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David Cameron uses humour to good effect at a lively PMQs

Jonathan Isaby's verdict:

"A very strong performance by David Cameron who used humour to very good effect, with Gordon Brown failing to properly address the questions he was asked."

Picture 112.02 Gordon Brown begins by making his customary tributes to the soldiers killed in Afghanistan over the Christmas recess. He also sends condolences to the family of David Taylor, the Labour Mp who died on Boxing Day.

12.04 Answering a question from Labour MP Brian Donohoe, Brown says "a number of actions" in key areas have been taken with respect to aviation security after the attempted bomb plot on Christmas Day.

12.06 David Cameron echoes Gordon Brown's tributes to the dead servicemen and to David Taylor. He then reminds the  House that the Government is borrowing £178 billion this year and asks why so many experts have expressed concern at the lack of a plan to deal with the deficit.

12.07 Brown says all countries face similar problems and that he has published a deficit reduction plan - does Cameron now support 50p income tax and NI increases?

Picture 5 12.09 Cameron quotes a number of figures from the Bank of England, the CBI , the former FSA chief asn asks Brown why they think his plans are so feeble. Brown replies with a series of quotes from his file.

12.10 Cameron says that Alistair Darling is now taking the Tories advice. Isn't the PM personally incapable on the need for cuts to be made? Hasn't he been disingenuous to claim that spending will rise?

12.12 Brown responds by teasing Cameron about Tory policy on married couples allowance.

12.13 Speaker Bercow asks MPs to calm down: "We're not on the hustings now". Cue Cameron: "I wish we were!".  Cameron responds on the marriage issue by saying that "When I lean across and say 'I love you darling', I really mean it". He adds for good measure: "The only divorce that has taken place is between this Prime Minister and reality." He says Brown's replies are "a lot of desperate rubbish".

12.14 Brown: "He can't say I do or I don't on married couples allowance". He then tries to ask Cameron questions about Tory policy.

12.15 Cameron says he'll happily answer questions after an election. He also asks Brown to name a Labour backbencher who spoke in support of his Fiscal Responsibility Bill last night. Brown fails to address the questions.

12.16 Cameron concludes that Brown is an unelected leader incapable of convincing the country, Brown says that people simply can't trust the Tories on the economy.

Picture 8 12.19 Nick Clegg asks Brown how he can believe in aspiration if the poorest 20% pay more in tax than the richest 20%. Brown says that it not true and that he has done much to help the poorest.

12.20 Clegg says Brown hasn't delivered justice in the tax system. Where is the fairness and aspiration in any of what he has planned? Brown asks whether the Lib Dems will support the 50% tax rate and a variety of other issues which will make those with broader shoulders pay more.

12.27 Tory MP Ann Winterton says that in the light of Copenhagen and the current cooling in the climate, she wants spending on offshore wind farms to be reconsidered. Brown says he cannot understand Conservative energy policy.

12.29 Tory MP Michael Spicer asks: What is the PM going to do about stagflation? Brown says that any suggestion that we are going to have the highest inflation in the world is ridiculous.

12.30 Conservative backbencher Maria Miller seeks reassurances that during snowy weather salt and grit will get to the places that need it, such as in her seat of Basingstoke. Brown says there will be greater co-ordination in the distribution of salt to ensure it does get where it is required.

Jonathan Isaby


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