Coffee House

Ed Miliband bungles as Miller’s tale draws to a close

9 April 2014

Oh dear. Miliband was all set to give Cameron an almighty hammering at today’s PMQs, but Maria Miller’s resignation blew up his ammunition dump.

Mr Bercow rose at the start and begged everyone to ‘show a good example’ as there were ‘children present.’ Indeed there were. All across the green benches.

The Miller saga has given us seven days of unseemly viewing. The family is gathered at the bedside of a rich but ailing matriarch. All are affecting tragic expressions while smirking behind their unwetted handkerchiefs and mentally calculating their gains. But the biggest loser was Miliband.

He wanted to turn Miller’s capsize into a character issue. He said the PM had made an ‘error of judgement’ that had ‘undermined trust’. He also tried to get Cameron to admit that Miller had, technically, resigned for the sin of being found innocent.

This hardly taxed the PM. He painted himself as a wise and cautious father-figure who had accepted Miller’s parting with regret. He congratulated himself on showing leadership not weakness. And he made a joke. He said Miliband was tying himself in knots by suggesting that a minister should resign, after she’d resigned, when he’d omitted to suggest she should resign before she’d resigned. If you can call that a joke.

Claim your gift

Miliband: ‘Now I’ve heard it all. It’s my job to fire members of his Cabinet?’

That’s how close he got to damaging Cameron. Miles away.

Two bungling backbenchers, both Labour, tried to skim extra profits from the Miller dividend. Andrew Slaughter, using the most blunt and guileless terms imaginable, demanded to know if Humpty had jumped or been pushed. Jenny Chapman raised the same point. Honestly. Did they think Cameron was about to give a detailed account of the back-stage dagger-work?

‘Yes, it’s a fair question. Here’s what happened. The Culture Secretary was desperate to keep her job until we threatened to put her on I’m a Celebrity, and at that point she resigned immediately.’

Miliband can console himself with the teeniest of victories. He denied Cameron the chance to use all six of his replies to boast about the Boy George boom. That fell to Cameron’s lobby fodder.

The Tory backbench congregation has developed a song-and-dance routine around the mantras of Lynton Crosby. Some little-known Conservative will stand up and jabber the words, ‘our long-term economic plan’. And the rest of the chimps will howl with glee. It happens about five times per PMQs. It’s got nothing to do with governance but it keeps the inmates entertained. So, politics at its most characteristic.

David Nuttall broke with tradition and asked a witty question. Rare event! He invited the PM to read a new essay about our departure from the EU, and he asked if the Brexit might form ‘part of our long-term economic plan.’

How the primates whooped at that. Cameron agreed to add the Brexit tract to his Easter reading options – along with Nadine Dorries’s novel.

Is that significant? You bet. He has no reason on earth to plug a book by one of his bitterest foes. It’s like he doesn’t give a damn any more. Off he swanned at the end of the session without a care in the world.

For Labour this gets worse and worse. No Easter choccies for their starving troops.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • Frank

    Maria Miller’s tale will only close when she is booted from Parliament.
    As for barmy Dave, it is all very well having wonderful new independent expense verification schemes, but if you let all the troughers (who made a mint under the old system) stay in Parliament without further investigation, then you will find this issue keeps coming up again and again (like David Laws’ boyfriend!!).

  • Daidragon

    I know the Speccie staff is full of fawning Cameron lovers but this article is risible. Cameron has had a terrible week, was terrible in PMQ’s and continues to show himself to be lacking in both intellect and character.

  • Your Correspondent

    Cameron will be toast at the next election and he knows it, that’s why he looks so relaxed. He has stopped worrying about it, just going through the motions now while he considers his next big role on the global stage. Something at the UN perhaps…

    • the viceroy’s gin

      This fixed term parliament business is a disaster. It skews parliamentary activity in insidious ways, and truncates healthy response to that skewed governmental action. Dave is a dead man walking, as all know now, yet he’s unmovable simply because of an arbitrarily established date.

      • Tony Quintus

        A dead man walking whose party is running neck and nack with the opposition at the point in the electoral cycle where they should have a clear lead, going in to an EU election where Labour has nailed its colours to an unpopular mast.
        I’m sure Cameron is terrified.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Similar to all of the LibLabCon clones, it doesn’t matter what the Millipedes have done, or not done, lad. That’s not the reason Dave is a dead man walking.

    • Alexsandr

      I had a job in a pathology lab analysing stool samples, but I got sacked for just going through the motions :)

  • DrCoxon

    London journalists are as remote from the provinces as the metropolitan politicians.
    They just do not get it.
    Peter Oborne does. ‘The Triumph of the Political Class’.

  • alabenn

    Cameron will hardly be damaged individually nor politically for three reasons.
    Miliband is useless,
    The press is despised as much as politicians.
    The public will just stop voting instead of voting against them.

  • Holly

    And for those of us who ‘missed’ it….

    Suet pudding knocks the spots off this moronic tale.

    • Kitty MLB

      I love suet pudding. Especially a old fashioned
      Suet pudding that I think is called Sussex pond pudding-
      With a whole lemon inside.

  • Smithersjones2013

    OK so how long is it before some wit draws a small moustache under Miliband;s nose. His PR people really should tell him not to make such gestures……

    • Colonel Mustard

      Ein nation, ein folk, ein leader! Das Labour party ist nothing less than das political wing of the Britisher people as ein whole. Ve ist ein movement nicht a political party! Vorwarts to victory in 2015!

  • Hello

    Oh, look! Little mister hard-on-the-press saw the press showing him some leg and out he comes like a lackey. He’s a real man of principle, Ed, isn’t he?

  • Smithersjones2013

    What a contrast. Mark Harper honourably resigns despite having apparently shown due diligence and done all that could be reasonably because of the embarrassment it would cause the government.

    Maria MIller who at best has been slovenly and complacent in applying for expenses and subsequently dismissively arrogant in her response to the punishment for her behaviour despite being let off by her MP pals clings to her job in a desperate bout of self-interest.

    Cameron clearly provided little or no support for Harper but gave ‘warm support’ for MIller

    Miliband may have missed an open goal but its Cameron who has seen his player sent off, scored yet another own goal and got the really bad press. The tories are stilll the losers despite how much their doormats spin.

    • HookesLaw

      So Mark Harper should not have resigned because he only made a mistake? Then why should Miller? The press are only interested in lowering the bar for everybody except themselves.

      • Smithersjones2013

        The media are not servants of the public and its about time the bar for politcians was raised out of the sewer.

        If Harper should not have resigned why did Cameron accept his resignation? You can’t have it both ways. What it demonstrates once again is Cameron’s duplicity, poor judgement, double standards and personal prejudices.

      • ButcombeMan

        What Miller did was very deliberate. All of it.

        • Alexsau91

          No, it wasn’t deliberate.

    • 2trueblue

      There is plenty of time for a bit of digging and turning over some rocks on the Liebore side. Too early to crow. It will not be pretty.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and UKIP will hope you use that “plenty of time” productively, digging and turning over rocks.

        • 2trueblue

          And then we can get on to the expenses for MEPs whom I understand just sign in to collect and then go home.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …you Camerluvvies can get on with whatever you’d like, lad. Call Me Dave’s head is going to be mounted on a spike, in any event, in 13 short months time.

  • swatnan

    Oh well, EdM can only do his best. He’s trying, very trying.

    • telemachus

      Whatever rightist posters and sketch writers say, Ed got the best of the evening news bulletins
      Even on the right wing BBC

      • David Prentice


  • jason green

    Even Pravda never managed to achieve this level of journalism.

    • HookesLaw

      There is nothing unusual in the press fighting for the moral low ground.

      • Hello

        Dogs are so predictable, aren’t they?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …and nothing unusual about you socialist LibLabCon clones courting that same morally challenged press for public office, as we know.

  • ButcombeMan

    This article is a joke surely?

    Do you really believe that the big losers are not Cameron, The Tories, MM and Parliament/Politics generally, in that order?

    The big winner is surely UKIP, they just sat on their hands while Cameron messed it all up.

    Cameron’s mishandling of the MM affair has been gauche.

    He has been shown (again) to be totally out of touch with how voters feel about expenses fiddling. The sheer toxicity of it.

    I think that and I voted for him.

    Even now Tory politicians are appearing in the media telling us repeatedly MM was been found innocent of the charge against her. Tactically that is yet another big error. It sounds as though they still do not “get it”‘

    If you cannot say anything sensible, say nothing

    • HookesLaw

      And she was found not guilty.

      Not that you care about anything so mundane as facts.

      • Smithersjones2013

        She was told by the independent Parliamentary commissioner for standards to pay back £45,000.

        After a 16-month inquiry, a verdict was reached.
        Commissioner Hudson found that Miller should have designated the Wimbledon property as her main residence, that she should have reduced her claims by two-sevenths to take account of her parents’ presence and that she overclaimed for interest on the mortgage by around £45,000. There had been “inappropriate use of public money”, Hudson found. She also criticised Miller for her obstructive and legalistic attitude to the inquiries, as the culture secretary tried to stop the inquiry widening to the level of her mortgage interest payments with the help of legal advice.

        Miller’s a flipper enough said!

        • ButcombeMan

          Hookey does not care about anything so mundane as facts.

        • 2trueblue

          Cooper/Balls flipped more times than one cares to remember, how is it that they are not under the microscope?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, all of the LibLabCon clones should be under the microscope.

            • 2trueblue


          • Alexsandr

            and the member for stratford upon avon. fiddled his electricity claim on his million pound mansion.

            • 2trueblue

              A light needs to shine on all of them!

      • ButcombeMan

        You miss the point.

        Saying it is the wrong tactic for the Tory party. Keep repeating it repeats the handling errors.

        It is rather rich of you to say anything in criticism of my analysis of the MM events. I have been consistently correct

    • telemachus

      Not sure from what planet Lloyd comes but he sure was not watching the same PMQ’s as me
      Cameron came over as a weak leader who caved in after only 6 days of media battering(Campbell said it should be ten
      Even tried to maintain the fiction that Miller went of he own accord when we all know Dave aked Osborne to stick the boot in

      • ButcombeMan

        Don’t crow tele,

        Your folk were very heavily involved in the VERY doubtful, overruling of the Commissioner.

        A large bunch of our parliamentarians are still stuck in the old ways.

        • telemachus

          But why did Cameron blink at the eleventh hour
          If you examine my posts over the last 6 days you will know I have been rooting for Cameron in his fight with the dreadful DT
          He only had one more day to tough out before the Easter recess
          Weak weak weak

          • Colonel Mustard

            “If you examine my posts over the last 6 days”

            Ghastly prospect. Here’s a quick summary:-

            “telemachus was here”
            “(insert name of Labour politician here) is a charismatic genius”
            “telemachus was here”
            “Blah, blah, blah, when we take over in 2015”
            “telemachus was here”
            “Titter ye not, we folk are reasonable and caring”

            • telemachus

              Telemachus the Tory was here
              PS there is only one charismatic genius, running on Sunday to support the poor and disadvantaged

              • Colonel Mustard

                Glad you’ve finally seen the light Tory-boy.

                • telemachus

                  Used to be: voted for Ted Heath at my first GE and as I have posted before met and was mesmerised by Enoch at Oxford Town Hall just after his rivers of blood speech
                  Then I got to think
                  First David Owen
                  But it was Lawson and his get rich quick and hang the others philosophy that finally disgusted me into the arms of those of a reasonable persuasion
                  I recommend that you make the journey

                • Colonel Mustard

                  It was not Lawson, tel, it was the bean counters. The Rise of the Bean Counters and importing The Bottom Line from America. It started to go to the hot place in a handcart when the government signed up to The Bean Counters Creed and discretion was hoovered into the centre. Top down, bottom line and BS everywhere.

                • telemachus

                  No it was not
                  You may hate the word but it was the creed
                  The creed applied
                  The creed written by Joseph but applied by Lawson with facilitation by herself

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Thatcherism would not exist without the Left. There has always been a misperception, in every era since the Bean Counters began to rise, that the government controls the economy. It doesn’t. It is more true to say that the economy controls the government. That would not change under Labour. Government policies either ease or exacerbate but do not and can not control what happens.

                • telemachus

                  But you know well it is how the Government allocate opportunities and deliver the spoils that is important to the voters

                • Ricky Strong

                  The like was for being mesmerised by Enoch.

                • telemachus

                  I liken him to Farage
                  A demagogue who on mature reflection needs to be opposed

          • ButcombeMan

            Betty put the boot in on PM, she had seen enough.

            The 1922 was angry with him. The tea room was muttering.

            Maria had been reading the blogs.

            The Telegraph Editorial this morning was the clincher.

            There was no alternative. Not that there ever was.

            Maria still does not get it, or maybe it is her hubbie pulling her strings. Whatever advice she got, from whatever quarter & all along, was very very wrong. Crass & incompetent in fact.

            Cameron of course, is incapable of taking advice.

            • telemachus

              She phoned Cameron Tuesday evening before the Telegraph Editorial (so he said)
              Osborne telephoned her Tuesday afternoon-that was the clincher

    • Holly

      And when Farage is safely re elected, by the British electorate who want out of Europe yet are happy to pay towards TWO sets of MP’s……..
      Don’t you see the complete crock of it all yet????
      UKIP voters are twice as bad for Britain than the Labour party!!!!

      • the viceroy’s gin

        So voters are bad unless they agree with you?

        Now you understand why you Camerluvvies are about to be kicked to the curb .

      • ButcombeMan

        I cannot fathom why that is addressed to me.

        Farage probably will, be re elected to Europe. UKIP will probably “win” the EU elections in size of vote. That much seems obvious.

        Cameron just helped that process along with his inept handling of the MM issues. He has driven the anti politics vote. Most of the voting public have skimmed the issues and got an impression from Cameron that he is not going to clean things up and does not really care, despite his promises.

        You getting excited/frustrated and comparing damage from UKIP to damage from Labour is a bit pointless. .

    • Makroon

      Your last line certainly applies to you.
      A trivial Westminster story, which passed the vast majority of citizens by, about a rather ineffective minister in a ridiculous “ministry”. Yawn.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, you would say that, wouldn’t you?

    • Alexsau91

      What exactly was Cameron supposed to do? She was found innocent of the charges brought against her, and was told to repay £40,000 by the Commissioner which was then reduced by a committee, chaired by a Labour MP, with 3 lay members who agreed with the reduction. Now that reduction may have been a mistake, but that’s hardly Cameron or Millers fault. Was Cameron suppose to sack her anyway?

      Cameron’s handling was so so. Not particularly bad, not particularly good. The last thing we need is a reactionary who throws people overboard at any sign of trouble. Remind me how many cabinet reshuffles Tony Blair held?

  • SylviaKRice

    David Nuttall broke with tradition and asked a witty question. Rare event! He invited the PM to read a new essay about our departure from the EU, and he asked if the Brexit might form ‘part of our long-term economic plan.’

Can't find your Web ID? Click here