Nick Clegg always has a hard time taking over from the prime minister at PMQs. Without the vocal support of hundreds of his own MPs behind him, he can often be left looking helpless at the mercy of Labour barracking.
This week, with contentious negotiations on the European budget looming, should have been even worse. If there’s one thing that backbench Tories hate more than the Lib Dem leader, it is the Lib Dem leader talking about Europe
But Harriet Harman, asking the questions in Ed Miliband’s place, missed that open goal. Instead of asking about the one topic sure to leave him looking exposed and distant from the benches behind him, she asked about the Leveson inquiry, childcare costs and the police.
As Chris Bryant, the Labour MP, reminded his Twitter followers during today’s PMQs:
Blair was right about Hague: good jokes, poor judgement. They are good jokes though.
And there were some excellent jokes from the foreign secretary, who was standing in for the prime minister and DPM today.
First he began by mocking Ed Balls, the man whose carping from the sidelines often winds up David Cameron into a red-faced fury. Hague said to Harriet Harman, who was leading the charge for Labour:
I congratulate her on not having the shadow chancellor sitting next to her, it makes her questions easier to hear. The chancellor is at the G20, I presume the shadow chancellor is off conducting another survey into what people think of him. We could have told him that for free – always better value under the Conservatives.
John Pienaar has revealed that a mutiny took place during last night’s weekly meeting of the PLP: Here is his report from Five Live: I will bring you any more details I pick up later in the day.
The decision to suspend and disown expelled MP Phil Woolas, found guilty of lying by a special election court, has provoked what Labour MPs and former ministers are describing as a “mutiny” against the Labour leadership at Westminster.
Today, Mr Woolas is engaged in raising cash for a legal challenge to the court ruling whoich led to his sacking. He told me he had already received pledges of support from “dozens of colleagues” – many of whom had promised to begin fund raising efforts of their own.
Deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, faced a backbench revolt at last night’s private meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.