PMQs: Miliband goes all Thatcher

Full marks to Ed Miliband. He had a good Prime Minister’s Questions this week.

One of the reasons he did so well is that he took a leaf out of Margaret Thatcher’s book. He lowered the tone of his voice. Gone was the shrill shouting of recent weeks. Instead we had a calm, firm low tone. And he slowed down his delivery, making it very de-li-ber-ate. As a result he sounded a lot more effective.

First on executive pay, and then on the NHS, Miliband did well against the PM. For me, his line of the week was this one on top pay:

he says that the class war against the bankers is going to be led by him and his Cabinet of millionaires. I do not think it is going to wash, frankly.

On the NHS reforms, he also started a very good chorus of “against the bill” from his own backbenchers, as he read out a list of professional and other bodies who are…..all together now….”AGAINST THE BILL”.

David Cameron got into trouble with the speaker for accusing Miliband of “hypocrisy”, which was deemed “not parliamentary” and had to be withdrawn.

Doughnut of the week
There is a little piece of business which takes place when backbenchers ask questions. More often than not, they are surrounded by like-minded MPs. It is interesting to observe the supportive nods and noises from these “doughnuts”. As Esther McVey (Con) asked a question, I thought Eleanor Laing won the prize for adoring look of the week.

Whipwatch
The Tory whips managed to rack up five Tory questions about the £26,000 benefit cap, with two additional Prime MInisterial mentions and a further question from the DUP.

The Labour whips managed to get in a few mentions of the contrast between the government’s ‘lax’ treatment of high earning executives and its treatment of hard-working families. In fact, “working” scores heavily in this Wordle cloud (right) of this week’s PMQs. Indeed, “I think it is right to support working people” is the sentence of the week, according to Wordle.

LibDem questions
Tom Brake asked about the future of the Epsom, St Helier and Sutton hospitals.

Juilan Huppert asked if the Prime Minister would go “further and faster” on the increase of the income tax threshold to £10,000, pointing out that the measure was on the front page of the last Liberal Democrat manifesto.

Quoting the tragic case of a constituent, Greg Mulholland asked whether drivers’ licences will be withdrawn as a bail condition in death by dangerous driving cases involving alleged serious breaches of the alcohol limit.

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

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3 Comments

  • To be honest with the raw material available Millibland again failed to rise to the occasion. Yes, Cameron was on the back foot with the NHS but my 8 year old could have achieved that on the back of the statements from the Royal Colleges.

    He should have also highlighted the Lords amendments (that were later overturned) instead of shying away due to public opinion. He would have known there was at least some Lib Dem MP support for the amendments and should have risked a bit to leverage it.

    If he isn’t prepared to try and shape public opinion rather than just follow it he will continue to be a poor leader of the opposition.

    Julian Huppert continues to impress me. The more ways tax thresholds can be kept on the agenda the better…

  • He’s taking another leaf out of Thatcher’s book – flirting with euroscepticism. “A veto is not for life – just for Christmas” is a well-prepared soundbite but much more likely to appeal to the Bill Cash mentality than to those of us who want our government to be making the best possible contribution to solving the problems of the Eurozone.

    Milliband should be firmly opposing Cameron’s attempt to weaken the treaty initiative by attempting to use a veto in the first place – not vilifying him because the attempt came to nothing. After all Milliband is perfectly well aware that if the eurozone goes down we go down too.

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