William Hague reveals tactics for beating Tony Blair at PMQs
William Hague may have stepped back from the frontline of politics, but many will be pleased to hear that he shows no sign of turning his back on the speaking circuit.
This morning, the former Tory leader gave a speech at a JLA breakfast event in the City during which he outlined some of the tactics for how he tried to best Tony Blair at PMQs.
In the early stages, Blair arrived at the chamber with no notes, confident that he knew enough to see him through.
That did not last long, however, as Hague explained.
"After about six weeks... he came out with these big folders that had the answers to every single subject you could ever imagine in the alphabet; from aardvark to zoology, he could show you killed more aardvarks than he did when you were in office or you shut more zoos, and all subjects in between."
So the Tories came up with a cunning strategy.
"I invented a new technique of asking questions, which was to only reveal in the final word of the only sentence in the question what the subject of the question was so that he couldn’t find his place in the alphabetical book.
“So you’d say ‘what is the explanation for the increase in...’ and it could be health waiting lists over here, unemployment facts over here, and then you say ‘taxes’ and sit down quickly.
“There is a technique called the multiple moving strike which is that you have questions which are thematically related but not alphabetically related."
Hague also outlined how he set up longer-term traps: a device called the “deep minefield”.
“This takes a couple of years to work out – where you ask a question where nobody can work out why you’re asking it at all. And you may have your doubts. But you’re just sowing a minefield for the future.
"Will the Prime Minister sack any minister who breaks the ministerial code of conduct and they’ll all be going ‘well, what’s Hague on about today?’... The Prime Minister says ‘yes, of course’ and dismisses the question.
"Then you sit back and think you know something nobody else knows – even though you don’t, of course, and you wait. And sometimes you wait for about a year-and-a-half and a minister breaks the code of conduct and the bomb explodes.
"It was always Peter Mandelson in my time."
And there's more! Hague also set out how he dealt with posers from MPs when he was foreign secretary and when he stood in for David Cameron as first secretary of state.
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