POLITICS

PMQs 23 November 2011

23/11/2011 10:48 GMT | Updated 23/11/2011 13:01 GMT

PMQs was dominated by the economy this week, with Ed Miliband using all of his six questions to quiz the Prime Minister on youth unemployment, which as we know has topped 1 million in recent weeks.

There were also questions on the sale of Northern Rock and next week's co-ordinated strike action by the unions over public sector pensions.

The two big themes coming from David Cameron were to blame it all on Europe (he claimed that youth unemployment was high "across Europe") and to claim that Ed Miliband is just a union stooge. Cameron pointed out today's figures which show that 86% of Labour funding now comes from the unions. These are running themes from the Prime Minister, who has already made several attempts to shift the blame for lacklustre growth onto the crisis in the Eurozone.

The battle to win the argument over next week's strike is clearly on. Tories lined up to ask the PM to condemn the strike action on the 30th of November, and Cameron duly obliged. This is difficult territory for Labour given we know they are still nearly £10 million in debt and getting almost all their money from the unions. Unite alone gave Labour £1.4 million in the past three months.

Cameron also told businesses they should let their workers bring their kids to work, if it's safe to do so. So it's going to be "Bring Your Kids To Work" day next week, which should prove interesting or embarrasing for parents across the country.

PMQs is starting to become quite a problem for Ed Miliband. He should be winning them, given NHS figures are deteriorating, jobless totals are rising and there's no sign that the economy is making any meaningful recovery. And yet the Labour leader isn't performing; he's simply not doing his job properly. Part of the job of opposition is to scrutinise and challenge what the government's doing, and he's getting that bit.

The trouble is the more important part of being opposition leader is to spell out how you'd do things differently, and a year into his tenure as Labour leader, there isn't enough detail of how he'd govern better. The "five point plan" the party has adopted wasn't even mentioned by Ed Miliband at PMQs - why invent a policy if you can't be proud of it and offer the alternative?