If the Budget is an ‘omni-shambles’ then David Cameron’s performance at Prime Minister’s Questions was a mega-shambles. Something definitely has changed. The Tory forced laughter is more forced. The Prime Minster’s lack of a grip on the detail is more obvious. And George Osborne’s calamitous Budget is a renewable energy source for Her Majesty’s Opposition. It’s not getting any better for Cameron.
Faced with a series of questions about the Budget’s impact, the Prime Minister was simply all over the place. He tried parliamentary process as a defensive strategy. That failed. So he tried having a pop at Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London. It just sounded rather off-topic. He then decided to go for political commentary by raising the Bradford West by-election. It was all pretty desperate stuff.
The one thing he didn’t want to talk about was the Budget – it’s easy to understand why.
What was most amusing about this performance were the back passes which fell short giving Ed Miliband a couple of easy goals. In order to avoid talking about the Budget, he decided to raise today’s jobs figures instead. Good news indeed. But it shows how desperate things have become that while youth unemployment is over a million, the Prime Minister sees this as a big political win. Miliband framed George Osborne as the ‘part-time Chancellor’ today. It’s only a matter of time until people start to notice a flapping Prime Minister too.
At one point Cameron even brought up the fuel ‘strike’ that wasn’t. It suggests either a staggering degree of political disconnection to think that people don’t blame his Government for that whole situation or it further speaks of the political toxicity of his Chancellor’s Budget that he resorts to raising the ‘strike’. Times are a-changing. The Conservative collapse in polls has knocked the Prime Minister off balance it would appear.
It was an easy win for Miliband – the easiest he’s had. The Government is on its heels. It’s making mistakes. Authority is draining and the Prime Minister is, for the first time, visibly floundering. Miliband needs to be aware that it won’t remain this easy. The ‘what would you do?’ question is not going away. But for now he can score a few easy goals and bag a few wins. Stack up the points while you can. That’s what Ed Miliband did today. Job done.