PMQs verdict: Miliband toe-punts his way to a draw

Ed Miliband: Disgusted of North London
Ed Miliband: Disgusted of North London
Adam Bienkov By

Today's prime minister's questions was all about accident and emergency centres, or "Ay-a-nees" as Miliband calls them.

The exchange followed new figures which show that more people than ever are now waiting longer than four hours to be treated in A&E.

Miliband wanted Cameron to apologise for what all British newspapers today labelled this new 'NHS crisis'.

Cameron refused to apologise but did say he "regretted" any poor service patients had received. This wasn't enough for Miliband.


"As far as I can see, he's not apologising to patients, he's blaming patients," he replied. This was a good line, spoiled only by the minor fact that Cameron hadn't actually blamed patients for anything. As is often the case, "As far I can see," actually meant "as far as I can make up".

Despite this, Cameron did struggle today. The new A&E figures are almost impossible for him to defend. The prime minister had promised to improve A&E waiting times and had instead overseen them getting significantly worse. There is literally no legitimate defence he could have made. The only thing he could do was attack the leader of the opposition for daring to ask about it. So that is precisely what he did.

Unable to defend himself, Cameron instead repeatedly accused Miliband of trying to make the NHS "a political football" as he tried desperately to appear angry that Miliband would ever do such a "disgusting" thing.

History does not record how similarly disgusted Cameron felt, when as leader of the opposition himself, he promised a "bare-knuckled fight" over hospital closures, only to later oversee the closure of many of those same hospitals. Pretty disgusted I imagine.

Still, the Labour leader was having none of it.

"I'll tell you what's disgusting… I'll tell you what's disgusting… I'll tell you what's disgusting," stammered Miliband, momentarily unable to get beyond quite how disgusted he was.

"I'll tell you what's disgusting. It's a prime minister who said they could put their trust in him on the NHS and he has betrayed that trust…"

Miliband's political football was now lined-up.

"People know that if they want to get rid of the crisis in the NHS they have to get rid of this prime minister," he suggested as he lightly toe-punted it across the chamber towards the open posts.

"The choice at the election is to stick with a party with a long term plan not the the party that would wreck our economy and wreck our NHS," replied Cameron as the political football gently ricocheted off his forehead and away from the goal.

Final score: 0-0 draw.

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