PMQs: There was more than one idiot in the room
A dull PMQs was overshadowed by the PM losing his temper writes our UK Political Editor Harry Cole
Given that Ed Miliband had the chance to talk about Iran, the Euro, the G8 summit, Plan A or A+ or B, votes for prisoners and other great matters of state, it will come as no surprise that he went straight for the politics.
With the Beecroft Report consigned to the dustbin of history - also known as “partial implementation” - the Coalition government has gone through another unnecessary row that has somehow left people like Vince Cable looking like the saviour against the evil Tories. Funny how that keeps happening, eh?
Since Ed is only in his job because of the unions, there was no surprise that he took the more controversial aspects of the report - the ability to fire useless workers at will - and ran with it like a greyhound.
"I wonder whether he worries about being fired at will for incompetence" was all Cameron could come back with and the main show descended into a particularly dull slagging match about donors and owners, puppet masters and “same old Tories”. The same old lines fell flat.
Of course the Business Secretary doesn’t agree with the Prime Minister, Ed - you didn’t need to waste a whole question pointing that out. Firing the business secretary, at will, would solve that though.
It’s a bit tricky for the PM to suggest that Ed is dancing to his donor’s tune when the report they were rowing about was written by a Tory donor who has coughed up £643,076, but in all the mud slinging it seems facts and reason went out the window.
"You are getting £900,000 from Unite, they are threatening a bus drivers strike during the Olympics." True but at the same time we look to be on the verge of a war with Iran, can’t we talk about that instead?
It was set to be a no-score bore draw, but then the PM snapped and called Ed Balls a “muttering idiot”. A perfectly valid description that if anything does not go far enough in describing quite what a horrendous irritant the Shadow Chancellor is, but Cameron should have known better than to shout it across the Commons. Yes, the Tories loved it, but Balls’ face said it all - the smug satisfied look of a bully who had just made a weaker kid cry in front of the whole PE class.
Balls spends the entirety of his time at PMQs trying to make the PM snap - whether it’s his increasingly reichlike hand gestures or today’s “how many glasses of wine this morning?” in reference to a new biography that reveals that - shock horror - the PM likes to relax on a Sunday. It’s a classic bullying tactic and Cameron gave him the satisfaction. And Labour will harp on about it until the cows come home.
Is Ed Balls an idiot? Yes. Should our leaders lose their cool? No. At least Dave isn’t throwing phones and assaulting staff yet...
N.B After two weeks back, PMQs won’t be back for another three weeks as Parliament are off on another Holiday. Yes, another one.
Read more on: David Cameron, PMQs, harry cole, Harry Cole PMQs, ed miliband, David Cameron calls Ed Balls a, unions, unions criticise Ed Miliband, Unions and Ed Miliband, Beecroft report, War with Iran, Parliament holiday, ed balls, and Ed Balls idiot
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