...a blog by Richard Flowers

Friday, October 26, 2007

Day 2488: Mr Frown on the Naughty Step


Mr Frown is like one of those large, slightly shy kids who get teased and taunted by the pie-faced smart boy for weeks and months, and try to put up with it manfully until they cannot take any more and then punch their accuser in his mealy mouth, landing themselves in detention.

You have to have SOME sympathy. It is not like Mr Balloon doesn't deserve punching being called on his misleading statements.

But really it IS Mr Frown's own fault because he will keep on trying to be just as smart as his snake-oil salesman of an opponent.

Prime Monster's Questionable Time: Mr Balloon – who whines on and on like a BABY about the Labour steeling HIS tax-cut-for-corpses policy – opened the day by… stealing an issue that the Liberal Democrats have been doing all the work on.

Clawing back money that schools have kept in their piggy banks really is the STUPIDEST policy. Where is the incentive for the schools to plan their spending carefully if any pennies left over are going to be thieved by Mr Frown? The assumption that central government knows best how it should be spent is obviously ridiculous, anyway: if they DID know best, then why did they give the schools more money than "needed" in the first place?

Didn't we just get into a whole lot of financial trouble in the NHS for exactly the same reason? Trusts and hospitals were going into deficit because they were essentially rewarded for SPLURGING all of their budget, and penalised (by losing the money) if they did not spend it by the arbitrary end of year deadline.

Mr Frown says he's "considering the best thing to do."

Here's a CLUE for you Mr Frown – stop WASTING YOUR TIME! You should be busy running the country, not trying to MICROMANAGE the decisions of headmasters up and down the land!

But that WASN'T what landed Mr Frown in trouble. No, instead it was when Mr Balloon turned to the total Horlicks that the Scotland Office made of the Scottish Elections earlier this year.

Actually, if he had pointed out that MR Alexander Douglas-Fir had ALREADY apologised for his part in the mess Mr Frown would have made Mr Balloon look vindictive and petty. But that is not Mr Frown's way.

Of course, it helps that Mr Balloon is a master of TAKING ADVANTAGE, all the guile of an Old Etonian school bully coming to the fore – knowing how to spot the pressure points, the best places to stick in the stiletto, the ways of working on the weaknesses.

Mr Frown's weaknesses are an inability to admit when a mistake has been made, and an inability to keep control of his temper. Lord Blairimort never gave a STUFF about Prime Monster's Questions but Mr Frown cannot disguise the fact that he CARES.

What he OUGHT to do, is DISARM the taunting by saying:

"Well, you've made a good point and I shall raise it at Cabinet – the report DOES make some criticisms and we shall have to do better in future. I hope you will admit to the errors that your side made too."

Unfortunately, what he WANTS to do is have the upper-class twit across the despatch box sent to the Gulag.

Mr Dale Winton, posing as an impartial "observer of the political scene for a quarter of a century", talks a LOAD OF OLD NONSENSE about this in the Grauniad, starting from the ERRONEOUS assumption that performance in the BEAR PIT actually affects the REAL WORLD.

The truth is COMPLETELY the other way around. Mr Frown and Mr Balloon's performances rarely vary – Mr Balloon goes all pink and shouty; Mr Frown looks like he's been hit with a plank – but who LOOKS like the winner depends on OUTSIDE EVENTS. If Mr Frown is governing with CALM MAJESTY and dealing with all crises that arise, then Mr Balloon looks SILLY, ranting and carrying on. The newspapers will say that he looks either desperate or childish. But if Mr Frown has just jumped in a great big early-election-shaped COW PAT then Mr Balloon's antics are reported as clever and stinging.

This is where Conservatories like Mr Winton make a CATEGORY ERROR. They think that because the papers are saying Mr Balloon did well, that they are actually making some political progress. They couldn't be more wrong: doing well in Prime Monster's Questionable time is at best no more than a VICTORY LAP, and at worst damaging to your reputation.

Yes, that's right: damaging. Mr Kinnock-knock and Mr Vague had a lot of "reputation" as good at Prime Monster's Questions, but outside the House of Commons, they were thought of as a ginger windbag and the Mekon. Mr Balloon is REINFORCING people's opinion of him as a DEBATING CLUB PUBLIC SCHOOL BOY. And very much NOT a Prime Monster in waiting. Or indeed a serious politician at all.

The problem with Prime Monster's Questionable Time if you ARE the Prime Monster is that giving STRAIGHT ANSWERS often the issues are too complicated and NUANCED to explain easily and simply, especially in the face of a SHOUTING NINNY spitting accusations.

The problem with Prime Monster's Questionable Time if you are the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is that you ARE the SHOUTING NINNY.

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