Today’s PMQs will not live long in the memory. Ed Miliband led on the NHS and the debate quickly turned into a statistical stalemate. Indeed, at the end Andy Burnham tried via a point of order—with little success—to get Cameron to admit that one of his numbers was wrong.
Miliband was in a confident mood at the despatch box because he knew he was on strong ground on the NHS. But in a week where Labour is trying to burnish its economic credentials, it is telling that Miliband didn’t choose to go on the economy. Once the Labour leader had exhausted his questions, Cameron, for his part, again went for a highly personal shot at Miliband, declaring ‘if he can’t do better than that on the NHS he is in trouble’.
There was, though, a moment of levity in the session when Tony Baldry recalled how a 13-year-old Ed Miliband had leafleted his constituency in 1983 in favour of Michael Foot’s policy of withdrawal from Europe. Miliband looked suitably embarrassed at the memory and Cameron was confident enough to risk a joke about not holding people’s youthful indiscretions against them—Cameron himself was allegedly caught smoking cannabis at Eton when he was a teenager.
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.