Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Harman at PMQs: Not many dead

There's been much chit-chat across the blogosphere about Fatty Harman's performance at PMQs today. The consensus is that, far from have been rent to shreds as had been widely predicted, she more than defended her corner.

Cuddly Iain Dale called it 'a high score draw'. The Spectator's Coffee House was equally flattering. 'Harman holds her own at PMQs', it asserted. Even Guido weighed in on Harman's side, declaring that 'she gave as good as she got.'

They key here, not yet picked up by any commentator so far as I know, is not just that she did better than expected – which is far from saying that she shone - but that, compared to Gordo, she appeared almost human. And that, I strongly suspect, is Gordo's No. 1 big problem as he struggles to assert himself as the 'towering' political figure he so obviously considers himself to be.

The miswired, ranting, wierdo Gordo was replaced by someone you could almost identify as a human being. True, she ducked all the hard questions about tax and the economy. Likewise, she dug herself a couple of holes, in particular defending a decision by NICE not to approve a certain drug by saying that NICE's decisions were based on 'evidence-based ... er ... er... '. Evidence, Harriet? Even she recognised the folly of that. So, findings, maybe? Results? Conclusions? She settled in the end, stumblingly, for 'process'.

In much the same way, her repartee gave every sign of having been learned by rote. Her delivery was wooden at best. Words were stumbled over. She consistently stuttered. There was a significant sense that, however well briefed, at key moments her notes swam before her eyes, tantalisingly, tauntingly beyond her semi-panicked reach. She was, in short, no natural, let alone galvanising, Commons performer.

But at least it looked as though a sentient human being was speaking.

So is she, in short, a serious contender as the next leader of the Labour party? Is she a figure around which an increasingly demoralised Labour party can assemble? Even more to the point, will Gordo now accordingly do his best to demote her?

Admittedly, the competition to replace Gordo is hardly strong. But compared to the misfits and creeps who cluster round him (and the Cabinet table) she surely makes a strong case.

On the whole, bad news for the great Scottish odd-ball, the 'world leader' currently mixing it in Bucharest with his fellow NATO big-wigs.

3 comments:

Iain Dale said...

"They key here, not yet picked up by any commentator so far as I know, is not just that she did better than expected – which is far from saying that she shone - but that, compared to Gordo, she appeared almost human."

Hmm. Did you not read the headline on my piece!?

The Creator said...

Iain:

Cripes. You read my blog?! I have been blessed.

To business:

The headline on your blog reads: 'Harman puts Brown to shame.'

I wrote: 'compared to Gordo, she [Harman] appeared almost human'.

The degree of overlap here is tangential at best.

Fact is, I have yet to see that anyone else suggest that her performance today might properly position her as a rival to Gordo as the next leader of the Labour party.

That said, one swallow – and it was a pretty emaciated one – does not a summer make.

So, jury out.

That said, if I was Gordo – and I am not not, thank Christ – she'd have made me twitchy.

Golly, you read my blog!

Bliss beckons.

peezedtee said...

"compared to the misfits and creeps who cluster round him (and the Cabinet table) she surely makes a strong case" (The Creator)

All anyone is saying is that she wasn't quite as bad as expected.

Does not Alan Johnson seem to you to be much more like a human being than either Brown or Harman (or Milliband or Balls or Blears or Hutton, etc. etc.)?