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This should be an interesting PMQs: Gordon Brown has had a long period to learn how to deal with Cameron's interrogations, Cameron has had a long period to focus on researching important issues with which to interrogate, and Nick Clegg has his first chance to shine as Lib Dem leader.

It should make for an interesting Politics lesson today (which, rather fortunately, coincide with PMQs)...

No doubt that the first comparisons will be between Clegg and Vince Cable rather than Clegg and Brown, seeing as Cable managed to embarrass and ruffle the Prime Minister more than Ming ever managed.

Interesting to see which mode of attack Nick Clegg will use, he will be hard pushed to top Vince Cable, who did more damage to Brown with cutting humour than any of his serious questioning. Maybe therein lies a lesson for David Cameron, in that Gordon Brown does not like having the mickey taken out of him.

I recall the rumour columns in the papers were saying that Clegg wouldnt be trying jokes because theres a risk that Brown will simply compare Clegg to Cable and Clegg will crash and burn for it. Apparently Clegg doesnt have the comic timing of Cable.

Let's hope Cameron gets more serious this year.

Given the history of some senior Lib Dem figures, the phrase "Nick Clegg's first outing" could have been more felicitously chosen.

Alan S, yes, David Cameron should make 2008 the year of full-scale economic attack!

I'd lead with an attack on Peter Hain...

We shouldn’t let Brown use the new session to draw a line under last year’s sleaze.

Thanks Richard :-)

It wasn't intentional!

I agree, Tony at 10.14:

"Alan S, yes, David Cameron should make 2008 the year of full-scale economic attack!".

The trouble is that we should have demolished Brown's reputation for being such a (self-confessed) good Chancellor when he was Chancellor.

It is pretty late now to paint him as a typical tax-and-spend Labour Chancellor - which is what he turned out to be, squandering a marvellous legacy that he took over from Ken Clarke.

One thing I bet you though is that, having spent years taking the credit for stability and low inflation (largely down to globalisation), he will now blame globalisation for the downturn.

Nothing to do with me, governor!

David Belchamber, quite correct. Gordon Brown is already trying to make the case that any economic turndown has been 'Made in the USA' and that his government is just a passive victim of it.

On ID cards, it would be foolish to plow so much effort and expensive into setting up a scheme with a view to it only being voluntary. We all know ID cards will be made compulsory after what will deemed to be a successful pilot run.

Hells Bells- Brown could not get any WORSE at PMQ's! Three things to be learnt from today:- i) Brown has NO IDEA how to perform at PMQ's and it's getting embarrasing for the Labour benches (good!); ii) Nick Clegg has as much personality and charisma as a Grace bros dummy; iii) Clegg and Brown HAVE HAD cosy chats. What about? Coalition?

Well done Cameron. I thought that it was a very effective and strong set of points.

Clegg attacking Labour from the left. It wasn't edifying stuff. Solid performance from Cameron. Brown looking uneasy.

Good to see David Cameron is continuing to perform against Brown with real fire-in-his-belly. Clegg came across like a poor man's Hugh Grant, this emollient approach will get him nowhere. Clegg wants to be careful, Simon Hughes MP will be on TV soon, saying Clegg needs to do better.

If Mr. Brown did indeed say - 'The Leader of the Opposition isn't facing up to Britain's long-term challenges', David Cameron might actually challenge him on that sentence alone! What does it or Brown mean by it, and perhaps Brown would care to outline HIS idea of Britain's long-term CHALLENGES.

Brown just says sentences that have no particular meaning, or any meaning that you care to put into them, and I think that habit should be challenged a bit more!

It was alright but no better. Clegg survived but was clearly not particularly ambitous. A bit underwhelming really.
High point for me was when Cameron asked why Brown would not give a straight answer. He should ask this every single time Brown obviously refuses to answer.
Brown also likes to answer questions with a question as he did today. Instead of ignoring it as Cameron usually does he should pause, turn to the speaker, ask if it's OK with him to answer even though he's not yet PM and then give a long detailed and above all straight answer to anything Brown asks. That should work a treat!
Brown was awful as usual but better than last year.He's starting to learn how to play this game.

'Cameron usually does he should pause, turn to the speaker, ask if it's OK with him to answer even though he's not yet PM and then give a long detailed and above all straight answer to anything Brown asks. That should work a treat!'

I like that idea Malcolm. Should finish that tactic for good and put this uselss speaker in a tricky position.

A QC style aggressive line of questioning is quite apt and appropriate for the leader of the opposition as the name of the game is holding government to account. That is the oppositions job. Its ok for the prime minister to take the passive gentlemanly role at PMQs but opposition should be assertive and treat the occasion as if the government is on trial.

I am starting to worry that if the government runs out of catastrophes - will Cameron's fortunes turn? After all (in absolute truth) - the fortunes of the conservative party have not been in its own hands for quite some time.

The party is, like the government, driven by events - Cameron's success is has not be worked for - it has been given on the hoof; and can just as easily be taken away - anyone who thinks the election is in the bag is kidding themselves. Brown was dire, Cameron sounded pompous and Clegg has vanished already.

Thought D.C was brilliant today. Suspect he will not get 'the one liner headline' from it, but he was very much on top of his game. Brown looked bad. Asking questions he shouldn't, getting answers anyway and then asking them again. Sadly, his ineptitude requires a full news report [and a balanced one at that]. His poor preformance cannot be symbolised in one shot or one reply, so the full effect of neither man's preformance is likely to be conveyed on tonight's news.
Best the Labour rep on the Daily Politics could come up wtih was, 'We all know this is not Brown's thing' and, laughably, 'Cameron could have done more with the material he has'[said without a trace of self awareness!].
Clegg was safe but very dull. I wonder if DC's full blown sharp start was deliberate in view of Clegg's first outing; a deliberate attempt to let him know it is not an easy ride and to demonstrate that Cameron is more than up to it [though many are not].
It was also interesting to see Labour MPS and Brown give Clegg an easy if rather patronising ride. Brown's attempts at reasonableness and welcome, probably designed to create a joint front against the Tories could prove the kiss of death for the LibDems.

The highlight of Nick Clegg's leadership to date has been to make Sarah Teather the Shadow Secretary of State for Business. That will shake them up in the Square Mile.
All I have ever heard him spout are totally vacuous soundbites on "a totally different kind of politics".

Clegg is the Barack Obama of Sheffield Hallam, and as balsa-lite as the original.

London Tory, brilliant comparison with Obama. Both men could carve great careers doing movie trailer voiceovers. The perfect profession for production-line politicians who live by hyperbole.

Notherhousewife, I agree. Watching on-line Cameron seemed to give a very strong performance although those that were there seem to have settled for a score draw.

And I think that Cameron probably needs a few more of these types of weeks, just chipping away on the economy and other matters. One poster asked what Cameron will do if he runs out of catastrophes. I think that today proved that there is a long, long list of areas that the government needs to be held to account over, and the way that they are spinning their performance on the economy is near the top.

Pretty poor showing from both Brown and Cameron. Cameron needs to find a much better common thread with his questions - it all sounded rather muddled to me.

It's a good job PMQs doesn't matter in the slightest - it's getting so boring and predictable

Thought Gordon was rehearsing for his (possibly short - till replaced by the other David) time as Leader of the Opposition, for he kept asking D C questions as if he (D C) were the Prime Minister.
Some day, too, Gordon will start blaming the MacMillan Government for the country's problems. So, when we do get back into power and start sorting out the mess, we can always remember that when someting goes wrong we have at least ten years of blaming Labour who are responsible (sorry - culpable) anyway.
Will Clegg's next move be to the other side of the House? (Gordon's "come up and see me sometime").

They were both poor today. Clegg missed a good chance for a decent soundbite at his first PMQS as Ming did when he was leader.

Cameron did look a bit silly. On the one hand he said he opposed compulsory ID cards, yet he (apparebntly) supports them for foreign nationals. He should have made this far clearer but failed to do so.

I'd say he got the better of Brown overall. (again).

But it should be a walkover really.

Why not attack the governments incompetence over the mess with regard prison officers striking - a mess they created by now trying to reintroduce a law they repealed only two years ago.

I thought Cameron's last question flourish is looking very tired as a tactic. I think he needs to keep it specifically tied to the issue he is raising.

I did like the Conservative MP's question which linked the compulsory purchase of peoples home around Heathrow for its expansion and the Highland clearances was a clever question, and had Gordon Brown tied up in all sorts of knots.

I think some of you forgot to take your anti-depressants.
Did you vote for David Davis? My non-political husband thinks Cameron is head on shoulders above Brown every time he catches PMQs.
I wonder if previous successess [and excitements] have affected some of your expectations. Or years in opposition made you overly critical? We have Trad Tory for that.
I am not known for my optimism but you are a seriously tough crowd.
How would you feel if Labour offered a swop?
If you even hestitated, get to the doctors -you need to up your dose.

Thought I'd take a look out of the window just to make sure I am not the right planet. Took a look at LD Voice[ yes I can see the irony]. 'Blimey, Cameron really hashim on the ropes. An easy win for the Tory boy'.
I agree with the Lib Dems. I am off to pick up my prescription now.

How many times did Gordon Brown mention inflation. Brown is betraying his weaknesses by mentioning inflation all the time, he mentions most what he is most scared about.

Brown also said "And when it comes to the economy, let us remember 250,000 were repossessed under the Conservatives. He has no credibility when he talks about the economoy".

Cameron must burst Brown's bubble by mentioning RPI, retail price inflation.

The next election will be about the housing recession, Cameron must move the blame to Brown, and not let him blame it on the US and $100 oil, as he did today.

Stephen, Gordon Brown knows inflation is coming. Not that the credit-funded economy has ground to a halt it will be necessary to cut interest rates. That will bring down the strength of the pound and push the price of every single imported good up. Next time you are in the supermarket just have a look to see how many foodstuffs are imported! Whats more if the ECB decides to keeps an anti-inflationary watch and keeps the Euro strong in relation to the declining pound anything imported from Europe is going to cost even more! Gordon Brown can't win. If the BOE cuts rates its going to encourage inflation, if it doesn't cut rates the economy will go into further decline. Its a trade-off between trying to re-boot the economy at the risk of inflation or doing nothing and letting the economy stagnate.

Typo: Should read:

"Now that the credit-funded economy has ground to a halt"

There is an emergent pattern to Brown/Bean's monologues. I used to think that his failure to answer questions was a technique for appearing to answer - but actually saying nothing; then I began to think that his inability to answer questions was a product of not understanding them, now it is increasingly evident that he doesn't know the answers because he has decided to put off thinking about the decisions until the very last minute.

Tony, inflation is not coming, it is already here.

The following chart shows RPI:


When Brown compares inflation now to pre-97, he is comparing CPI now to RPI then, he compares apples with oranges. When he compares inflation here to the US, he compares CPI to headline inflation, apples with oranges. He needs to be held to account on this.

The public sector will not and should not accept pay rises under 2%, anything under RPI at 4.3% and they are losing money. They know this in their wallets, but no one has the balls to articulate it.

The BoE should not cut, it would be suicidal, just watch the next set of RPI figures, if it rises above 5%, it will be comical. I don't know how sterling at these levels withstands this type of devaluation.

I believe inflation is being imported from emerging markets, a recession and the subsequent lack of demand will not markedly bring down food, energy, apparel, and electronics prices.

Some day, too, Gordon will start blaming the MacMillan Government for the country's problems

Thank you, Sam R @14.25, that made me laugh out loud!

Okay, Brown uses the US CPI, which is at 4.3%:


But, the Federal Reserve's preferred measure is the Core PCE Price Index, http://www.thestreet.com/markets/marketfeatures/889679.html, in Table 11 below at 2.2%:


You'd need a Ph.D. in economics to prove it, but I think he is pulling the wool over the public's eyes.

None of the party leaders seemed to do that well, David Cameron's referring to Gordon Brown in his 20s was somewhat risky as David Cameron's 20s were somewhat more recent and there has already been much speculation about his activities particularily in his university days and how his positions then contrast with his positions now - it's really rather risky territory for both Gordon Brown and David Cameron, and Nick Clegg has some skeletons in the closet too!

Stephen, I agree. Independent financial experts across the board are saying the real rate of UK inflation is around 7% and set to rise. The problem is that while Brown keeps repeating that we have low inflation, Joe Public, who doesn't have the time to study all this, is likely to believe him. Its the same with Brown's continual lie about us having close to full employment. In fact the Labour website itself has a headline proclaiming that we have 'full employment in a global economy'.

Your point about inflation being imported from emerging markets is interesting. Now that the Chinese are about to strengthen their currency it means that all imported wares from China will shoot up in price too, and seeing as we have become dependent on Chinese imports we won't be able to switch our custom elsewhere.

Gordon Brown has been keeping two sets of books on inflation, one for himself, and one for everyone else. As you rightly imply, we have been fed false information. Still, inflation is going to get so bad that even fiddling the figures won't hide the facts.

Clegg is right tart, he has just muscled in on Radio 4's PM program to claim the plaudits for being against ID cards, and questioning the Conservative stance, which is a bit much when it was Cameron who was the one to raise the issue in Parliament today. To do this shows himself up to be an opportunist and seeking to claim praise for issues others have raised. Not a good start or very clever thing to do.

Iain, perhaps it was because, unlike the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats opposed ID Cards from the start?

Couldn't see Cameron's growing bald patch at Question Time because he didn't turn round.

Is he going to start wearing a baseball cap like Hague, or maybe a hoodie? At what stage of baldness will he be replaced as Tory Leader?

Why all the concern over baldness? I have a full head of hair and I assume that if I was going to go bald it would have happened by now. Nontheless even if I had gone bald I wouldn't have lost any sleep over it. I really can't understand how something like this can become an issue with some people. The daily Mail seems to take a mocking delight in aging celebrities who look jaded these days. Yet they don't show someone like Debbie Reynolds, who at 74 would have no problem getting picked up in a bar! If David Cameron has a bald patch he still gets my vote!

Reading the Tory comments it confirms my opinion that there is an underlying streak of nastiness in the Conservative Party.

"perhaps it was because, unlike the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats opposed ID Cards from the start?"

Didn't Churchill scrap them?

If I remember correctly passports were only introduced during world war one, then as a temporary measure which never went away. How come we still need a passport to visit EU countries but not one to visit Eire?

Iain (18:35). It was a Liberal refusing to produce his identity card in Finchley, North London which led eventually to identity cards being scrapped. All over the country people burned their identity cards, years after the war had ended.

All over the country people burned their identity cards, years after the war had ended.
Biometric systems don't actually need a card, a scanner linked to a database with everyone's biometric details on could be used to find out who someone was even if they had no ID or false ID - unless people are going to burn their fingerprints off, pluck their eyes out and somehow alter their blood types and DNA it would be somewhat difficult to opt out, also very difficult to fake an identity under such a system - it would probably involve hacking state computers.

Improving data security is of vital importance, but so is dealing with yobs and terrorists and the more measures the state has to put criminals out of operation the better.

Yet Another Anon, the ID card system won't work because any organization as sophisticated and as well financed as Al-Qaeda would have no problem finding the expertise to produce fake cards and no doubt they would have fifth columnists working in our civil service who would be more than happy to supply any relevant information needed. If Gordon Brown thinks he can stop Al-Qaeda with a mere ID card he is being naive to say the least.

Yet Another Anon, the ID card system won't work because any organization as sophisticated and as well financed as Al-Qaeda would have no problem finding the expertise to produce fake cards
I am sceptical about ID cards, but the biometric based database will be hugely difficult to fake, if there is a fake card and it is checked against the national database there would be a mismatch, or if the persons biometric data is checked directly against the database there would be a mismatch. How could there be a mismatch unless the person concerned is presenting fake information - in such circumstances in my opinion detention pending identification of the person concerned should be automatic, it is reasonable to suppose that such a person was deliberately up to no good!

Once again Tony Makara, I agree with you. Biometrics systems are only as safe as the weakest link and we all know how the government have performed on that....

On another point, Clegg rather dropped himself in it by not countering Brown's allegation of private meetings and deals... could be rather detrimental in Liberal areas one thinks...

Watervole, even DNA evidence, which at one time looked to be a panacea in crime detection is now shown to be not as reliable as we once thought. I'm confident that in the future ever more people will be released from prison after having DNA convictions overturned. DNA evidence offers a golden opportunity for frame-ups, so the entire genetic-culture is flawed, and I say that as someone who used to believe that DNA evidence would make crime history.

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