Used the `patronising schoolmaster' method of debate to amusing effect, but the economy is far too broad a topic for either sidree questions. Some of his assertions (that inflation never fell below 7.5 per cent under Labour, for example) were also wrong.
Blair was able to send up both the style and the substance of what Major said. At one point he put on his special debating society voice to declare `I really don't think we've ever heard a more ridiculous excuse than that for a rise in interest rate figures'.
THEMES OF THE DAY
The economy (Sidney Chapman, C. Chipping Barnet; Tony Blair, Paddy Ashdown)
The Social Chapter (Hartley Booth, C. Finchley)
BSE (Peter Pike, Lab. Burnley)
The Crisis in Zaire (Andrew Rowe, C. Mid Kent)
Blair chose to discuss the state of the economy focusing on `today's inflation rise, together with the sharp rise in long-term interest rates'. Major responded to his questions with a mixture of commiseration for Blair's supposed inability to understand the statistics (`I will explain it to the Rt Hon Gentleman, so he can explain it to his backbenchers'), and emphasis of the good employment figures of Wednesday. Major may come to regret his explanation of the inflation rise (`a statistical aberration because of a dramatic fall last year').
GOOD DAY.. ...BAD DAY
(Lab Burnley): skewering the Prime Minister over beef once again. Major said he had already answered the question several times on previous occasions. All he could offer was the prospect of continuing discussions with the European Commission.
The Speaker allowed the miming and catcalling from the Conservative benches to go on for too long before intervening. Blair had to put up with a lot of waving and gibbering before the the Speaker decided to call a halt,
THE QUIP OF THE DAY
Major ended his reply to Ashdown with a fine new Majorism. `I suggest he stops taking advice from his advisers who clearly know nothing . . . about . . . everything!'
THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
Blair- `Will he now confirm that on interest rates and inflation Britain is now 11th out of 15 in Europe? Will he confirm it?' Major wouldn't, asserting once more that Blair `really doesn't understand'. Blair gave him another chance in his third question: `if he disputes it, let him come to the dispatch box and say that that figure is wrong'. Major didn't.
THE CREEP OF THE DAY
Sidney Chapman: `Would my Rt Hon Friend accept that the drop of over forty thousand in the latest monthly unemployment count . . . underlines yet again the success of the government's policies promoting job creation...' He went on for a long while in the same vein.Reuse content