When Ed Miliband stood up to ask his first question at PMQs today, citing a John from East London who was worrying about his living standards, Cameron must have been expecting a standard question on the Bedroom Tax – I know I was – but with a neat little pivot, he put Cameron under pressure on a different issue – banker’s bonuses. It was a nice piece on Parliamentary theatre, and set the tone for this week’s PMQs. Whilst Miliband’s touch was light, the Prime Minister was heavy handed, angry and raging.
And taking a moment to
curse anoint Theresa May as the next leader of the Tory party didn’t lighten Cameron’s foul mood – especially when he saw who she was sat next to.
Certainly, Cameron managed to produce consummate delivery of a couple of attack lines developed in the Downing Street bunker. There was one about a croupier that worked in principle (sounded a bit posh mind Dave, I like a gamble but I’ve never seen a proper croupier in my life) but of course it’s ahistorical in the extreme. Because whilst I agree that Labour (and all Western governments to a greater or lesser extent) were gambling on the success of questionable banking practices, there were no greater cheerleaders for financial deregulation and letting the untrammeled free market rip than the current Prime Minister and Chancellor, with Osborne once saying of Labour’s regulatory regime in the City:
“much of this regulation has been burdensome”
But since when have facts and honest got in the way of a good bit of knockabout at PMQs eh?
Of course it wasn’t long before Miliband made it on to the Bedroom Tax, and anyone who saw the distressing Newsnight report on Monday would be able to tell you what a huge and troubling issue this is. But the Tory benches brayed and booed even at the very mention of it, unwilling or unable to grasp the enormity of the situation, seeing instead every person affected merely in terms of their cash value. They are the epitome of those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
The disabled will be hit hard by this measure – the weasely worded “spare room subsidy” – so it bears remembering what Cameron said just a week ago in the same chamber at the same time:
“This government always puts disabled people first”
So tell me - how exactly do you sleep at night, Prime Minister?