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Wednesday 14 May 2014

PMQs – Itch-A-Sketch 15

Yes folks, it’s that time of the week again, when Young Dave takes questions from his fellow MPs, and most significantly from Mil The Younger. What might be on the menu today? The Pfizer versus AstraZeneca battle may come back for a second week, given the lack of guarantees the Pfizer boss gave when grilled yesterday. Dave may allude to poll ratings to deflect. Let battle commence.
Yes, it’s the usual stuff: Long Term Economic Plan at least six times, NHS in Wales getting kicked – Mark Harper doing the honours today – and David Amess, sadly no longer representing BASILDON (did I mention BASILDON there?) telling the house that his mother-in-law has just celebrated her 102nd birthday [hear hear].

And then came Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Miliband said that Cameron hadn’t got any assurances, and if he had, they were useless. There would be cuts in R&D and jobs overall if the takeover went ahead. Dave had negotiated with Pfizer over the heads of the AZ board! The merged company could be carved up and sold off! Why didn’t he call in the bid? He’s not powerless, he’s the PM!

Well, at least he wasn’t a very naughty boy, which was some reassurance for Cameron. What was he doing? He was GETTING STUCK IN! In fact, he was getting stuck in TWICE! And he was taking no lectures from the other bloke! Sadly, he was a bit late with that one, as Miliband had already said that he, too, was taking no lectures. And what about Kraft, eh? I mean, it’s Cadbury, innit?!?

It sounds pretty vacuous, because that’s what it was. Dave got a little tetchy, enough to deploy the old “weak” taunt. But Miliband got his soundbites through, which will get him favourable exposure on the News bulletins. Little else was of note, except for two items that may have been missed by the sketch-writers.

One was that two MPs – Steve Gilbert from Cornwall, and Andrew Percy from Humberside, who are both on Cameron’s side of the House – raised the issue of flood damage. Too many have forgotten the issue as the 24-hour News Speculatron has moved on.

And two – the Rt Hon Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet, was visibly indulging in “afters” with the Labour front bench while Cameron was taking questions some time after Miliband had had his six. The Tories do love to suggest that this is down to Labour, and specifically “Auguste” Balls, but it takes two to tango, and Osborne was clearly happy to join this particular dance.

That’s something the broadcasters won’t be telling you as they strip the session down to soundbites.

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