Peter Hoskin

Good advice for Dave

Good advice for Dave
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Ok, ok – so PMQs may be of more interest inside Westminster than out.  But, love it or loathe it, it's still one of those things which affects the mood music of politics and how it is reported.  Far better for a party leader to do it well, than to be bludgeoned by his opponent at the dispatch box.

Which is why Team Dave should internalise Matthew Parris's article in the Times today.  Not only is it typically readable, but it's packed full of sound advice for how the Tory leader should present himself in the weekly knockabout sessions.  Here's a snippet:

"Millions are now eyeing Mr Cameron up as a potential prime minister, and considering, not unhopefully, whether he’s up to it. The way to help them answer that question is to use one of the best media opportunities an Opposition Leader gets, PMQs, to look and sound prime-ministerial. Mr Cameron struck very much that appropriate note — calm, relaxed, considered — in interview with Andrew Marr two Sundays ago. The Commons is not a TV sofa, it’s much more shouty; but though Mr Cameron cannot afford to sound conversational there, he can be grave and measured, and wherever possible pleasant — so that when he does get angry, it seems less stagey.

Mr Brown has taken to hurling gibes at his opposite number (sneers about the airbrushing of that Cameron poster, for instance) and these give the Tory leader the perfect opportunity to reflect that the PM is failing to rise to the level of the problems we face. But Mr Cameron can only make such reflections if he is clearly rising to the right level himself." To be honest, I thought Cameron got it pretty much spot-on in this week's PMQs (click here for my verdict).  But Parris argues that, while they may read well in hindsight, the questions about Edlington failed to connect at the time.  

Either way, there are only a handful of PMQs sessions left before the election campaign and those headline-grabbing TV debates.  This is certainly the time for the Tory leader to come across all statesmanlike.