Conservative Diary

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Miliband has the best line at PMQs. But he's still as wooden as his dispatch box.

by Paul Goodman

Screen shot 2010-12-08 at 12.17.03 Ed Miliband had the best line at Prime Minister's Questions.  It's hard to say who had the best of the session.  Miliband had the better lines.  Cameron has the better manner, though he was below his best today.  (Jet lag?)  Probably a draw, or Unready Eddie on points.

Unsurprisingly, Miliband went on tuition fees - and you can bet that FullFact will be poring over the data to try to establish whether or not Britain is set to have the most expensive fees in the world, as the Labour claimed.

He had a well-researched plan (which I'm told he didn't last week), seeking to embarrass the Prime Minister by quoting the ever-helpful David Davis, who's set to vote against the Government's proposals, and the Liberal Democrat John Hemming, who seems to have said something, perhaps in a light-hearted moment, about voting in both lobbies.  Or perhaps not in a light-hearted moment.  We will see.

Then Cameron hit him with a line he's used before - comparing the Labour leader to a student politician, "which is all he'll ever be".  Miliband was ready.  "Yes...I was a student politician...[Tory jeers]...I was a student politician...[more Tory jeers]...but I wasn't hanging around with people who were throwing bread rolls and wrecking restaurants."

At which point, the Prime Minister quickly changed the subject.

Miliband still looks as wooden as his dispatch box, though.  And Cameron's still very quick - shooting back the title of a Smiths song when asked for one by a hostile Labour MP.  (It was "William, you were really nothing," since you ask.  Hmm.)

The Prime Minister was flanked on the one side by Clegg, who looked as sick as a jungle full of parrots, and Cable on the other, who looked more like the Grim Reaper than ever - deathly; composed.  Interesting to see him whispering to Cameron - presumably to help brief him - during the tuition fees questions.

Tim's noted that Richard Ottoway, now safely elected as Foreign Affairs Select Committee Chaiman, asked a tough question about Afghanistan, and that Ann Main, who's not always a happy camper, stuck it to Ken Clarke over knife crime.

Last but not quite least, it must be 30 years since I heard Anna Soubry speak in public.  She's lost none of her ability to make a point and shut up hecklers.

> CCHQ launches campaign to defend tuition fees policy.


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