Sketch: Cameron wanted good news, but got unearthly silence

Tom Watson had command of a hushed House and a shocked Prime Minister

Share
Related Topics

Whatever else is happening, it was clear yesterday that nothing grips a noisy House of Commons more completely than the whiff of really toxic scandal, past or present. Especially in the post-Savile climate.

A lot happened at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. First David Cameron ended a boisterous series of exchanges with Ed Miliband on energy policy and the West Coast main line by taunting Labour with a bold claim in the wake of better figures on unemployment and inflation that "Every bit of good news sends [Labour's] team into a complete decline, but I can tell the right honourable gentleman that the good news will keep coming."

This sparked an immediate and furious row over whether Cameron was leaking the growth figures that will be published today. More pertinent for the rest of us, however, may be whether the good news really will "keep coming" after that? Or will he be forced, as his old boss Norman Lamont once was, to tough out criticism for prematurely detecting "the green shoots" of recovery?

Earlier Cameron had appeared to defy a ruling by the European Court – and his own Attorney General – by promising to deny prisoners the vote. The Attorney General had suggested a European ruling against Britain's blanket ban on prisoners' voting could have a degree of "flexibility". But what could this mean? That Barlinnie inmates, for example, will be allowed to vote in the Scottish independence referendum but not in the general election? One idea is that judges would include the voting ban in sentences. But they would surely insist on discretion, with barristers pleading: "My Lord, my client is passionate about the political process. It will severely set back his rehabilitation if he cannot vote in the coming election."

But none of this compared with Tom Watson's command of a hushed House, including a clearly shocked Prime Minister. You could almost hear MPs watches' ticking as the Labour MP said he wanted to ensure that the Met re-examine the evidence in the Peter Righton paedophile case and "investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and No. 10."

Cameron, who had lent forward intently as Watson was speaking, said that "I am not entirely sure which former Prime Minister he is referring to. What I would like to do is ... look carefully at what the Government can do to help give him the assurances he seeks."

Partly, of course, the MPs are aware that the scourge of Rupert Murdoch usually knows what he is talking about. The satisfaction of making MPs laugh on both sides of the House is well known. But an intervention that shuts them up is even rarer.

React Now

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

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories