My initial reaction was: not entirely.
Looking like a boiled lobster and barely able to contain his feigned apoplexy at the Prime Minister while he engaged in a repetitive onslaught on the issue of trade union militancy David Cameron appeared boosted by a dose of Dutch courage laced with confrontational relish. He showed his gristle - we should be glad he didn't start showing his balls!
Usually immaculate in dress and delivery, today he let his standards slip. It was particularly noticable that Cameron shlightly shlurred every letter 's' and h-over h-emphasised every 'h'.
We know from his personal history that he was an enthusiastic member of a dining club with a somewhat dubious reputation, so even this amateur's speculation is not beyond the bounds of possibility.
And there was definitely something odd going on as a bunch of partisan members on the tory backbenches were continually egging him on as though he were in a boozy lock-in at a private members club. Had there been an early opening meeting in one of the Westminster bars? Maybe a lobby firm had laid on a welcoming reception for a group of members.
But PMQs is no private members club - it is the weekly occasion to hold the nation's leader to account live and in public.
Now I'm not someone who advocates abstention in any absolute form, but I know very well that employers take against any incapacity to do the job due to a heavy night or a convivial and bibulous lunch - we should remember it was the main complaint against Charles Kennedy when he was removed from the leadership of the LibDems that his edge was blunted and he started to get his facts wrong when placed under scrutiny.
On the other hand Roy Jenkins was reknowned as being someone who could lunch for his country and he was remarkable for retaining his popularity with officials for giving clear directions, delegating, and being decisive - but then he was never leader of his party or a prospective candidate to be Prime Minister in a crucial pre-election period.
So is the odd digestive aid something to be frowned upon? No, but it is something I would consciously avoid on prime political occasions when performance is vital - and I have to say I thought Cameron's performance teetered on the brink of embarrassment at the final PMQ's before the budget.
He really should have been able to draw together a range of themes to prepare the ground for a major onslaught on the whole of government policy and enable him to clearly lay out his own vision, but instead he concentrated on attacking Labour's failure to deal with their vested interests - a charge that can be equally levelled at him with some not inconsiderable justification.
If the pressure is getting to the tory leader as he fails to score the regular knock-out blows his supporters expect as a formality then we have to start looking at what is behind it and questioning what further indications this provides should he rise to the highest office - much more of this inadequate strategic organisation and the public will be doubting what confidence to place in his party.
- ► 2011 (37)
- ▼ March (6)
- ► 2009 (110)