PMQs SKETCH: Labour’s Criminals in Downing Street

Ed Miliband achieved the impossible today. He finished his J’Accuse an even more diminished leader than when he began.

Weak, weak, weak! The Tories chanted. “I’ll tell you what’s weak,” Ed said weakly, “it’s failing to stand up for the right thing.”

Cameron’s definition of weak was more detailed: “Attacking Rupert Murdoch, posing with a copy of the Sun and then apologising for it! That’s weak!”

And then, of course, Alastair Campbell, Jo Moore and Damian McBride.

Ed’s lead-line, his headline, his top line was: “You brought a criminal into Downing Street.”

It’s not a bad line, in fact. It’s nasty. It resonates at a childhood level of right and wrong. And it’s sinister.

But then, but then . . . Criminals in Downing Street.

Ed himself has an adviser publicly accused of Class A drug use. His predecessors, as Cameron pointed out, have a variety of real victims to their account. From David Kelly to the Paddington rail crash survivors to Conservative MPs to half a million Iraqis…

Was it an open goal? Hard to know how to score on this pitch. Lot of attention. High expectations. Big moment for beleaguered Labour leader competing with Michael Foot for top comic spot.

And Cameron had a single defence to every accusation: Leveson’s Inquiry had exonerated him at every level, of every charge.

A judge who took eight months and spent £5m taking evidence on oath had comprehensively cleared him.

It was the only defence he needed and Ed kept running into it.

The killer question (Miliband waited mulishly for quiet in the Chamber) asked whether Gus O’Donnell had raised hacking concerns with the PM.

Er, Leveson! All covered by Leveson. O’Donnell’s evidence to Leveson rebuts, rejects, refutes these accusations.

Miliband came back with a promising line: “Gus O’Donnell wasn’t asked that question at Leveson!”

Oo, hang on, wasn’t he? Was he not asked that, was the PM making that up? A series of persistent follow-ups might have yielded the result Miliband wanted, but the duffer doesn’t play in that league. That was the end, not the beginning.

Chris Bryant, thrilling with indignation, said the “second chance” Cameron had given Coulson presupposed “a first offence”. “You’re such a little twerp, aren’t you?” Cameron replied, “No wonder you couldn’t get elected to the Shadow Cabinet.” I think that’s what he said. The second chance was after he’d resigned as editor.

Ronnie Campbell and Yasmin Qureshi read out Whips’ questions with very little relish, especially as both question had been asked and answered more than once already (“Leveson.”).

Philip Davies, member of the Culture committee who looked into hacking told the House that the Guardian had said in 2009 there was no piece of paper connecting Coulson to hacking, the committee never came up with any evidence that Coulson knew hacking was taking place, and that Labour were using this to “deflect attention from their own chronic leadership shortfall.” Tory delight.

“I think he put it rather better than I did,” Cameron said. “Thank you.” And sat down.

Does anybody care? Outside our over-oxygenated bubble do people know who Brooks and Coulson are? Any more than we know who’s standing in Labour’s imminent NEC election?



Tip offs: 0709 284 0531
team@Order-order.com

Quote of the Day

Labour MP Jamie Reed:

“I apologise to every man, woman and child in this country who needs a Labour government.”

Top Posts This Week

Guidogram: Sign up

Subscribe to the most succinct 7 days a week daily email read by thousands of Westminster insiders.

Facebook

£500,000 EXPENSES FRAUDSTER MEP JAILED £500,000 EXPENSES FRAUDSTER MEP JAILED
SEUMAS MILNE PRAISES HAMAS SEUMAS MILNE PRAISES HAMAS
ALLEGED GRANNY BASHER MP IN COURT TODAY ALLEGED GRANNY BASHER MP IN COURT TODAY
CORBYN AGREES BBC ARE “ZIONIST LIARS” CORBYN AGREES BBC ARE “ZIONIST LIARS”
LABOUR IN CRISIS LABOUR IN CRISIS
KHAN ON KEN, KEN ON KHAN KHAN ON KEN, KEN ON KHAN
CORBYN’S CALLAGHAN MOMENT CORBYN’S CALLAGHAN MOMENT
BERNARD JENKIN ACCUSES NO. 10 OF CASH FOR QUESTIONS BERNARD JENKIN ACCUSES NO. 10 OF CASH FOR QUESTIONS
JOHN MANN TELLS KEN “YOU’RE A F**KING DISGRACE” JOHN MANN TELLS KEN “YOU’RE A F**KING DISGRACE”
KHAN CAMPAIGNED FOR NAZ SHAH, DEFENDED KEN ON ANTI-SEMITISM KHAN CAMPAIGNED FOR NAZ SHAH, DEFENDED KEN ON ANTI-SEMITISM
KEN: “HITLER WAS SUPPORTING ZIONISM” KEN: “HITLER WAS SUPPORTING ZIONISM”
NEUBERGER AND LEVY ON LABOUR’S ANTI-SEMITISM NEUBERGER AND LEVY ON LABOUR’S ANTI-SEMITISM
RUPA HUQ DEFENDS NAZ SHAH’S ANTI-SEMITISM RUPA HUQ DEFENDS NAZ SHAH’S ANTI-SEMITISM
Carly Fiorina Sings Lullaby Carly Fiorina Sings Lullaby
BRADFORD COUNCILLOR POSTED GOEBBELS NAZI FILM “THE ETERNAL JEW” BRADFORD COUNCILLOR POSTED GOEBBELS NAZI FILM “THE ETERNAL JEW”
NAZ SHAH SUSPENDED BY LABOUR NAZ SHAH SUSPENDED BY LABOUR
Naz Shah’s Pro-Hamas Tweets Naz Shah’s Pro-Hamas Tweets
FARAGE RESPONDS TO “PONCEY” JIBE FARAGE RESPONDS TO “PONCEY” JIBE
PM: “EXTRAORDINARY” NAZ SHAH STILL HAS LABOUR WHIP PM: “EXTRAORDINARY” NAZ SHAH STILL HAS LABOUR WHIP
SHADOW CABINET SPLIT: LISA NANDY TELLS CORBYN TO SACK NAZ SHAH SHADOW CABINET SPLIT: LISA NANDY TELLS CORBYN TO SACK NAZ SHAH
TREASURY CAN PREDICT FUTURE TO 2030, CAN’T WORK OUT COST OF BREXIT REPORT TREASURY CAN PREDICT FUTURE TO 2030, CAN’T WORK OUT COST OF BREXIT REPORT
NAZ SHAH EMPLOYED “ZIO”-HATER AS TAXPAYER-FUNDED AIDE NAZ SHAH EMPLOYED “ZIO”-HATER AS TAXPAYER-FUNDED AIDE
NAZ SHAH RUNS CHARITY WITH ANTI-SEMITIC LABOUR COUNCILLOR NAZ SHAH RUNS CHARITY WITH ANTI-SEMITIC LABOUR COUNCILLOR
FRANK FIELD’S LEFT-WING CASE FOR BREXIT FRANK FIELD’S LEFT-WING CASE FOR BREXIT
NAZ SHAH COMPARED ISRAELIS TO HITLER NAZ SHAH COMPARED ISRAELIS TO HITLER
FREE ADVERTISING WORTH £135,000-A-WEEK FOR REMAIN CAMPAIGN FREE ADVERTISING WORTH £135,000-A-WEEK FOR REMAIN CAMPAIGN
NAZ SHAH RESIGNS AS JOHN MCDONNELL’S PPS NAZ SHAH RESIGNS AS JOHN MCDONNELL’S PPS
BBC DID REVEAL HILLSBOROUGH VERDICT YESTERDAY BBC DID REVEAL HILLSBOROUGH VERDICT YESTERDAY
NAZ SHAH: “THE JEWS ARE RALLYING” NAZ SHAH: “THE JEWS ARE RALLYING”
JUNIOR DOCTORS: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY JUNIOR DOCTORS: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY