Oh dear. A PMQs that will be remembered for Cameron's "calm down dear" putdown to
Yvette Cooper Angela Eagle
Interestingly, perhaps because of divisions on AV on his own backbenches, the Labour leader didn't raise the issue of divisions in the Coaltion. I think Cameron got the better of Miliband on the economy but didn't have strong answers to the Leader of the Opposition's questions on increasing waiting lists:
- Ed Miliband began by saying the economy was flatlining. Cameron responded by saying that the economy was growing and 400,000 more people are in private sector employment. He urged the Labour leader to apologise for predicting a double digit recession. Labour talked the British economy down, Mr Cameron insisted and had hoped for bad news today. Miliband refused to apologise. He can't blame the Greeks, or the banks or even the snow, the Labour leader joked. The economy is flat, Miliband continued, because the government has flattened consumer confidence. Mr Cameron said that there was not one quarter when Ed Miliband was in the Labour Cabinet that the economy grew faster than 0.5%.
- Ed Miliband used his second set of questions to focus on the NHS. Pointing to increased waiting lists, the Labour leader blamed the diversion of scarce NHS funds into Andrew Lansley's reorganisation. Asked to confirm that Andrew Lansley was safe as Health Secretary, Mr Cameron said yes, describing Mr Lansley as "magnificent". In Labour-led Wales, the PM said, the NHS was being cut. In England because of Coalition policies, health budgets were protected.
- Brian Binley drew the connection between falling bank lending and a weak construction sector. Mr Cameron said that the Banks must deliver on the agreement to deliver higher lending to small and other British businesses.
- Nadine Dorries asked the Prime Minister to attack a "misleading" Yes2AV leaflet. Cameron answered by welcoming the fact that a majority of Labour MPs are against electoral change (see today's LeftWatch on Ed Miliband's divided house).
- Congleton MP Fiona Bruce asked the Prime Minister about the sexualisation of children by retailers. Mr Cameron responded
- Labour MP Ian Lucas noted that a hospice in his constituency was paying £20,000 more in VAT because of the Coalition's policies. The PM said that Mr Osborne had also increased the generosity of the Gift Aid regime to help hospices and other charities. He repeated his attack on Labour in Wales for cutting NHS spending. Labour can't be trusted with the NHS, he concluded.
- Asked by a Labour MP to vacate the Tory leadership because David Davis beat him in the first round of the 2005 contest David Cameron joked that in the vote of Tory members he won more votes than David Davis (twice as many actually). Looking at Mr Miliband he noted that wasn't true of every party leader.
No questions from any backbenchers on Libya or Syria.
Mr Cameron got into a bit of trouble when he said "calm down dear" to Yvette Cooper Angela Eagle. It did sound a bit old fashioned! It reminded me of those Michael Winner ads for car insurance.