Getting the message across, again and again and again
Yesterday he took the opportunity, confirming without obvious anxiety that on the whole it was better for us to engage constructively in European debates rather than emulate the long Conservative history of destructive negativism. This was a fruitful intervention on Mr Kaufman's part since without it the Prime Minister would only have been able to get this central message across 23 times (my figures may not be absolutely precise, you understand, but they're in the right ballpark). Naturally Tory backbenchers help rack up the Prime Ministerial score-rate too, mostly because the rare opportunity to put a Parliamentary question to Mr Blair will never be surrendered simply because it has already been answered in the previous few minutes.
Mr Hague gets the first crack at the PM, of course, and employs his own repetitions to do it. Responding to the Prime Minister's statement on the Vienna summit yesterday, he had chosen Mr Blair's consistency as the theme of the day and "saying one thing to one audience in one place and another to an audience in another" as the soundbite of the day. Some of us would have been grateful for a bit more creative variation from Mr Blair, rather than less. He could usefully have said one thing to one audience in one place and something completely different to the same audience a bit later. But it was not to be, in the face of a Tory party so aroused by the whiff of European co-operation that it rose as one when the Prime Minister sat down, a Mexican wave of instinctive revulsion. Award for the most lurid backbench contribution, in a hotly contested competition, went to Sir Peter Tapsell, who sought reassurance that discussions of defence policy would not end with a "German finger on the British nuclear trigger". Where other members have a vision of foreign policy Sir Peter has a yellowing Mac cartoon - in which a crop-haired figure with a pickelhaube helmet and a string of sausages around his neck reaches out a fat Teutonic digit for the button marked "The bomb".
Mr Hague himself has still not entirely recovered the form he displayed just after the Queen's Speech, and although his performance yesterday went through the motions, shining a bright light on communique statements in the hope of casting a spooky shadow on the opposite benches ("look children, this one's a rabbit with secret plans for a federal super-state") nothing truly delighted his troops. Even his valedictory witticism gave off a cracked note. The Prime Minister, he said, should come cleanabout exactly what he meant rather than "running around Europe giving more false impressions than Rory Bremner". True, Mr Bremner still has a little bit of polishing to do on his Mandelson, but otherwise most of his imitations are enjoyably accurate, which made Mr Hague's final barb sound more like an unprovoked attack on a innocent impressionist than an effective jab at the Prime Minister. Given Mr Hague's recent troubles with his public image I'm not sure this is the right moment to make new enemies.
- 1 Reyhaneh Jabbari: Iran due to execute woman for murder of her alleged attempted rapist
- 2 Expert urges cat lovers to own just one animal each
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 5 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...
£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...
£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...