Coffee House

PMQs sketch: Miliband’s integer attacks dissolve into a whirl-pool of squiggles

2 July 2014

5:26 PM

2 July 2014

5:26 PM

It was damn close. And it scored top marks for effort. Miliband’s plan today was to prove that Cameron’s NHS policy is a disaster. And to prove it with Cameron’s own admissions. Or omissions.

‘It’s four years since his top-down re-organisation of the NHS,’ began Miliband in that quiet, meticulous manner that always foretells a forensic ambush.

‘Have the numbers waiting for cancer treatment got better or worse?’

Cameron instinctively dodged the question. Miliband moved on to A&E waiting times. Cameron shifted and ducked again. Miliband asked about numbers waiting over four hours on a trolley. Cameron ran for cover. With each refusal Miliband triumphantly recited the figures that the prime minister had failed to give Thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. Waiting, fretting, being let down. But it wasn’t a triumph at all. It was just a blizzard of integers.

Cameron used his classic defence and compared England-under-me with Wales-under-you. Miliband was prepared. He struck straight back with figures showing improvements in Wales. Cameron retaliated with numbers proving the opposite. But by now it was over. Miliband’s attack had dissolved in a whirl-pool of digits and squiggles. Because using maths to win an argument is all but impossible. Cameron, the wily old marketing shark, knows this in his guts. He twice deployed his distasteful but effective slogan, ‘patients dying under Labour’.


Miliband could do with a sound-bite to match that rather than investing all his faith in wonkish statistics. If he had to re-write Churchill he’d say, ‘98 percent of UK citizens will proceed beachwards with belligerent intentions.’

After this, we were invited to a 1980s party. Diane Abbot got up and thundered about wicked Tory landlords evicting saintly toilers in Hackney. Dennis Skinner complained so furiously about the NHS that his face almost disappeared in a wobbling mass of empurpled jowls. Then Jeremy Corbyn asked to come in. Yes, certainly. Nicely-spoken Jeremy, who represents posh Islington, has just discovered that London is booming. And he wants it stopped. He asked the PM for rent controls to cure a snag that he calls ‘social cleansing,’ and which normal people call ‘living where you can afford to live.’

Even your housing minister rejects that, said Cameron.

The 1980s party ended with a Tony Baldry anecdote. In 1983 a teenage prophet was spotted on Baldry’s home-turf handing out leaflets calling for Britain to quit the EEC. The embryonic secessionist? Ed Miliband. Cameron got more joy from this than anyone expected.

‘Well I suppose if that’s your idea of fun,’ he said, angling a barbed look at Ed.

‘What’s your idea of fun?’ heckled Labour.

‘Not hanging out with the shadow chancellor,’ yelled Cameron. ‘The Labour leader has to hang out with him all the time! The man who wrecked the economy. And who keeps saying, “we crashed the car, give us back the keys”.’

Balls flushed puce at this. And Miliband went so pale he almost slid off the chart. As Tory guffaws rose, a humiliated Balls began to fling one arm around while shouting abuse and heaving his doorman’s shoulders this way and that. Miliband, beside him, gazed dead-ahead, evidently trying to assume an expression of frosty contempt. He actually looked as if he’d been hit between the eyes with a man-hole cover. Honestly, they couldn’t have looked more shifty if they’d been found sharing a sleeping bag.
Mean old Cameron will try that again next time.

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Show comments
  • Mynydd

    It may be Mr Average to Mr Cameron, but for the families of those hundreds of thousands stuck on an A&E trolley it’s lost votes.

    • starfish

      Hundreds of thousands?

      Does the
      Nhs possess that many trolleys?

  • Stuart

    Why is patients dying under Labour a distasteful statement. It’s a fact that, that useless little scum bag Burnham has never apologised for.

  • Colonel Mustard

    “He twice deployed his distasteful but effective slogan, ‘patients dying under Labour’”

    It’s not the slogan that is distasteful but Labour’s reaction to that scandal and their attempt to whitewash it so they wouldn’t look bad before the election. When I say Labour I mean of course, mainly, Andy Burnham but no doubt there were Labour other co-consiprators conniving with him.

    • telemachus

      Folks on the right are scared of Andy because he is the kind of competent individual that will undoubtedly drive us forward into the 20’s
      When he is finished combining and revamping health and Social Care, most of us see him as going to Home and sorting out the mess that exists from police to passports
      In many ways he is a superstar of the ilk of Ed Balls
      That is why the right continue to smear him

      • Colonel Mustard

        “The Labour party consists of a gang of men and women exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, Labour is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

        • telemachus

          I prefer

          “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost”
          This so eloquently portrays the attitude of the right towards the electorate increasing over the last 2 or 3 years

          • Colonel Mustard


      • Colonel Mustard

        “A secret plan to privatise an entire tier of the NHS in England was revealed prematurely yesterday (29 June 2006) when the (New Labour) Department of Health asked multinational firms to manage services worth up to £64bn.

        The department’s commercial directorate placed an advertisement in the EU official journal inviting companies to begin “a competitive dialogue” about how they could take over the purchasing of healthcare for millions of NHS patients. …

        The advertisement asked firms to show how they could benefit patients if they took over responsibility for buying healthcare from NHS hospitals, private clinics and charities. The plan would give private firms responsibility for deciding which treatments and services would be made available to patients – and whether NHS or private hospitals would provide them.”

  • 2trueblue

    Millipede just can not take on board that they made such a terrible mess of the NHS. The reality of killing large numbers of vulnerable people is something that he does not want to accept. He must never be allowed to forget it.

  • swatnan

    As soon as Scotland and Wales become Independent the better, then Dave will have no one to compare the dismal plight of little England.

    • HookesLaw

      Hilarious. Does independence mean disappearing from the space time continuum?

    • 2trueblue

      England is by far the greater part, being of the 5th6th biggest economies in the world, a nuclear power, on the security council, one of the largest contributors to the EU. What do you mean by “little England”?

      • Mynydd

        It’s not England it’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

        • 2trueblue

          I think you need to keep up. My reply was to the above which was discussing England as being the greater part of the UK. IT is not “little England”.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      Well I know you socialist nutters are desperate to make England “little” but as long as you don’t get you incompetent, corrupt hands on the economy we should be alright again in 50 to 60 years.

  • anyfool

    He twice deployed his distasteful but effective slogan, ‘patients dying under Labour’

    There is nothing distasteful at all, there are thousands upon thousands of relatives who would say something a lot stronger than that.

    How about Cameron saying
    Yes Labour did get waiting lists down by culling, tens of thousands of the old and infirm died and that little man sitting to your right covered this up.

    • telemachus

      Come on
      Before Gordon’s magnificent investment, hundreds of thousands could not even get into the NHS
      And many many of these died
      Ask any undertaker

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Brown invested nothing he simply spent our money. Much of it was wasted on costs associated with ludicrous PFI contracts which were beyond his comprehension and were negotiated by fools on behalf of the taxpayer.

        • telemachus

          Are you sure it was our money
          You keep lambasting him for borrowing it

          • wycombewanderer

            Yes our money the taxpayer has to pay it back .

            There’s no magic money tree despite what you half witted socialists would have the country believe

            • telemachus

              Look son
              China is awash with money looking for a home
              Even Osborne has woken up to this in financing HS2

              • wycombewanderer

                and they want a return on that money.

                There’s no magic money tree.

                It only exists in the fetid minds of socialists.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                For which they are looking for an enormous return you witless idiot. Also, when their bubble eventually bursts, as it will, they will not be awash with money.

            • Gallafrey

              As my long departed grandfather always said. “Empty heads vote labour in, empty wallets vote them out”! Nothing new then?

            • Mynydd

              In the mean time there is a modern hospital rather that an outdated Victorian one. I know which one I would prefer.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Ultimately, the British taxpayer picks up the bill for Labour the party of lies, lying, liars, failure and mediocrity. You socialist nutters are expensive and wasteful as well as dishonest.

            • Mynydd

              The British taxpayer will pick up the doubling of the National Debt bill under this government.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                You really are utterly dishonest. What cuts do you propose to reduce state spending?

        • Mynydd

          You don’t seem to understand what a PFI contract is, yet it’s in the title, Private Financial

          • Inverted Meniscus

            With a guarantee from UK taxpayers you congenital idiot.

        • Shazza

          Labour conveniently forget to mention how inviting hordes of 3rd world immigrants into the country during their 13 year misrule placed unbelievable strain on the NHS.

          None of our politicians are prepared to openly state this fact in case they upset the delicate feelings of the emerging majority and all their relatives that take advantage of the NHS via ‘health tourism’.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        One of these days you’ll kill a few of us by speaking the truth.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          We are all safe then.

    • Mynydd

      ‘patients dying under Labour’ What you are saying that although the Conservative’s have been in power for over four years, yet no, I repeat no, patient has died under them, what a wonderful record.

      • Paddy

        It will take the Tories at least another 10 years to clear up the mess of Labour’s killing fields under Andy Burnham.

        Just mention Julie Bailey and Stafford.