PMQs: Ed Miliband just about hits the barn door

From memory, this was the first time the Cameron/Miliband exchange centred wholly on the economy.

There was plenty of ammo for Miliband to fire at Cameron. Unemployment up to its highest for 15 years. Women’s unemployment at its highest since 1988. Youth unemployment at its highest since 1992. He started with a quote from David Cameron himself saying that “Unemployment will fall this year, next year and the year after”. (Bit of daft hostage to fortune that was.)

Cameron was well armed with all the programmes the government is starting: Welfare to Work programme, Welfare reform, Apprenticeships etc etc. And we have record low interest rates, you know.

“Same script – it isn’t working” replied Miliband adding that there are one million youngsters out of work. “Will he accept responsibility?” asked Miliband.

Miliband then rather had the rug pulled from under his feet. His flabber was presumably gasted. Cameron actually did accept responsibility. Intakes of breath all round. But there was a follow-up: “Will he accept responsibility for the mess Labour left?”. There you are. Clever politician, our PM.

There is no credible plan for growth, was Miliband’s central point.

Cameron replied that there are 50,000 more people in work than at the time of the last election. And he then unleashed his quotes file – featuring Messrs Darling and Johnson.

Unusually, Miliband had a quote to throw back at Cameron. It was Mr Tyrie saying the government’s growth plan was “inconsistent and incoherent”.

Then we had an interesting one. Miliband quoted the Chancellor saying that his National Insurance holiday would help 400,000 firms. How many has it helped? – he asked.

Cameron must have taken a blunt answer pill before today’s session:. “7,000” – he answered. Hilarious really. But he quickly covered up that embarrassment with an avalanche of government schemes: Free child care expansion, Tax credits etc etc

It’s like Miliband makes clever points and then Cameron chucks his briefing notes at him.

Oh, and we’d end up going to the IMF for a loan if Labour had their way, Cameron added.

There was then something that is a rare as hen’s teeth. Evidence of a Labour plan! Amazing. “Cut VAT and put more money into people’s pockets, help the construction industry to get moving, and invest in getting young people back to work by having a bankers’ bonus tax.”

After a little more quote exchange we arrived at a fascinating moment. With childlike naivety, Miliband said: “We are seeing change today in the energy sector because of what I said”. It almost ranked up there with Al Gore (reportedly) claiming to have invented the internet. (UPDATE: Please see here that the CE of SSE accepts that the change was indeed a result of what Ed Miliband said at his conference. Apologies.)
So that unfortunate faux pas allowed Cameron to come back with his best line:

The last Labour leader thought he saved the world, the Right Honourable gentleman thinks he is Walter Mitty.

Oh and Miliband ended with saying that Cameron is fighting to save his Defence Secretary’s job while doing nothing to save the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country.

LibDem question watch

Sir Alan Beith combined a comment that we should withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan at the earliest opportunity with a question about women in their late 50s who have already had their retirement age moved from 60 to 64 and now face a further two year extension. David Cameron replied that there would be transitional help for women in that category, to be announced soon.

Paul Walter blogs at Liberal Burblings

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This entry was posted in News, Parliament and PMQs.


  • “From memory, this was the first time the Cameron/Miliband exchange centred wholly on the economy.”

    Your memory clearly doesn’t extend back as far as *the previous PMQs* then…

  • Julian heather 12th Oct '11 - 2:17pm

    Thanks, Paul. Extremely helpful summary, and commentary, since I missed the live PMQs.

    Interesting that Cameron didn’t mention the impending growth impact of the Lib Dem-led Green measures, eg the Green Investment Bank (£3 million to lend out to environmental projects and businesses) and the Green Deal, employing thousands of people to make homes energy efficient, by using the elcticity companies to pay for the work.

  • Julian heather 12th Oct '11 - 2:18pm

    Whoops – £3 billion !

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 12th Oct '11 - 2:40pm

    @Mark Ah yes. 14th September. Time flies. 🙂

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 12th Oct '11 - 2:45pm

    Thank you, Julian

  • Paul, you normally give a full account of backbencher’s questions. Strange then that you make no mention of Nia Griffith MP who asked if the Prime Minister would publish a full list of all the Ministers and Downing Street Staff who since May 2010 have met Mr Adam Werritty in either an official or social capacity including whether Cameron himself had met him. No mention either of the question from Pat Glass MP who asked whether, if a minister breaks the ministerial code should he or she keep their job. Or Alan Michael who asked whether the Prime Minister was aware before today that his chief spokeswoman was a former colleague of Mr Adam Werritty. I’m surprised that you did not think these questions important. Why was that I wonder?

  • Paul Walter Paul Walter 12th Oct '11 - 4:36pm

    @Mack Because I only had 30 minutes in my lunchbreak to write the thing up! I had to get out the car as soon as Ed Miliband stopped speaking. But thank you for pointing out those excellent questions.

    “If it’s a question of whether something is cock-up or conspiracy – it’s usually cock-up, I find” – Baroness Seear.

  • @nonny nouse

    “If we really care about creating more jobs to tackle poverty then we need to pay less to those who have jobs.”

    Yes, we can expect a lot of this over the coming months as unemployment goes off the scale and the coalition seeks to abolish the minimum wage.

  • Rachel Coleman Finch 13th Oct '11 - 3:34pm

    Families depend on men to bring home the bacon, yet Labour spent 13 years focusing on jobs for women … [just creating] more children in poverty by destroying families.

    Do I understand you are arguing that women having economic independence is the cause of “destroying families” and driving them into poverty?

    I bring home slightly more ‘bacon’ than my husband, and find this argument astonishing in this day and age.

  • Daniel Henry 13th Oct '11 - 6:31pm

    @ Nonny Mouse
    Until your third paragraph I thought you were one of us! 🙂

  • @ Paul Walter
    “(UPDATE: Please see here that the CE of SSE accepts that the change was indeed a result of what Ed Miliband said at his conference. Apologies.)”

    Many thanks Paul for your update. Proves that when it comes to honourable Lib Dems you are in the first rank. Fortunate that I re-read your thread. Could not follow your link but found my own to prove what you say is true. Cameron’s Walter Mitty jibe has rebounded on him.

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