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Sombre PMQs sees David Cameron test his new line on welfare

8 January 2014

PMQs was a rightly sombre affair, coming as it did only a few hours after the death of Labour MP Paul Goggins was announced. It has been striking to hear many MPs of all political persuasions pay tribute to Goggins as a ‘decent’ and ‘kind’ man, and those tributes were echoed in the Chamber. These two qualities are rarely trumpeted in politics and yet when someone does possess them, they have a profound impact on those around them.

Ed Miliband split his questions between flooding and fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs). His first tranche, on flooding, was still rather sombre and the Labour leader and the Prime Minister both sought consensus. The second came after an angry (and factually correct) question from Diane Abbott about the number of households on housing benefit who are actually in work, and was a rather more political attack on the government’s position on FOBTs. It turned, strangely, into a contest between the Prime Minister and Ed Miliband about who was better at banning things, with the PM reminding Ed Miliband about his own party’s involvement in relaxing gambling legislation. But Cameron did suggest that there was an appetite in government to look at this problem (although his aides later explained that this was through the existing review on FOBTs, while Labour is demanding action now because it says the evidence is already clear).

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But it wasn’t so much the ding-dong between the PM and his opposite number that was striking today. His assertion in response to Tim Farron that he had a suspicion the recent storms and flooding were at least in part connected to climate change will certainly ruffle some feathers in his own party – and there will be calls for Downing Street to produce the evidence the PM has seen in the past few weeks linking the two.

The other thing worth noting was that the Prime Minister was very keen indeed to shoehorn in the new Conservative line about the economy, which is a warning about the cost-of-reluctance to cut benefits. The PM managed to get this line into a surprising array of questions. In one case, he dodged a question about whether the government was planning to cut benefits for disabled people again by telling the chamber that access to kidney dialysis was important and that the government was safeguarding that by being able to spend more on the NHS as a result of its difficult decisions on welfare. He also dodged committing to a post-2015 position on pensioner benefits by telling the chamber that he could safeguard the pensions triple lock because the government had taken the difficult decision to raise the pension age. Any decision that the government now makes to give anyone anything will clearly be framed in these terms, with a warning about Labour’s reluctance to make the necessary difficult decisions.

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  • sarntcrip

    surprise no mention of the increasing number of disabled suicides we’re not part of ‘the hardworking family genre

  • sarntcrip

    ed needs to avoid consensus it does not help the ‘they’re all the same tag he looks like blair when he seeks consensus with scameron

  • Monkey_Bach

    Shallow superficial Cameron is not a patch on George Osborne when it comes to pontificating about welfare reform. Osborne, possessed by the innate cannibalism of the Baboon, is much better at making a public show of what the Conservative Party is REALLY like beneath its molecule thick veneer of civilisation: divisive, destructive, dishonest, regressive, and cruel. The Jews were the target for demonisation and destruction in pre-war Germany and pogroms in Russia: the Tutsis became the target of hate and mass slaughter by the Hutus in Rwanda: in the United Kingdom benefit claimants have cynically become the preferred target for disproportionate pain, misery, and premature death by the Conservatives at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

    The programme goes like this: pick some significant minority in society that isn’t important to you politically; demonise said minority with the purpose of turning as many people against that minority as possible; blame as many of the country’s problems on said minority as you can; attack that minority mercilessly and unceasingly hoping that enough of the population as possible will not notice that your actions are not economic but almost entirely political, cowardly, and cruel.

    Cameron is much better at evasion and subterfuge than Osborne and with Cameron more people might end up deceived that the Conservatives are fair when it comes to social security reform. With Osborne, because he displays such slavering relish when it comes to hammering the poor, the real Tory spite is fully on show for all to see in all of its hideous glory. So personally I would like to see less of Cameron and more of Osborne when the Conservative party lays out its plans as far as “welfare” are concerned.

  • Smithersjones2013

    His assertion in response to Tim Farron that he had a suspicion the
    recent storms and flooding were at least in part connected to climate
    change will certainly ruffle some feathers in his own party

    Oh god they are conspiring to screw us out of more money! hang on to your wallets people. Cameron truly has gone over to the dark side……

    • Makroon

      He just can’t leave well alone and keep his big gob shut.

  • arnoldo87

    David Cameron once again shows that he is a true leader by stating his opinion about the link between extreme weather and climate change.
    This needed to be said to balance the frenzy of denial emanating from the right of his party.

    • Tom Tom

      Yes the first 10 Millennia had perfect weather on this planet until industrialisation. I marvel at how previous residents could walk across the glacier from one side of the valley to another and i have that laborious drive along roads skirting the perimeter with no direct route.

      If only cars hadn’t been invented we could still walk across the glacier and commune with the mastodons……..if only Carl Benz had left well alone we could be freezing today like those folks in the USA

      • arnoldo87

        Thanks, Tom Tom – a good example of the frenzy I was talking about.

    • Makroon

      Cameron is utterly unqualified to have ANY opinion on AGW.

      • arnoldo87

        Most of those who ARE qualified agree with Cameron.

  • alabenn

    Gambling has nothing to do with Miliband, it is the responsibility of the gambler, it is money he has earned, if it is money from benefits he might have a case, but interfering with the formers enjoyment because of the feckless scrounger is not the way to do it.
    If this is the most important thing that this man can dream up, then the country must be in a very good position and he really should resign and vote for the people who have created this seeming utopia.

    • Seldom Seen

      The liberal left simply do not understand that it is not compulsory to enter a betting shop, whether to bet on horses, greyhounds, football or use the FOBTs. Nobody forces these people to throw money down the drain that these FOBTs represent – they just do it; yet somehow we are all to blame for their weaknesses. If they chose to throw their benefits to the four winds in the vain hope of getting-rich-quick, then that’s their problem and nobody else’s.

      • alabenn

        Agree with most of what you say, as to the benefits, some of these benefits are not the gamblers to use, they are given for children and housing so he does have some responsibility to others, if he is a good gambler they might even be better off through his endeavours but if he is that good why should he have need of benefits, mind you I have only ever known one man who could make a living that way.

      • fozz

        Ditto lottery.

      • fozz

        Ditto the lottery.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Miliband is just articulating the left wing conflation of disapproval and law. Anything they disapprove of they want to ban and criminalise. They are essentially puritans or the Taliban-Lite.

  • LadyDingDong

    I prefer my PMQs red in tooth and claw but I grudgingly accept that this week had to be more restrained because of the unfortunate death of Paul Scoggins. It has to be said though that Cameron was masterful and dealt with the adenoidal schoolboy politician, who, some say, leads the opposition, with the dismissive ease he deserved. I have a feeling that labour is running out of a meaningful narrative. FOBT is a non-starter and can rightfully be blamed on them, as can immigration and the need for austerity and welfare cuts. As the economy, employment and wages inevitably rise we will see more and more desperation from the leftards but in many ways the argument has been won by the Conservatives. Building an election strategy on more female engine drivers in Thomas the Tank Engine, and (sort of) apologising for all the mistakes made in their 13 years of misrule just won’t get Miliband into number 10. Next step from the Conservatives will be a major hike in the minimum wage and cuits in employment costs and taxes for the low paid and all that will be left to Labour will be to a richly deserved ignominious defeat in 2015.

    • telemachus

      See above
      You cannot lambast a leader for being responsible in the face of bereavement
      Labour are a family

      • Colonel Mustard

        Labour are more cult worshipping tribe than family. The sort of tribe that sets fire to its own village and then attacks anyone who tries to put the fire out.

        • telemachus

          Always a family, even when a World War was just ending

          Ellen Wilkinson. looking very fit on her return from San Francisco, told me that she had endeavoured to create “a happy family atmosphere ” right from the start of the conference. I asked if she enjoyed being in the chair and she replied that ” enjoyed ” was
          not quite the right word. It was a great strain facing so many people, and she rather thought that she would enjoy the, experience when it was over. Elbowing my way through the autograph hunters, I asked Herbert Morrison what he thought of his Parliamentary secretary’s performance. ” She did very well,” he said, ” and I am quite satisfied.” So there you are— just one big happy family.

          • Colonel Mustard

            I expect a certain leader thought of his cabal of national socialists as a “family” too.

  • Alexsandr

    FOBT’s are not the problem. Its the explosion of online gambling. Just watch late night TV to see advert upon advert for gambling sites so you can gamble on your phone, tablet or PC. How many people are sitting at home or on the train, racking up masses of debt on their plastic addicted to this gambling?
    Millipede, as usual has called it wrong,

    • HookesLaw

      Yes you are correct – if you can raise the wit and energy to get off your couch and collapse into a betting shop then you probably have the nouse to make sense of FOBTs.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Wasn’t this explosion of gambling advertising something to do with Brown?

  • Bert

    Wallace knew he did’nt have much to go on so tried to sound statesmanlike instead.
    Still sounded like a congested sixthformer with memory problems.

  • anyfool

    The supposed different type of PMQ`s that Milipoodle was trying out will fail, he was reduced to asking Cameron about putting right the previous Labour governments mistakes.
    That he asked in a way that blamed Cameron is normal for him, that he did it in such an oily way made him look creepy.

    • telemachus

      That is a heavily spun comment
      Most commentators felt Miliband conciliatory and statesmanlike

      • anyfool

        Conciliatory in when Balls and his hag tell him what to say and he says ok, statesmanlike is completely beyond this mans capability.
        Care to name any commentators. Lindsay does not count.

        • telemachus

          Coincident with yours I alluded to the charismatic one
          Read Deacon for example

      • telemachus

        Even the charismatic one was responsible:

        This from the Telegraph
        For once, the exchanges between Prime Minister and Opposition leader contained no insults; MPs neither jeered nor cheered. Ed Balls sat with lips zipped, his left hand clasping his right, as if to prevent it from performing its usual derogatory gestures at Mr Cameron (also known as “Puppetry of the Balls”). Both sides of the House were, if not actually courteous, then at least tolerant of each other’s existence.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Breaking news: “US witness report found on Stalin’s Katyn massacre”

        “The sworn deposition provides evidence of Soviet responsibility for the 1940 massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers in the Katyn forest and other places in what was then the Soviet Union. The Soviet Red Army had taken the Polish officers prisoner after invading eastern Poland in September 1939.

        Van Vliet was a POW in Germany when he was taken to Katyn to see the evidence. In the document that Piorkowska found, Van Vliet tells an interrogating U.S. officer that he saw the exhumation of some 3,500 corpses in tailor-made, little-worn Polish uniforms. They were all killed with a shot to the back of the head. He said the “decomposition of the corpses and the nature of the undergrowth undisturbed” on the graves indicated they must have remained there “over a year — possibly three or four.” “The belongings removed from the corpses all indicated death in the months of February, March or April, 1940,” Van Vliet said.

        The area was under Soviet control then.”

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