PMQs: Miliband stoops to Osborne dominatrix allegations in spectacular own goal

The leader of the opposition might have been on to a winner on the economy. But his clash with the PM will be remembered for his cheap shot about Le Vice Anglais

George Osborne: centre of attention
Harry Cole
On 14 September 2011 12:34

Before the Prime Minister had even said a word, the spin had begun.

After last week’s sexist Nadine Dorries bashing, Dave was surrounded by four women, conveniently placed in camera shot behind him by the whips (more about which in a moment). So that puts matters to rights then, doesn’t it?

While last week the ghost of former Chancellor Alistair Darling hung over Ed Miliband, rendering him unable to discuss the economy (given that a grandee from his own side was claiming Labour had “no credible” economic plan), this morning’s unemployment figures were a gift horse.

With his first question asking whether we are still “out of the danger zone”, Miliband set the tone for a classic, if somewhat dull, exchange.

From Cameron: it’s Labour’s fault; Miliband was there at the time; he’s the guilty party etc etc.

From Miliband: What about the poor people who’ve lost their jobs? The Prime Minister doesn’t care; he’s callous, complacent, and he’s cutting just like Labour said the “evil Tor-eees” would, etc etc.

For a figure who cut his political teeth working for Gordon (end-of-boom-and-bust) Brown, Miliband’s accusations of complacency were particularly amusing.

Yet, when the Prime Minister pointed out Miliband’s role in creating this whole mess -- “sitting in the treasury bankrupting the country” -- the jeers went up.

Cameron is right of course. But the line does seem to be getting a little old and worn.

There’s only so long you can keep blaming your predecessors for the mess you inherited before you start to sound a touch on the desperate side. At least that’s how it looks to seasoned Westminster watchers.

Whether the message still resonates with the public remains to be seen. Only an election could really tell us.

On points it was probably a two all draw, but it was Ed’s joke about George Osborne that this PMQs will be remembered for.

Referencing the recently rehashed “coke and hooker” allegations about the Chancellor, and in talking about the government’s refusal to U-turn on economic plans, Ed not so subtly alluded to the swirling allegations about Osborne and a previous acquaintance turned dominatrix:

“The Chancellor has lashed himself to the mast… not for the first time perhaps,” he said. Cue much laughter.

The joke apparently was planned and well delivered. But it was something of an own goal.

Last week Ed didn’t want to talk about the economy. This week he did, and for understandable reasons.

But whatever capital he might have made will now have been overshadowed by his own one-liner.

No doubt his joke writer is going to get a spanking.

Harry Cole is UK Politics Editor for The Commentator.  He is a writer and journalist and the news editor for the must-read Guido Fawkes blog.

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