The Clangers are back. And not just on television. At PMQs, both the party leaders tried to embarrass each other with solecisms, exaggerations – and, yes, clangers – which they’d dropped in the past.
Ed Miliband led with the cost of living crisis and said ‘record numbers are now working part-time’. Cameron retaliated with a Miliband prediction from October 2010. ‘The government programme will lead to the disappearance of one million jobs,’ Wrong! A million jobs have been created.
Miliband brought up his pet-policy, the energy bill freeze, and accused Cameron of supporting the Big Six fuel giants.
A price con, not a price freeze, said Cameron. And why had Miliband not parked our bills in the chiller-cabinet while he was Energy Secretary?
‘Ah. Their new tactic’, crowed Miliband. ‘Blame green levies.’ He quoted Cameron in opposition. ‘I think green taxes as a whole need to go up’
Cameron can hardly escape this charge. Not only did he trumpet his green credentials from the rooftops, he bolted a toy windmill to the side of the chimney while he was up there. Meanwhile the new serfdom continues and toiling workers have to pay landowners to plant money-turbines on their wind-swept dales.
Cameron’s answer to the cost-of-living crisis is higher growth, smaller taxes and lower interest rates. He said this four times. And he derided Labour’s plans for, ‘more spending, borrowing and debt. Same old Labour.’ He said that four times too. Evidently his plan is to drum Maoist slogans into our heads until we start to recite them in our sleep.
Labour’s tactics were no less subtle. Class war raised its colourful head again today. Virendra Sharma asked Cameron about the Red Cross’s headline-grabbing plan to distribute emergency buns to hungry Britons before Christmas. Cameron shrugged this aside. A matter for them, he said. He didn’t mention that the Red Cross is a clubhouse for semi-retired Labour grandees.
Ann McKechin, who represents Glasgow, put in a kind word for London’s house-buyers. Cameron’s mortgage guarantee scheme, she said, is stoking a property bubble in the capital. Thanks, Ms McKechin. Your concern is greatly appreciated. The PM pointed out that property values, outside the south-east, are about as lively as a tranquilised rhinoceros. And he accused Labour of seeking to destroy the dreams of anyone who wants to buy a house. Utterly false, of course. But it was that sort of session: full of self-serving platitudes.
The finest of these came from Stephen Hepburn who belongs to Labour’s angry mob of Geordie circus performers. Crimson-jowled Mr Gilbert seems far too young to have acquired such a portly figure. What got him so red in the face today? Did he overdo the bacon sandwiches on his high-speed train down from Jarrow? Did he miss his cab at Kings Cross and have to quick-march to the Commons? Was his elegant charcoal suit cut a little too snugly around the waist? Was he being strangled by his red silk tie?
His eyes blazed with fury and he accused the government of rank peculation. His bulging hamster cheeks seemed ready to burst as he hollered through a delicious array of alliterative punch-lines. ‘A bonus bonanza in the City! A government made up of privileged, privately-educated millionaire ministers. A political front for hedge funds and bankers!’
Bad luck for members sitting in from of him. They must have got quite a sprinkling.
Unruffled, Cameron replied that the bankers’ real friends were the Labour party who had helped them all go bust. That made no sense whatever. But no one noticed.
Back in Jarrow, Mr Hepburn is no doubt the toast of the Labour club. But he won’t be there to enjoy the applause. He’s down here among the fat-cats. It’s getting on for tea-time around now. And he’s got a tummy to feed.Tags: David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Energy prices, PMQs