It’s taken him a few weeks, but David Cameron is beginning to show signs of rising to the challenge phone hacking has posed to him him and his government.
In remarkably noisy and at time angry exchanges in the Commons during PMQs, the prime minister showed he has now found an answer for most of Labour’s questions. These include:
- The public inquiry. All three parties now agree on this, and Cameron started the ball rolling today, announcing Lord Justice Leveson to head it.
- Rebekah Brooks’ position. Saying he would have accepted her resignation is not the same as calling for her head, but it is as close as Cameron can feasibly get.
- The BSkyB bid. Cameron still insts the legal processes have to be followed, but he now says he would like News Corp to drop the bid, telling them to “get their house in order”. To suggest Jeremy Hunt still has the freedom to accept the bid now seems unfeasible, but at least Cameron is on the side of public opinion.
- Media regulation. He says this should be “independent” rather than Ed Miliband’s preferred “self-regulation”. This coud even put him ahead of the Labour leader in terms of where the public is on the issue.
Ed Miliband clearly has a new strategy for PMQs.
He began with some warm-up questions about the cost of the Afghanistan war, which he ended with a nice line about Cameron being “very crass and high-handed” when telling army chiefs, “You do the fighting, I’ll do the talking”. These were easily enough dealt with by the PM (although he did have an interesting line about wanting the strategic defence review to be implemented more quickly – more on that to follow.
But he scored a more direct hit when he began asking about DNA records of people who have been arrested for rape, but not charged. Read more
It is hard not to conclude that Ed Miliband won the major clash of the day at PMQs* over the direction of NHS reform.
David Cameron cited today’s letter to the Telegraph from 42 GPs, saying they wanted what they called “evolution not revolution”.(They are all heads of recently-formed GPs’ consortia). Read more
This time a week ago David Cameron struck an impressively statesmanlike tone at prime minister’s questions, as we noted at the time.
Today the exchange between the two leaders was again fairly dignified, with Ed Miliband raising international policy issues in the tone of someone who knew that the PM would agree with him. (eg Would he like to see an orderly transition to democracy in Egypt: answer, yes of course). Read more
Nick Clegg and Jack Straw
This blog tries not to resort to negative cynicism about politics and our politicians: other media outlets do a sterling job of that. But watching the historic moment when a Liberal Democrat stood at the despatch box for the first time ever at PMQs, I couldn’t help feel that the history of the moment was drowned by farcically long-winded questions, non-answers and puerile interruptions. (Although I don’t want to sound too po-faced, if you ignore the substantive politics, it was very good fun.)
The mood in the Commons was especially rowdy, even for a normal PMQs. With the Lib Dems sinking in the polls Labour sniffed a chance to give Nick Clegg a kicking while both Tories and the Lib Dems sensed the need to give their man their full backing. All this led to a bubbling cauldron of noise, with John Bercow, the speaker, telling MPs off even before questions began.
And by the time it came to the main event, Jack Straw versus Nick Clegg, the House was at boiling point. Read more
David Lloyd George, the last Liberal to face questions to a prime minister
This afternoon Nick Clegg will become the first Liberal to face questions to a prime minister since Lloyd George in 1922, and the first ever Liberal Democrat to face prime minister’s questions as they were formalised in 1961.
After his successful performances on the television debates during the campaign, you might think this would be a pushover for Clegg. But PMQs is a strange beast, where prime ministers (or their deputies) can suddenly be blindsided by an unexpected question or have to face the mocking laughter of a packed House after an unconvincing answer. Read more
The thousands of people who have signed up to a Raoul Moat fanclub on Facebook are clearly moronic on any level. But what exactly is David Cameron trying to achieve today by asking the website to take down the offending page? Read more