PMQs: Miliband's miss of the season

This PMQs will go down as a complete and utter nightmare for Ed, not that it will matter in the slightest given the Chancellor’s statement this afternoon

Horror show for Ed
Alex Wickham, UK Politics Editor
On 5 December 2012 13:55

Today was very much the ‘Statement to Follow’ edition of PMQs, and Danny Alexander’s bile-coloured tie was an early indication that his boss’ speech would throw up something particularly unpleasant soon after.

With some solemn headlines ahead, David Cameron inadvertently got things off to a light-hearted start as he told honourable members that this morning he had been attending to “duties in his house”. Good to hear SamCam is cracking the whip in No10.

Precisely no one was in shock as Ed Miliband led on the NHS, with last night’s letter from Andrew Dilnot ordering the government to admit their failure to raise health spending a particularly sticky point for Jeremy Hunt and co.

It was the widest open goal you are ever likely to see, yet somehow Ed managed to miss it. Nick Clegg, as animated as ever previously witnessed, rose to Ed Balls’ baiting with some dancefloor-style hand movements of his own. The DPM and his SpAds have been hanging out at the Ministry of Sound recently, after all.

Dave reminded Ed that Labour were cutting the NHS in Wales, twisting the knife by pulling out a quote from shadow health secretary Andy Burnham to compound the Leader of the Opposition’s pretty shambolic own goal. Andrew Lansley had never looked happier to have been given the sack.

Miliband was all over the place, meandering around a number of issues before settling, albeit briefly, on the top rate of tax. At this point Clegg’s face was as red as his tie, with the PM gloating to the shadow chancellor that “the top rate of tax is higher than it was during any year he was in the treasury”. As if that is something for a so-called conservative to be proud of.

What was Labour’s answer, asked Cameron? “More borrowing, more spending, more of the things that got us into this mess in the first place”. A strong final salvo that consigned Miliband to a defeat of his own making.

Elsewhere Margaret Beckett melted into her scarf, Paul Burstow looked more and more Neanderthal for each and every second he stumbled through his question on care home crime, and the Tory benches roared with incredulity over Margaret Hodge’s sheer, unashamed cheek in asking a question on tax avoidance. Dave looked her in the eye and menacingly promised he would look at “everything”.

The final question was reserved for Ann Clwyd, the Labour politician who recently lost her husband in tragic circumstances. There was complete silence in the House as the Member for Cynon Valley held back the tears in a heartfelt tribute; Cameron’s response was emotional, measured and seemed, at least, to provide Clwyd with some comfort.

This PMQs will go down as a complete and utter nightmare for Ed, not that it will matter in the slightest given the Chancellor’s statement this afternoon. All eyes on George...

Alex Wickham is a reporter at the Guido Fawkes website. He tweets at @WikiGuido

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