When the Prime Minister is under pressure, civility is always his first victim. Whether directed at a “frustrated” Nadine Dorries, Angela “calm down, dear” Eagle, or Ed “the mug” Miliband, David Cameron’s belittling quips betray an arrogant swagger that outside the world of politics would land him in deep trouble.
The latest instalment of Bully-Boy Cameron’s antics at this week’s PMQs was swiftly followed by a rebuke from the speaker – Cameron had branded Miliband “a complete mug” for his supposed lack of willingness to see repatriation of powers from Brussels.
For a former PR man Cameron seems to forget that outright name-calling is antithetical to reasoned and constructive debate – it merely contributes to a negative perception of him as as evasive and cavalier.
What Cameron fails to understand is that there is a difference between using pointed sarcasm and intelligent parody to undermine your opponents position and losing your temper and simply blurting out whatever derogatory remarks happen to come into your head. It’s a fair bet that if you were taking part in a serious debate and were subjected to a supercilious Cameron wisecrack of the kind witnessed today, then the “discussion” would get ugly fairly quickly.
Not everyone agrees with this assessement. Over on the Spectator’s Coffee House blog, Lloyd Evans believes Cameron’s “nastiness, his reserves of personal malice — so clearly part of his character — helped him out“. It’s an interesting take and underscores the machismo that has come to characterise PMQs — Cameron’s aggressiveness is seen as positive because it effectively detracts from the more damaging story of his own MPs treachery over Europe
Cameron is notorious for his ability to bat away awkward questions in the House. But rather than reverting to the tactics of the play-ground bully, he would do well to heed the advice of philsopher Jim Rohn when he said:
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.