PMQs: Cameron snaps after a bloody draw
He may have survived Miliband’s attacks, but David Cameron’s worst enemy is often himself writes our UK Political Editor Harry Cole
British Members of Parliament managed to swindle a cheeky four weeks off so there was a first day back at school feel to today’s PMQs.
And how the Prime Minister must have been secretly relieved that he has not had to stand up in front of the House and the nation over the last few weeks, dominated as they were by an unravelling budget, a shift in the media bloodlust back on to him and his “government of millionaires”, and some dire PR stunts that included the words “I ordered a large one.” Cameron was, of course, talking about Cornish pasties but he could well be discussing the large amount of excrement that has been dumped on his doorstep in this gruelling month.
Petrol, pasties and tax cuts – rich pickings for the Leader of the Opposition. Yet, as the PM took great pleasure in pointing out, there were things that Labour does not want to talk about. Cameron had a card up his sleeve – unemployment falling by 35,000.
Hitting back at the opening salvos, there was no love lost as the very same arguments from a month ago – the same soundbites and the same heckles – were resumed.
Cameron didn’t take long to get angry using his favourite line on Miliband - he’s “incompetent”. He brought along his props as well – this week we had an amendment that Labour have clearly cocked up that would see the 45p tax rate reduced to 40p. With the incoming fire, it was a useful mess that the Prime Minister took full advantage of. The Shadow Chancellor was riled and exacted his revenge later by screaming “calm down, calm down”. Doing this while flapping your hands around like a drunk seal somewhat weakens your attack.
Miliband’s best moment came, as ever, when he went off script and ad libbed the "part time chancellor" line. That one, along with “George Osbrowne” which Miliband will no doubt drop soon, could well stick. It was a good wedge for Miliband to drive through the Tories, many of which are keen to see Osborne split up his job of election strategist as well as Chancellor. Osborne is losing control of his whole narrative with a newly hostile press and something will have to give, but his role at the heart of the entire Cameron operation is often overlooked.
Though he fought back well, Cameron was flustered. While mentioning Ken Livingstone’s tax status no less than six times throughout the half hour outing was hilarious and deeply uncomfortable for Ed Miliband, it did look a bit like the PM had nothing else to say. Boris will be grateful but a gentle three times might have done the trick.
On points it was a draw but if we are to judge who won on their post-match behaviour you could be forgiven for thinking that Cameron was smarting. His mask slipped when the Prime Minister snapped at one of his own backbenchers, Douglas Carswell, who is extremely popular on the right of the party and does not hold his tongue in his personal jihad of soundness. A man who has turned his back on any chance of a ministerial career in return for being able to say and do the right thing does not deserve to be spat at publicly by his leader.
A millionaire PM savages an Essex MP, and still wonders why people call him out of touch.
Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator. He also writes for the highly reputed 'GuidoFawkes blog' as their News Editor. He tweets at @MrHarryCole
Read more on: PMQs, This week's PMQs, Harry Cole and PMQs, harry cole, David Cameron snaps at Douglas Carswell, petrol strike, pasties, tax cuts, 50p tax rate, ed miliband, Labour amendment that would see 45p tax rate reduced to 40p, pastygate, george osborne, George Osbrowne, george osborne, and ken livingstone tax avoidance
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