PMQs 23 November 2011

23/11/2011 10:48 | Updated 23 November 2011

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?

23/11/2011 12:35 GMT

That's it... Final score?

Again it wasn't great for Ed Miliband. What the TV cameras never show is Miliband after he's asked his questions. This week he sits there, watching the PM answer the rest of his questions and you can't help but detect a wistful look on his face. Will he ever be standing on the other side of the Commons doing the same thing?

Not on current form. The problem is that Miliband is still defending Labour's record in office and the things they did, but they were rejected by the electorate.

Ed Miliband urges the PM to change course, but doesn't offer any ideas or alternatives. And because of that, he's sounding a bit like a broken record. It makes it too easy for Cameron to come back with his initiatives.

Up in the galleries Tory officials seem quietly pleased, whereas Miliband's people play with their phones and look morose. That happens most weeks, and this week is no exception.

Must try harder, Ed Miliband!

23/11/2011 12:31 GMT

Cam: I am huge supporter and fan of the NHS

He's been accused of entering government to a healthy NHS, now being damaged.

PM says mixed sex wards are down 90% since they came to power. (thery've been rising recently though)

23/11/2011 12:29 GMT

Stewart Jackson on Thomas Cook

Should people keep booking their holidays with Thomas Cook?

PM: he has asked for a report on the company. He does not agree that people should Thomas Cook it.

23/11/2011 12:26 GMT

@louisemensch on the strikes

The Tory MP asks if it's okay for parents to bring their kids to work on strike day.

PM : where its safe to help people by bringing children to work, employers should do so.

23/11/2011 12:25 GMT

Chris Bryant (Lab) on long-term unemployed.

Asks the PM whether every young person out of work after 6 months should be "guaranteed" a job, because long term unemployment is mentally scarring.

PM agrees being jobless is bad for mental health, but repeats that they're doing everything they can through the Work Programme.

23/11/2011 12:23 GMT

Malcolm Wicks (lab) on Northern Rock

Says the Northern Rock saga is lamentable because over the years a mutual has become a bank, then a nationalised bank, and now sold off to Virgin Money, which apparently is "brash".

PM says people should be glad that the Rock will still be based in the North of England.

23/11/2011 12:20 GMT

Tory MP Simon Kirby

Given the government has frozen Council Tax again, why are the Green party in Brighton and Hove trying to put it up?

PM says government money can go to council tax freezes, but it's up to councils how they spend it.

23/11/2011 12:18 GMT

Richard Ottoway on Strike ballot turnouts.

Should there be a minimum threshold for strike action, given the big unions only had turnouts of about 30%' and only about 1 in 5 voted in favour?

PM says its not surprising that Labour won't condemn the strikes because figures out today show that 86% of Labour funding comes from unions.

23/11/2011 12:16 GMT

Ed Miliband Q6

It's the "out of touch" line to round off from Miliband. Unless the PM changes course, he will consign 1m young people to constant unemployment.

PM finishes by saying that the IMF and the governor of the Bank of England agree with the Tory plan. Why listen to Labour who caused the mess.

23/11/2011 12:14 GMT

Ed Miliband Q5.

Miliband says Cameron has broken his promises on the economy and it all shows that the Autumn Statement should be a chance to change course.

PM says there isn't a single other mainstream party in Europe which thinks the answer to the crisis is more borrowing. Other than Labour.

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