PMQs as-it-happened

Ian Dunt By

11:45 - Fifteen minutes to go until PMQs. And, in a sure sign the fates have a sense of humour, Labour firebrand Dennis Skinner has been given the first question.

11:50 - Miliband's main problem is that he couldn't use both the attacks available to him. One attack was 'nothing's changed', because the main offices of state have the same boss they had on Monday. The second was that the reshuffle marked a decisive shift to the right, because of what happened in lesser posts.  Both are true, to various degrees, but you can't use both at the same time because they sound mutually exclusive. If the opposition gets the public's ear at all, it only has time for simple messages ('Labour isn't working', 'didn't fix the roof when the sun was shining'), not nuanced ones. So Labour opted for the first, which limits Miliband's ability to mock the Hunt/Greyling/Greening palaver.

11:59 - Cabinet Office questions are winding down. Nothing to see here. When George Osborne walked in there was some booing, in a repeat of the Olympics embarrassment.

12:00 - Robert Halfon (Con, BNP-style Twitter profile) asks a question on apprenticeships which gets more cheers than it deserves. And we're off.

12:02 - Cameron starts by reading the names of servicemen who fell since the House last met. He also mentions the "huge success" of the Olympics. "They made the entire country proud," he says. It was commendable of him to reign it in. Skinner: "Is the PM aware this Cabinet reshuffle hasn't raised a ripple with the public, whereas those loud boos that greet the chancellor will haunt the posh boys forever. Be a man, call a general election."

12:04 - Cameron: "I have done something Labour never managed. I have put a miner in the Cabinet and they're running the railways." Now it's Nadine Dorries. Amazing. She says Lib Dems reneged on their boundary changes promise. Would they do it for state funding for political parties. Cameron says he doesn't support state funding.

12:05 - Miliband gets up. He repeats the tribute to servicemen and to Olympic organisers. Miliband milks it a little more, saying it showed "our country at its best". When Cameron came back from summer he said it was time "to cut through the dither". "Who did he have in mind?" Tories chant 'you'. Cameron: "He's had all summer and that's the best he can do."

12:06 - Cameron: "I want every single department to be about the economy. This is a government that means business and we've got the team to deliver it." Miliband: "It's good to see the chancellor still in his place." Miliband suggests he is now job sharing with Ken Clarke. Miliband goes back to last year's national infrastructure plan. "Can he tell us one year on of the road building projects in that plan - how many have actually started?" Cameron: "I've got my first choice as chancellor; he's got his third choice. Apparently he still has to bring in the coffee every morning. That's how assertive and butch the leader of the opposition is." Er... What?

12:08 - Miliband: "The Paralympic crowd spoke for Britain." Miliband says no roads have been built according to that plan. He moves onto housing. Since the last announcement, how many have started since then? Cameron says they are up 30% since 2009. He goes back to chancellors. "It was the shadow chancellor who landed us in this mess." This is already boring, and we've had a long break. Miliband: "I think sometimes he forgets - he's been PM for two and half years. He's got to defend his record. Housing stats have fallen since his announcement and are 24% lower than they a year ago." He moves onto planning.

12:11 - In March he launched a new system, but on Sunday he said he was frustrated by it. How is he so incompetent? Cameron struggles to respond, but says the coalition radically simplified the planning system, he says the World Economic Forum is putting Britain in the top ten of the world competitive survey. Cameron delivers another list of reported accomplishments. Clegg looks bored and Sad Francis Maude eager and scheming. Miliband retorts: "Back to the bunker. I think the Crimson Tide is back as well."

12:12 - "His fundamental economic approach is wrong," Miliband says. After two and half years the British economy has not grown at all. "Plan A has failed." Cameron says the private sector is growing. "We are now a net exporter of cars and vehicles. You are seeing the fastest rate of business creation for decades. It is a hard road, it is a difficult road, but we will stick to that road." Miliband says we're in the longest double dip recession since the Second World War. He warns Tories against telling their constituents it's everyone else's fault. "He promoted the culture secretary who should have been sacked. It's the same old faces, the same old policies. A no-change reshuffle. If he really wants to cut through the dither, there's no place like home." Cameron says something interesting: "In spite of all the opportunity, this is a weak opposition." Remarkable that the PM admits how much ammunition he's handed Miliband over the last couple of years.

12:16 - Quite a lethargic start to the new political season there. Miliband delivered a few blows, but should have been able to make much better material out of the reshuffle. Cameron defended much better than he had been in the run-up to the summer, but didn't come out fighting from his big moves yesterday. Backbenchers were quite subdued. I suppose everyone's mind is still on those beaches somewhere. It takes them a while to warm up. Final score: Miliband: 2 Cameron: 2.

12:19 - Andrew Lansley and Clegg are chatting to each other like an apocalypse of glum. It's interesting how focused Cameron is on highlighting divisions between Miliband and Balls, in a bid to recreate the TB-GBs. They don't get on and Balls has the loyalty of a scorpion, but there's not enough material/public awareness there for him to succeed with it. On the other hand, Miliband's 'ditherer' line could do real damage if it sticks. I'm still sticking to my equal score though...

12:23 - The PM backs action against London Metropolitan University by UKBA, saying there was "real abuse". The Uni is holding a demonstration outside the Home Office today. Anne McGuire (Lab, funky knitting) attacks Cameron for removing disability living allowance. She's not the first Labour MP to link it to the Paralympics, as you would expect. Cameron, as ever, sounds reasonable, selling the policy in terms of helping disabled people. It almost certainly doesn't, of course, but he's very good at pretending it does.

12:27 - John McDonnell (Lab, unmovable) goes for the jugular: Will Cameron guarantee there will be no change in Heathrow policy while he is prime minister? Cameron answers with a subtle change to the sentence. He will abide by his manifesto commitment. Lots of room to have another commitment in 2015 then...

12:32 - And with that, PMQs comes to an end. I must say that the return of PMQs, like the Premier League, is always a faintly depressing spectacle, because it foreshadows the start of the winter months. This session did nothing to change my emotional response. The main development was the new battle lines Miliband and Cameron tried out - Cameron focused on Balls/Miliband infighting and Miliband on the PM's dithering. Of the two, Miliband remains in the better position. See you next week, for the last PMQs before the conference season.

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