It’s been a rather depressing day in some ways.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a lacklustre performance at the Despatch Box as we saw from the new DFID team today. I don’t detect an ounce of passion for the topic in any of the three ministers, Andrew Mitchell, Alan Duncan and Stephen O’Brien, and how could anyone not become passionate about international development? I can see how it might not be everyone’s top priority, but once you’re given the job… (Speaking of which, why so few Lib Dems interested in development? They really aren’t, Malcolm Bruce excepted. Are they too parochial? Too individualist?)

Duncan and O’Brien are both former shadow Secretaries of State for Industry. (Does anyone remember O’Brien doing the job? I don’t, but it’s in his DFID biog). Perhaps being, respectively, Minister of State and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at DFID is something of a comedown after that, in which case, give up, go and earn some money, and let someone do the job who genuinely cares about it. Alan Duncan had the air of a sulky teenager who’d been ordered to carry out good deeds as a punishment for sundry misdemeanours, who was determined to make it perfectly obvious to everyone that he was doing it under duress.

Then we had the statement on the Gaza flotilla. Almost unanimous condemnation of Israel’s actions, though no clear steer from Hague as to what he would or could do other than give them a good ticking off. I say almost unanimous… I’ve found it depressing over the past few days how some people – e.g. on Twitter – have tied themselves in knots trying to find ways to justify Israel’s actions because they are ‘friends of Israel’ and that’s what they do. I’m as tribal as the next person (well, perhaps slightly more so!) but there’s a difference between loyalty to a cause, and blindly defending the indefensible.

Then we had the Queen’s Speech debate on education and health, and as if the sight of Gove on the Government front benches wasn’t bad enough, we had a succession of new Tory MPs bobbing up to speak, several of whom had ousted some very decent Labour comrades and imho aren’t a patch on them.

And then when I popped into the Whips office my colleague Tony Cunningham, who represents Workington in Cumbria, the neighbouring seat to where the shootings happened, was watching events unfold on television. My heart goes out to Jamie Reed, the local MP and his constituents.

Oh, and Cameron did his first ever PMQs as Prime Minister. It was very flat. Seemed to go on for ages. He may have done a bit of u-turn on anonymity in rape trials. And he was caught out by a question from a 26 year old newly-elected Labour MP. Nothing else to report really.

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  • Rachel  On June 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Poor Jamie has had to deal with November’s flooding, spending half of the election campaign in his “key marginal” in hospital, the Keswick bus crash and now these shootings.

    He’s seriously overdue some “green pastures” – as are all of us here in Copeland.

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