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Brown makes "zero % rise" gaffe


  • Another poor performance from Gordon Brown. He's still dishonestly defending the indefensible on his spending cuts. His talk of a "zero %" rise was laughable.
  • After last week's snappier PMQs under John Bercow we were back to the leaders' questions and answers dominating.

Highlights, not verbatim:

Picture 15 12.16pm: Nick Clegg accuses the Prime Minister of denying the truth about the long term savings that are going to be necessary in state spending.  He goes on to say that Trident is one necessary saving and should not be renewed.  Brown says Labour already has a deficit reduction strategy that includes more asset sales and a higher rate of tax for top earners.  The Prime Minister repeats his position that Trident will be renewed.

12.14pm: Cameron concludes by saying that there are three things that are now very clear: Labour (1) plans cuts in capital spending, (2) plans cuts in current spending, and (3) can't be honest with voters about any of this.

12.12pm: Describing the Prime Minister's performance as "feeble" - after he accused the Conservatives of wanting to increase unemployment - David Cameron says the only person he wants to add to the dole queue is the Prime Minister himself.  Brown twice dodges David Cameron's invitation to say whether there will be a spending statement before the election. 

12.08pm: Brown says the Conservative Party is isolated in the world in calling for spending cuts during difficult economic times.  Cameron calls Brown's line "complete nonsense".  The 10% line is not doing any damage to the Conservatives but the "deceit" is damaging Labour, he continues.  The Tory leader runs through the data of government spending and calls the Prime Minister "Mr 13.5%".

Picture 11 12.07pm: Brandishing a leaked Treasury presentation David Cameron asks the PM why Alistair Darling's own department is talking about medium term spending reductions. Brown does not even attempt an answer but promises to "spend now on the services we need."

12.05pm: David Cameron says that last week's PMQs forced the Prime Minister to admit that capital spending will fall. Will he now admit that all spending is set to fall? Brown responds with various figures and - to Tory laughter - talks of a zero percent rise in one year.

Ooops! Starting late. John Bercow has inherited Michael Martin's watch after all.

Tim Montgomerie


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