No deal: Partisanship trumps party funding progress in PMQs cauldron
David Cameron and Ed Miliband roundly rejected each other's 'offers' to fix the party funding crisis in an especially hostile prime minister's questions this lunchtime.
Hopes that the Labour leader's radical moves to end his party's reliance on the trade unions might pave the way for a deal were dashed as the debate descended into bitter exchanges in the Commons chamber.
The prime minister continued his assault on Labour MPs for being "in the pocket" of the unions, while switching more of his attention on to Miliband as the man chosen to run Labour because of their support.
Miliband paved the way for his proposal of a £5,000 cap on donations to political parties by asking Cameron about the £25 million his party has received from hedge funds.
"Donations to the Labour party buy votes at your conference, candidates and MPs in this House and pay for the votes that gave him his job," Cameron replied.
He rejected the party funding deal outright, stating: "There is a problem with a £5,000 cap and it's this: it would imply a massive amount of taxpayer support for political parties.
"Frankly, I don't see why the result of a trade union scandal should be every taxpayer in the country paying for Labour."
Miliband said Cameron was "ducking funding reform" because "he doesn't want it to happen".
Yesterday the Labour leader revealed his determination to challenge the Tories over MPs' second jobs. The opposition wants to see a cap on earnings from second jobs in the next parliament, as well as a ban on MPs taking on new paid directorships and consultancies.
Cameron said "transparency" was critical on second jobs. He then hit back with an offer of his own, suggesting the government would support Labour in legislating against the unions with the bill dealing with third-party funding of politics due before parliament next week.
"If he wants to legislate to move from opting out to opting in, if he wants to give union members the chance to choose whether to donate, if he wants to allow union members to vote on whether they should give to Labour, we will legislate."
The offer was ignored by Miliband completely. "He doesn't want to talk about the trade unions stitching up parliamentary elections," Cameron responded.
"They own you lock, stock and block-vote."
Miliband hit back by attacking the prime minister's own links with wealthy donors.
"This is a man owned by a few millionaires at the top of society and everyone knows it," the Labour leader replied.
"I'm proud we have links with ordinary working people. He's bankrolled by a few millionaires."
Cameron replied by rejecting Miliband's claim that Labour is the "party of the people". He finished: "No wonder he thinks like Buddha. He wants to be reincarnated and come back as a proper leader."