PMQs as-it-happened

PMQs as-it-happens
PMQs as-it-happens

Follow this week's prime minister's questions, with politics.co.uk's live blog.

By Ian Dunt

11:26 - Welcome back to PMQs after that pernicious little conference season.  That really was dull, wasn't it? Well, not to worry, we've had the national drama of Liam Fox's social arrangements to cheer us up. It's hard to tell what Ed Miliband will lead on given the new term drudgery, but those unemployment figures seem a good place to start. Alternatively, there's the NHS reforms which are about to be fiddled with in the Lords. And of course there's the Liam Fox story itself. Labour believes it's found a plan of attack on this, which is to point out that the ministerial code is not supposed to be investigated by the Cabinet secretary. It should be Sir Philip Mawer, independent advisor on ministerial standards, that does the job. Nick Clegg battled off that idea yesterday. David Cameron could well struggle with it and it opens up a potentially potent angle of attack for Labour, which can claim the PM is sticking with the internal investigation to minimise embarrassment. Kick off is at 12:00 BST.

11:45 - Interesting news on the Guido Fawkes website, which reports that Peter Campbell, the man who has helped Cameron prepare for PMQs since he became Tory leader, has quit. It's worth paying attention to Cameron's performance then, to see if that absence is going to have an impact. 


11:48 - Welsh questions are currently winding down, not unlike a coma victim. Nia Griffith, the new shadow Welsh minister, makes her first speech in the post. It's very passionate.  So passionate, in fact, that my ears rejected it entirely. Cheryl Gillan, her opposite number, delivers the ultimate parliamentary cruelty - a warm welcome. Griffiths looks slightly unsure of her performance. Alun Cairns (Con , looks like a child's toy) is wearing the most unspeakable tie. It's very important no-one is ever again forced to see that tie.

11:54 - The Chamber is filling up. Cameron has just sat down.

11:57 - George Osborne, Ken Clarke and others are filling up the front bench. Cameron is carefully looking over his folder, which is covered in yellow post it notes - very neatly placed, I must say. Peter Bone is doing that tedious running gag where every point is made by Mrs Bone. Everyone that laughs at it should be added to the little black book.

11:59 - And off we go.

12:01 - Cameron reads the names of two servicemen killed in Afghanistan. Clegg is wearing a pink tie. At least we've moved away from the political colour coding.  Unless...? Anyway. Sir Alan Beith (LD, managerial) asks about the state pension and how it might be unfair to women. Cameron (sticking with the blue tie) defends his policy but admits some people will have to work for another 2 years. Miliband is up.

12:03 - Miliband is wearing a fetching grey suit, which I rather like. Not so keen on his shoulders though. Miliband starts on unemployment. "Isn't it time he admitted his plan isn't working," Miliband says. Cameron says the figures are "dissappointing". He says the government will do everything it can to get people back to work. He cites welfare reform and apprentiships, among other things. "We mustn't aboandon the plan that has given us record low interest rates," Cameron says. Miliband: "The same script. It isn't working. Why doesn't he accept some responsibility."

12:05 - Cameron says he accepts responsibility but wants some from Miliband too for those years in government. "He wants us to change course on reducing the deficit.  We'd end up with iinterest rates like Greece and we'd end up in a tail spin," Cameron shouts. Miliband says he wants a change of course for the people of this country. He suggests "To have a credible plan on the deficit you need a credible plan for growth." When did unemployment among women reach the point it's at today? Cameron says Miliband's figures are wrong and denies more women are unemployed. "Where is his credible plan?" Cameron  asks.

12:07 - The CBI, IoD, IMF, OECD all support coalition plans. Miliband doesn't even support from his former Cabinet secretaries. Cameron quotes Darling. Miliband quotes the chair of the Treasury committee in response. "Typically, he didn't answer the question on women's unemployment. "It's at the highest level since 1988," Miliband says. "Instead of apologising four months late for saying 'calm down dear' he should be apologising to the people of this country." Miliband asks how many businesses have benefited from one of his initiatives. Seven thousand, Cameron says immediately, prompting celebration on the Tory benches. The PM launches into a defence of government moves for women, especially on child care. Good period for Cameron.

12:09 - Cameron is back on his preferred attack, saying Miliband has no economc policy. Miliband demands the government cut VAT, help the construction industry and implement a bankers bonus tax. "When is the party opposite going to understand you can't borrow your way out of a debt crisis," Cameron says. "What a terrible answer," Miliband says. "I will take on those companies that don't do the right thing. We're seeing change today in the enegy sector because of what I said." Tories jeer loudly at that. Grim faces on the Labour benches, but it came at the end of a good little roll for Miliband. "The PM is trying to save the job of the defence secretary" but not for the country, Miliband says. "It's one rule if you're in the Cabinet and another for everyone else." Cameron compares Miliband's quote with Brown's "I saved the world" line. "You wouldn't bring back Fred Goodwin to sort out the banks, why would you bring them back to fix the economy," Cameron ends.

12:13 - I'd put that, just about, in the Miliband win category. Good lines from both, good little bit of rough and tumble actually. Miliband edged it with the Fox line at the end. 4-3 to the Labour leader.

12:15 - Andy Slaughter (Lab, twitching curtains) asks about health policy. Cameron uses it to mock Burnham, the new shadow health secretary, by quoting him saying that it's irresponsible to raise health spending in real terms. Unimpressive. Oh, Ken CLarke and Theresa May are sitting resolutely next to each other by the way. Although Ken Clarke is falling asleep I think. May is wearing a fetching white/black combo.

12:18 - Richard Fuller (Con, too groomed to be trustworthy) asks something about Bedofrd but I was distracted by his hair. Clarke definately asleep now. Andrew Miller (chair of the science committee, looks it) asks about closures of forensic science units, as professionals flock overseas. Cameron isn't giving ground. He says evidence points to the old model not working.

12:21 - Mark Spencer (Con, rower and not in a good way) wants more dampners on welfare etc. Cameron siezes it (planted question presumeably) to attack Labour. Pat Glass (Lab, forthright) asks whether someone should lose their job if they break the ministerial code. Cameron says that's up to him.  "Let us allow the Cabinet secretary to do his work, then  a decision can be made. I think the defence secretary has done an excellelent job clearing up after Labour." Reluctant but solid support from Cameron there.

12:23 - Keith Vaz (Lab, dancing queen) asks about gender equality in  the royal bloodline. Cameron agrees but says the consultation needs to include other heads of Commonwealth states. "It's an issue we ought to get sorted," Cameron says. Alun Michael (Lab, trouble-maker) says Cameron's chief spokesperson is a former colleague of Merritty. That's the first I've heard of that. Cameron relies on the ongoing report to deflect the question. Lots of noise. Cameron evidently uncomfortable.

12:29 - Henry Smith (Con, arched eyebrows) asks about union leader pay. We need union boss pay restraint, he says. Cameron: "They always want to listen to the trade unions but never to the Taxpayers' Alliance." Steve Rotheram (Lab, fifth Beatle) says some MPs would rather talk about their own pensions than Hillsborough and urges Cameron to control his own backbenchers. Chreistopher Pincher (Con, perpetually flabbergasted) asks about school reform and classic subjects. Cameron gives a textbook answer.

12:31 - Lee Scott (Con, shadowey) wants Cameron to back the prisoner swap in Israel/Palestine. Cameron says it's hard to contemplate what the Israeli went through. He wishes "everyone" in Israel well. And with that, we're done. No discernable difference in Cameron there, although he was nudged to the win by Miliband, admittedly on a tiny margin. Still, he appeared confident and on top of his various briefs. See you back here next week for more horror and politics. But mostly horror.

Comments

Load in comments