Prime Minister’s Questions started to get back to normal today. A question is asked and there is a bellow – not an answer – in reply. But sometimes it is a question of “ask a silly question – get a silly answer”. Take Harriet Harman’s opening sally: “Could the Prime Minister tell us how much has been set aside to relink pensions to earnings in 2011?” After Cameron spoke about the “triple lock” (we LibDems thought of that phrase first) on pension rises, Harman replied that the government haven’t set aside a single penny for the promise. What a remarkable charge from Labour! This new-found fastidiousness certainly didn’t stop Labour making plenty of promises without money attached. Their whole last six months in office seems now to have been a bungee jump without the bungee being attached to anything. This is outrageous pot-kettle territory.

Later Graham Evans, a Labour MP, asked where the money is coming from to pay for the increase in the tax threshold. So this “where’s the money come from” seems to be a deliberate strategy from Labour. Hilarious!

From the government benches came the cry “3-0” after Cameron had – sort of – batted away three of Harman’s attacks on this topic. This caused great merriment. But Harman kept her head down – as she always does – and read out the exact quote from the red book about pensions (which Cameron had just said was the “unread book in her case): “money set aside: zero”.

I’m not sure we actually learnt anything from all that. Illumination came later from Tory MP Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk) who contended that Labour’s plans for benefits for the poorest were for them to go up at less than the rate of inflation (Consumer price index) – therefore, a cut in real terms.

Harman then tackled Cameron about his promise that families with children with income of less than £40,000 would not lose tax credits. Harman won this one. Cameron, ignored the question, going into bellowing mode: “One party got us into this mess, two parties are working together to get us out of it”.

Harman said Osborne broke his promise that the budget will not hurt pensioners and families before he sat down yesterday. Then we got the full litany of Labour broken promises including “no more boom and bust”. – All old time PMQs’ stuff – more heat than light.

Liberal Democrat MP John Thurso asked about the possibility of fusion research coming to Dounreay with government support. Given the distinct lack of future alternatives for the plant, which is of enormous economic importance to the area of the very north of Scotland, this would seem very much like a good thing.

The youngest member of the House, Pamela Nash, MP for Airdrie and Shotts, asked about aid spending overseas. Very brave for a first question, that. Well done to her.

Labour’s Anne McGuire said that the Office for National Statistics reports that the richest 10% pay £1 in every £25 spent on VAT, whereas the poorest 10% pay £1 in every £7 on VAT, asking how, in the light of this, Cameron can justify his motto – “We’re all in this together”. Cameron replied that in the budget, as a whole, the rich would pay most in cash terms and in percentage of income terms – and repeated that there would be no increase in child poverty because of the budget – unlike under Labour (which he enjoys saying).

Things we learnt during today’s session:

-You might like to know that David Cameron informed a hushed House of Commons that he has not yet received a formal letter of apology from the Labour party for the mess they left the country in. Several MPs fainted when this news was announced. Smelling salts were distributed by the Sergeant-at-arms.

-The Daily Mirror is an “august journal” apparently, according to Chris Pincher MP.

-Sky news is “impartial” says David Cairns, a Labour MP. More fainting.

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This entry was posted in PMQs.


  • Yes Labour should say sorry for bailing the banks out rather than leaving them to collapse – and let savers with over £30K go down with them. Talk about hypocrites! Labour should say sorry for the war too – but didn’t Cameron support that as well! Why be so loyal and cosy with your new bedfellows – it is just a job for the boys not a love in.

  • Can someone explain how the poorest get to spend £1 in every £7 on VAT. On my mathematics this would mean that the poorest spend less than one fifth of their total expenditure on food, housing and public transport. What could consume the other four fifths of their expenditure?

  • I can’t believe we pay our politicians to take part in this farcical nonsense. What an utter waste of time. Nothing gets debated in a proper and responsible manner, it’s just pointless finger pointing and petty point scoring. When is politics going to actually grow up?

  • Alex we have a democratic deficit – we are meant to be content with voting for dum, dee or dick – who then don’t do what they say and see their own party supporters as captive. And what did Lib dems do with the golden opportunity to make a difference – they didn’t get proportional representation – shame on them. They don’t deserve our vote.

  • yes many things are predictable. like your sycophantic support of the tories(how times change) and libdem positions on everything. so predictable.

  • I voted for you lot in the past two elections, believing you were a socially progressive and decent bunch, with good policies on electoral reform and with your hearts in the right place.
    But I will never, ever make the same mistake again, now I see what you really stand for and the government you are prepared to prop up.
    It’s a crying shame, because most of the LibDems I know have always been decent people. It’s a shame because I honestly thought you were the best alternative to Labour for someone with a social conscience who hated the Iraq War, ID cards, social inequality and our outdated political system. How wrong I was.
    I think your party leadership has made a massive mistake – and they’re taking you all down with them.

  • “Harman replied that the government haven’t set aside a single penny for the promise. What a remarkable charge from Labour! This new-found fastidiousness certainly didn’t stop Labour making plenty of promises without money attached.”

    You miss the point. It’s not that this is a promise without any money attached. It’s that it’s a promise that’s completely free – the Government doesn’t need to set aside any money to pay for it, and yet it’s trying to claim it’s a beneficial policy change. In other words, it sounds good, but it does not benefit any pensioner by a single penny. Meanwhile, pensioners will have to pay 20% VAT.

  • “they didn’t get proportional representation – shame on them. They don’t deserve our vote.”

    There are 57 Lib Dem MPs if the British public had voted for more of them in stead of so many Conservative ones. This is surely a golden oppertunity to show that PR can work as coalitions will be almost a certaintiy if we get a more proportionate system.

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