PMQs: It’s déjà vu all over again

Andrew Selous MP (Conservative) got up at Prime Minister’s Questions this week and said this:

What does he think about Ken Livingstone, who said that: “I get loads of money, all from different sources, and I give it to an accountant and they manage it”? Is that modern socialism for you?

A superb question. But one could be forgiven for being reminded of Yogi Berra’s remark:

It’s déjà vu all over again

Tom McNally writes: Why I support reform of the European Court of Human Rights

Just a month ago, Nick Clegg said at Prime Minister’s Questions:

It is worth dwelling for a minute on the explanation provided by Ken Livingstone for his exotic tax arrangements. I quote from an interview that he gave just this weekend:

“I get loads of money, all from different sources, and I give it to an accountant and they manage it”.

That is modern socialism for you.

Tory MPs copying your remarks almost word for word…flattery? Or scary?

It has to be said that there are one heck of a lot of subjects which are debated at any one PMQs. It’s no surprise that David Cameron avoids the question by ignoring it completely and/or going into “Flashman mode”.

But he gave one very passionate, very pithy answer this week to Labour MP Ian Murray, who complained about the abolition of the 50 pence tax rate:

Let me just make this point about the top rate of tax—[Hon. Members: “Answer.”] Let me just make this point. The Labour party had 13 years to introduce a 50p top rate of tax. It did so one month before a general election that it knew it was going to lose. That top rate of tax has not raised any money, and the 45p rate that we have is higher than what Labour had for 12 of its 13 years in government.

The exchange between Ed Miliband and the Prime Minister was perhaps one of the most substantial we’ve seen. As usual, there was no real engagement on questions, but they both fired some fairly heavy artillery at each other.

There was everything in their exchange bar the kitchen sink. Subjects covered included:

50 pence tax rate, unemployment, millionaires, personal tax allowance, pension, families with children, Ken Livingstone, charities, tube fares, corporation tax, the fuel crisis, the Bradford West by-election etc etc.

But the basic theme was one which cannot ignored. Did George Osborne make a complete Horlicks of the budget or what?

…Or as Ed Miliband put it:

Over the past month we have seen the charity tax shambles, the churches tax shambles, the caravan tax shambles and the pasty tax shambles, so we are all keen to hear the Prime Minister’s view on why he thinks, four weeks on from the Budget, even people within Downing street are calling it an omnishambles Budget.

Lib Dem and Alliance questions

Naomi Long asked about bringing Northern Ireland political donation disclosure into line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

Stephen Gilbert pointed out that there is no VAT on caviar, but there is VAT proposed on the Cornish pasty.

Question of the week

Labour’s Alex Cunningham asked:

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman argued last week that rich individuals were avoiding tax by giving to charities which

“don’t, in all cases, do a great deal of charitable work”.

Can the Prime Minister name any of these charities?

No. He could not.

Return of the living dead

Heeeere’s Georgie!

As I was saying, Mr Speaker

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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This entry was posted in PMQs.


  • In 1576, Luis de Leon, Spanish poet and theologian, returned to Salamanca after four years imprisonment by the Inquisition. He’s reported to have begun his first lecture with the words – Dicebamus hesterna die (“As we were saying yesterday….”). Somehow I doubt that the ever so expensively educated Cameron spotted the reference. In common with many of his class he strikes me as a curiously incurious individual. More at home with quotes from car insurance adverts than Spanish poets. I’ve been a bit annoyed with Galloway since he beat Roy Jenkins in Hillhead in 1987, my first election as a voter, but oddly I rather like seeing him back in the Commons.

  • Great to see George Galloway back in the Commons. I don’t agree with many of his political or religious views but I admire the way that he has educated and applied himself despite coming from a relatively poor family background. He is a superb speaker and has a wealth of erudition. A Galloway radio show used to cover a wide range of subjects, from bowel cancer to foreign wars, from dangerous dogs to the theory of evolution. There is no way that the leaders of the three main parties could host such an interesting show and all three of them would cower in fear when faced by a Congressional enuqiry. Good to see George back and thank you to the people of Bradford.

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