Conservative Diary

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David Cameron probes Brown about army helicopters, raiding pension funds and the national insurance rise in the final PMQs of this Parliament

Jonathan Isaby's verdict: A lively and combative final PMQs of the Parliament, which set the scene for the general election - with Gordon Brown failing to address any of the direct questions put to him by David Cameron about his record and trying to blame others at every opportunity.

Picture 22 12.02 Gordon Brown pays tribute to the latest casualties in Afghanistan and the firemen killed in Southampton overnight.

12.04 David Cameron echoes Gordon Brown's tributes to the armed forces and the firemen. He says this is Brownls last vhance to be accountable for his decision. Will he start by admitting that British forces in Helmand didn't have sufficient helicopters?

12.05 Brown will not accept that.

12.06 Cameron: his answer is like his premiership he'll take no responsibility and blame someone else. He cites Lord Malloch-Brown as saying there weren't enough helicopters. Was he and others deceived.

12.07 Again Brown refuses to accept the point.

Picture 23 12.08 Cameron: Why should anyone believe this PM when gave inaccurate evidence to Chilcot? He has also robbed pension funds of billions of pounds. Will Brown admit that was the wrong thing to do?

12.09 Brown: It is the Opposition leader who never gives an answer. He goes on to claim the resources of pension funds have doubled and suggest the Tories would remove winter fuel payments and the earnings link for pensioners.

12.09 Cameron angrily retorts: That is the sort of deception we're going to rebut in this campaign. He sites the former minister who says that Brown won't listen to those whose views he disagrees with. On National Insurance, Cameron calls it a jobs tax and asks if Brown feels he knows more about job creation than business leaders.

12.11 Brown says that Labour took lots of action to help business and the economy and the Tories opposed them all. If we don't raise NI, schools and hospitals and the police will be put at risk.

12.12 Cameron cites what the business leaders are saying again. Is Brown really saying they have been deceived?

12.13 Brown say that the Tories would put jobs and public services at risk.

12.14 Cameron say another 30 business leaders now back him on national insurance and cites Paul Walsh of Diageo - "not a Tory - he's on the PM's business council... though he's probably a Tory now - so are half the country". Isn't the truth that the PM will wreck the recovery?

12.15 Brown says Cameron is representative of the same old Tories: "To think he was the future once...". The Tories have nothing to offer for the future.

Picture 24 12.17 Nick Clegg says both other parties are fooling people about political reform and that both protect their paymasters in the trade unions and Belize. Why can we trust them on political reform?

12.18 Brown blames Lord Ashcroft for the breakdown in cross-party talks on party funding.

12.19 Clegg: That answer was ridiculous - the two parties are colluding on that and issues such as House of Lords reform. "You failed, it's over, it's time to go".

12.20 Brown says that seemed like a speech in search of a question and again launches an attack on Lord Ashcroft.

12.21 Tory MP Stephen Hammond teases Brown about visiting only staunch Labour supporters on the campaign trail.

12.22 Heckles of "goodbye" as Martin Linton in ultra-marginal Battersea asks his question.

12.23 Bernard Jenkin raises the helicopters issue again, citing figures showing the forecast drop in total numbers. Again Brown denies the suggestion.

12.26 Greg Hands asks: What did the Chancellor mean when the said that the job losses from the NI hike would be manageable. How many? Brown declines to offer a number.

Jonathan Isaby


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