PMQs: Broken Promises, Broken Truce

With six soldiers missing in Afghanistan, Prime Minister’s Questions put things into perspective, writes our UK Political Editor Harry Cole

The truce was soon broken
Harry Cole
On 7 March 2012 13:00

Tributes to the fallen are always sad at the beginning of Prime Ministers Questions but the news that no fewer than six of our boys are missing in action today took the wind out of every-ones’ sails.

A sombre affair and one that we still have months and years to endure. While Miliband was keen to avoid being seen as playing politics with death he was right to drop his tiresome NHS question for once and discuss the decade long war in the Afghan desert.

It’s a shame that six brave young citizens had to be killed before our politicians could finally have a grown up debate, and it says a lot that our mission in Afghanistan even needs to be “restated”.

Our troops are fighting and dying for the mission; it should never have to be restated why they are. We should know this by now.

There was not much playing of politics but there was a certain elephant of Labour guilt in the room. They were the ones that took their eye off Afghanistan and left our troops woefully under prepared and thinly spread. No wonder they were muted today and Ed could not bring himself to do all six of his questions on the subject.

Impressive while it lasted, the silence and the truce were over in exactly ten minutes. Members were immediately drifting back to their standard position of chuntering from sedentary positions.

Ed’s favourite trick of personalising policy – alerting the Prime Minister to a family in Dartford – is an effective tactic, but there was a  “what about Bob Cratchit” feel to this particular anecdote. 

Ed is at his most solemn and pious when he does this, but it can cut through. Personalisation of politics can be very valuable and he knows it infuriates the Tory benches. No doubt Bob and Tiny Tim will be popping up in the Labour Party election videos and on the platform Ed.

Cameron’s response that it’s “about difficult decisions, life is about difficult decisions” held even more resonance in the context of the opening of this week’s joust, but sadly he was talking about giving universal child benefits to millionaires. Hardly a tough decision, more a socialist inspired absurdity that should have been scrapped years ago.

By the time Ed had a standard cackhand delivery error when he said “in my book I have a word for that a ‘broken promise’, the room was back to its normal noise world. Broken promise is two words, mate. Two words that he has some gall to mention on a day like today. 

Harry Cole is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator and the News Editor for the Guido Fawkes Blog. He tweets at @MrHarryCole

blog comments powered by Disqus