The shadow of David: Cameron attacks Miliband for ‘knifing’ brother

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron launched an intensely personal attack on Ed Miliband today, using PMQs to accuse the Labour leader of “knifing” his brother.

Mr Miliband, who beat his elder brother David for the Labour leadership, said the constant reference to his relatives meant the prime minister was “losing the argument”.

The exchange came when Mr Miliband criticised the government’s response to the crisis in Libya, accusing foreign secretary William Hague of presiding over a litany of embarrassments since the unrest began.

Mr Cameron’s full-bloodied defence of Britain’s response to the crisis failed to mention Mr Hague at all, despite repeated rumours that the SAS mission over the weekend, which ended in farce when they were captured by rebel forces, had fundamentally weakened the foreign secretary’s position.

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“Everyone will have heard the deafening silence about the performance of the foreign secretary,” Mr Miliband told the Commons, as he tried to emphasis divisions at the top of government.

“There’s only one person here I can remember knifing a foreign secretary and we’re looking at him,” Mr Cameron replied, referring to David Miliband’s previous position as foreign secretary under Gordon Brown.

“The more he brings my relatives into this argument the more you know he’s losing this argument,” the Labour leader replied.

“I’ve got a second cousin in Belgium he’ll be going after next, I’m sure.”

Mr Cameron accused Mr Miliband of being “touchy” and went on to read approvingly from a speech David Miliband delivered in central London last night, in which he warned that the left was fragmenting across Europe.

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The rowdy PMQs session, which saw Tory backbenchers rally to Mr Cameron’s side by chanting in support to a series of points about Labour’s lack of policies, also saw the two men clash on cuts to policing.

After asking the prime minister about mail-order fingerprinting kits being required due to reductions in police funding, the leader of the opposition said: “I know he believes in the ‘big society’, but solving your own crimes is a step too far.

“Does the prime minister have any idea what’s going on out there?”

He added: “We know the government is out of touch. Now we know it’s incompetent as well.

“The prime minister may act like he’s born to rule, but he’s not very good at it.”

Mr Cameron responded by suggesting the Labour leader had over-rehearsed his lines, something of a running theme during their exchanges at PMQs.

“What we see today is once again jumping on a bandwagon,” Mr Cameron added.