Prime Minister's Questions: Ed Miliband taunts David Cameron over Lords reform


A red mist seemed to descend over the House of Commons today as the final session of Prime Minister's Questions before the summer break turned into a slanging match between David Cameron and Ed Miliband.

As temperatures rose, the Labour leader drew attention to the colour rising in the Prime Minister's cheeks, taunting him: "The redder he gets, the less he convinces people."

Mr Cameron struck back by telling MPs: "There's only one person who's red round here, and that's Red Ed, running the Labour Party."

After the rebellion of 91 Tory MPs over Lords reform last night, Mr Miliband came to the Commons determined to remind voters of a six-month period which Labour believes has seen a succession of disasters for the Government.

Rather than get into the details of the reform package - on which Labour voted with the Government last night - Mr Miliband reeled off an increasingly familiar list of charges against the Prime Minister which he hopes will define him in the public's minds.

Reminding Mr Cameron he is reported to have said he wanted to be PM "because I think I would be good at it", Mr Miliband asked him: "Where did it go wrong?"

He accused the Prime Minister of losing control not only of his MPs but also of his temper in the Commons last night, describing Mr Cameron's confrontation with leading Tory rebel Jesse Norman as "fisticuffs in the lobby".

Mr Norman was not in the chamber for today's PMQs, noted Mr Miliband, and he added: "The posh boys have ordered him off the estate."

Mr Cameron was "out of touch", leading a Government in "disarray" which had produced "U-turn after U-turn after U-turn" and "a double-dip recession made in Downing Street", and was "blaming everyone but himself", said Mr Miliband.

In a display of the increasing confidence he has shown in recent clashes with the PM over the despatch box, he responded quickly to backbench Tory heckles of "weak" by shooting back: "What could be weaker than having 91 people vote against you in the House of Commons?"

Perhaps aware that the timetabling of debate on House of Lords reform was not a subject on which the average voter feels much passion, the Labour leader turned his fire once again on Chancellor George Osborne's March Budget, which Mr Miliband feels has undermined the Government's reputation for economic competence and fairness.

Mr Osborne had "made the wrong choices and stood up for the wrong people", giving a tax cut to millionaires while raising taxes for pensioners, he said.

Mr Cameron responded with a broadside at Labour: "We will never forget what we were left by the party opposite - they were bailing out eurozone countries with taxpayers' money, paying £100,000 for just one family's housing benefit, they had uncontrolled welfare and uncontrolled immigration, uncontrolled government spending.

"Never has so much been borrowed, never has so much been wasted, never have so many people been let down. The country will never forgive them for what they did."

As the PM's voice rose, the faces of the Labour front bench lit up, as if they had been hoping Mr Cameron would allow himself to be goaded into showing a flash of anger.

Mr Miliband delivered his joke about the PM's red face, telling him: "It's the same old lecture we've had on the economy for the last two years and things are getting worse, not better. He didn't just lose the confidence of his party last night, he is losing the confidence of the country."

Mr Cameron retorted with his "Red Ed" jibe, asking MPs: "Who backed Red Ken Livingstone? They did. Who backed Red Len McCluskey? He did. Who opposed every measure to deal with the deficit, proposed £30 billion more spending, who is giving the unions even more say?

"Let's see what he has done in the last year - opposed an immigration cap, opposed a welfare cap, opposed a housing benefit cap, opposed every single measure to cut the deficit.

"We know what he is against, but when on Earth are we going to find out what he is for?"

By this point, with backbenchers on both sides bellowing support and abuse, decibel levels in the chamber had reached such a pitch that luckless Tory MP Anne Marie Morris, who was next to speak, struggled to make herself heard over the din.

As she gamely attempted to put her question about colleges to the Prime Minister, the Newton Abbot MP, who had one arm in a sling, gesticulated ever more wildly with the other arm and raised her voice ever higher in the hope of getting her point across.

All in all, it was not so much a session of reasoned debate on the issues of the day as a mud-slinging contest with more than a hint of end-of-term hysteria among MPs who were clearly looking forward to their summer break.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrator - IT - Fixed Term, Part Time

£17340 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Come and join one of the UK's leading ca...

Recruitment Genius: Property Sales Consultant - Chinese Speaking - OTE £70,000

£18000 - £70000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity for a Fluent Chines...

Recruitment Genius: AV Installation Engineer

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to business growth, this is...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent