Someone must have told Ed Miliband that he shouldn’t flit around, butterfly-like, between subjects at Prime Minister’s Questions. He did that last week and got a caning for it. So this week he was doggedly persistent – monomaniac even – on just one subject. Indeed, just one question. He repeated the same words over and over and over and over again. The impression was that he had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, but it worked and he ostensibly wrong-footed David Cameron.
Ed Miliband said that the government’s welfare reform plans would make 7,000 cancer sufferers worse off by up to £94 a week because, after a year, they will stop receiving employment and support allowance . He quoted Macmillan Cancer Support to underline his point. Basically, this week’s Cameron-Miliband routine revolved around Cameron saying Miliband was wrong on this point, then Miliband saying Cameron didn’t know his own bill and repeating the original point, several times.
At the end, though, there was some illumination (unusually for PMQs) when Miliband pointed out that Cameron was mistakenly thinking that Miliband was referring to the rules related to the terminally ill. He (Miliband) wasn’t.
No doubt, the Factcheck folk will analyse this exchange in detail. But to the casual observer, not versed in the minutiae of welfare reform, it appeared that Miliband got the better of the exchange.
• Gordon Birtwhistle (LibDem) asked the PM if he agrees that interest rates would be higher if the government followed Labour policy. Good point, said Cameron.
• Alan Reid (LibDem) asked Cameron to think again about the speed at which the state pension age for women is being raised. Cameron said only a “relatively small number” of women will be affected.
• It seems that Labour MPs have common cause with LibDem MPs over the women’s pension plans. Nia Griffiths (Lab) echoed Annette Brooke’s question of last week, asking if Cameron will change his mind on plans to force women to wait later for their state pensions.
Note from the Macmillan Dictionary: Shroud-waving: “the use of sad or frightening events or figures to draw attention to issues or to get a political advantage”.