Do both men share the same weakness – having low flash-points?
Politics is going through an appalling period which must be equally frustrating for all the parties. For we know that barring a political earthquake the next election will be the Gordon and Dave show yet even the most experienced observers cannot predict confidently how this will pan out.
This encounter has been on the cards since Cameron’s likely victory in the Tory race became apparent October 2005 and yet it looks as though we might have to wait until October 2007, almost two years on, before the two are facing each other across the chamber at PMQs.
Who’s going to come out on top is hard to predict but a characteristic that both men share is a low threshold level when it comes to losing their tempers. My guess is that both will try to find ways of goading the other to do just that.
We have seen how Cameron can get flustered and be on the point of losing it if put under aggressive questioning in TV interviews – an arena that Brown has studiously avoided for years. By all reports the Chancellor is notoriously sensitive about being criticised and we saw a flash of temper at Treasury questions a month or so ago in response to George Osborne.
At the time I wondered whether Osborne was testing the ground for when Cameron comes in.
For since David Cameron became Tory leader in December 2005 there has been just one occasion when the two have faced each other across the floor of the House of Commons – in the budget debate nearly a year ago when the Tory leader produced his “analogue man in a digital age” sound-bite. But the nature of that occasion meant that Brown was unable to respond.
So who’ll come out best in the battle of the titans. Will Gord be able to dominate Dave in the way he has dealt with successive Shadow Chancellors – or will he prove vulnerable in the very special situation that PMQs provides?
Clearly all parties have been game playing this for months and there’s no point now wasting material or giving your opponents a sense of what you will do before the real action starts.
In my view a big minus for Labour of Gordon getting a coronation is that he won’t be subject to the intense media scrutiny that a hard fought contest would bring. As well as creating massive frustration amongst newspaper and TV journalists, he would miss out on the process of actually running for the job – a good training for the general election.
Thus the losing candidate in the 2005 Tory contest, David Davis, has become a much more formidable politician after going through the process of running.