PMQs: Even Miliband couldn’t miss scoring in front of an open goal

The odds were against Cameron today, and Miliband managed to win with a simple tap in, writes our UK politics editor Harry Cole

Ed Miliband
Harry Cole
On 12 October 2011 12:19

A tough outing for the Prime Minister. He took to the House against a backdrop of the worst unemployment data in seventeen years, and with his Defence Secretary hanging on to office by his fingernails.

The House smelt blood. Backbenchers on both sides were particularly rowdy and the Speaker had to work hard to keep control.

The last thing that Ed Miliband usually wants to talk about is the economy. But today he was so excited that he could barely keep his serious face serious.

Wielding the axes and swords of youth and women’s unemployment he largely ignored Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s woes and went on the attack.

If he couldn’t win today, when could he ever? Talk about an open goal.

Despite some good comebacks from the Prime Minister -- who said that if we followed Labour we would be working under the IMF not with them, as well clearly having facts at his disposal that the Leader of the Opposition didn’t expect him to have -- it wasn’t enough to keep Ed down.

The other reason Cameron lost was his charge that Labour wanted us to borrow our way out of crisis.

This wasn’t going to wash coming from a Prime Minister who will increase the country’s borrowing 52 percent by 2015.

Labour may have made the mess – and the government is right to point out that they did -- but Cameron and Co are not going hard or fast enough to fix it. Instead, in one form or another, they are borrowing half a trillion more.

In political terms, Cameron wasn’t really damaged by this encounter.

And, to repeat, he does have some punchy lines, the best of which today was that Labour wrecked the economy just as Fred Goodwin “ruined the banks”. As the Prime Minister put it, you wouldn’t invite Goodwin back to fix that mess, so why would you let Labour have another go at the broader economy?

Simple and clear. Expect to hear a lot more of it.

Nonetheless, Miliband couldn’t lose today, and, on balance, he did get his victory.

In the end, PMQs this week was a messy and noisy affair that will more than likely be swallowed up in a much messier political week for the government.

With the way the Liam Fox story is going, this round won’t go down in history.

Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator. He tweets at @MrHarryCole and is the News Editor for Guido Fawkes, Britain's leading Westminster politics news site

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