Coffee House

PMQs sketch: Labour unleashes Operation Starving Kiddie

9 January 2013

5:33 PM

9 January 2013

5:33 PM

Seemed a good idea at the time. Ed Miliband decided that the progress report published by the Coalition is a ‘secret audit’. At today’s PMQs he accused Cameron of sneaking it out in order to dodge bad coverage. Poor old Ed. He can’t read the chess-match more than one move ahead. The PM gave the obvious answer. Labour has never fessed up to the gap between its promises and its achievements. The Coalition has.

‘A week sitting in the Canary Islands with nothing else to think of,’ mocked Cameron. ‘Is this the best he can do?’

‘Well, he’s going to have to do better than that,’ said Miliband from his lofty moral perch. Cameron jeered at him for lacking credible policies.

‘He can’t ask about welfare because he knows he’s on wrong side of the argument.’

Labour spent the rest of the session trying to haul themselves onto the right side of the argument. This meant unleashing Operation Starving Kiddie. It’s an enjoyable wheeze and it has many guises and varieties. Basic plan: the backbenchers coalesce to accuse the prime minister of voter-abuse.

First into the lists was Paul Goggins whose superbly cowed and dreary name suited the game perfectly.


‘One million children in poverty don’t qualify for a free school meal,’ pined Mr Goggins. He asked Cameron to ‘allay their fears’ by vowing that the gratis grub would continue under the universal credit system.

Cameron failed to give Goggins the asked-for promise. Instead he flannelled about universal credit helping the neediest most. It was an excellent start to the day’s manouevres. The PM had failed to deny that he was a committed baby-famisher.

Next, Cameron was accused of mugging mothers who can’t find a boyfriend. Lucy Powell, Manchester’s new MP, expressed concerns about ‘a single mum called Maggie in my constituency’ who stands to lose £1000 a year under the tax credit freeze.

Cameron boomeranged it back at her. ‘If we’re saving five billion, where would Labour find it? The NHS? Defence? Time we had some answers.’

Meg Hillier, speaking for Hackney’s poor, accused Cameron of not providing stationery, writing lessons and secretarial help for those who claim government handouts. ‘How many families,’ she quavered, ‘could face fines for not filling out long tax forms?’

Then Labour blundered. Stephen Pound own-goaled it by asking which families were about to lose child benefits, unawares. Answer: rich ones. Labour’s position, as Cameron pointed out, is to force average-earners with no children to pay benefits to millionaires with lots of them. Labour swiftly recovered. Julie Hilling paraded a swathes more of Cameron’s hapless victims: soldiers, teachers and nurses. All hit by the credit freeze.

‘Why are hard-working people like this paying for his economic failure?’

‘Paying for the mess left by Labour,’ yelled Cameron, his voice rising to a shriek.

The best came last. Stephen Doughty had the privilege of firing Labour’s Number One bazooka at Cameron. ‘Is the prime minister proud of the growth in food banks and does he plan to visit one?’

Cameron attending a food bank is about as likely as Vince Cable joining the board of Foxtons.

The PM got came through Operation Starving Kiddie in good shape. His new wheeze is to lecture Labour like a faintly exasperated dad. ‘Take responsibility,’ he urged them. And he highlighted their opposition to ‘£83 billion worth’ of spending cuts. (An exaggeration, surely, but Labour can hardly disclaim it by saying, ‘No, actually, we’ve only opposed £76 billion of cuts.’)

A good day for Ed, too. At least from Ed’s point of view. But neutrals won’t warm to his sanctimonious, self-admiring air. And his piety-without-responsibility approach to every single reform makes him look like the sort of frivolous, posh-boy part-timer who, he claims, fills the Tory cabinet.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • welshdai

    When will the labour and lib dem luvvies be able to explain why Singapore citizens have a higher living standard and home ownership than us in UK without welfare benefits?

    Immigrants to Singapore need work permits and there are certainly no immigrants given free houses and welfare benefits for life for not is the case in loonie Britain.

    Tony the phony Blair and his labour stooges were swamping us with uneducated non working high breeding third world immigrants in the hope of labour votes in exchange for welfare benefits courtesy British tax payers.
    Vote UKIP clean up our streets by getting them back to islamic paradise or anywhere else and off our backs.

  • DWWolds

    A couple of points:

    1. If a million children in poverty do not quality for schools perhaps Mr Goggins would explain why not. Free schools meals are surely available to all those children who do qualify.

    2. Lucy Powell mentioned a “single mum” stood to lose £1000 under the reforms to tax credits but unless the lady in question is a widow there is no such thing as “a single mother”. The father/s must be around somewhere and should be made to support his/their children. Taxpayers, particularly those earning around the £10,000 a year mark should not be expected to do so.

    • David B

      Of course she won’t “loose” £1,000. Her welfair payments from the government will increase by an assumed £1,000 less if her benefits are raised by 1% a year rather than the rate a labour government might adopt. That is not a cut!

  • Noa

    The blog was much funnier than PMQ. Thanks Lloyd.

  • toco10

    Multi millionaire Red Ed who resides in a £3 million house with his wife and two children despite never having needed to earn a living in the real world is the Coalition’s best asset despite the BBC’s constant attempts to undermine it.By way of example this evening’s 6.00 pm BBC 1 News kicks off with Jessups failing due to economic policies rather than online competition from the likes of Amazon and how the Coalition failed to meet some of its targets rather than highlighting the overwhelming majority of those which were achieved.Methinks it is time for the BBC’s tax avoiding news departments to be culled dramatically and make Labour fight its own battles without receiving 24 media support from an out of touch entity totally funded by licence fee payers.


      I think Jessops failed because it tried to grow too big much too quickly and had to borrow much too much money to do so. When I wanted to buy photography equipment I always used Jessops. It was the management which made the big mistakes, and which seems to have jumped ship a little while ago.

      • timinsingapore

        I think Jessops failed because of the weirdly inadequate range of stock in most branches and the ignorance of its staff, if my experience is anything to go by.

      • telemachus

        Always full of Christmas spirit Peter
        I read that influenza can be the precursor of HIV

        • AdemAljo

          … what?

    • James Strong

      BBC Radio 4 gave 2 reasons why Jessops failed:
      1) lots have people have a camera on a mobile phone so don’t see the need to buy another one
      2) serious photographers were inclined to use Jessops for advice and to find out what is available now, then buy on-line.
      BBC Radio 4 did not imply in even the slightest way that coalition policies were to blame.
      I am sceptical of BBC bashing unless accurate quotes are given.

      • toco10

        Very good but if you bother to read my comment accurately you will see it refers to this evening’s BBC1 News!A humble apology may suffice but I urge you to get your facts right before going Labour.

        • James Strong

          I read your comment. I wrote about Radio 4 to refute your suggestion that the ‘bias’ that you see is across the BBC, therefore also showing that your desire to cull the news departments is not reasonable in this context.
          I don’t watch TV. If you have direct quotes from news coverage, and possibly timings given to news items, then I’ll read them with interest.But I’m sceptical of impressions. At the moment I’m tending to the belief that you have correctly spotted that the BBC doesn’t share your bias. That is a long way from saying they are pro-Labour.
          I will add that it was quite right for the BBC to report the failures of the government, because that is what the coalition wanted to hide at the time of the joint appearance by Cameron and Clegg.
          News is what they don’t want you to know, all the rest is advertising.

          • 2trueblue

            The BBC failed to report the failures of Liebore over 13yrs. so yes they are biased.

          • AdemAljo

            So will you explain Bernard Jenkin’s requirement to put down the Today Programme when it tried to ambush him about the Conservative Party in a very poorly disguised segment about membership of the EU?

            The BBC bias is rife.

    • 2trueblue

      The BBC also continually fail to mention that child poverty actually grew under the Blair/Brown/Balls government. They had 13yrs and managed in a so called time of plenty to grow child poverty, youth unemployment, and increase the gap between rich and poor.

    • telemachus

      Nonetheless starving kids are a reality in Cameron’s Tower Hamlets

      • vieuxceps2

        I assume you have personal knowledge of Tower Hamlets.Are the people there setting up food-banks as in Coventry for example?Are you helping them?If not ,why not?

        • telemachus

          I am not a charity worker but I can see the effects of the revanchists

          • HooksLaw

            No – you are not a charity worker, you are a lying barsteward.

          • vieuxceps2

            “I can see the effects of the revanchists”_but still you do nothing to temper the hunger in Tower Hamlets.You continue to fulminate against those labelled by K.Marx as enemies of the Working Class,the ~Bourgeoisie and the Bossclass and the Lumpenproletariat usw.. but you do nothing for those in Tower Hamlets who suffer from the” tory-inflicted” starvation.And yet you blame. And yet you preach.Will you one day become sane? Or shall we one day carry you to Highgate to join your God?

            • Noa

              Or nail him to Charing Cross to meet him. (But gently, no violence intended, unless requested.)

      • Lloyd Evans

        I live in Tower Hamlets. Say where the starving kiddies are and I’ll give them some breakfast.

  • Paddy

    It was a pathetic PMQs from Ed Miliband. If this is the best he can do God help us.


      Why do we need to be concerned about whether or not Ed shows himself up each week?

      • wobble

        Well, because of Ukip and tory voter drain , he will probably be the next prime minister.

      • HooksLaw

        Because as wobble says, it is the avowed aim of UKIP to put Ed Miliband in power.

        • Noa

          No, its the intention of UKIP to gain power.