You can’t really imagine Ed Miliband and David Cameron joking with each other over Twitter…

Normally on a Thursday morning, Scotland’s political leaders are thinking of how they will tackle the gladiatorial environment of First Minister’s Questions.

This morning, Andy Murray, playing in the Australian Open semi-final, provided them all with a distraction. Tory leader mentioned it on Twitter and look what happened next:

After that interlude, FMQs proceeded with, I’d like to think, a bit less rancour than usual In fact, when Ruth Davidson rose to ask her question, she was able to announce that Andy had won. Nicola Sturgeon teased her for checking Twitter in the Chamber.

You would never find David Cameron and Ed Miliband doing this before their weekly duel. Maybe it would do them some good if they did treat each other like human beings. It might then be more difficult for them to hurl such horribly personal insults at each other.

These weekly sessions are supposed to be about scrutinising the government but they turn into nasty, childish affairs that make most people despair. The truth is that they are not an accurate representation of how politicians behave for most of the time.

By the way, I am not speaking to Nick Clegg today. He was talking about the futility of PMQs on Call Clegg this morning and said that Danny Alexander had suggested that he play Candy Crush while Cameron and Miliband slug it out. I tweeted that and have had to put up with a timeline full of Candy Crush spam ever since.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Alex Sabine 29th Jan '15 - 2:51pm

    Good to see they don’t take themselves too seriously. I’m sure the usual hostilities will resume shortly, but I agree Caron: a little civility and light relief goes a long way.

  • This is good stuff, would be nice to see more of it. But it’s worth remembering they are “new” opponents and probably havent built up a backlog of bitterness yet. Cameron & Blair were nice to each other for a few weeks too.

  • Tony Greaves 29th Jan '15 - 5:55pm

    You’re all gathering swallows twittering in the skies. You deserve what you get!


  • Lovely exchange. Does the fact that it is 2 women help here? If only Cameron and Miliband could delve into their feminine side more often?

  • stuart moran 30th Jan '15 - 7:54am

    Why does this have to be anti-Cameron and Miliband? Why not Clegg as well. To be fair as well Cameron is the one that really brings PMQ into disrepute – he never answers a questions and frequently abuses various members of the house, as well as patronising women questioners. The HoC needs reform – surely someone has that responsibility in Government? Who has failed at their job at improving it since 2010?

    It is good to see this type of exchange, but also it may be that friendly banter is more common than you perceive but a lot won’t be done on twitter. You hear of some unlikely friendships across political divides.

    I think we should celebrate the non-confrontational side of politics, I would be a bit careful about making the implicit suggestion it is because they are women – I have seen some amazingly vicious rancour between women in the workplace

  • Tsar Nicolas 30th Jan '15 - 8:09am

    John Innes 30th Jan ’15 – 7:37am

    “Lovely exchange. Does the fact that it is 2 women help here? If only Cameron and Miliband could delve into their feminine side more often?”

    Oh please, no! I bought into that old canard about the feminine in politics, and then “Bliar’s Babes” turned out to be more warlike and testerone-driven (judging by their support for invading Iraq) than any other group I could identify.

  • Hmm, so they were all getting away with watching the tennis during working hours, and happy to admit it. Politicians are different from normal people, aren’t they? Hardly “Alarm Clock Britain”!

  • Alex Sabine 30th Jan '15 - 5:34pm

    @ David
    I have a sneaking feeling “normal people” occasionally let their attention wander from the daily grind to texts, social media and various other distractions. I seem to remember a survey that found the most productive time of day in offices across Britain was 10.26am and that not much got done between lunch time and about 4pm. Water-cooler conversations, coffee breaks, Facebook broke up the tedium. So maybe politicians aren’t a different species after all…

    @ Stuart
    “You hear of some unlikely friendships across political divides.”

    Indeed, political opponents and ideological foes often get on better than political bedfellows. Some historical examples that spring to mind:

    – Michael Foot and Enoch Powell (actually they shared quite a lot of attitudes too, on unilateral nuclear disarmament, Europe, reverence for Parliament and liberal penal reform, though emphatically not on immigration). According to Alan Watkins, “Foot admired Powell. And Powell, for his part, loved Foot. ‘And shall I tell you why I love him?’ said Powell, who was much given to answering his own questions. ‘It is because he speaks beautiful English.'”

    – Tony Benn and Enoch Powell…perhaps recognising their own mirror images! Indeed, Benn and Powell got on much better than Benn and Foot (who distrusted his younger comrade’s demagogic tendencies and the manoeuvrings of his disciples during Foot’s spell as Labour leader)

    – Michael Foot and the liberal Tory Ian Gilmour were good friends – evidently based on their shared enthusiasm for Byron

    – When he was a Labour MP Roy Jenkins had at least as many friends in the Liberal and Tory ranks as in his own party

    – Margaret Thatcher apparently had a soft spot for David Owen, and certainly preferred him to the patrician Tory ‘wets’ like Gilmour whose condescension she resented. Owen admired Thatcher, though neither set great store by political friendships.

    As Denis Healey said (and he should know!), Owen has a ‘rebarbative’ personality. On another occasion Healey, the master of put-downs, was ruder: “The good fairies gave the young doctor almost everything: thick dark locks, matinee idol features, a lightning intelligence – unfortunately the bad fairy made him a shit.” Which reminds me of his verdict on John Pardoe, who he worked with during the Lib-Lab pact: “He was robust and intelligent enough, but sometimes I felt he was simply Denis Healey with no redeeming features. More than once [Treasury Chief Secretary] Joel Barnett had to pick up he pieces after we had sent the crockery flying.”

    It strikes me that the quality of political insults has gone down since then, in direct proportion to their increased quantity!

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