Today’s PMQs has left Ed Miliband with a strategic headache. Miliband’s new less-Punch and Judy approach to PMQs isn’t working. In large part, this is because Cameron — who thinks he wins more of these sessions than he loses and that the facts on the ground now favour him — isn’t interested in cooperating. So Miliband is faced with the choice of continuing with this approach and being beaten up every Wednesday or abandoning it after just two sessions.
If Miliband does continue with it, expect to see the Tories continue to try to goad Ed Balls, one of the Commons’ most enthusiastic hecklers, into responding to them in kind — note how Cameron took repeated jabs at the ‘newly silent shadow Chancellor’. If Balls returns these taunts while Miliband is still trying his more dignified approach, the Tories will rejoice in claiming that the Labour leader is too weak to control his shadow Chancellor.
In terms of the substance of today’s exchanges, it was clear that Cameron is keen to avoid having to cap the bonuses of bankers at RBS. But he thinks he can head off Labour’s sallies on the issue by promising to prevent the total pay bill at the investment bank rising.
It also seems that Cameron is moving towards the French idea of compensating individual householders for putting up with energy generation on their doorstep. In response to a question from Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt about the proceeds from fracking, he said that he was keen to ‘look at very local options, parishes and individual people should benefit.’
The biggest laugh of the day was reserved for Andrew Bridgen’s question reminding the House that Ed Miliband had declared that ‘what Hollande is doing in France, I want to do in Britain.’ Cameron, though, diplomatically, stuck to the economy in his reply.