PMQs: Miliband misses a golden opportunity

LibDem Julian Huppert started Prime Minister’s Questions with a zinger today. He said that jobs and growth depend on consumer confidence, and asked if, therefore, the PM thinks that telling 25 million people that they have no job security and could be fired tomorrow will help consumer confidence (this refers to the proposal from Tory businessman Adrian Beecroft). David Cameron had no answer but instead, as always, threw his briefing notes at the questioner (metaphorically speaking).

I should also mention, en passant, that Julian asked for suggestions for his first question via Twitter. Good man.

After the MiliCam exchange, I was left wondering how John Smith, or Robin Cook, or even Yvette Cooper or David Miliband, would have done in Ed Miliband’s place today. Much better, I suspect. The forensically accurate scalpel incision was missing.

The Border controls episode should have been Ed Miliband’s hotels fall into the sea moment. Instead, we got a lukewarm performance. The best Miliband could manage was to call the matter a “fiasco” three times. By repeating the word he highlighted his lack of debating ammo. His best bit was when he quoted the Home Secretary, when in opposition, saying that she was “sick and tired of governments who blame other people when things go wrong”.

I am surprised that Miliband did not throw in the retort from Brodie Clark that he had simply been following arrangements that had been in place for several years. Perhaps Miliband was afraid that this would rebound on him, as those arrangements started under Labour.

I am also amazed that Miliband didn't mention Theresa May's ignorance (on Monday) of which ports operated the relaxed rules.

Because of Miliband’s lacklustre performance, Cameron was able to mock him later when Labour MP Chris Leslie returned to the subject: “He’s trying desperately to make up the ground lost by his party leader” – said Cameron.

LibDem Tessa Munt asked a closed question (Tudor Court rules) concerning the Surviving Winter Appeal which accommodates richer pensioners who want to donate their heating allowance to those who deserve it more. She wanted an opt-out rather than an opt-in.

LibDem Annette Brooke asked for urgent government action to protect vulnerable Park Home residents from harrassment.

Paul Walter blogs at Liberal Burblings

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This entry was posted in News and PMQs.


  • Miliband is so excruciatingly hapless I wonder whether the format of PMQs shouldn’t be changed to make better use of the time. There is no point having an adversarial system if the official opposition doesn’t provide any meaningful opposition.

  • Whilst I would agree that Miliband did not win the yah-boo contest yesterday what he successfully did was to get Cameron to nail his colours firmly to the May mast and put himself in a position where he tied his own fortunes very closely to hers. Once Brodie Clark has given his evidence to the select committee this might prove to have been a very effective use of PMQ’s.

  • What on earth are Tudor Court rules? Plain English clearly not spoken here.

  • @focusman Apologies. It’s an in-joke about Mornington Crescent which only I understand (probably).

  • peter tyzack 10th Nov '11 - 12:05pm

    I agree with Alistair, but perhaps the format should be revised again. I rather like the approach taken by Questions to London’s Mayor..
    and Paul, whilst you excuse yourself having used an in-joke, can you please explain it. Presumably Tessa was just making a point/statement in the form of a question that really didn’t need an answer, but not having seen it I am guessing. LDV Comment is a great way of communication, but participants need to be clear, otherwise we become an impenetrable clique (like some blogs)

  • @Paul

    Thanks!! Not sure I am any the wiser, but at least amused!

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