Coffee House

PMQs was messy, but it won’t help Labour

9 April 2014

1:54 PM

9 April 2014

1:54 PM

PMQs was very messy for David Cameron. It was never going to be fun coming after Maria Miller’s resignation (although it would have been a lot less fun if Miller hadn’t gone). But Cameron made things worse in place by making strange comments that seemed to suggest that he thought Ed Miliband should have called for Miller’s head. He said:

‘I have to say it is rather extraordinary, the right hon. Gentleman now coming here, having not said she should resign and saying she should have resigned. I think it shows all the signs of someone seeing a political bandwagon and wanting to jump on it! He is jumping on this bandwagon after the whole circus has left town.’


This sounded strange. Why is the Prime Minister scolding the Labour leader for not calling for Maria Miller’s head. Then the PM made some sarky remarks about Miliband chasing soundbites and playing politics. Of course Miliband did, but perhaps he was basing his behaviour on the David Cameron playbook, given the Tory leader made such political capital from expenses in 2009.

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Labour afterwards also reminded us that frontbencher Thomas Docherty had called for Miller to go on Friday, so the party has been pushing for her demise all along. A party source said that Miliband didn’t repeat the call himself because he ‘wanted to focus on the economy’ and ‘he wanted to see if David Cameron did the right thing’.

But today was not a win for Labour and here’s why. In spite of the PM flailing, in spite of the messy briefing over whether an emissary from Number 10 was indeed sent to at least suggest to Maria Miller that she should think about stepping down (Number 10 will only say that this was her own decision and sources’ evasiveness in dealing with this question tells us everything we need to know about the answer), and in spite of the mess that this has provided the Opposition to feast on, it doesn’t benefit Ed Miliband. Punching the expenses bruise hurts all parliamentary parties, not just the Tories. It benefits Ukip, not Labour.

Labour benefits from a government cock-up, for sure. But if it predicates its strategy and its good mood on things going wrong, whether they be a Cabinet minister stepping down after a Number 10 shambles, or an unfortunate bingo poster that still advertises popular measures in the Budget, then the party remains at sea. It must convince voters that it is the credible alternative to the government that Ed Miliband at the height of the mess called a ‘shower’.

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Show comments
  • Smithersjones2013

    It is a sad indictment of this country that the likely successors to .’Cameron’s calamitous cock-ups’ will be ‘Milibands moronic misfits’.

  • ITB

    It’s by no means a coincidence that Balls and Harman, who sat either side of Miliband today, remained fairly staid and inanimate throughout PMQs.

    Balls and Cooper each submitted two monthly claims for mortgage interest for nearly twice the cost of their actual payments. They designated their London house as their “second home” rather than their constituency properties, despite their three young children going to school in the capital.They switched their second home designation three times.

    Harriet Harman made the public pay for a digital camera bought by her assistant while on holiday in South Africa. She persuaded Sir Thomas Legg not to publish any references to expenses claims that were turned down by the Commons Fees Office. In December 2010 it emerged that Harman was amongst 40 MPs who had secretly repaid wrongly claimed expenses between 2008 and 2010.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg for these two. Miliband should be more concerned about his judgement of (senior) members of his party and less so with the PMs.

    • Wessex Man

      This is of course true but it doesn’t make right what MM did or the dumb, stupid way that Cameron stuck by her, not that I’m complaining it’s making life easy for us!

      • ITB

        I’m, of course, not excusing MM. Miliband raised the issue of expenses purely as an attack line on Cameron’s judgement. My point is that Miliband can’t really question someone else’s judgement when his wingman/woman are themselves guilty of fiddling their expenses.

        If EM wants to talk good/bad judgement, first look at his own party before self-righteously commenting on others.

    • Shazza

      I’m certainly not condoning Maria Miller’s behaviour but compared to Hattie Harpicperson’s alleged association with PIE, she is a saint.

    • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

      To me the on-going overclaiming of expenses is weirdly similar to the over-claiming of tax credits.

      There is a culture still at large that goes ; claim anything, anywhere, anytime – because what we normally do is just pay things back, later. It’s seems to be all part of what has been described as a litigous/compensation culture and It’s not British, really – though of course many members of the public will buy into any kind of take-now-pay-later arrangements because something tells them ” we can”.

      Even so, I think our Parliamentary democracy, as an organisation of certain sorts – should and must take out all these advisers, assistants, researchers, aides, lobby folk ( but not ordinary members of the public) or whatever other kind of pseudo-professional, managerial types that currently make a living out of the positions of proper Parliamentarians.

      Such elements should be firmly shown the door to the Independent Parliamentary Commissioners office – which may be the best place to sort out the best end-to end security of their work/life balance,in the interests of the taxpayer and without recourse to our Parliamentary Committees ( such as the one on standards).

  • Kitty MLB

    Oh I forgot, the dark eyed zombie criticizes Cameron’s judgement ( and he still has not apologised to Mitchell for the way he besmirched that chap)
    And yet his own judgement led Milbland to give the job of shadow chancellor
    to none other then Gordon Brown’s right hand man- arch creator of their
    country wrecking manifesto. A man Miliband utterly dislikes and mistrusts
    and yet he will never have the backbone to replace Balls-
    Judgement – Milipede – Judgement.

  • Terence Hale

    Hi,
    PMQs was messy, but it won’t help Labour. Indeed; and Labour never hearing of capital gains missed out. Mr. Cameron in a defensive wobbling also missed out, he may have to do a lot of shopping in Astra.

  • Kitty MLB

    I didn’t see it myself.
    Like Holly I happened to have been otherwise engaged with reading some medieval
    poetry, removing dried egg from a saucepan & telling the dog off.
    But I get the gist.
    Miliband on one of his bandwagons or a new one- ” surfing the waves of discontent
    that he hopes to create”
    I should imagine all the questions were on one subject-

    • Holly

      The sun is shining here, why would anyone watch PMQ’s while that is happening?

      Take one EXTREMELY happy dog, add the hose pipe, turn the water on…..FUN!

      • DavEd CamerBand

        Blasphemy!!!!

        • Kitty MLB

          Yes for some “FUN” would indeed be Blasphemy.
          Why have fun when there are such joyous politicians to behold !!

          • DavEd CamerBand

            Precisely, sometimes I stand outside Parliament in the hope of catching a glimpse of Ed Balls, but like all the greats he is as illusive as a Snow-leopard.

        • Holly

          ???

  • DavEd CamerBand

    I don’t see how that comment is at all “strange”. I couldn’t describe Miliband without mentioning the term “bandwagon”.

    He criticises at every turn but offers no alternative.

    • Stephen

      True, but this is what oppositions do. It is frustrating when a party one despises jumps on the bandwagon of the day. But when a party one prefers, or at least dislikes less than the others, opposes HMG but does not propose anything, it is good sport and reasonable politics.

      • DavEd CamerBand

        Not at all. He opposed every single cut aimed to tackle the deficit his party created, nobody who would describe themselves as a “Man” would ever play such a pathetic hand.

  • Holly

    Oh golly I missed it!
    I was playing with the dog.
    I then had to put the beef on to cook, for the suet pudding, we are having for tea.
    Never mind eh, we can’t all lead such sad…..I mean….well informed lives.

    • DavEd CamerBand

      When people in the future ask you “what were you doing on the 9th of March 2014 at 12.pm; when the most memorable television broadcast, EVER, was made you’ll feel very left out I fear.

      • Holly

        When we are tucking into home-made suet pudding, stuffed full of beef, I will thank myself for missing the most pointless television broadcast….EVER, and the day I feel ‘left out’ for missing gobshites spouting off to each other, is a VERY long way off.

        • DavEd CamerBand

          You should be thankful it’s on BBCiplayer, it’s not quite the same as listening to it live; like “fight them on the beaches” on the wireless, but it will have to do.

          • Holly

            Sorry but I will not be watching it on BBCiplayer either.
            Far too busy with interesting stuff….Like playing with the dog.
            Maybe I will live to regret missing it, in the very unlikely event someone asks about it in future.

        • Ooh!MePurse!

          Thanks for making me drool, Holly! Hope it was delicious – certainly sounds it!

          • Holly

            It was to die for, ‘n’ I don’t regret missing PMQ’s for a second.
            The dog is tuckered out and fast asleep.
            The dishes are done & sided, the cooker is clean, & I am
            H A P P Y.
            Killed two birds with one stone & it is stew & dumplings tomorrow.
            Turkey dinner Thursday…
            Fish & chips Friday.. home-cooked.
            Something made from eggs on Saturday & the other half of Mondays shepherds pie I froze, on Sunday.

            It is moments like this when I miss a cig.

      • Mike Purves

        April, surely?

  • anyfool

    Miliband was pathetic, he had an open goal and the only ball he played was his pathetic mantra, “the Prime Minister just doesn’t get it”
    Nobody gives a toss about whether Cameron suggested to Miller that she resign and now she has, the only effect of the concerted effort by the Labour MP Mann will be to draw attention to the rest of the expenses crooks, of whom Labour out do all others..

  • johnswindon

    Milliband was lucky no one asked how many of his members of the commons have gone to prison for fraud over expenses compared with Camerons party.

    • DavEd CamerBand

      Cameron was stupid not to mention it.

      • ITB

        I don’t know, mate. Fact is none of them come out of this smelling of roses.

        • DavEd CamerBand

          Maybe not, but the snarling left need to realise their representatives don’t represent their interests, this current debacle can’t be missed, he had nothing to lose by reminding them.

    • Shazza

      Anyone know if Balls and Cooper are still claiming double expenses?

  • telemachus

    The most important thing about PMQ’s was the news that the Charismatic one was running on Sunday in the London Marathon
    Magnificent

    • Kitty MLB

      How many homes does the red faced inflated balloon and his hamster
      chewing wife own- Oh I believe 4 homes- hope he doesn’t trip up
      or anything.

      • Mazzzz

        Ed Balls and wife Yvette Cooper “flipped” the designation of their second home to three different properties within two years!

      • telemachus

        Ed is a man of the people
        Which of the Cabinet knuckle down and run for the poor and disadvantaged

        • DavEd CamerBand
        • Kitty MLB

          The enigmatic Michael Gove will educate them and the determined IDS will help them escape a life of benefit
          dependency. Have you not heard wages are growing at
          their fastest rate since 2007.

          • Guest

            Not to mention: they start taxing at £6,500…….. compared to the coalition’s £10,500

            • Mynydd

              Please tell me what was the starting tax rate under Mrs Thatcher? Why the way it’s £10,000

              • Holly

                Nit picking.
                Are we???

          • Holly

            Trade deficit has narrowed, and it is only Eight pay days until Christmas…
            With, of course, the great Easter DIY-fest in between, which means a Bank Holiday….Double time and a day in lieu, and chocolate, just to add to Labour’s misery index.
            How folks stay that miserable is beyond me.
            Maybe they are paid to be miserable?

        • Holly

          Surprise us with your superior knowledge of all things fat, red and pug ugly….For there can be only one….surely????
          Unless you know of others…
          Don’t they usually come in pairs???

    • anyfool

      Maybe the charity Balls should be running for, is the British Legion, it seems he is averse to giving them his own money.

      Balls attempted to claim £33 parliamentary expenses for poppy wreaths he had laid at his constituency ceremony.

      • telemachus

        So that was not part of his parliamentary duties?

        • DavEd CamerBand

          Yes, but most would be less concerend with sacrificing £33 to pay tribute to thousands who sacrificed their lives.

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            Absolutely. Who on earth would charge the taxpayer for contributing to the RBL? Apart from a loathsome rat.

      • Colonel Mustard

        I’d like to see him running for his life, preferably in a direction away from Westminster.

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        Loathsome rat!

    • DavEd CamerBand

      Thank God he wasn’t left to run the drinks table! God knows what would have happened, the runners would most probably have been drinking sand.

      • telemachus

        Probably Stout

        • DavEd CamerBand

          Yes he is rather, probably dipping into the public purse to buy pies.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Distinctly porky and teutonic looking these days. Like a bull-necked bürger in das rathaus.

        • Holly

          You shouldn’t talk about Beetroot boy like that.
          I thought he was your hero.

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