PMQs: Inequality is at its lowest since 1986 - and David Cameron takes the session with that

Labour conspired to hand Cameron the win this afternoon

Share
Related Topics

David Cameron made a good defence of the Government's record, for once, at Prime Minister's Questions today. He was ably assisted by four supporters: Ed Miliband; John Cryer, the Labour MP for Leyton; David Winnick, the Labour MP for Walsall North; and John Bercow, the Speaker.

The Labour leader asked all his six questions about the NHS, a sure sign that he was on weak ground. It was noted, silently, that he didn't ask about the shipbuilding redundancies in Portsmouth. Jobs ought to be a Labour subject, but he chose the safety of the national religion.

However, his line of questioning was so formulaic that it had almost no effect, and Cameron, who was well briefed, held his own. I counted the clichés out and I counted them back in again. Miliband said that Cameron's attitude was, "Crisis? What crisis?" He said Cameron was "out of touch" and he concluded with a flourish by saying that the NHS was "not safe in his hands".

Cameron waited until after Miliband had finished and could not respond before he hit him with the Falkirk selection. The Prime Minister said that the leader of the opposition was "like the mayor of a Sicilian town: 'They put me in and I don't want them to take me out.'"

When John Cryer asked if the Prime Minister were damning people who were proud to be members of trade unions, Cameron easily paid his respects to trade union members before saying how sorry he was that they were "led so badly by bully boys", and accusing United of intimidating not just witnesses in Falkirk but the leader of the opposition.

At this point the Speaker decided to intervene yet again. Previously he had interrupted the Prime Minister to tell the backbenches off for making too much noise (I get "bucketfuls of letters" from the public about it, he said). This time he told asked Cameron to "remember the essence of the question".

So when David Winnick asked if the unfairnesses inflicted on a cowed and impoverished nation were what our forebears fought the Second World War for, Cameron replied with a long recitation of what his Government had done for the poor, pausing only to say, "I'm keen to answer the question, Mr Speaker."

The most startling of the Prime Minister's claims was that inequality is at its lowest level since 1986. This is absolutely true, and was published by the independent Office for National Statistics in its "The Effect of Taxes and Benefits on Household Income" in July. Disposable income was more equally distributed in the UK in 2011/12 than at any time since the great increase in inequality under Margaret Thatcher.

When Cameron went on to proclaim "pay day lending regulated for the first time", which is less true, the Labour benches squawked with indignation, but one suspected self-doubt.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch