This has its disadvantages in today’s tell-me-quick sound-bite age, and Ming has been criticized for lacking the necessary fire in his belly when it comes to tackling the Prime Minister in the bear-pit of the House of Commons. This has never really bothered me - leadership is about cool, calm decision-making, rather than over-rehearsed smart-arse quips best confined to students’ unions.
The clear advantage of Ming’s serious and sober demeanour is that, when he does do angry, you sure as hell know he means it. And today was one such day. As the BBC’s Nick Assinder relates:
Sir Menzies Campbell once again confounded his critics by displaying genuine fire and passion over Iraq. Ming, as he is known, repeated his call for a timetable for British troop withdrawals by October and, when he got the expected prime ministerial put down that such a deadline would play into the hands of the enemies in Iraq, he sprung his trap.Here’s Ming’s stinging rebuke to the Prime Minister:
“If he feels so strongly, he should come to debate these issues. What could possibly be more important than that the Prime Minister should be here to debate the issue of Iraq at a time when British forces are at risk every day in respect of their lives? Isn't that the kind of leadership we are entitled to?”PS: I would link directly to the BBC Parliament video of PMQs, but (i) it’s almost impossible to find on the BBC website since their whizz-bang audio/video upgrade; and (ii) they’re still showing last week’s (but without any helpful date reference in the title to indicate this).