PMQs: social housing and repossession

Cameron and Brown wrangle over the various parliamentary reform proposals. Cameron uses the election of two BNP MEPs to support his contention that a proportional system lets in extremists, and accuses Brown of only becoming interested in reform when he faces losing the next election. Brown looks somewhat less like a punchbag this week – that Monday night meeting of the parliamentary Labour party must have pepped him up a bit. In fact, his righteousness waxes so great that he proclaims Cameron “doesn’t deserve” to be Prime Minister.

Clegg asks about repossession rates, which he says the government is failing to slow, and the slow pace of social housing building programmes. Brown essentially replies – insofar as it’s possible to distil an essence from anything he says – that Clegg’s figures are wrong, and reels off a stack of statistics which don’t appear to relate precisely to the terms of Clegg’s question. They follow the usual Brown pattern – “We are shovelling money at it, therefore it is not a problem.” Clegg’s response is simple: if all that is true, why are there 70% more families waiting to be rehoused now than in 1997?

It’s a good point that deserved a bit more power behind it – as with many other problems supposedly right up their street, Labour have had twelve years to sort this problem out. A recession and the resultant housing problems has merely highlighted their failure to do so.

Clegg’s delivery was rather on the weak side today, although he is getting better at not getting tripped up by the hecklers. He got very heavy heckling from the Labour benches today – and no help from the speaker. It seems understood by all participants that as far as Martin is concerned, Clegg is on his own from now until Martin stands down.

In all, a rather wan PMQs following on from the fireworks from last week. Clegg, somewhat to my surprise has proven over the last couple of months that he actually excels at big, rude questions (viz, “Aren’t you a bit stupid?… At least I say it to his face!”) and broadbrush political ideology question (“The choice this country faces is between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.”) Today’s questions would have been well used driving some wedges into the other two party’s positions on electoral reform.

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