It can’t have been easy being David Cameron today. Standing up only hours after it was confirmed that the economy is stagnating, he had only two choices – be conciliatory, or come out fighting. He chose the latter. As a strategy is was probably sound, but the execution was awful.
It’s doubtful that the British people will buy his spin that the economy is growing. Whilst that is technically the case, Labour should be hammering home the fact that we’re only now where we were in September 2010. With much of the pain to come, and the VAT rise hitting families hard, the net impact of the government’s reforms has been zero growth since September.
Miliband had a good opportunity to give the PM a bit of a pasting, and by and large he took it. Cameron’s answers began to come across as glib. Miliband retorted that the PM was complacent. It wasn’t the most scintillating of debating points, but it had the benefit of being true – it’ll play well on the news tonight.
Under pressure, the PM’s temper rose. His face reddened. His manner changed.
Miliband split his questions, coming back with an attack on Andrew Lansley. It was smart to go for the NHS, and it riled the PM further, but it didn’t have the wallop of the initial exchange.
The PM pulled himself up to his full height, snarling and snapping across the dispatch box.
As Cameron’s desperation to sunk in, he started to lash out at each and every Labour questioner in turn, even going as far saying that labour can’t be trusted with the NHS. Cheers rose from the Tory benches – anger and desperation became combined with confidence. The impact was brutal.
He turned to Labour’s front bench, and leered “calm down dear” like some kind of low rent Michael Winner. It was unlcear who he was speaking to, but it looked dreadful, disrespectful and smug. It looked everything David Cameron needs to avoid appearing.
There was a brief moment of uproar. the speaker seemed to lose control over the house, and Cameron kept on repeating “calm down dear”, compounding his mistake. It was the most memorable event in a tetchy PMQs – and it handed Ed Miliband the win.