PMQs: Miliband goes all Ballsy

Good Lord! Ed Miliband and David Cameron actually agreed on something. They agreed that yesterday’s growth figures were “disappointing”. They even agreed that if you set aside the bad weather impact, the figures were flat over the last quarter. An amazing level of agreement at PMQs! Unheard of!

Miliband asked about the causes of the disappointing figures. Cameron pointed to the UK’s large deficit and the large banking boom and bust. Ed Miliband then asked Cameron to confirm that he still thinks we are “out of the danger zone” (Cameron’s words from 15th December). We are no longer linked with PIG (Portugal, Ireland, Greece), said Cameron.

After Cameron said “If you do not deal with your debts, you will never have growth”, Ed Miliband came back with “If you do not have growth, you will never cut the deficit.” That has to be his best rejoinder ever at PMQs. Cameron dealt with that, however, by quoting the head of the OECD: “if you don’t deal with the deficit you can be assured that there will not be growth because confidence will not recover”.

Miliband asked if the PM would change his strategy to get the economy moving. Er, no, it would seem.

One can understand Miliband making his point about the non-growth figures with great emphasis. He climaxed with “when we left office the economy was growing. Now the Prime Minister is in office, and it is not.”. He asked if Cameron would continue with the plan “to take another £20 billion of the economy this year”.

This unleashed Cameron’s inner Flashman: “We have now heard what I think we are going to hear a lot more of: the theory that there was a golden inheritance from the Labour party. That is one of the most laughable propositions that I have ever heard put in the House of Commons. “

He then entered a long tirade about Labour’s record and we were well off the scale with the PMQs “I’ll say my bit and you say your bit – don’t worry about questions and answers” scenario.

“He is not going to do anything to bring about growth in the economy.” – said Miliband – although that wasn’t what Cameron said, and Miliband seemed to be inferring that there is a binary relationship between cutting the deficit and encouraging growth, that you can only do one or the other. That’s pure Balls’.

A good line then from Cameron: “he seems to have replaced a shadow Chancellor who did not understand Labour’s programme with one who does not agree with it”. Cameron reminded Miliband of Labour’s own plan for significant cuts to start in April this year. Miliband shook his head. Cameron added: “As far as I can hear, his only plan is to borrow money we have not got, to spend money on things we cannot afford, and not to do the work we need to do to sort this economy out.”.

Miliband repeated his point that the Prime Minister is out of touch with the country. Cameron ended by very selectively choosing some praise for the government’s approach from the Governor of the Bank of England.

Cameron did well to fight back this week, given the disadvantage of the poor growth figures. Miliband did some good work but I can’t help but think that he has gone native with his new Shadow Chancellor. He seems to have decided to propose continuing zero deficit reduction until the twelfth of Junever. Unfortunately, this doesn’t square with the plans Labour laid down while in government, so it looks like shallow opportunism of the first order.

Other snippets were:

  • Alok Sharma (Con) stated that the new administration of Reading Borough Council “has uncovered the fact that over the past 12 years the previous Labour administration spent £1.4 million of taxpayers’ money funding the salaries of three full-time union officials.” Fascinating stuff.
  • Gregory Campbell asked when the PM will introduce the “promised” fuel duty stabliser. It might be in the budget, seemed to be the answer.
  • Esther McVey (Con) got David Cameron to welcome the new Enterprise Allowance for Merseyside.
  • In response to a question from Elizabeth Truss (Con), Cameron announced that the Secretary of State for Education will at last spend a few minutes thinking about maths teaching, rather than being totally obsessed with History and Geography.
  • Don Foster (LibDem) asked for assurances that disabled people in care homes will still have access to individually tailored mobility support at no extra cost to them or their families. “Yes”, it seems, was the answer.
  • Blackpool should become a UNESCO World Heritage site, says one of its MPs, Paul Maynard.
  • The talks with the bankers are ongoing and the Prime Minister wants to “see the taxes go up, the bonuses come down, but vitally, the lending increase”
  • This session of Prime Minister’s questions was watched, from the gallery, by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
  • The Prime Minister announced that Gerry Adams is now the Baron of the Manor of Northstead. You couldn’t make it up! Does that mean Adams has to wear a robe?
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    This entry was posted in PMQs.


    • Cameron on points I’d say…..

      The problem we now have is that we cannot get answers on the economy. Cameron just goes into the usual speech in response to Labour questions and Lib Dems don’t really ask any. Today should have been about the serious and legitimate concerns regarding the recent projection not an excuse for two oxbridge types playing debate club uncut…..

    • I think Steve Way has a serious point when he says that the LibDems don’t say anything – therefore the public are entitled to make the assumption that the LibDems agree with everything the Tories are doing.

      It was all good knock-about stuff at PMQ but Milliband seems to be gaining in confidence and realising he can take Cameron on. More importantly plenty of vocal support for him.

      Clegg must be reading this site because his nodding-head had gone.

      Surprisingly it came back when May said there were some very dangerous people that couldn’t be brought to court – I thought that was telling and would seem to me that Clegg now knows what the evidence is against those on Control Orders and I expect over the next 12 months before the Control Orders Lite come in that there will be a lot of re-alignment on his part.

    • I thought that Ed Miliband’s observation that the cuts were “Hurting but not working!” was excellent.

    • @Dan Falchikov
      “that’s because they haven’t started yet”

      Not quite true as the building programmes cancelled may have contributed to the 3% plus decline in the construction sector. Although I was unimpressed with Milliband or his rehearsed soundbite.

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