PMQs: Miliband nukes Cameron

Ed Miliband used his first three questions, at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, in stimulating a very earnest explanation of what the UK is doing about the crisis in Libya. This also addressed why RAF personnel are being made redundant at the very moment we need the RAF to be on stand-by to maintain a No fly zone over Libya.

Ed Miliband’s fourth question nuked the Prime Minister. Cameron didn’t have an answer. It was stunning: The Government “are adamant that there is no need for cuts in local authority front-line services. Can he therefore explain why Conservative-run Bromley council is shutting 13 of its 16 children’s centres?”. The answer to that was ‘no’, since Cameron blathered and blustered with no sign of addressing the question. Quite pathetic really. But then, it was a very clever question. And perhaps Cameron had got carried away with all the bi-partisan agreement over Libya and wasn’t expecting a sharp upper-cut to the jaw.

Miliband then attacked Cameron about the end of the ring-fencing of Children’s Sure Start centres and a 11% cut in their funding.

…No answer from Cameron except a sad jibe about “family loyalty” and a (reasonably justified) “Why doesn’t tell us what he would cut?” query.

Ed Miliband then magicked up the ghost of Hughie Green: “This is a guy who has made his career out of opportunism knocks.” Did he mean (a) “This is a guy who has made his career out of opportunistic knocks”, (b) “a guy who made his career out of opportunism, knocks” (although I heard no knocking) or (c)“This is a guy who has made his career out of Opportunity Knocks?” It isn’t clear. Answer on a postcard please….. And I don’t think Opportunity Knocks was ever broadcast by Cameron’s former employer, Carlton TV, anyway. It was broadcast by its predecessor, Thames TV. But then again, I doubt whether Ed Miliband is old enough to remember. I digress appallingly. Apologies.

Cameron additionally replied: “The money for Sure Start is there, so centres do not have to close” – a statement that may join Hughie Green in the haunting tableaux hovering over Cameron for the rest of his Premiership.

Other snippets were:

  • Stephen Williams (LibDem) highlighted the “high-tech and green” announcement on the electrification of the Great Western main line to Bristol, Cardiff and the south Wales valleys, which will have the added benefit of giving jobs to the North-East.
  • Gordon Birtwhistle (LibDem) asked about what sort of interim government could replace Colonel Gaddaffi in Libya. Excellent question. The government are in daily contact with the emerging regime in Benghazi, replied Cameron.
  • Has Gavin Barwell got some compromising photos of the Speaker held in a safe? I only ask because he was called to ask the first question yesterday at Deputy Prime Minister’s Question Time and also today at Prime Minister’s Question Time.
  • Question: How many PFI (Private Finance initiative) pounds does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: 333. Well, that’s what the PM told us anyway.
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10 Comments

  • @Paul Walter.

    Fair summary.

    In my view, Miliband has bested Cameron in all but 1 PMQ’s. Evidence? Not one of the mainstream media observers has ever commented on who has won PMQ’s, apart from once – when Cameron easily won.

    Both PMQs and DPMQs are quickly and regulary becoming deeply, deeply embarrassing for this Coalition.

  • Of course the real hypocrisy in Cameron’s answer (and therefore coalition’s stance) is that he is happy for the sure start money not to be ring fenced but Pickles is threatening to force councils to continue to fund charities, in effect ring fencing. When it suits…..

    His then tired sortie into the pupil premium as an example of additional money was laughable. The premium was a brilliant idea as set out in the Lib Dem manifesto and a big con as implemented by the coalition and most people accept this. It’s not new or additional money is a redistribution of an already stretched budget.

    @Cuse
    I must disagree as I think Milliband has been poor in at least as many as he has been effective. In fact he has missed more open goals per match than a certain expensive addition to the Chelsea strikeforce…

  • richard heathcote 3rd Mar '11 - 12:23pm

    The impression I get from PMQ’s ive watched is Milliband keeps it understated and very controlled making no great noise about anything, whilst Cameron gets quite over excited and relies on deflecting attention away from the substance of his answers. Usually Cameron reverts to cheap shots at the opposition and sometimes comes across as a school yard bully I would love to just hear straight answers without all the games.

    Personally I think PMQ’s is a waste of time its a bit like the Jerry Springer show little more than bear-baiting as no-one ever answers the questions properly and all they seem to do is trade insults

  • Put simply, Ed Miliband uses a stiletto, Cameron uses a club. If Cameron flies into a towering rage in public when asked a perfectly reasonable but discomforting question what on earth is his behaviour like in private?

    By the way, I saw that the Lib Dems were allowed to ask two questions this week. Shame they were both examples of sycophantic brown-nosing. Or, was that the reason they were allowed to ask them?

  • Emsworthian 3rd Mar '11 - 5:20pm

    The space cadet opposition leader is improving all the time. He should concentrate not so much on the dodgy Dave image then the Flaky Dave since his grasp of issues is sometimes weak. Does being DPM also involve making macho speeches in Brussels about Libya? I hope not as one of thousands pf party members who went on the street over Iraq

  • I have always felt that Milliband is playing a very long game at PMQ and crucially he isn’t playing to the House he’s playing to the public.

    They look at Cameron’s total inability it seems to answer a straight question with a relatively straight answer and I’m sure form their own conclusion about Dodgy Dave the arms salesman.

    What really worries me about Cameron is how quickly he flares up – he also seems to be heading down the messianic road so far-travelled by Blair. Libya seems to have knocked his gyroscope right-off with arming rebels, giving assurances we won’t stand-by and see them slaughtered and having no-fly zones.

    In reality all we are capable of doing is hiring some civil contract aircraft to move a few thousand refugees. Very worthy but not in the Thatcher model. Cameron seems to be aspiring to to rebuild support by sabre-rattling abroad when there’s economic trouble on the domestic front. Most dictators go down that road sadly.

    Always reminds of every single new national newspaper I’ve come across. They all start all reasonable and listen. Within a couple of years they think they are God and then they know they are God – they are usually sacked or moved sideways shortly thereafter 🙂

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