The PMQs before a major statement is always a little bit pointless.
Today’s was better than most, but still bland. If this were the starter before the main course of the Autumn Statement, it would be a prawn cocktail. A bit dull, not very filling and reminiscent of the 1980s.
Miliband went on the cut to NHS spending and the 50p tax rate – predictably but perfectly sensibly. He was playing the old tunes and playing to the gallery. And by gallery I of course mean the evening news, which explains why his final question wasn’t even a question at all – it was something like “The Tories are awful and can’t be trusted with the NHS”.
I paraphrase slightly, but only a wee bit.
Cameron by contrast was on bullish form. How he must wish that he could deliver the Autumn Statement himself, instead of his sickly sidekick. His voice may rise in volume and the redness of his face brings mirth to the Labour benches. But it never cracks and wheezes like Osborne’s. He never sounds like he’s about to just give up and stop. And he never sounds (quite as) smug.
But with the starter out of the way – which is all this was, no pretence (and why I make no apologies for the brevity of this verdict) – it’s time for the main course. PMQs will only serve to provide clips for the Autumn Statement coverage. That’s the meal today, not this paltry offering.
And what’s George Osborne serving? We don’t fully know yet.
But I wouldn’t want to eat it…and yet the country will have to swallow it.