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John Bercow fails to control Brown at PMQs

TIM MONTGOMERIE'S VERDICT: A much better performance from David Cameron today. He had two clear messages that most voters will agree with. Labour sent our armed forces to war on a peacetime budget and Brown, after roadblocking electoral reform for thirteen years, now wants to change the system in the face of defeat. Brown was, however, allowed to keep making his 'Tories are in a muddle" attack. In this regard, it was a particularly bad performance today from John Bercow. He began his Speakership by stopping the PM from answering all questions with attacks on the Tories. He intervened in those early days, telling Brown that he was there to answer for Government business. Today - despite constant attacks on the Tories - Bercow stayed silent.

Highlights, not verbatim

12.24pm: In response to a soft question from a Labour backbencher Brown ridicules the Tories' General Election slogan, 'The Year for Change'. They are constantly changing their policies this year, he jokes.

12.13pm: Cameron gets up to ask his second set of questions, What ,thirteen years into government, ninety days before an election made the PM want to change the electoral system? Brown challenges the Tories to defend the hereditary vote while Labour champions the alternative vote. Cameron quotes the Ashdown memoirs in which Brown was cited as a block on electoral reform during the early Blair years. Cameron says Brown is only unblocking reform now because he is desperate. Faith in politics will be restored, he continues, by cutting the number of MPs, cutting ministers' pay and cutting the overall cost of politics - not by preventing voters from being able to remove an unpopular government.

12.09pm: Clegg urges Brown to abandon Trident renewal so that Britain can afford to invest in capacity to tackle today's military challenges. Brown rejects the advice and says Labour is investing in the military but he does so courteously. His attempt to woo the LibDems is in overdrive.

12.04pm: David Cameron says that the Chilcot Inquiry has revealed that the British forces were sent to war without adequate equipment. Cameron quotes testimony that defence chiefs had threatened to resign on protest. The Tory leader accuses the Prime Minister of ignoring the welfare of soldiers until it was politically convenient to do otherwise. Brown replies by saying that Labour has increased defence expenditure while the Tories cut spending and the last Tory manifesto promised a cut of £1.5bn.

12.02pm: PMQs begins with Brown attacking the Tories "misuse" of crime statistics.

Good live Tweeting by @Conservatives.


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