I liked Miliband’s opening question:
Today we had the catastrophic news that Britain is back in recession. I am sure that the Prime Minister has spent the past 24 hours thinking of an excuse as to why it is nothing to do with him, so what is his excuse this time?
Interestingly, indeed unusually, David Cameron then managed to get through a fairly hefty paragraph without giving a single excuse. Indeed, he didn’t try to blame anyone else, either – so it was curious that Ed Miliband then said, in a presumably pre-scripted riposte:
Typical of this arrogant Prime Minister—he tries to blame everyone else.
Angela Smith (Lab) later referred to what she called “The Prime Minister’s dismissive response to the fact that the UK is now back in recession”. But the Prime Minister hadn’t been the slightest bit dismissive of that news.
Thus, rather tediously, Prime Minister’s Questions can amount to little more than an exchange of pre-scripted salvoes. Skilful off-the-cuff remarks are few and far between.
Talking of scripts, Jeremy Hunt spent most of the session going through his career-saving speech, which he delivered shortly afterwards. Ed Miliband went to town on Hunt. I find it difficult to believe that a Secretary of State can survive when they have given the leader of the opposition the opportunity to say things such as:
It beggars belief that the Prime Minister can defend the Culture Secretary, because he was not judging this bid—he was helping the bid by News Corporation. Two days before the statement to the House on 25 January, the Culture Secretary’s office was not only colluding with News Corp to provide it with information in advance, it was hatching a plan to ensure that it would be
“game over for the opposition”
to the bid. Does the Prime Minister really believe that is how a judge and his advisers are supposed to act?
Labour phrase of the week
Arrogance and complacency
Coalition phrase of the week
Tough and difficult
Liberal Democrat question
Stephen Lloyd asked if the PM thinks that the motives of people who donate to charity only to reduce their taxpayer are “honourable, kind and selfless”.
Fascinating political trivia fact of the week
The mother of David Amess (Con) is 100 years old next Thursday. She is called Maud. Both the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House of Commons have written to her.
* Paul Walter is a LibDem activist in Newbury, Berkshire and blogs at Liberal Burblings