PMQs Sketch: Miliband's Improvement

An unsketchable PMQs kicked off by Peter Bone (soon to be holding the executive to account from Wormwood Scrubs).

It never got going, limped home, and will be considered a victory for Leveson-lovers and the Vegan Internationale known as “grown-up politics”.

Ed Miliband led on and finished with the Ukraine. He consensualised. He joined the top table. He looked (and I say the things that others daren’t think) pretty good.

One barb he left, quoting Cameron on the invasion of Georgia – Russian shoppers shouldn’t be allowed in Harrods while Russian troops were violating borders.

He then called for assets to be frozen.

But Putin would be delighted if his troublesome oligarchs had their assets frozen abroad. You might have thought the Labour leader understood the mind of the Kremlin better than anyone in the Commons.

Cameron repeated the costs and consequences of Putin’s aggression.

Exports of Marmite to Moscow suspended. Block voting by democracies against Russia’s Eurovision Song entry. The Poet Laureate to satirise post-imperial Slavic aggression in a 500-canto lyric.

The only point of interest might be Miliband’s improvement. He’s better than he was six months ago and dramatically better than a year ago. He’s stopped touching his face and stroking his lips. He’s got a nice, relaxed register in his voice as he tails away at the end of his sentences. When not ululating he doesn’t look ridiculous any more.

If the Tories think he’ll look unelectable in a year’s time, they should rethink.

PMQs LIVE: Rock Bottom Edition

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough)

Q2 Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

Q3 Stephen Mosley (City of Chester)

Q4 Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree)

Q5 Mark Menzies (Fylde)

Q6 Mr Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness)

Q7 Mr David Heath (Somerton and Frome)

Q8 Jenny Chapman (Darlington)

Q9 Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside)

Q10 Mr Michael Thornton (Eastleigh)

Q11 Ian Lavery (Wansbeck)

Q12 Dr Thérèse Coffey (Suffolk Coastal)

Q13 Mr Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East)

Q14 Grahame M. Morris (Easington)

Comments in the comments please…

PMQs LIVE: Crackerjack! Edition

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Graeme Morrice (Livingston)

Q2 Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Q3 Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West)

Q4 Lorraine Fullbrook (South Ribble)

Q5 Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington)

Q6 Charlotte Leslie (Bristol North West)

Q7 Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon)

Q8 Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down)

Q9 Jim Shannon (Strangford)

Q10 Helen Jones (Warrington North)

Q11 Jessica Lee (Erewash)

Q12 Sir Bob Russell (Colchester)

Q13 Mark Pawsey (Rugby)

Q14 Bob Blackman (Harrow East)

Q15 Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Comments in the comments please…

PMQs SKETCH: Beast On a Leash, Parliament Behaves Itself

They could at least have brought in visual aids to express solidarity, to raise awareness, to promote resilience among the nation’s flood victims. Fabricant in flippers. Hancock in a wetsuit. Dromey with his big black periscope.

No, they played PMQs like it was Lent.

All the Tories wanted to do was express their joy at Miliband in wet weather gear – you can’t do that under Storm Force Eight.

The Leader from Primrose Hill pretending not to have wellington boots filled with black, freezing water – that could only be honoured with Tory thunder.

When Miliband stood, they started to crank it but some sense of propriety, or possibly a Whips’ choke chain silenced them.

It was like watching drunks nearly throwing up.

All MPs realized how their natural effusions would come across on TV. The storm-tossed public out there in the plashy fens – they didn’t want to see their representatives enjoying themselves.

And Miliband without the mockery doesn’t do as badly as Tories think. He asked about “money no object” – what did that actually mean?

Sandbags.

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Women, Women, Everywhere

A frontbench full of female ministers and four more women sitting directly behind Dave at PMQs:

Responsive government in action…

Via @generalboles

PMQs Live Chat: Drowning Street Edition

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion)
Q2 Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)
Q3 Andy Sawford (Corby)
Q4 Mr David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds)
Q5 Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun)
Q6 Alison Seabeck (Plymouth, Moor View)
Q7 Neil Carmichael (Stroud)
Q8 Mr William Bain (Glasgow North East)
Q9 Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth)
Q10 Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow)
Q11 Stephen Timms (East Ham)
Q12 Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)
Q13 Graeme Morrice (Livingston)
Q14 Mr David Amess (Southend West)
Q15 Gregg McClymont (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)

Comments in the comments please…

SKETCH: Many-Headed Monster Delightfully Out of Control

Unusually, the Prime Minister called the Speaker. It’s usually the other way round.

The noise from Labour was so great – the raucous enjoyment of their weekly Ten Minute Hate – that on two occasions the Prime Minister shook his head and gestured towards the Speaker indicating he should intervene. The first time, the Speaker got up at once to call for quiet. The second time Cameron had to say: “Mr Speaker, really,” and up the Speaker popped up to do the bidding.

What a change!

Hard to say who won on noise.

As for the argument – gender politics. Not my subject, really.

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WATCH: Bercow Flips Out

Something seemed to be troubling the Speaker at PMQs today. He boiled over during one exchange, completely losing it with Michael Gove. And to think the Education Secretary’s better half Sarah Vine was so nice about Sally in the Mail this morning…

Via @liarpoliticians

Another Craig Oliver Image Success

Tory MPs first clocked something was  up when Rachel Reeves almost sat on Ed Balls’ knee to try and squeeze into shot on the Labour front-bench, along with Harman and Caroline “window dressing” Flint. A nice distraction trick for Ed to point out Cameron’s woman problem, but can only really be used once. Still, it’s not like the Downing Street director of communications has a background in TV management or anything…

Pic via @suttonnick

PMQs Live Chat: Black Rod's Garden Entrance Edition

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Sir Richard Ottaway (Croydon South)
Q2 Mr Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk)
Q3 Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry)
Q4 Mr Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness)
Q5 Mr David Heath (Somerton and Frome)
Q6 Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
Q7 Gemma Doyle (West Dunbartonshire)
Q8 Jessica Lee (Erewash)
Q9 Henry Smith (Crawley)
Q10 Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire)
Q11 Mel Stride (Central Devon)
Q12 Mr John Spellar (Warley)
Q13 Meg Hillier (Hackney South and Shoreditch)
Q14 Pat Glass (North West Durham)
Q15 Jim McGovern (Dundee West)

Comments in the comments please…

PMQs Live Chat: Go Home Edition

Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Chloe Smith (Norwich North)

Q2 Andy Sawford (Corby)

Q3 Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Q4 Laura Sandys (South Thanet)

Q5 Penny Mordaunt (Portsmouth North)

Q6 Clive Efford (Eltham)

Q7 Mr Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex)

Q8 Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith)

Q9 Ian Murray (Edinburgh South)

Q10 Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury)

Q11 Steve Rotheram (Liverpool, Walton)

Q12 Richard Harrington (Watford)

Q13 Lisa Nandy (Wigan)

Comments in the comments please…

SKETCH: Labour Bravely Faces the Good News Disaster

Ed Balls’ face said it all. Serious, sombre, stoical. What substance he has, what fortitude. He really has the gravel to face the worst.

Yes, the employment figures were in and they were catastrophic. So wholly and voluptuously positive that If you had instructed your statistician to come up with a Balls-crushing statistic and he’d produced this you would have said: “Steady, we want to be a little bit credible.”

The very morning of PMQs heralded the biggest quarterly rise in employment since the Norman Conquest.

Ed Miliband began a line of questions with the words “today’s welcome fall in unemployment” and prompted the longest, uninterrupted barrage of Tory artillery we’ve had for many years.

A welcome fall, he said. Welcome.

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PMQs Live Chat: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs Edition

At 12.00pm: Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Stephen Timms (East Ham) If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 22 January.

Q2 Nick de Bois (Enfield North)

Q3 Duncan Hames (Chippenham)

Q4 Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North)

Q5 Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)

Q6 Simon Kirby (Brighton, Kemptown)

Q7 Phil Wilson (Sedgefield)

Q8 Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)

Q9 David T. C. Davies (Monmouth)

Q10 Ann McKechin (Glasgow North)

Q11 Mark Pawsey (Rugby)

Q12 Mr Michael McCann (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)

Q13 Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East)

Q14 Jonathan Lord (Woking)

Q15 Damian Hinds (East Hampshire)

Comments in the comments please…

SKETCH: PM’s Answers More Than Enough for These PMQs Bercow Compare and Contrast: Bullying Works

The surge in good economic news and the collapse of the Socialist experiment in France has added two new characters to the opposition front bench.

A surly, sullen but above all silent Ed Balls – and a wounded fawn of a Labour leader.

They still do the look they’ve always done – cocked heads looking at the PM as if to say, “What a curious person saying such peculiar things. I wonder if he knows what he thinks he’s saying sounds like?” At school it was called “dumb insolence”. It amused us but works no better now than it did then.

Cameron was back as the Master of the House thanking three or four Labour Members for their suggestions, commending opponents, smiling, taking things seriously, not rising to the bait.

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PMQs LIVE: Da Bankers Da Bonuses Edition

Comments in the comments please…

Attack Dog Holiday

John Rentoul has been analysing the Miliband mantra to make PMQs all nice and fluffy:

“But something had changed. If I had been more observant, I would have noticed that Michael Dugher, the Labour noise machine, was not sitting in his usual place on the steps of the gangway next to the opposition front bench.”

If he had been more observant, Rentoul would have noticed that Michael Dugher has been Tweeting about being in Israel all week.

Sketch: Quiet Commons Helps Cameron


For once, our television screens broadcast a quiet, respectful, intelligent PMQs.

How the public detest it! My mailbag was full of disgusted members of the public complaining about the lack of passion, energy, class war, amusing abuse, animal noises, flying fruit, incarnadine faces and generalised, unspecific roaring.

“If aliens had landed in the middle of this and were told ‘This is how we hold our Government to account’ they’d say, ‘Bollocks you do! That’s just a bunch of kids pretending to be grown-ups!”

Some say the tenor was set by the death of popular Paul Goggins, announced this morning. There was mourning, condolence, fond memories, kind wishes. And this is how it should be, the decencies were observed. Though in my experience, the political reaction is “X has cancer. He’s dying.” “Oh no! That’s awful!” Beat. “What’s the majority?”

Continue reading

Tories Deny PMQs Deal

A senior Tory pours cold water on the suggestion by Nick Robinson that today’s PMQs could have been the result of Ed and Dave agreeing to take PMQs down a notch or two after the rowdiness of the last year: “You brief people you want calmer, more dignified when you are losing.” That’s that then.

UPDATE: Ta da:

PMQs Live Chat: Boring Snoring Edition

https://twitter.com/OHwinsAgain/status/420890450275221504

Comments in the comments please…

GALLERY GUIDO PMQs SKETCH: Bercow’s Descendancy

“The booing and jeering from the Government benches at Bercow was as bad as I have ever known it,” a back bencher said. “And when Therese Coffey wished him and his family a happy Christmas, that got booed as well.”

It was quite a scene.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

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