>PMQs gets personal

>PMQs was a rather spiteful affair this week. David Cameron came up with two of the most damning lines to describe Ed: “He was the nothing man at the treasury, and now he is the nothing man trying to lead the Labour party”, and VN’s favourite on Alan Johnson advising on banker’s bonuses: “There’s no point Wallace asking Gromit on that one”, but Ed didn’t perform badly. It was though quite a hollow affair, partly due to the predictable questions from the Leader of the Opposition, and partly due to the lack of substance in the answers given in return.

Clearly the Coalition are getting a bit fed up of cheap pops about so-called ‘broken promises’. When Angus Robertson of the SNP tried the trick asking about tuition fees and bankers bonuses, Cameron snapped back, referring to “an SNP that promised a referendum on full independence and never gave it?”

There were also some fairly testing questions from Conservative backbenchers, including one on the promised fuel stabiliser. These serve to demonstrate the increasing tension those Member’s have towards the coalition. Like their Liberal Democrat counterparts, Tory backbenchers are beginning to feel a little sidelined, and are increasingly prepared to show their discontent in high profile occasions such as PMQs.

Cameron also hinted heavily at a compromise on Control Orders, praising the police and secret services in the process. In answer to another question, he gave a backhanded warning to the Unions threatening prolonged strikes by hinting he could impose a rule that 50% of members must support strike action.

The Prime Minister is clearly comfortable with these confrontations but, after a very impressive start, is beginning to rely too much on witty one liners and question dodging. If he engaged Ed Miliband on substance he could win the exchanges outright very easily, exposing the lack of policy Labour have at the moment. Instead, the playground politics trundled on into 2011.


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