The last Prime Minister’s Questions before the Summer recess has brought a very full house to the Commons. So what is Mil The Younger going to chuck in Young Dave’s general direction for his end of term treat? Inflation getting away from wage rises could be one topic. The reshuffle could be yet more fruitful, especially the dumping of Michael “Oiky” Gove as an electoral liability. So here we go.
He did it again: Cameron hesitated. Not that most of the press will let you know that, but yes, he hesitated, and more than once. It could have been the persistent heckling of “Auguste” Balls, whom Dave was once again trying to paint as being the real Labour leader, but time and again our Prime Minister almost tripped himself up.
Miliband, on the other hand, had his questions prepared and soundbites – predictable as some of them were – sharpened. And he had congratulations for Dave. Yes, really he did. Congratulations, that is, for listening to people and binning “Oiky” Gove [laughter]. So why did he demote him?
Dave had his tractor statistics at the ready: look at all those Free Schools! We’re doing better than the other lot did [not sure about that one]! Why don’t Labour want to talk about employment? [it’s Questions TO the PM, Dave. Try and keep up]
Ed was not letting this one go. He was, for once, rather enjoying himself. Why did he sack Gove? Here Cameron really took the biscuit: George Young was retiring at the next election, and he wanted the very best candidate to replace him. Yeah, right: replace Young with someone who goes round picking scraps with colleagues and can’t control his SpAds. Dave could have been arguing in his spare time.
Miliband switched to the plight of those in poverty. Dave countered: there were record numbers in work! There were record numbers of jobs! There were, not to drive this one round the houses too much, record numbers of tractor statistics.
It wasn’t just the Labour leader mentioning the reshuffle, which was not exactly done at a time favourable to Cameron’s next PMQs appearance. Why, Jack Straw asked, had he binned the Attorney General? Where, Fiona O’Donnell asked, was the publication of his tax return?
Dave deflected: look at what Harriet Harman said on the radio! Ed’s job is going to be reshuffled by his colleagues! The other lot don’t want to talk about what I want to talk about!
Cameron was almost relived to have Charles Kennedy giving him the lifeline of an opportunity to kick the SNP. The noise accompanying his standing up, the former Lib Dem leader noted, was just like the old days.
That summed it up: Cameron and the same record tractor statistics. Not convincing.