Unemployment blame game plays out at PMQs

By Alex Stevenson

Ed Miliband went on the offensive at this week's prime minister's questions over unemployment figures David Cameron admitted were "disappointing".

Latest statistics show 80,000 more people are out of work, prompting the Labour leader to conclude that the PM believed "unemployment was a price worth paying" for getting the deficit under control.

Mr Cameron fought back by sarcastically describing Labour's "golden inheritance". "It is right that we get on top of our debts and our deficits," he insisted, before insisting the coalition was more effective on helping the poor through tax credits.

The prime minister added: "There is not one ounce of complacency in this government about the need to do more to help people back to work."

But Mr Miliband replied: "He and this government are a byword for complacency in this country!"

After a dispute over "the facts" of other countries' growth figures and a remark about chancellor George Osborne having "lashed himself to the mast" – which triggered extensive laughter from the opposition benches – Mr Miliband once again returned to the unemployment record.

"The message to all those people who have lost their jobs is the prime minister is not going to change course," he said.

Mr Cameron finished by listing the steps taken by the coalition to tackle unemployment, including starting the regional growth fund, expanding apprenticeships and increasing capital spending.

"The truth is it was the last government that robbed young people of their future by piling up the debt," he finished, to cheers from Conservative MPs. "It is this government that's going to deal with their debts and give them back their future."