PMQs Verdict: A bit of a turkey

9th January, 2013 1:41 pm

The first week back at work after Christmas is always a little sluggish. It takes you time to find your rhythm again. It’s hard to
get back into the habit again.

That’s what PMQs felt like today. Sluggish and disjointed.

For Ed Miliband the tactics were clear – talk about anything but welfare. And to that end, he must have been doing somersaults in
Norman Shaw South this morning when he saw the front page of the Telegraph. The secret(ish) “annex” to the coalition’s mid-term review was an absolute gift for the Labour leader.

Unfortunately it was one he didn’t really take, as if he’d only come up with the questions just before PMQs and hadn’t really thought them through. The idea – broken promises – was a good one. The execution – much less so. That the report has even written at all is embarrassing, and that it’s being buried after PMQs to avoid questions on it is damning. Yet with an opportunity to hammer the Tories for broken promises, incompetence and hiding the truth, Miliband floundered. As Roberto Mancini might have said, maybe he’d had too much turkey.

Subsequent questions about ministerial resignations didn’t really hit the mark either in an exchange that was thoroughly unmemorable. It was like the heated up remains of the last PMQs – as unsatisfying as a turkey curry after a week of turkey sandwiches.

(To complete a hat-trick of turkey references, you could say this week’s PMQs was…a bit of a turkey…)

After the weekly half hour of water-torture political exchange had ended, Andrew Neil reminded BBC viewers that there’s over two years of these exchanges still to go. That’s not something that will fill any politically minded person with any amount of pleasure. Foreboding more like.

Limp stuff all around. But better next week? Surely? We live in hope…

  • Emma Burnell

    David Cameron’s claim never to have broken the law will come back to bite him on the bum (very back to basics). Not least because he was in trouble at Eton for smoking marijuana. Whether or not you think it should be (I don’t) that’s illegal.
    How many other youthful indescretions has he given journalists a chance to dredge up. One more with the Bullingdon stories at least.

  • Andrew Gray

    Didn’t think I’d ever see the government referred to as Christmas leftovers.

  • billbat

    thought that it was typical of Carry on Cameron. All of Ed’s questions were met by Pantomime echoing of the Prime Minister’s ‘ Up’ and ‘Down’ by the Wall of Cameron avoided giving sensible answers. Then he did the usual patronising critique of Ed in his Flashman Persona. However he was very good with the planted questions which always seem to start with ‘Would the Prime Minister agree with me ……. that he is doing a wonderful job?’ At one point the Wall of Noise anticipated another Panto Chorus and started echoing Cameron before realising they were in the wrong place.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Miliband seemed timid, shallow, superficial and ineffective at PMQs today.

    Considering what went on in respect to welfare yesterday I’m shocked that the Labour leader didn’t take Cameron to task over serious-as-death issues that are about to happen, like exponentially increasing homelessness and child poverty, as a direct consequence of the real terms cuts in social security proposed by the Coalition. And why doesn’t Miliband tackle Cameron about Universal Credit, which the Coalition keeps bigging up as a universal panacea in respect to every social ill, when the project looks set to crash and burn and hit the buffers later this year or next year? Even if Universal Credit worked perfectly (which it won’t, ever) it won’t help current claimants with the pain and suffering resulting from the proposed real terms cuts in benefits for years: even if Universal Credit worked flawlessly (which it definitely won’t, ever) the records of many claimants will still be undergoing migration from the current system to Universal Credit in 2017 and beyond!

    A poor start to the new year for Ed Miliband.


    • Michael Murray

      I thought Ed completely wrong footed Cameron who clearly was waiting to label all Labour people as on the side of the scroungers. Cameron was red faced with frustration and again showed himself up as a man with a hair trigger. Well done Ed.

  • kb32904

    It’s a strange one Mark because the Telegraph, Andrew Sparrow at the Guardian and even Michael White of the Guardian awarded Ed a ‘win’

  • Mike Homfray

    Thought they both sounded as if they weren’t really back after lunch today. Miliband didn’t make much impact, but cameron so obviously failed to answer the questions and reverted to the Gordon Brown ‘list’ approach which never worked for Brown either. No-score draw today

  • Michael Murray

    Ed Miliband completely wrong-footed Cameron. Cameron wanted Ed to go on welfare so that he could characterise Labour as being more concerned about those on benefits than those in work. It didn’t happen and Cameron once again revealed that he has a hair trigger when it comes to his temper. Well done Ed.


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