PMQs: Vince skewers Gordon (again)

by Stephen Tall on December 12, 2007

Vince did it again, successfully raising a host of Government debacles, most seriously Iraq, at the last Prime Minister’s Questions of the year – and his final one as acting leader. What is grabbing Vince another round of plaudits, though, is his quickfire riposte to Gordon Brown not to speculate about leadership contests given the PM’s recent lacklustre record.

Vince’s triumph in the bearpit of the Commons is undisputed (for all that PMQs remains our Parliamentary democracy at its pantomime worst), and he’s certainly raised the bar for his successor, whether Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne. Whoever wins could be forgiven for feeling a tad daunted at the prospect of following Vince.

Anyway, here’s the full Hansard exchange:

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): When the Prime Minister tucks into his Brussels sprouts on his one day off at Christmas, which of the various disasters of the last six months will haunt him most: his indecision over the election, his inaction over Northern Rock, or the gross incompetence of the loss of 25 million people’s personal data?

The Prime Minister: It is nice to have the hon. Gentleman here, and I thank him for his appearances over the last few weeks. Given the history of the Liberal party, it may not be long before he is back in that place again, representing his party. As for the issues of the last few months, we have made long-term decisions on energy, the environment, transport, infrastructure, planning, skills and the economy, and that is what governing is all about.

Dr. Cable: Given the Prime Minister’s own position, he might not be wise to speculate about leadership elections. Is not the real disaster, for which he has personal responsibility, the continuing tragedy in Iraq? When he was in Basra this week, was he told that at least 40 women have been executed for personal immorality? Is that why 173 British troops have died—transferring power from the fascist regime of Saddam Hussein to the terror of the fascist militia who run the streets of Basra?

The Prime Minister: Iraq is now a democracy. Millions of people have voted. When I went to Basra, only two days ago, I found that there had been a 90 per cent. fall in violence over the last few months. We are now able to hand over Basra to provincial Iraqi control. So instead of the British forces having to engage in a combat role, we will, over time, be engaged in training role, supporting the Iraqi forces. Over these last few months, 50,000 people have been trained up as police and security forces. This is Iraqis taking control of their own security. I would have thought that, even with the differences over the war, the hon. Gentleman would have welcomed the progress that is being made.