So the weekly joust in the Commons comes round once again. What might Young Dave have to deal with today when Mil The Younger tackles him? There is the aftermath of that trip to Brussels, the Middle East once again, and of course Cameron’s love of hiding behind the Leveson Inquiry report that he won’t otherwise do anything about.
Nope, it’s the NHS. It’s getting worse, says Ed. No it jolly well isn’t, says Dave.
That, folks, is the main event of PMQs in a nutshell. Miliband asks a question, Cameron dodges, wheels out figures, makes accusations of dodgy figures being deployed (where was Iain Duncan Cough?), and the whole thing gets repeated.
That Dave is not 100% happy with the questioning is apparent when he has to say “look at Wales” on only the second question. The Commonwealth Fund report [covered on Zelo Street a few days ago] is cited. This means the Tories are right. Was there a similar one under Labour? But the jousting has already moved on.
Dave wants everyone to look at Mid Staffs. He doesn’t want to talk specifics. Accident and Emergency figures? People waiting on trolleys? Both are brushed aside: we’re hiring more nurses, more doctors, more everything!
Cameron gets through with his deflection and tractor statistics (which are not tractor statistics unless Labour use them), but in his parry of Miliband’s last question goes on a little too much to be really effective. Ed gets his soundbites in for the news bulletins.
But both of them get stung afterwards: Miliband by Tony Baldry, asserting that as a 13 year old he supported Michael Foot’s anti-EU line in 1983, and Cameron by a broadside from Dennis Skinner (with obligatory Bullingdon Club reference) followed by a point of order from Andy Burnham accusing him of being the one using dodgy figures. No meeting of minds was observed.
There was, however, some levity, as Greg Mulholland asked Dave to congratulate Yorkshire on hosting the Tour de France. Cameron will visit the county but promised not to wear lycra.
That’s most Prime Ministerial of him.
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