PMQs: Cameron stuffs the turkey early this Christmas

In the last Prime Minister’s Questions of 2011, riding high on the back of his Euro-veto, the Prime Minister did not pull his punches, writes our UK Political Editor Harry Cole

Awkward Ed between a rock and a hard place this week
Harry Cole
On 14 December 2011 12:02

Feeling blue this winter? Well the country certainly is. Despite the government being painted as out of touch toffs, revelling in the slashing of the state and, supposedly, isolating the country, David Cameron’s Conservative Party is back ahead in the polls after he went to Europe and said “no”.

As I explained on Monday the coalition sharing Liberal Democrats, though pro-Europe and heartbroken, are locked in, unable to leave the government because they would be routed at the ballot box.

So after a tough year of riots, scandal, resignations, stagnation and crisis the Tories were back in front for the last Prime Minister’s Questions of 2011. You would feel sorry for the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, if this shift wasn’t partly due to his complete and utter ineptitude.

YouGov polling now shows that Britain’s relationship with Europe is the third most important issue for voters. And Miliband, despite two thirds of the country seeing the light, has decided to oppose Cameron’s stance on it.

At the outset, he tried to shift the conversation today around to unemployment and a plethora of other terrible stats for the government. The House was not going to let it happen though.

Ed bravely tried to paint a picture of Cameron’s failures by comparing his New Year’s promises to the current reality, and to question how far the PM has come over the last year. Once again he is listening to foolish advisers.

A year ago, he was ahead in the polls. A year ago, the majority of his own membership thought he was doing a good job. The poll lead has gone and Miliband’s internal approval rating is tanking.

Just one look at his saucer-like eyes this PMQs, and you could see both terror and acceptance that a savaging was imminent.

As soon as Miliband tried to drive a wedge between the Prime Minister and his Deputy, it was as if Cameron’s kill switch was engaged.

With a laugh and calm wry smile, you knew something was coming. “It’s not like we are brothers...” quipped the PM to howls of derision at the reference to the Milibands’ sibling rivalry. And with that the day was Dave’s...

For the rest of the confrontation Cameron toyed with the Leader of the Opposition like a kitten with a catnip laced soft toy. “Weakness and indecision an art form” apparently. He’s united his party against him, we hear. Does he back the veto or not? It wasn’t pretty. The turkey was stuffed early this Christmas...

All this couldn’t have come at a worse time for a struggling party leader. With no real chance to publicly claw back respect and support over the long holiday period, back in the constituencies bruised and upset backbenchers will be texting and chatting, stirring and rumbling.

Labour only put up with Ed Miliband because he was ahead in the polls. It’s going to be a long frosty winter if Cameron is able to lock down this lead.

And if Ed’s performance in the new year is anything like today’s, then that job shouldn’t be too hard.

Harry Cole is The Commentator's UK Politics Editor and the news editor for the Guido Fawkes blog

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