Conservative Diary

« The UKIP vote isn't so much a Euro-sceptic vote as an anti-politics vote | Main | Theresa May versus Qatada »

PMQs: When in trouble, blame Ken Livingstone

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter

I usually wonder before PMQs what Miliband will choose to go on.  But there was no mystery earlier today this morning about what his choice would be: the budget "omnishambles".

Cameron's response wasn't so much to throw up chaff - a frequent gambit when under pressure - as to chuck a bucket of ordure over Ken Livingstone and his tax affairs.

As ever, the Whips were happy to help.  George Freeman re-raised Livingstone's tax arrangements.  Andrew Selous then re-raised them.

If viewers remember one thing about this tax-concentrated PMQs session - charities, families, pasties, caravans and all - the Prime Minister wants it to be: Livingstone avoids his fair tax share.

Four other points.

  • Douglas Carswell asked Cameron why having dismissed the Yes Minister idea that Sir Humphrey runs Britain in the Commons he then endorsed it abroad.  (Carswell himself posed the original Commons question.)  The Harwich MP's criticism of the Government are very direct, to say the least, and Downing Street is irritated in response.  But the Prime Minister's riposte - to snap that Carswell lacks a sense of humour - was a Nadine Dorries moment, reminiscent of when he said at an earlier PMQs that she was "frustrated".  His capital in the bank with Tory MPs isn't limitless and it's an error to spend it recklessly.  Bad call.
  • Miliband assailed George Osborne as a "part-time Chancellor".  This isn't a new attack - but it has a fresh force after the budget aftermath.  Expect to hear more of it.
  • The Speaker deliberately called George Galloway at the end of the session, which was practically an invitation to Bradford West's new MP to steal the session.  I thought Galloway did so.  There was a telling contrast between the silence in which his Afghanistan question was heard and the cynical heckling ritual within which the Cameron-and-Miliband show was framed: whether one agrees with Galloway or not - his question, boiled down to a sentence, was: troops out now - the sense that for a moment the Commons was engaged with something real was tangible.
  • Andrew Percy asked about caravans.  I enclose below my Twitter exchanges with the mysterious - and suspicously well-informed - @SteveHiltonGuru that followed.  Here's his original tweet.

Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 13.08.12
To which I replied.

Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 13.09.33
To which he replied.

Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 13.10.37
My reply.

Screen shot 2012-04-18 at 13.12.42
I am not always one step ahead, but this one is worth watching.


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.