Conservative Diary

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Cameron condemns "dysfunctionality" of Brown's government after Blears joins Smith in resigning from Cabinet

Verdict: It was obviously a difficult PMQs for Gordon Brown and Cameron performed well but not memorably. Like a footballer, it's harder to impress when the goal is wide open. The goal was scored but noone expected anything less.

Highlights, not verbatim:

12.25pm: Nick Palmer MP urges the Prime Minister to condemn the Conservatives for "57 varities of special outside interests". It is right that Kelly is looking at this, Brown replies.

12.20pm: Speaker hugely indulgent of Sir Peter Tapsell as he asks long-winded question from Tory benches.

12.15pm: Nick Clegg accuses the Government of being in complete meltdown.  Our democracy is in crisis if people fear that noone is in charge.  Britain doesn't have a Government but a void.  Isn't it the case he concludes that the real choice for the British voter is now between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.  [Widespread laughter].

12.13pm: Cameron uses his final question to call on Brown to call an election.  Brown replies by saying there is no substance to the Conservatives.

12.10pm: We know that the Home Secretary is going, we know the Communities Secretary is going, will the Chancellor remain in post, asks Cameron?  Brown dodges the question by defending Labour's economic record and attacking the 'do nothing Tories'.  Cameron asks again.  Brown dodges again.

Picture 1512.05pm: Noting the resignations of Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears Cameron asks the Prime Minister to concede that his authority has disappeared. Brown lists the achievements of Jacqui Smith.  If these people are so good why are they resigning, Cameron asks?  Why doesn't Hazel Blears pay a single word of tribute to the Prime Minister?  Michael Martin threatens to suspend the Commons if MPs do not behave [Brown would like that!]. Why doesn't the Prime Minister acknowledge that his government is dysfunctional?  All parties have had difficulties and resignations, Brown replies.  He then pays tribute to Hazel Blears' record.  This is another week, says Brown, when Cameron has not asked about policy.

Noon: Brown is answering questions in between Harriet Harman and Shaun Woodward.  Harman will be decisive in forcing him to go if necessary. Woodward will be a key Brown ally.

Tim Montgomerie

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