First of all, since I stayed up, I've been watching C-Span all evening. Last night, Vladimir Putin was visiting Britian, and they showed a bit of the state dinner with him and the Queen. First, the Queen spoke, and then Putin expressed his sympathy for the British soldiers killed and wounded in Iraq -- in English. I was pretty impressed.
Second, I must point out that "God Save the Queen" always throws me, because I, like most good Americans and some bad ones, learned it as "My Country Tis of Thee". :)
Anyway, PMQ. I can see why Iain Duncan Smith (the leader of the conservatives) isn't very well liked in Britian. He's just so stuffy. :P Blair, while barely holding onto his PM seat at the moment, is a much better speaker, and much more charismatic. Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat's leader, is no Tony Blair either, but he's better than Duncan Smith, IMO.
I have to admit, despite being an American, and thus needing to believe that our crazy system of checks and balances is of course the best way to handle a government in the world, I have to admit I like the tradition of Prime Minister's Questions in parlimentary-style government. Blair is accountable to his government and his country in a way that Bush is not. I'd hate to see Bush trying to handle some of the curveballs that Blair is hitting well.
I've always, strangely, admired Blair. I remember wishing, just after 9-11, that Tony Blair was the President instead of Bush. He's always seemed to be a much more together leader than Bush, which is why I'm partially sad that I'm wishing for him to go down. But the problem is that Blair needs to go down to get the American media to pay some attention to Bush and his war and all the lies that were propogated for us to go to war now.
Ouch, somebody just asked about an 'exit strategy' for Iraq. Ouch. Blair's stumbling a bit. I don't think he's got one, but he's seeming to imply that British troops will be there until Iraq is fixed. That could be a while.
I think I get the idea of 'backbenchers' just by watching the British House of Commons. It's neat watching the workings of a government that isn't mine.
And beyond the Iraq questions, there's some other crazy stuff being asked, and I don't quite understand all the yelling when some things get said. Like Smith is going off about National Insurance, which I, not being a British citizen or residence, don't quite understand. I think National Insurance is your health care system? Yeah. Duncan Smith just provoked Blair and is going after him. For national insurance, though, not for Iraq.
Ouch. Blair just hit back by saying that his government has it lower than Thatcher's government. %) That ought to be sticking in Duncan Smith's craw.
Argh. I wish I could remember who Alistair Campbell was...somebody just asked if he should go. Blair just defended him, though...and now somebody's asking about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Blair, I think, is walking a hard line here.
Ouch! Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party is going after that dossier again. And Blair is straight out saying those dossiers are correct, but I think there's some question about how correct those dossiers are. "Going after Iraq was right for the region and right for the world!" (paraphrasing Blair. Ouch, this is bad.)
Somebody from Northern Ireland just asked about honouring the police there that have kept the peace, and Blair agreed.
"No, I'm satisfied with the tax plan, as you can expect." <-- Blair's got a sense of humour.
Yeah, I really like Prime Minister's Questions. Even if some of the questions are just "why the hell are they asking this?" Yeah, I wish we had something similiar in the U.S.'s system so that Bush would have to face this kind of scrutiny. And I'm really impressed with the fact that Blair is answering all these questions pretty much off the top of his head.
And I think that's it. Sorry for all of you that this bores, but it was fun. And I'm living proof that not all Americans are stuck up snobs that think nothing is good as the U.S. I know the U.S.'s system the best, but that's because I'm an American citizen, and I can see where it has its hangups. Parlimentary systems I'm not so familiar with, but I think I like them.