Twice this week the Prime Minister has accused Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition of speaking out inappropriately.

First came the moment during Prime Ministers’ Questions when Mr Brown took exception to David Cameron’s line of questioning about the failures at the heart of Haringey chidren’s services.

And then yesterday, he expressed "disappointment" at George Osborne’s "partisan talk" when the shadow chancellor raised perfectly reasonable questions over the dangers of too much borrowing. (By the way, the PM would do well do look at the results of today’s Independent on Sunday poll which show the public overwhelmingly supporting a reduction in spending rather than increased borrowing to fund tax cuts)

All of which raises the question, isn’t it the role, nay duty, of the Opposition to raise probing questions about the issues of the day and the way the Prime Minister and his Government is running the country?

As Fraser Nelson has rightly pointed out on Coffee House:

"There has never been a greater need for full-blooded, disrespectful, combative, full-on scrutiny of what he [Brown] says."

Amen to that. It would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the Opposition to stand idly by and let the Prime Minister get away with whatever he wants in the name of "doing the right thing by the country".

Mr Brown would obviously take the view that what he is doing is right; but it is absolutely vital that he be held to account, criticised, questioned and condemned as necessary when what he is doing and saying is evidently not the right thing for the country.

Many have expressed concerns at various points over the last few years that the Conservative Party has taken a too consensual approach, not least in its desire to match Labour’s spending plans, for instance.

So it’s reassuring to see some fire in the Tory belly – and it has clearly rattled the Prime Minister. I look forward to seeing more robust lines of attack from David Cameron, George Osborne et al in the run-up to the general election.

Jonathan Isaby

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