Conservative Diary

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Miliband raises the NHS and unemployment at PMQs

By Paul Goodman

"You can't trust the Tories on the NHS."  "He's tossing a grenade into the NHS."  Ed Miliband was bound to raise the NHS, and leave no cliche unturned while doing so.  He also tried a new line: that the Government is "taking the national out of the NHS".

This is a bit more promising for him - because it chimes with the stance of many of the medical interests - and we can expect to hear more of it.  Cameron's main come-back point - that the Shadow Chancellor's backed lower NHS spending - gets a good hearing in the Commons but will get a less easy one outside.

Miliband also raised the unemployment figures.  That should get him clipped on the news.  He didn't really look as though his heart was in it this week.  The Prime Minister was breezy and blustery, but no more.  Points win to him, or a no score draw.

Other points -

  • Miliband asked three questions, sat down, got up later, and asked three more.  When Leader of the Opposition, Cameron was usually confident enough to ask all six at once.
  • In answer to a question from his own backbenches, Cameron said that he hoped that the Iraq Enquiry would be "as open and clear as possible".  The tone and content of his answer may well have raised the Cabinet Secretary's eyebrows.
  • The Speaker was rather subdued today.  Jake Berry asked the Prime Minister a Labour-bashing question that got a Labour-bashing answer.  No attempt by Bercow to cut either off.
  • Feisty question from Jane Ellison on trade union obstruction of free schools.  And a pertinent one from Clive Efford on Labour's backbenches: when will the Government ban Hizb-ut-Tahrir as promised?

Wednesday, post-PMQs, is Cameron's usual day for popping into the Members' Dining Room.

Hope he remembers to be nice to Bill Cash this week.


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