PMQs: Miliband nukes Cameron

Cross-posted from Liberal Democrat Voice

Ed Miliband used his first three questions, at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, in stimulating a very earnest explanation of what the UK is doing about the crisis in Libya. This also addressed why RAF personnel are being made redundant at the very moment we need the RAF to be on stand-by to maintain a No fly zone over Libya.

Ed Miliband’s fourth question nuked the Prime Minister. Cameron didn’t have an answer. It was stunning: The Government “are adamant that there is no need for cuts in local authority front-line services. Can he therefore explain why Conservative-run Bromley council is shutting 13 of its 16 children’s centres?”. The answer to that was ‘no’, since Cameron blathered and blustered with no sign of addressing the question. Quite pathetic really. But then, it was a very clever question. And perhaps Cameron had got carried away with all the bi-partisan agreement over Libya and wasn’t expecting a sharp upper-cut to the jaw.

Miliband then attacked Cameron about the end of the ring-fencing of Children’s Sure Start centres and a 11% cut in their funding.

…No answer from Cameron except a sad jibe about “family loyalty” and a (reasonably justified) “Why doesn’t tell us what he would cut?” query.

Ed Miliband then magicked up the ghost of Hughie Green: “This is a guy who has made his career out of opportunism knocks.” Did he mean (a) “This is a guy who has made his career out of opportunistic knocks”, (b) “a guy who made his career out of opportunism, knocks” (although I heard no knocking) or (c)“This is a guy who has made his career out of Opportunity Knocks?” It isn’t clear. Answer on a postcard please….. And I don’t think Opportunity Knocks was ever broadcast by Cameron’s former employer, Carlton TV, anyway. It was broadcast by its predecessor, Thames TV. But then again, I doubt whether Ed Miliband is old enough to remember. I digress appallingly. Apologies.

Cameron additionally replied: “The money for Sure Start is there, so centres do not have to close” – a statement that may join Hughie Green in the haunting tableaux hovering over Cameron for the rest of his Premiership.

Other snippets were:

  • Stephen Williams (LibDem) highlighted the “high-tech and green” announcement on the electrification of the Great Western main line to Bristol, Cardiff and the south Wales valleys, which will have the added benefit of giving jobs to the North-East.
  • Gordon Birtwhistle (LibDem) asked about what sort of interim government could replace Colonel Gaddaffi in Libya. Excellent question. The government are in daily contact with the emerging regime in Benghazi, replied Cameron.
  • Has Gavin Barwell got some compromising photos of the Speaker held in a safe? I only ask because he was called to ask the first question yesterday at Deputy Prime Minister’s Question Time and also today at Prime Minister’s Question Time.
  • Question: How many PFI (Private Finance initiative) pounds does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: 333. Well, that’s what the PM told us anyway.