Understatement of the day: With Tony Blair downunder Two Jags was answering questions for the government. BBC1’s narrator for PMQs – (Peter Wilby?) – said something like… ‘This week’s PMQs brings together William Hague, one of the best and funniest speakers in The House – up against John Prescott, "who isn’t"!’
Labour’s pre-election council tax bribe for pensioners: William Hague asked John Prescott about whether he lobbied Gordon Brown to retain the £200 council tax discount for pensioners. What was so special about last year, asked Mr Hague, that pensioners deserved a £200 discount for one year only. Was it because it was an election year? It was an unanswerable question. Quoting the outrage of pensioner groups like Age Concern Mr Hague said that such behaviour by Labour was a principal reason for the cynicism towards politics.
Editor: "It has to be the most brazen of bribes and was, of course, Mr Brown’s work. Shame on the man who falsely presents himself as the straight man of Labour."
Both Mr P and Mr H had two good jokes:
- John Prescott welcoming William Hague back to the Tory leadership team: The Tories are now so green that they’re recycling their leaders!
- William Hague: There was so little English in that answer from the Deputy Prime Minister that President Chirac would have approved of it.
The stand-in LibDem leader – David Heath – also raised the issue of fairness for pensions.
12.30pm update: In William Hague’s second round of questions there was lots of entertainment but not much enlightenment. WH asked about when the PM might go? Was the smouldering Gordon Brown the real PM whilst Tony Blair was in a departure lounge of a faraway airport? During the course of questions Mr Hague reminded Mr Prescott about his famous punch in the 2001 General Election. Mr Prescott said that the Tories were supposed to have abandoned Punch & Judy… If he was Punch, where did that leave Mr Hague?!