Tag Archives: malcolm bruce

Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Malcolm Bruce: Tory Brexit plans a denial of democracy and an abrogation of leadership

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future. 

Malcolm talked about Scotland’s situation and argued that independence was an even worse prospect than it was before. As someone who has extensive experience in international development, the Government’s plans to use the aid budget to sweeten Eastern Europe really upset him – despicable, he called them.

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes. I am pleased to say that, although I do not always agree with him, I agreed with every word that he said.

I want to focus on two things, involving two people: the Prime Minster and the First Minister of Scotland. Before the referendum, Theresa May was billed as a reluctant remainer—but a remainer. Since the referendum she has become an enthusiastic Brexiteer leading a Government barely distinguishable from UKIP. The referendum was conducted on both sides in a climate of misinformation. A Government elected with under 37% of the vote on a 66% turnout, under a Prime Minister who was not the leader of the party or an obvious prime ministerial candidate at the last election, have decided that their interpretation of the result should be sovereign—even trying to exclude Parliament from the process.

How dare they lecture us about democracy? As Ken Clarke said, had the result gone narrowly the other way—or even substantially the other way—the Brexiteers would not have stayed quiet but now would be in full cry for a rerun, as are the nationalists in Scotland, who also pledged that this was a once-in-a-generation vote. For the Prime Minister to say, definitively, that the people have voted to leave the single market, all or part of the customs union and the European Court of Justice, as well as—and probably more importantly—other institutions of the EU, is a denial of democracy and an abrogation of leadership.

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What our busy peers will be up to this week

Here are some of the things our team in the House of Lords will be doing this week:

Monday: Roger Roberts will be pushing the Government to take action to relieve the situation of unaccompanied refugee children. Tim Farron has been pushing the Government to accept 3,000 at risk refugee children but David Cameron has recently rejected the proposal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to find a solution which does not leave these children vulnerable.

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Lords’ maiden speeches: Malcolm Bruce: the importance of tackling conflict and building stability overseas

We’re publishing our new Lords’ maiden speeches. Here’s Malcolm Bruce’s in a debate on the defence and security review recently. His main interest is in international development and he wanted to make the point that we need to focus on resolving conflict and building stability overseas.

Lord Bruce of Bennachie (LD) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord McConnell, a very distinguished former First Minister of Scotland. I agreed with much of what he said.

When I stood in the October 1974 election, came fourth and lost my deposit, I never dreamed that I would rise today as a Member of your Lordships’ House. I want to thank everyone who has made my arrival here in the last few weeks such an enjoyable experience. I am genuinely grateful for all the guidance and help I have received at all levels and from my sponsors, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, and the noble Lord, Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope. The doorkeepers, attendants and catering staff are incessantly cheerful, helpful and friendly—not just to me but to my friends and family, my demanding children and grandchildren.

I had the honour to represent the constituency of Gordon for 32 years. Gordon is not a place; it is the heartland of the Gordon family, historically headed by the Dukes of Gordon, including General Gordon of Khartoum and the 18th-century Duchess who recruited soldiers into the Gordon Highlanders with a kiss. It also produced a Prime Minister, Lord Aberdeen, who appointed Gladstone to his Cabinet. Lord Aberdeen’s family seat was Haddo House where, until fairly recently, June, the late Dowager Marchioness of Aberdeen, presided over many musical and cultural activities. She endeared herself to me when, after one election, she said: “Malcolm, I am so pleased you got back. I worried you might lose. I was so worried, in fact, I very nearly voted for you.”

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Lord Bruce of Bennachie of Torphins in the County of Aberdeen takes his seat in the House of Lords

Malcolm & Rosemary Bruce
Malcolm Bruce took his seat in the Lords this week. He was resplendent in the traditional robes.

There was a bit of a negotiation over his title, as the Press and Journal reports:

Lord Bruce previously told The Press and Journal he opted to include the famous Aberdeenshire landmark in his name because it is visible from everywhere in his old constituency.

It was initially rejected on the grounds the hill is not a “habitation”, but a lengthier form – Baron Bruce of Bennachie of Torphins in the County of Aberdeen – was later accepted.

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LibLink: Malcolm Bruce: The Commons Man

Malcolm Bruce has written, for Politics Home, a tribute to Charles Kennedy that gives quite an insight into their friendship and his parliamentary career as well as his life outside politics.

There are bits that will make you cry with sadness and bits that will make you absolutely howl with laughter. The accounts of their double dating exploits probably fits best in the latter category. You will want to click on the link to find out what “Frocks at Eight” means.

Here’s an extract:

From the start Charles had two contrasting lifestyles. In London he was at the centre of political debate, rarely

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Malcolm Bruce: Lib Dems can stop spending sprees or right wing frolics

Sir Malcolm Bruce was on the Today programme this morning, making a robust case for voting Liberal Democrat, showing what we can bring to a coalition – stable government, with Liberal Democrat policies being implemented.

We can anchor UK to centre ground, not go off on a spending spree before we balance the books or go off on a right wing frolic where we punish people quite unnecessarily with cuts to service and benefits in order to fund tax cuts for the rich

We can break both Tories and Labour and hold the centre ground.

He said that coalition was a much more …

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What’s happening on P-30, Tuesday 7th April?

Before anything else, I’m going to abuse my editorial privileges on this site to wish my wonderful niece Emma a very happy 18th birthday. Unusually, she has already had her first vote, in the referendum on independence last year. She’s an amazing young woman who organised her mum’s surprise 40th birthday party last month and made sure that we all fulfilled our roles to her satisfaction. That unfortunate incident when she was a week old and I put an outfit on her back to front has led her to develop quite a perfectionist streak. Did I say she was amazing? So, Happy Birthday, Emma.

And now back to more routine matters. The election campaign continues today with Nick Clegg  travelling to Montgomeryshire to focus on mental health with candidate Jane Dodds. They will visit a local mental health charity to promote our plans to provide the extra £8 billion the NHS needs over the next Parliament and our prioritisation of mental health.

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In full: Malcolm Bruce’s speech to Scottish Liberal Democrat conference “Liberal Democrats offer the voice of reason, reform and responsibility – against the forces of division, despair and defeatism.”

Sir Malcolm Bruce photo by LIberal Democrats
As well as being Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party in the Commons, Malcolm Bruce is also the President of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. His traditional close of conference speech is usually a cracker and this was no exception. It had some blistering attacks, mainly on the SNP and Conservatives, some personal reflections on his 32 years as Gordon’s MPs and a passionate defence of the Liberal Democrat record in government and a strong statement of Liberal Democrat values of internationalism, openness and freedom. This is proper oratory. There are too few in the next generation across politics, Farron being one of them, who can deliver this real heart-tugging, stirring sort of speech. Here it is in full:

Just across the road from this conference centre you are in the Gordon constituency. Indeed about 30 per cent of Gordon voters live within 5 miles of here. If you haven’t taken an hour out from the conference to help the campaign there is still time to do so. If you have, thank you, but you can still do some more!

I have had the honour to represent the people of Gordon for the past 32 years. I want to tell you something about them and the area.

Things have changed enormously since 1983. There were no mobile phones, no emails, no laptop computers. The fanciest piece of kit I had was a golf ball memory typewriter. The House of Commons paid for one member of staff. The local party paid for a part time secretary in the constituency office which they provided rent free. So during my early years as an MP I and the local party subsidised my work.

In that first winter severe storms brought down power lines leaving thousands of people without power, in some cases for weeks. My office became an unofficial helpline and I worked with what was then the Hydro Board to help prioritise re connections – for vulnerable elderly people and young families and farmers facing the loss of livestock.

In the last 32 years the farming community have not had their troubles to seek. The biggest disaster was the BSE crisis which saw more than 1000 people laid off within a week, One young company lost 95 per cent of its business and all but one of its employees. By its own enterprise and some help from the Government it is now one of our most successful companies in the meat industry.

Years later the industry was hit by foot and mouth. The outbreak wasn’t here but the restrictions on movements of animals had severe effects. Then I was grateful for the wise advice of local vet Richard Brown and the sensible response of Ross Finnie.

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Malcolm Bruce: People will realise the positive impact Lib Dems have made in Government and will want more of us there

Lib Dem Deputy Leader Sir Malcolm Bruce told the Herald recently that Nick Clegg is “strong and resilient” and that the Liberal Democrats have achieved much in government. When people reflected on the last five years, he said, they would want to see us in Government again:

The MP for Gordon said voters would in the next few months have to “think very hard” about what outcome they wanted on May 8.

“At the moment, people are in protest, they don’t like the fact we’ve had a really hard economic time and, therefore, they are not prepared at the moment to reward the Coalition government. But when they consider what the alternatives are and what the outcome might be, they will firm up their support for the Coalition because they will recognise that it has brought about a recovery that the other parties could throw away,” argued Sir Malcolm.

When it was pointed out that the Lib Dems were fourth in Scotland and fourth or sometimes fifth across the UK, the deputy leader insisted people should not prejudge the outcome of the election.

“There are people out there yet to make up their mind and when they reflect the positive things the Liberal Democrats have achieved on tax, pensions, the green agenda and schools, they will want to see more not fewer Liberal Democrats in the next parliament; that’s what our campaign’s going to be about.”

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Game on in Gordon: Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine has to defend seat against former First Minister Salmond

imageIn the biggest surprise since the sun last rose in the east, Alex Salmond will announce today that he’s going to be standing for the Westminster Parliament in the Gordon Constituency which is currently held by Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Sir Malcolm Bruce.

It’s almost a year since Christine Jardine was selected to fight the seat. She has been leading a fun and spirited campaign since then which saw voters in Gordon reject independence by almost 2:1. Her campaign manager is the party legend who masterminded Nicol Stephen’s election campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Salmond should underestimate them at his peril.

Salmond represents part of the Gordon constituency at Holyrood. He no doubt thinks that he can do as he did in 2007, swan in to the seat and win. Certainly the SNP will resource his campaign to the max and there are plenty new members in that party to help out.

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LibLink: Sir Malcolm Bruce MP – The positive case for the Union

Sir Malcom Bruce, Lib Dem deputy leader, has been writing for Endeavour Public Affairs on the choice facing Scots in next week’s referendum.

Here’s an excerpt:

To make a positive case for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom is to recognise multiple identities and respect that what it means to feel British – or Scottish for that matter – is up to the individual as long as it is inclusive.

It would be all too easy to pick apart the arguments presented by the Yes campaign with endless short-term policy guarantees, limitless and non-costed spending promises. However, there is also a very strong argument in making a positive case for saying a polite but robust No, Thanks to independence.

Sharing resources and strengths while supporting each other through weakness means we can achieve much more than if either party was alone.

As much as there is to set Scotland apart from the rest of the United Kingdom, there is as much that brings us together in terms of culture, (modern) language, shared history, and the free movement of people over the generations. Together we have consistently punched above our weight in terms of international diplomacy, social development, the arts, invention, and enterprise. Scotland and Scots have played a major role in this.

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Malcolm Bruce: Britain needs Lib Dem MEPs

malcolm-bruce-2Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Malcolm Bruce went on the Sunday Politics today to highlight the work that Liberal Democrat MEPs did in terms of working with others for reform across Europe. He said that Liberal Democrat MEPs were the hardest working of all British MEPs, a fact backed up by actual evidence, as revealed on Lib Dem Voice by Giles Goodall last month.

The European Parliament takes decisions that affect us and the people who are working hardest to ensure that British national interests

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LibLink: Christine Jardine – From the fourth estate to Westminster

Christine Jardine, who was recently selected as PPC for Gordon, has been interviewed by the Deeside Piper – the newspaper she used to edit – about her selection and her journey from journalist to politician.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

DEESIDE PIPER: What do you hope to achieve if voted for by the people of Gordon?

CHRISTINE JARDINE: Over the last 30 years, Malcolm has been a strong voice for the people of Gordon and that is what I would want to be as well. For both the urban and rural communities. I believe rural communities need a strong voice particularly at the moment. The most important thing is listening to what is important to the people of Gordon and, if you like, what I aim to achieve if I am elected after 2015 will be dictated by what they want me to achieve

If I was the MP at the end of five years, I would hope that I’d continue Malcolm’s work and had worked hard for the oil industry-won investment for the North-east, particularly in infrastructure and being a strong voice in getting our road and transport network improved. What would be important to me as an MP would be making sure that I work for the people and what they want to happen. I would hate to think after however many years that people felt “We voted for her but what has she done for us.”

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Meet Malcolm Bruce: Part 2: International Development and those Euro elections

malcolm-bruce-2After his surprise election as Deputy Leader last week, I caught up with Malcolm Bruce, someone who is well known to us in Scotland but not so much to the rest of the party. The first part of the interview, where talks about Liberal Democrat achievements in government, what he can bring to the Deputy Leader role and on Scottish independence, was published last week.

Malcolm has been Chair of the Commons Select Committee on International Development since 2005. After years of economic portfolios, including Trade and Industry, the Treasury itself …

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The Malcolm Bruce interview, Part 1 on the Liberal Democrats’ achievements in Government and how the SNP’s promises are undeliverable

malcolm-bruce-2This morning I dropped an email to our new Deputy Leader, Sir Malcolm Bruce MP, asking him if I could have a chat with him so that our readers could get to know him. He called me this afternoon and we chatted for nearly half an hour. We talked about how he sees his new role, how to get more women into Parliament, the European elections, his role as chair of the Select Committee on International Development and the Scottish Independence referendum taking place later this year.

Malcolm Bruce was elected as …

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And the new Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader is…

…..Drum roll…..

 

Malcolm Bruce 30th anniversary dinner

Sir Malcolm Bruce MP.

Reaction will be added as we get it.

Update 19:53. It’s definitely a surprising result given that Lorely Burt had said when she announced her candidacy that she had 24 MPs backing her. She only needed five more to have a majority. Why could she have lost a seemingly unassailable position?

Well, Sir Malcolm Bruce is very well liked and respected. Remember what Vince Cable was like as Deputy Leader? Malcolm will not be dissimilar. He won’t always be as on message as Lorely, either. …

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Lib Dem Deputy Leader election: result expected today at 7pm

Three Lib Dem MPs hope that by this evening they will be elected Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems – the post was vacated by Simon Hughes when he was appointed Justice Minister. The three competing for the post are (in strict surname order) Gordon Birtwhistle, Sir Malcolm Bruce and Lorely Burt.

The electorate is comprised of their fellow MPs – technically the post is Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party in the House of Commons, though only the first two words of the title are commonly used – with the wider party membership getting to choose the Party President (for which there will also be a vacancy later this year when Tim Farron’s second two-year term expires).

We’ll find out the result this evening, but to whet your appetite the BBC has this two-minute profile of the runners and riders…

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Sir Malcolm Bruce to stand for Lib Dem Deputy Leader post?

It had seemed almost certain that this month’s Deputy Leader contest – triggered by Simon Hughes’s decision to resign the post to become Justice Minister in the Coalition – would be between Solihull MP Lorely Burt and Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle.

However, there’s an intriguing suggestion in today’s Independent that Gordon MP Sir Malcolm Bruce (who’s retiring from the Commons at the 2015 election) will also throw his hat into the ring:

Lib Dem MPs are planning to vote next week in the party’s deputy leadership election. Lorely Burt, the MP for Solihull, is being urged to use the contest

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In Pictures: Malcolm Bruce’s 30th anniversary dinner

On Sunday we brought you news of the dinner in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, to celebrate Malcolm Bruce’s 30th anniversary as MP for Gordon.

Malcolm  Bruce dinnerWe can now bring you a photograph of the assembled company taken on the night.

VIPs included every leader that there has ever been of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Malcolm, Jim Wallace, Nicol Stephen, Tavish Scott and Willie Rennie, David Steel and Navnit Dholakia, our Deputy Whip in the Lords and our Commons Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael. You can also just about see the top of LDV …

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Malcolm Bruce MP writes: The unlimited variety of 30 years in Parliament

Malcolm Bruce and Charles Kennedy have issued messages to mark their 30 year anniversaries as MPs. First up, Malcolm’s:

Thirty years ago this weekend, I was elected as Member of Parliament for Gordon –  for the first time and at the third attempt. It had taken nine years of sustained campaigning. I was of course exhilarated and excited but little realised that that was the first of seven successful elections.

Campaigning has changed beyond recognition. Then we had 60 plus public meetings and there was no Facebook or Twitter. Technology was limited too. Then there were no mobile phones, no e-mail and …

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Clegg and Rennie congratulate Bruce and Kennedy on 30 years in Parliament

David Steel at Malcolm Bruce's anniversary dinnerTwo senior  Liberal Democrat parliamentarians have been celebrating 30 years representing their constituencies in parliament. Sir Malcolm Bruce MP for Gordon and Charles Kennedy MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber both thanked constituents and Liberal Democrat party members this weekend for their support.

They have both marked the occasion with events in their constituencies. I travelled to Inverurie on Friday to attend a dinner in honour of Malcolm. His wife Rosemary had organised a few surprise guests for him too. The evening had no fewer than …

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Meat is a treat

barbecued-chickenParliament’s International Development Committee, chaired by Lib Dem MP Sir Malcolm Bruce,  has been turning its attention to global food supplies. According to The Independent the committee reports that even in the UK we are never more than few days away from a significant food shortage. You can read the full report on Global Food Security here.

We all throw away far too much food – up to one third of all food produced globally – so the committee is urging the Government to develop strategies that will help us to reduce the amount of food wasted in the UK.

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Duncan Hames MP writes… Must we continue to use food for fuel?

The European Union is currently committed to ensuring that 10% of each Member State’s transport energy will come from biofuels by 2020. This originated as a well-intentioned attempt to combat climate change, but time has shown that using food for fuel can have devastating impacts on hunger and the environment. I’ve come to accept that it is time for a re-think.

In addition to concerns over their green credentials, biofuels are now recognised to be a key cause of hunger, affecting millions of people in developing countries. The World Bank, OECD, WTO, IFPRI, IMF, and five other UN agencies recommended …

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EDMwatch #1: animals, VAT on tabloids, Diabetes and Sir Alex Ferguson

I thought it might be a good idea to introduce a new feature for the start of the shiny new parliamentary session – a regular look at the Early Day Motions tabled by MPs. These are basically House of Commons petition and are used to raise awareness of an issue. One of the biggest elements of an MP’s postbag or inbox is a pile of requests from supporters of a particular organisation or charity to sign a particular EDM. As a rule, ministers don’t sign EDMs.

You would think, wouldn’t you, that MPs could just sign them with a click of …

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Congratulations to Sir Malcolm Bruce!

One of the highlights for me of the Queen’s Birthday Honours last month, as I wrote at the time, was the news that Malcolm Bruce, Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon since 1983, had been given a knighthood. This comes in his 30th year in Parliament and the 50th anniversary of him joining the Liberal Party.

Sir Malcolm is a former leader of the Scottish party and in that role made a searingly passionate speech to the 1992 Federal Spring Conference in Glasgow. Remembering it even twenty years on gives me goosebumps. Malcolm spoke for all of Scotland when he described …

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Opinion: Why the UK should keep its promises on international aid

The best use of aid for International Development has been a controversial topic recently, with rows over the need for aid to India spilling onto the front pages – many of them spectacularly ill-informed on both sides. That issue is complex – but at least you can rely on Liberal Democrats to think about it carefully. In 2010, I chaired a policy working group on international Development, which argued that the UK should focus on supporting good governance, sovereignty and accountability to the poor, so that countries could move away from aid dependency. As India has all of those, we argued that aid to India could stop now. However, with more people living below the poverty line in India than the whole of Africa, the counter-argument is also strong. In the end an amendment from House of Commons International Development Select Committee Chair Malcolm Bruce, calling for aid to continue for now, was supported by conference.

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From Indian Dance, to Speed Mentoring to barnstorming speeches: Caron’s Top Ten Highlights of Scottish Conference

Scottish Liberal Democrats met in Inverness last weekend for a lively 3 day Conference. Here are my top ten highlights.

  1. Leader Willie Rennie’s first ever Spring Conference speech, delivered with sincerity and passion. He implored the First Minister to make as much time for the dispossessed,  as he does for billionaires such as Murdoch and Donald Trump. He spoke of the Liberal Democrats’ long record of fighting for home rule for Scotland which made us the true guarantors of change. He told of his desire to work constructively with others wherever possible, but how we would stand firm on liberal

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What’s on at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference this weekend?

This weekend, Scottish Liberal Democrats gather in Inverness for their annual conference. This is the second most important event to take place in the city this year, next to  my sister’s wedding in the Highland Capital on 8 April.

Every Council seat in Scotland is up for election in May so the Conference will be a good launch pad for the campaign. It’s also new leader Willie Rennie’s first Spring Conference speech, a chance for him to map out where he wants to take the party over the next year and remind us of how the small but strong Liberal Democrat …

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PMQs: The importance of Doncaster, almost to the exclusion of everything else

At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, David Cameron and Ed Miliband first clashed on the subject of economic growth (or, indeed, contraction). That entanglement was, more or less, a score draw. But Ed Miliband was much stronger during a later exchange on the NHS reform bill, culminating with this belter:

I shall tell the Prime Minister what is happening in the NHS: waiting lists up, morale down. What does the majority-Conservative Select Committee on Health say about his reorganisation? It says that it will be a “disruption and distraction that hinders the ability of organisations to” release savings.

Let us be frank: this

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PMQs: The nodding donkey and the nasal twang have left the building

It is interesting how voice quality can make all the difference at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Ed Miliband seems to have swallowed several family packs of Tunes lozenges. His voice sounded unusually clear yesterday, without its normal nasal twang. Combined with a disciplined debating approach, this led to a commanding performance (up to a point – of which more later).

David Cameron, in contrast, was sounding slightly hoarse. Perhaps he over-indulged in Russian hospitality in some shape or form. The problem with being hoarse at PMQs is that you end up shouting to compensate. That makes it worse and, red-faced, you give …

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