Coffee House

PMQs sketch: Labour stage a relentless attack on Cameron

19 December 2012

19 December 2012

A fascinating PMQs. Labour staged one of the most carefully orchestrated attacks on David Cameron they’ve ever mounted. It was relentless. Ed Miliband kicked off by asking the PM about the six fold rise in food-bank dependency. Cheekily, Cameron praised Miliband for applauding the volunteer spirit. ‘It’s what I call the Big Society.’

Miliband gave him the ‘withering disbelief’ look which he practises in the mirror. He then revealed that two out of every three teachers ‘know a colleague’ who has given food or cash to famished children. Cameron shrugged this aside and replied that he wanted to do the most for the poorest. And when Miliband produced his favourite complaint about tax breaks for the rich, Cameron quipped that, ‘it wouldn’t be Christmas without the repeats.’

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Labour’s backbenches then swung into action. David Anderson claimed that TB and rickets were on the rise and the country was being dragged back to the 1930s. Joan Walley told us that 9 million households were suffering from ‘fuel poverty’ while the wicked government has halved insulation subsidies. Tom Clarke said the same thing but in a Scottish accent which sounded much more convincing. Jack Dromey asked Cameron to meet a delegation of homeless Londoners. Katy Clark predicted that universal credits would put women on the dole. Tom Blenkinsop reminded us that Cameron’s local hunt has been found guilty of breaching the law. Robert Flello called the prime minister ‘Dickensian’ for favouring ‘the workhouse for the many’. And Ian Lavery, with an explosive attack, brandished a farewell note written by a disabled constituent who had killed himself after hearing that his welfare payments would be reduced.

It amounts to a Hans Christian Andersen view of Britain. Apparently, we live in a society where coatless children beg their teachers for sixpences and crusts of bread, and then pick their way home around expiring cadavers, only to find that their consumptive parents are being hauled from their hearthside to work the treadmill at the local tin-mine. Labour have staked more than they need to on this cynical distortion. They calculate that if they can make despondency universal, the grateful electorate will sweep them into power. Today the Conservative backbenches combined to counter the gloom. They told us the economy is recovering, taxes are falling, inflation is being tackled, and a manufacturing boom will shortly see the north-east making more cars than the whole of Italy.

Cameron’s response to Labour’s ambush was revealing. He ignored it. In his breeziest fashion, he trotted out his favourite sound bites about ‘rebalancing the economy’ and the surge in private sector jobs. Long-term this may be wise. He knows that a chunk of the electorate will always regard him as a yobbish parasite who sits in Downing Street laughing his head off when he hears of working mums with smallpox being thrown out of their jobs, and who celebrates the opening of a new food bank by cutting off power to orphanages, sending out eviction notices to deaf-blind centenarians and writing tax-payer-funded cheques to millionaire bankers who hunt illegally at the weekends. Labour is convinced that their caricature of Cameron is a winner. They assume that most voters are chippy miserablists who think wealth is a crime and advantage a dishonour. (Memo to Labour high command: don’t go to too many Labour party meetings.) The fact is that optimism and an upbeat spirit is the natural disposition of most hearts. And elections are about hope, not about taking tranquilisers.

Rank and file Labour members will love the stink the party kicked up today, but Cameron’s refusal to defend himself and to dismantle the distortions might worry them. They think they’ve got their goose stuffed and wrapped. Maybe not.

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Show comments
  • Colonel Mustard

    The Tories do not really attack Labour, except in defence of their own actions. And when they do attack it is not co-ordinated and any brief success is not reinforced by constant scripted repetition. The whole political thrust of the Labour party is to attack the Tories by creating a scripted characterisation of them. They exist almost wholly for this purpose alone. They attacked the Tories relentlessly even when in government. Most of Gordon Brown’s PMQ’s scripted questions were connived at to facilitate attacks on the Tories.

    The difference in attitude can be demonstrated by the fact that Labour still damage the Tories by accusing them of going along with their own disastrous economic plans when in government whilst not having to apologise for them. It is a remarkable and fascinating ability to remain constantly on the attack, through scripted falsifications, sustained myths, repeated soundbites, nasty smears, a stubborn refusal to admit error or take responsibility and a tribalist triumphalism at any Coalition misfortune. Labour fight a ceaseless propaganda war. The Tories hardly fight at all.

    Until the Tories can change this, go onto the permanent offensive and put Labour on the back foot they are destined to fail. And they have two great obstacles to truth and progress. The BBC and the Labour-dominated public sector.

  • Magnolia

    In Britain today, it’s my belief that children get rickets out of the parents fear of the sun or because of a lack of knowledge about how it produces Vitamin D in the skin.
    The obsession with a fat free diet may also play its part.
    When I was a child everyone ate school dinners and there were plenty of milky puds and eggs on offer and so no child would have been short of Vitamin D.
    My mum dosed me with cod liver oil and malt which I viewed as a treat because it tasted so nice. Rickets in this country is due to ignorance not poverty.

    • Perpetuus

      This is almost certainly the reason. It’s not a matter of not being able to buy the stuff, it’s that people don’t know why on earth they should buy it.

    • Thick as two Plancks

      How happy I was on my 5th birthday that I no longer had to swallow that awful cod-liver-oil! Only partly diminished by also losing the orange juice.

  • Pat

    “two out of every three teachers ‘know a colleague’ who has given food or cash to famished children.”- but no mention how many have actually done this. Maybe one good teacher, not known to all?

  • William Blakes Ghost

    Wasn’t it nice of Labour to trot a list of their achievements during the Blair / Brown Years? A Very Crappy Christmas To them too!

  • True_Belle

    Cameron seems to be more and more resembling cruel Wackford Squeers !

    However, hark back to another era 1999, when Mr Macawbers words were taken in vain.

    Who on earth could have imagined the Global fiscal mess that happened subsequently!

  • Axstane

    Nobody needs to get rickets. Spend a half-hour a day exposed to sunlight for the days when it shines. Children spend too much time indoors playing computer games.

    TB is imported as it was almost extinct but is now brought in by immigrants, some of whom indeed come here for treatment.

    In Scotland where TB was a stable number for over 25 years it has increased since 2005 and the Scottish NHS says clearly that it is prevalent in non-UK born patients. However, deaths are still about 35-450 a year there so although the highest in the UK hardly a pandemic.

    David Lindsay will shortly regale us with the myth that 20,000 pensioners a year die of hypothermia in the UK. It averages 89 a year.

    We will also hear, oft repeated, by such as Lindsay, Miliband and Owen Jones that n number of people died straight after their disability living allowance was reduced. Of course they did. People die following any number of occurrences – like reading this or watching the Xfactor or drinking tea. It is ridiculous to link cause and effect of coincidences in that way.

    Let us not fall for these scams.

    • David Lindsay

      People don’t “just” commit suicide.

      • Rahul Kamath

        True, but suicide is complex and blaming it on ‘reduced benefits’ as the Owen and a Labour MP did yesterday on twitter, is frankly despicable.

        • David Lindsay

          Ian Lavery (don’t take your eye of that man) reduced the entire House to silence today with ta constituent’s suicide note blaming exactly that.

          Face it, this is what the policies that you support are doing to people. Very largely working people.

          • Rahul Kamath

            It’s precisely that sort of grandstanding that I criticise.

            • David Lindsay

              That is not grandstanding. It is confronting Parliament and Government with the reality of life in this country.

              • Rahul Kamath

                U r simply wrong. There was a suicide and there are benefit cuts. The linking of these two items is cynical manipulation of facts. Shame on the MP, shame on the activists for exploiting someone’s death.

        • ToryOAP

          It is an absolute fact that no-one on welfare ever committed suicide between 1997 and 2010. This new phenomenon only started in 2010 when the tory government started persecuting those in receipt of JSA, ELA, DLA, OAP, WFA and Housing Allowance. Suicides have reached thousands as the poor are no longer able to afford shoes or Sky Sports. This is a calamity unequalled since the last tory government under Thatcher executed all first-borns in Liverpool and nuked Argentina.

    • HooksLaw

      Didn’t you know, ‘global warming’ is responsible for the deaths of just about everybody. Common knowledge.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Well, that’s what your Cameroonian buddies believe, apparently.

  • don logan

    The story has moved on, it’s all about the dirty, leftist scum at the BBC and whether Cameron got the bollocks to do something about it.

    • MirthaTidville

      In a word..No

  • Toby_Jones

    Maybe the incompetence, arrogance and cynicism of this Cameroonian shambles would be easier to stomach if they were actually fulfilling their main goal of getting the deficit down.

    Yet borrowing is going up and the economy is heading for a triple dip. Sorry Speccie, George n Dave are heading for defeat at the next election.

    • HooksLaw

      Borrowing is falling – too slowly for you but falling. Only when the economy runs surpluses can the debt fall.

      The govt are significantly cutting non discretionary departmental spending. ie cutting back on all the wasteful spending brown unleashed which the econom y could not afford

  • Ron Todd

    I often wondered why the Tories never managed this type of co-ordinated attack when they were in opposition. Was nobody high up in the party able to do a bit of organising, given their problems with party management that was quite likely, or was it because Cameron was on a lot of issues closer to Labour than to his own backbenchers

    • Dimoto

      Maybe because it is so obviously contrived and full of cant ?
      With the Hillsborough, BBC/Savile enquiries and the Gategate affair obsessing the media, this was just another Labour exercise in hot air (Radio 5 interrupted PMQs for a detailed discussion on Savilegate). Patten probably timed the press conference to coincide with PMQs – he should have known that the luvvies would opt to concentrate on Savilegate.

      Labour are just playing with themselves, confidently waiting for government to fall back into their laps.

    • toni

      The Tories do manage co-ordinated attacks.
      The whips email the MP’s to support Cameron by upping the noise factor and drowning out the oppsoition.
      Common knowledge, surprised you didn’t hear about that, there was an incidence of it quite recently.
      Btw. Not a bad sketch from Lloyd Evans, a bit more practice and he’ll have Letts looking over his shoulder.

      • Ron Todd

        Yes but by co-ordinated attack I was thinking of attack by argumant (even if poor argumant) not just attack by noise.

  • ToryOAP

    It truly remarkable that the coalition has managed to destroy this country in only 2 years after the glorious utopia that labtard built in only 13. Hard to believe……

    • telemachus

      Remarkable but not surprising
      The best most comprehensive most responsive free health anywhere in the world achieved by 2010 sliding into chaos
      I hope not to get ill

      • Whyshouldihavetoregister

        Look up irony in your dictionary, in the unlikely event that you know what a dictionary is, you unspeakable tosspot.

      • HooksLaw

        Read about the cuts promised to the NHS in Labours 2010 manifesto. 20 billion. And about how they were going to use more private providers. Read it.

      • Andy

        Haven’t you been hanged yet ? And Ed Bollocks along with you ?

      • dorothy wilson

        Well, under the last Labour government you should not have been inconsiderate enough to die on a Bank Holiday. That happened to my cousin’s husband. He was left on the bathroom floor whilst the police tried, in vein, to find a doctor to certify the death. The locum who was supposed to be covering for the family’s GP merely retorted that he was there to deal with sick people not the dead. After six hours the police took pity on the family and arranged for the police surgeon to issue the necessary certification so that the body could be moved.

        And the family’s distress can be blamed, in no small part, on the decision in 2004 by Labour’s Health Secretary to cave into the demands of NHS doctors for a large salary increase coupled with an opt out of covering at weekends.

        So please no more nonsense about the NHS being the best health service in the world under Labour. That is absolute fantasy.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I was treated by the NHS last year. Not only did they prevent the grim reaper getting his foot in the door, a pity you may say, but it suited me, but the service I received at every level at Saint Thomas’s Hospital from the smooth, rich and totally brilliant consultant (pay the man MORE) to the delightfully abrasive lady from the West Indies who served the food,could not have been better. Tory voters the lot of them I’ve no doubt..All down to the coalition..I bless the ground Cameron and Clegg walk on..

      • Procrustes

        Wastn’t free though was it? And never has been. Do you think the funding comes from the magic money tree at the bottom of someone’s garden?

        What about Stafford hospital? Very ‘responsive’

    • Aardvark

      ‘Nuff said.

    • Aardvark

      Nuff said.

  • Coffeehousewall

    The interesting thing about these comments is that I think only RKing is a real person, and all the others may well be the same troll collective!

    • HooksLaw


  • telemachus

    It was magic
    And the magician was sitting at his right hand
    Santa with the sack

    • Julian F

      The pro-Israel magician who should lead the Labour Party. He committed while in government, “I can guarantee to you the British Government in good times and in bad times, will always be with you and the Israeli people”. Amen to that. May he take over from the self-hating Miliband as soon as possible…

  • David Lindsay

    It’s all just a joke to you, isn’t it? Anything rather than admit what this country is really now like under your mates.

    • RKing

      I don’t find this “joke”, which was created by your buddies,,, Blair, Brown, Balls and Milliband very funny!!

      • David Lindsay

        There was no rampant Rickets or TB under them. In fact, on the day of the last General Election, there was no recession. It was over. As the Conservative Party will be in 2015.

        And Blair was no “mate” of mine. Wash your mouth out.

        The tone of this post above the line is obscene.

        • RKing

          What planet were you living on when the loonies left the asylum??

          • David Lindsay

            There was no recession on that day. That is a fact. A fact which the electorate increasingly now realises.

            • RKing

              That day and ONLY that day!!

              • David Lindsay

                Further comment would be superfluous.

                Since you are both a complete economic illiterate, and an inhabitant of a parallel society on these shores but nothing to do with Britain, I assert that you are George Osborne.

            • aceofthebase

              BOOM and BUST Gordon and finally BUSTED

              • David Lindsay

                Gosh, aren’t you clever?

                • MirthaTidville

                  No he is absolutely right…..exactly which bit of it do you dispute then?

                • aceofthebase

                  Just observant, No, you are correct

            • Procrustes

              How convenient. What about the days,months and years before that day? Do you recall the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001? I recall that the government of the day predicted it would disappear one day before the general election.

              I am all for recycling but this is ridiculous

        • kyalami

          There’s no rampant rickets or TB now. When your mates left power, we had the biggest debt in the last few centuries, excluding immediate post-war circumstances. Who was it who said “There is no money left”?

          • David Lindsay

            So we have moved from its all being a joke to outright denial. I wondered how long it would take.

            • Chris lancashire

              The only outright denial is that of the Labour party’s refusal to take responsibility for the damage they caused.

            • kyalami


              It’s very simple, but you need it spelled out.

              1. Labour devastated the economy with its spendthrift ways. That’s why we have the tough economy now.

              2. There were health problems under Labour. There are health problems under the coalition. There will be health problems under future governments.

              3. However there is no sudden emergence of plagues of rickets or TB.

            • HooksLaw

              Denial – its you denying that there was no TB under labour


        • Rhoda Klapp

          Rickets is a deficiency disease. It takes longer than two years to kick it off. TB is largely associated with immigrants from countries where it is endemic. And you know those facts as well as anybody. Therefore your argument is contrived and dishonest.

          • dalai guevara

            You have evidently never been to say GB’s local Victoria Hospital in Fife (what immigrants?) to witness the rate of TB there.

            • David Lindsay

              Well said. She should also come to parts of the super-white North East. Among many, many other places.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              You have evidently never been anything but stupid.

              You should reread that post, and argue against it if you can. I’ll give you a hint: You can’t.

              Not that you’d know that, because, well, you’re stupid.

            • Fergus Pickering

              What has Fife to do with the Coalition?. It is all the fat man’s fault, surely.

            • Rhoda Klapp

              Isn’t Fife in Scotland? Aren’t the Scottish Parliament in charge of health up there? How has the rate changed in the last two years anyway? Why are the tories to blame.? The argument is bollocks. But my point is not that the argument is bollocks, it is that those making the argument know damn well it is bollocks and they make it anyway. It’s dishonest tribalistic nonsense. Wouldn’t be Lindsay if it wasn’t.

              • dalai guevara

                Correct Rhoda, I never claimed the Tories were to blame. I quote from the relevant HPA study:

                ‘The absence of a decline in tuberculosis in the UK-born population over the last decade is explained by the high rates of disease in UK-born risk groups such as those whose parents or grandparents originate from a high tuberculosis burden country and persons with social risk factors for tuberculosis.’ (source: HPA, Tuberculosis in the UK: 2011 report)

                • Rhoda Klapp

                  Thanks. There is certainly a problem. But I don’t think it has a political attribution to any party or policy.

        • HooksLaw

          You persist in your pantomime of ‘oh no there isn’t’

          Darling spent 2 years desperately borrowing and spending and propping up the economy until the election and massively adding to the deficit and debt, The recession was no more over than Captain Hook can play the piano. It was bought off.

          • David Lindsay

            That’s how you end one. That’s how it works. And it worked.

            • HooksLaw

              No – you end one when the world returns to normality. You do not end it by endlessly spending more and borrowing more and more money.
              The whole of the Eurozone is currently in recession. Despite this unemployment is falling and numbers in work rising and as an indicator car production is rising.

              Labour brought spending forward (they said) so by the time they did that the economy should have been ready to sustain itself and support the inevitable gap in spending thereafter. It was not.

        • dorothy wilson

          There was no real boom under them either. It was all a fantasy built on a mountain of public and private debt.

          By the way, don’t you have to earn a living? You seem to spend most of your day churning out fatuous posts on sites like this.

    • HooksLaw

      Don’t make us laugh. Or maybe you should you are a walking talking pantomime.

      Its labour who sliced 7% of the capacity of the economy and left record debt and deficit.
      Above all its Labour who totally lost control of government spending. Again. Never mind you have the UKIP numpties actively campaigning to get your lot back in again.

      • David Lindsay

        I am not a member of any political party.

        And Labour would have an overall majority of 90 in 2015 even if UKIP had never existed.

        • kyalami

          Largely because of constituencies which bias elections towards them.

          • David Lindsay

            Rubbish. Psephologically impossible, in fact.

            You have just come fifth in a parliamentary by-election. As soon as you have to fight one in the North or the Midlands against the Monster Raving Loony Party, which contested neither Rotherham nor Middlesbrough, then that party will beat you. That really is going to happen, probably within the next year. It might even happen in the South by then.

            • kyalami

              Not merely possible, but the reality on the ground. If boundaries were redrawn to have the same number of voters in each, Labour would lose many seats.

              • David Lindsay

                But they won’t be. And in any case, that is no longer true, if it ever was. It may or may not have been on the 2010 figures. But there has been an ever-so-slight shift in public opinion since thence. A shift which has not yet reached its limit, with two and a half years still left to go. The Tories are toast.

                • kyalami

                  I see you are ducking the issue. Predominantly Labour-leaning constituencies have smaller electorates than predominantly Conservative ones. This leads to Labour getting more seats than if all constituencies were the same size.


                • David Lindsay

                  They are not predominantly Conservative anymore. Nowhere is unless Boris Johnson happens to be the candidate and his Labour opponent happens to be unacceptable to an Israeli Government with a considerable concentration of voters in its pocket.

                  Even they voted Labour for the Assembly on the same day. Just as Chipping Norton voted Labour on that day. London is obviously not all that different after all.

                  And the scheme to redraw the boundaries has already had to be withdrawn because it was such a shambles. You can forget about that one. It is never going to happen. Not that it would have done you any good if it had.

                • kyalami

                  Golly. So much misinformation in one post.

                  Yes, many constituencies ARE predominantly Conservative.

                  The scheme was not withdrawn because it was a shambles. It was withdrawn because the LibDems withdrew their support in a tit-for-tat political squabble.

                  The boundaries remain a democratic blot, buying Labour a few dozen undeserved seats.

    • Gaverne

      TB is rife as a result of Blair Brown & co’s encouragement of unlimited immigration from the third world.

      • David Lindsay

        And the Tourrettes is off as well.

      • Rahul Kamath

        TB is probably brought in by immigrants but to say its rife is frankly laughable. See Axtane above.

    • Tony Webb

      Pecksniffian cantism is all very amusing, but faux outrage shows a disingenuous capability, and a dishonest outlook on reality.

      Put simply, you verge the precisest of ridicularity, and sound like you drool over false character assassination.

      My advice. Just grow up, is common parlance I believe….

    • Fergus Pickering

      Rickets and TB are on the increase because of the immigrants. They are the ones that get them. Repeat after me, Lindsay old son. Rickets and TB…

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