Revealed: Cameron's 'protective wall of sound' at PMQs

PMQs: Well planned behind the scenes
PMQs: Well planned behind the scenes
Ian Dunt By

The full extent of Tory planning for PMQs has been revealed in a secret email which encourages MPs to barrack Ed Miliband.

While anyone who has watched PMQs knows considerable planning clearly goes on behind the scenes, the leaked email reveals the full extent of the activity dedicated to helping the prime minister survive the encounter.

The email, from Tory MP and Territorial Army officer Desmond Swayne, makes a mockery of David Cameron's pre-election pledge to get rid of the "Punch and Judy" nature of PMQs, and will further stoke tension with Speaker John Bercow, who has repeatedly tried to cut down the rowdiness of the Commons.

Last week's email, which was seen by the Sunday Telegraph, sees Mr Swayne demand Tory MPs shout "apologise" to Ed Miliband when he stands up over the state Labour left the economy in and encourages them to report business successes from their constituencies.

"Given the 'shivers' of [IMF boss] Christine Lagarde I hope you will agree with me that it will be appropriate for Ed Milliband [sic] to be greeted when he rises … with vociferous demands for an apology.

"Last week we rather dried up as the half hour wore on, and comrades at the end of the order paper did not enjoy as vociferous support as they deserved, nor the PM's responses to them," he wrote just before the session started.

"Please show sufficient stamina for full half hour.

"I anticipate lots of LOL gags [a reference to Rebekah Brook's Leveson testimony] so let's have a protective wall of sound," he continued.

"If Ed [Miliband] even grudgingly acknowledges anything positive in to-day's unemployment figures then instantaneously bring down the roof 'yereyereyere...".

The session went mostly to plan. At the start, Tory MP Karen Bradley said: "Does the prime minister shiver when he thinks about what would have happened had he not put a credible fiscal plan in place?"

Moments later Mr Miliband stood up and Tories could be heard shouting: "Apologise."

But the stage-managed exercise somewhat fell apart when David Cameron succumbed to Ed Ball's constant barracking and branded him "a muttering idiot".

Mr Miliband struggled to command confidence in the Commons after Tory benches took to mock-cheering him whenever he stood up in the chamber.

But with the press giving him more of a hearing and the prime minister labouring under months of bad headlines, he now has a somewhat easier time on Wednesday afternoons.


Load in comments
Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.