PMQs: Luckless Miliband won for the third time in a row, but there was one rather large problem
If timing is everything, poor old Ed Miliband will be cursing his luck as his performance was totally overshadowed by the Redknapp sensation, writes our politics editor Harry Cole
It’s a hat-trick! Ed Miliband today scored his third victory in a row at Prime Minister’s Questions. The trouble was for the luckless Leader of the Opposition that there was a real football story taking place outside the chamber with the news that Spurs manager Harry Redknapp had been cleared of tax evasion.
That story broke just seconds before PMQs began. SKY News promptly dropped politics, shunted PMQs off to the red button, or wherever, and 95 percent of the potential audience was simply watching something else while Ed was working his magic.
Back in the chamber, Ed was trying hard to humiliate Andrew Lansley over the NHS bill and slapped down with the line of the day: “Always good to get a lecture on happy families from the Right Honourable member”.
Labour smell blood with Lansley, but I just can’t see him being sacked. It would too much of a blow, and Cameron does not want to reshuffle on anything other than his own terms. He has made that clear with a nice line of his own, telling Ed that Lansley’s career prospects were better than the leader of the opposition‘s. Cutting, and effective.
Groans and shouts grew, back and foward went the NHS ball. This is a tough one for Dave and he must be cursing the day he let Andrew Lansley off his leash. No wonder No.10 staff are saying he “should be taken out and shot” for his handling of the issue. Tetchy Tories, and frothing Labour benches: organised shouts and laughter reached new highs.
Ed tried to use the Tory Reform Group to bash the NHS reforms. Is anyone really that surprised that the TRG are against reform?
They have always been a bunch of wets; always been a thorn in the side. Most of them are in the wrong party. Their head is Ken Clarke! And that says it all. But that doesn't matter as most of the public wont know that and the clip will work for the headlines.
If anything, it was a bit tedious on both sides. It was the most stat-heavy bout in a long time. Ed was calm but his backbenchers were screeching and jeering, seemingly desperate to show their very worst side on prime time television (though, as I noted above, it was hardly prime time today). By the end, Cameron was pretty angry too -- not Gordon Brown pyscho-level angry, but seemingly deeply upset by the onslaught against the NHS reforms and Labour hypocrisy about them.
Cameron again had some good lines and put downs, but a calm Ed probably won on points. This ball and chain of healthcare reform is genuinely onerous for the Tories.
Ed might have won today but he’s going to look mighty stupid if (when) the Bill goes through and, despite the alarmism, the NHS is still in existence.
Labour initiated vast and sweeping privatisations of the NHS. They just didn’t bother changing the law and forcing bills through parliament about it. And with the all the fuss their members (and their union backers) are making about it, you can now see why.
Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator and the News Editor for the Guido Fawkes Blog. He tweets at @MrHarryCole
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