well against a haggard looking Gordon Brown, who had one of the worst days of his Chancellorship, and now an energetic, clever performance by Cameron's Conservatives at PMQs, with very clear signals that the Davis camp is fully signed up.

This is the best day to be a Tory since 1990.

Clare - did you see William Hague's very first Question Time with Blair?

How do you think it compared?


It's very rare that any successful sound-bite, in PMQs or anywhere else, is spontaneous. DC had his "You were the future...once" ready if Blair gave him an opening - which he did. It wasn't petulant - it was rather pointedly saying that Blair is now looking older, tired, and by his own admission, is the outgoing Prime Minister.

Cameron is a man who has very little Parliamentary experience, and whose Despatch Box appearances can apparently be counted in single figures. If you take that into account as well, it was an excellent first performance. He will grow from here - and this is a very good starting point.

Having spent a large part of his short political career preparing two Conservative leaders for PMQs I expected better from DC. Blair may not have landed any serious punches, but neither did DC, and if he doesn't raise his game next week then PMQs will be more akin to IDS's performances.

Are Welshtory and Clare Lewis Labour staffers or something?

"Are Welshtory and Clare Lewis Labour staffers or something?"

Well you do wonder, don't you?!?

What are you talking about, Welsh Tory?
If he doesn't raise his game "next week" then it's all over is it?
What rubbish.
In any event, our views on this blog don't matter much.
Sun's deputy editor was on Sky raving about DC's performance.

No I am certainly not a Labour staffer. However, all I am saying is that the Commons will never be natural Cameron territory. It is a place where barristers and former Oxbridge Union Presidents thrive. I am simply saying what I see. Cameron is a natural on TV and radio, which is probably better than the Commons. I think we should be realistic. Howard was masmeric at PMQ's, Cameron is mesmeric elsewhere.

No Goldie, but I just don't accept the that this was the "best day to be Tory since 1990". I'm not saying DC can't improve, it's just he disappointed in a lacklustre performance. Set-piece Conference speeches are only good once a year, you have to be good at PMQs every week.

Well, whatever you thought about PMQ, it peobably is the "best day to be a Tory since 1990".
According to the bookies it is, anyway!

Well I’m not quite so impressed. Blair and Brown do not deviate one inch from their position, “we throw money at everything, the Tories will throw less”.

They, and every Labour backbencher have rubbed our noses in this since the year dot. It is not the way to tackle Labour. Their solution is to always throw money at it, and more than this, they boast about taxpayers money as if Ordinary Joe and Mary’s hard earned pounds were confetti. We need to challenge not how much they are spending, but what it’s being spent on. Then we need to lay out the alternative, better services, a better economy and a better Britain under the Conservatives.

An example of the question I would have asked today is this…

“An paper published last month in the British Medical Journal concluded with the remark :

‘The paper further says that despite huge funding increases to the NHS over the examined period, there were only small rises in the number of clinical staff employed.’

Furthermore, this week the Kings fund published research into the finances of the NHS and concludes with the comment regarding soaring NHS Trust deficits with:

‘Of the extra cash going into the NHS this year, the King's Fund estimates that around three quarters has been absorbed by cost pressures - especially from increased pay, clinical negligence payments, and dealing with the EU working times directive.”

When the Chancellor and Prime Minister boast of the gargantuan amounts of taxpayers money they spend on the NHS, is he not ashamed of the tiny fraction of this that has resulted in improvements to patient services? Is it not the case that this Labour Government has proved monstrously efficient at spending ordinary peoples money, but little else? Is it not the case that despite the record spending he and the Chancellor boast of, this Government is in fact holding the NHS back from improving patient healthcare; and instead of getting on with the job of improving the Health Service, they simply sit back and throw more money away. Is it not the case that this Government is holding, not just the NHS, but Britain back?

Clare: I'm sorry, dear, but you're incoherent.

Welshtory: please let me know what day since 1990 (or 1992, same difference) you would prefer over today?

As far as scoring debating point go, Hague was the best performer we've had. Did it do him any good?

Excuse me Goldie why am I incoherent?

Fine, Oberon, you may think that, I may think that, but public spending / public "services" is (still alas) seen as Lab's strongest suit. Probably not the best topic to start off with.
Crikey, we're all in such a rush here - is it a blog thing? - quite a few weeks/months/years to go yet!!

Goldie, when did I say we've had better days since 1990? Don't accuse me of things I haven't said, that's a Labour tactic. What I'm saying is that today was not a great day for the party. It's not bad, just not good. DC can improve and I hope he does. Hague didn't win any elections I know, but performing well at PMQs certainly does help. Ask IDS.

Logic may not be strong point here, but if we haven't had better days since 1990 than today, then today is by definition the best (though I suppose could be equal best, strictly speaking!).
Wake up, Welsh Tory, get your logic straight and while you're about it admit that DC at PMQ today was fine - and the press look as though they are going to write it up pretty positively.

A better day since 1990? April 9th 1992. Why? We won a general election!

Given how unbelievably few floating voters watch PMQs, what matters most is the flavour of the reports that appear on tonight's news, and tomorrow's papers.

From what has been said, those reviews will be largely positive, and DC's "You were the future once" remark will be the main payoff line in all the TV packages.

He could slap Blair around every week for the next four years and not see any electoral benefits, but handling PMQs is still an important test of any new leader.

So far, so good.

DC was "fine" - however not the sensation he was made out to be by the press. The media may very well write this up to be a "win" for DC, but we cant rely on that happening every week, unless he performs better.

Ooops, good point ... though I wonder whether we wouldn't be back in power today if we hadn't won in 92?


Hopefully in weeks to come Cameron will have the courage to challenge Blair on these issues and do it very effectively and have a very talented shadow cabinet to do the same, however the most important thing at todays PMQs was to avoid being destroyed and humiliated. Cameron managed to avoid that and has managed to impress many journalists at the same time. The line of attack that you suggest in your post I think would be extremely damaging to Labour if executed effectively and would have more success than talking about climate change, lets hope Cameron does come out on these issues soon.

Clare - why shouldn't the Commons become natural Cameron territory?

Compare Hague's first PMQs with Cameron's. Hague got off to a shaky start. Cameron did better, sounding more confident and looking cool to me.

There's every reason to think that Cameron could grow just as much as Hague and then some.

Your perception counts, but it seems to be in a minority.

PS - I just came out of my local newsagents and Cameron was getting a rave review on radio. I just cant escape these bloody resurgent Tories!

Is it true Cameron actually fell over as he walked out of the Commons and grazed his knee and ruined his trousers?

To be honest, Cameron didn't do badly, did he? The main thing was that he appeared to be enjoying himself - and that he slightly wrong-footed Blair.

He also seems pleasingly free of that Oxbridge Union Society rather stilted style, which works well enough in the chamber but comes across as freakish on television.

Let's give credit where it's due - I am not usually a great fan, but he cleared this particular high hurdle with some grace.

Clare, don't be so childish! Besides Cameron was wearing short trousers.

It was a competent debut but not much more. PMQs isn't the real test though. Hague regularly battered Blair to no effect.

However, a succession of poor PMQs would make the backbenchers nervous and given that he has to lead them into the Government lobbies to prop up a Labour government against its own left wingers they're going to be potentially quite truculent anyway.

Supporting the Government may drive a wedge between Blair and the rebels (although I doubt it) but it will also annoy a lot of Conservatives and will deny a number of "Government defeated" headlines in the months ahead. Headlines of the sort that helped sink Major.

James - you say on your own blog that "I can't see Cameron pulling off the Hague style soundbites. Or Howard style verbal assaults. For one thing he doesn't seem very good at them."

Well, today we had "you were the future once" - not bad - plus the bonus of a total putdown of Hilary Armstrong.

I guess what the negative comments on this blog suggest is that there are a few bitter DD supporters around. So be it. Nice anyway to see DD himself looking so supportive next to DC. That made a very good impression.

Blair's first PMQ performance was much worse than this - a poor, nervous effort. All credit to Cameron.

Rob - I agree, his priority today was to get through unscathed, and I understand that, therefore I was rather unfair in the last post saying I was less impressed.

But he needs to begin grappling with the issue of Labour reform of public services at some point. We must crack this problem, if we don't, we won't win against New Labour unless the economy nose-dives, and we can't lay back and rely on that otherwise, in a perverse way, we are as bad as them, with them spending till the economy drops, and us waiting for this to happen to get in and fix it. Not a very nice position, us as 'Mr Tough' economy fixers and Labour as Santa.

"Well, today we had "you were the future once" - not bad - plus the bonus of a total putdown of Hilary Armstrong."

I wouldn't call them Hague or Howard style broadsides.

The putdown of Hilary Armstrong seemed petulant (but that may be because I remember seeing Cameron barracking people at PMQs himself), and while the "future" remark stung (mainly because Labour backbenchers sniggered) it did jar with his consensual position. So neither were amazingly good, IMO.

That said, I doubt they were spontaneous (I don't think his predecessors' were). He had some lines ready if the opportunity arose, and it did.

But he's not a Hague or Howard style Commons performer. I stand by that point.

Well I'm pleased,it went better than we could reasonably have expected.The media (as usual) seem to be going overboard which of course won't last long but for the time being the zeitgeist lies with Cameron.
One thing did suprise me however,Labour must have been expecting this and would have I assume prepared for it.Why were they so truly awful? The expressions on their front bench said it all really.
Our troops were good,they'll have to be like this each and every week.

"Well I'm pleased,it went better than we could reasonably have expected."

I would agree with that.

"One thing did suprise me however,Labour must have been expecting this and would have I assume prepared for it.Why were they so truly awful?"

I suspect they haven't yet decided how to attack him - lightweight or Michael Howard junior?

Gordon Brown's and Alastair Campbell's comments lately make a "he's a closet evil right winger" approach seem likely though.

So we're all agreed then.
DC's first ever PMQ not quite as good as Hague or Howard.
Well he'd better pull his bloody socks up by next week that's all I can say...

April 9th 1992 a good day for the Conservative Party?

Au contraire. Winning that election destroyed the Conservative Party and made Tony Blair possible.

It was the election we should have lost, just by a bit.

Kinnock would have been a disaster and a renewed Conservative Party would have won the next general election after that.

Imagine our reputation if the Major government wouldn't have had happened. No Black Wednesday for instance? No scandals involving David Mellor, Tim Yeo, Neil Hamilton or the bizarre sex death of Stephen Milligan? No 'je ne regrette rien'? No 'bastards' and John 'the Vulcan' Redwood? No Maastricht treaty forced through under the Tories, therefore no "Maastricht rebels"? No Back to Basics?

God, the post-1992 Major administration destroyed and poisoined the Conservative Party for a generation.

April 9, 1992 was a very, very dark day for conservatism. And today *is* the best day to be a Conservative since November 1990.

Oberon- I couldnt agree more!

I hear on the BBC that Redwood is keeping a place in the Shadow Cabinet. That is good news for party unity....bad news for the image change.

The loaded Labour questions from the 'poodle' backbenchers were fingers down the throat stuff, but then Theresa did much the same, and I don't think it worked.

Campbell’s comments in the outside broadcast afterwards were just the usual bile we have come to expect from him.

I agree that Labour look worried though. They much more comfortable with the old-school Tory than with this version, and I think the closet Old-Tory Cameron plan is the only tack they can or will take – they cannot play any other tune.

Did anyone notice Brown behind Tony? He looked a bit demented at times. I think he will crack under pressure you know. He will find even the serious thought of being Prime Minister an incredible strain. He doesn’t have the temperament for it – and secretly knows it. Even the thought of it is making him twitch with the pressure.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing Goldie.For me who had been out night after night canvassing in a successful attempt to hold a seat we were sure would go it was the best night of my (political) life.
We really thought at the time it would spell the end of a socialist threat to Britain.Perhaps we were right.

Its a measure of the poison still present in this Party, that previous election victories are derided as disasters. I despair sometimes.

1992 was the Election we should have lost, but just by a little bit. That was how it was planned (not 'in hindsight'). Major was put forward to achieve this desired result but even that he screwed up!

Clare: I could be wrong, but you have been at this blog before today? I a bit suspicious of your motives, I'll be honest.

An important part is that I will grant that we cannot beat Blair, even now, but I think Cameron might take Brown. And given Brown's nervousness today, so does he.

By the way, Cameron has a very big advantage in the pit that is the House of Commons during question time because he is TALLER than the Labour front bench. He dwarfed Blair. That counts.

Tall people win elections eh? William Hague is 6 feet tall you know. Michael Howard isnt so short either.

Spot on, Oberon, Brown was looking even more twitchy than usual.
He has never had to perform on his feet has he?
The naysayers here seem to forget it isn't going to be DC versus TB, but DC versus GB.

Jules - its not how tall leaders actually are, it's how tall they are perceived to be.

The Sunday Times cartoonist illustartes this(quite literally) - he drew Hague as a short man against a very tall Blair, usually coming up to his ankle.

He depicted Cameron as very tall against a short Davis.

In politics, perception IS reality.

Here is Blair's first time. Nervous, sanctimonious, aggressive and trying to sound very posh


No - Goldie was saying that Cameron WAS tall - not sayinghe was perceived to be such. It matters not one bit taht he is tall - come on - lets have a grown up debate.

Jules - yes, and my point was that people's perceptions of a leader's height is a factor which can either add or detract from his overall appeal.

Its the same in the business world too.

Tall people are more successful. I'm not saying it's right, but its generally true.

We better select a lot of good looking tall white middle class men then - as they are generally "more successful" in business and life.

Tut tut

We already do. Don't know if the height thing applies to women or not. I agree it's totally wrong..life is very unfair.

I think Hague is rather 5'11, and Howard is 5'10 I think.

The point is that Major, Blair, Hague, IDS and Duncan Smith are all of pretty much the same height.

I don't know how tall Cameron is but both he and Osborne seem taller than all of the above. Brown is a little taller than Blair, I would guess, but not by much.

Height is extremely important in the very primitive business that is politics, Jules, and played a big role in establishing some psychological advantage for DC over Blair today. It counts, and it counts a lot.

What utter balderdash. Does this mean that beanpole MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham will be the leader in a few years? No of course it doesn't. Grow up, it is down to talent as to whether you get on in politics. Look at Letwin.

Is Letwin short?
Is he talented?
Didn't he go into hiding from the media during one campaign rather than be asked about spending policy?
Presumably being short (if he is) made that task easier?

and Alan Duncan...

blogs at their best ED!

Now as I recall, he had to hide when it was revealed he was going to profit from someone's council house purchase...lack of height again an advantage as with Letwin...

... back to the serious stuff.... Cameron should ask about this next week...


Height isn't everything and I never said it was. But it's pretty obvious to anyone who really knows politics that height certainly play a role.

So - where are all those posters who were confidently predicting that DC would be destroyed at his first PMQ's?

Quiet are they not, probably licking their wounds at Labour HQ.....

Onwards and upwards...

Yes Letwin is short! I doubt Thatcher was a 6"3 giant in her prime. She wasn't intimidated because Kinnock was bigger than her and a man. Widdecombe is small and round but she is still intimidating. This blog is ridiculous! Why are we engaging in this silly talk.
The problem in this party stems from Major. He was a fool. A disgracefully inept fool. He has destroyed this party and should be thoroughly ashamed. How dare he even take part in interviews and write articles. He should have left the country if he cares about the party because the sheer sight of him send s a shiver down the spines of every voter. Cameron should ban him from being a member and slap him with a fish!

A ridiculous blog with silly talk - whoever heard of such a thing?!
I don't know about you, Clare, but there's only so much of this kind of debate most people can take without a bit of facetiousness creeping in (though I was being serious about Letwin and Duncan's hiding tendencies).
I agree with your view on Major - at least the bit about the fish.

When I stood next to DC, I was about the same height as him, which is 5ft10in. I don't think he was stooping, so he can't be more than 6ft. I watched PMQs and thought he made a good start. Expectations of him have been put way too high. He is a very talented man, and will grow into the job. He needs time to establish himself. Let's not get carried away. Blair has vast experience and is now very good at handling PMQs. Bearing that in mind DC did a good job.

I do worry about focusing on climate change. Do we support Labour's Climate Change Levy? I think Blair's policy on climate change is about as far as any government can go without hurting the economy, if not too far, so I am concerned if DC wants to force him to go further.

I agree with Derek about the environment. I think there is a problem there alright, but Kyoto and that whole line is clearly a thing of the past, destined to fail and utterly unpractical. A new, conservative line would be to try to encourage technology. This shall solve the problem, and nothing else will, certainly not any attempt by the state to shut down the economy.

As for his height: I've seen Major, Hague, IDS and Howard up close, but haven't had the honor with DC. My impression from TV has been that both Cameron and Osborne are fairly tall. Would love to get an accurate report from anyone with first-hand knowledge.

Good grief - what are you talking about height for? I was told by Lord Freeman that Hague was 6 foot when I first applied to go on the candidates list - and my response was.. AND? which is my response now.

Off topic - Labour Chairman has put out an interesting email which reads as follows:-

"You may have watched Prime Minister's Question Time today. To me, it showed that Conservatives' current rebranding exercise is simply putting a new gloss on the same old Tory policies.

The Prime Minister made clear that it wasn't enough to say you supported education reforms - you needed to back that up with support for Labour's investment programme. Tony noted the Tories' new fiscal rule - the proceeds of growth rule - would mean immediate cuts in the Labour government's investment in frontline public services. The Prime Minister also made clear that Labour would never agree with the Tory leader's belief that we should return to selection at the age of eleven.

Let's be clear. The Tories may have changed their leader yet again but the fundamental divide between the parties remains the same. They opposed all Labour's extra investment in schools, hospitals and the police and are still committed to cuts to public spending, to axing the New Deal, cuts to tax credits, and to selection in schools.

Today's PMQs demonstrated the clear dividing lines between a Conservative Party putting a new gloss on the same old Tory policies and a Labour Party delivering economic stability and investment and reform in our public services.

We need to show Britain what these 'modern Tories' really stand for. Your support is vital."

I dont want to give them publicity - but me thinks it shows they have been rattled!

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