PMQs 30 November: David Cameron And Ed Miliband Clash Over Strikes (LIVE BLOG)
David Cameron has labelled Wednesday's public sector strikes as a "damp squib" and attacked Labour leader Ed Miliband for being "irresponsible, left wing and weak."
According to the PM around 40% of schools are open, only 18 job centres are closed and only a third of the civil service is on strike.
During tense exchanges in a PMQs, held as an estimated two million public sector workers strike in protest at public sector pension changes, the prime minister denied he welcomed the industrial action.
"I don't want to see any strikes, I don't want to see schools close, I don't want to see problems at our borders", he told MPs.
And he accused Labour of being "in the pocket of trade union leaders" and unwilling to confront the need to reform public sector pensions.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband hit back, saying he was proud of workers supporting his party and it was "better that than millions from Lord Ashcroft".
Miliband accused Cameron of being "out of touch" with "decent hard working people", asking: "Why does the prime minister think so many decent, hard-working public sector workers... feel the government simply isn't listening."
Parliament has certainly been affected by the strikes - catering staff and Hansard writers are all off-work.
Check our liveblog for the latest developments and colour from the Commons.
|@ andrewpercy : Have left PMQs. Most ridiculous one I've sat through thus far. Silly comments flying about, lots of noise, just childish.|
|@ adamboultonSKY : Jacob Rees Mogg MP stirs the pot, praises patriotic strike breakers and suggests sacking strikers. DC non commital|
Cameron condemns the attack on Britain's embassy in Tehran as "appalling and disgraceful", says number one concern is the safety of staff.
|@ PSbook : The Labour frontbench are really winding Cameron up with their "calm down" gestures #PMQs|
We're not sure what he asked (distracted by his hair). Something about Regan and air traffic controllers.
|@ DPJHodges : Ed stronger on the strikes than the economy. Which is a bit worrying. But good, passionate performance.|
|@ lucymanning : Even Harriet Harman laughs as PM says they're all shouting in unison or should that be on behalf of Unison|
|@ DavidJonesMP : PM: "They're all shouting in Unison." Nice one #pmqs|
"Another conservative prime minister for whom unemployment is a price worth paying".
Now Miliband's asking about the coalition's fiscal mandate - they have "failed" to balance the books because of higher borrowing costs.
"The truth is his plan has failed. He refuses to change course and he's making working families pay the price. At the very least we now know he'll never, ever be able to say again 'we're all in this together'."
Cameron accuses Ed Miliband being on the side of those who want to disrupt borders. He makes a trade-union related pun about Labour MPs shouting in the chamber "they're all shouting in Unison [geddit]"
Cameron: "We are being tested by these difficult economic times" but we will get through it.
He repeats that Ed M is weak, left-wing and irresponsible.
He's going down the 800k low paid workers route. This could be a good track - Ed gets a win when he goes down the detail route.
Now Ed is asking about unemployment.
Ed Miliband is now defending Labour's funding "better that than millions from Lord Ashcroft". Ouch.
|@ Kevin_Maguire : Cameron toys out of pram after 2 questions on strikes #pmqs, calling Ed Mili irresponsble, Left-wing and weak!|
"I don't want to see any strikes, I don't want to see schools close, I don't want to see problems at our borders", the PM says.
Despite the angry exchanges between the two leaders, the whole thing feels a bit subdued today - the action's elsewhere.
Ed Miliband says he won't demonise nurses who earn as much as Osborne spends on a skiing holiday.
"He is the one who went around saying he's privately delighted because they'd walked into his trap... It's not just public sector workers who are paying for the failure of his plan. It's private sector workers as well."
Now we're onto the Autumn statement and cuts to tax credits.
"He's been spoiling for this fight", says Ed. Isn't it true 800,000 low paid workers are facing an immediate tax rise?
Cameron, unsurprisingly, hits back and accuses Miliband of being in the pocket of the unions. "What he's just told the house is completely and utterly untrue". Ministers met with unions yesterday, and will do tomorrow, and Friday.
"Today, he now backs the strikes", says the PM. "Why? Because he's irresponsible, left wing and weak."
You may remember it:
He's asking about strikes - and the headteacher he praised in June for not striking, who has closed her school today.
"Why does the prime minister think so many decent, hard-working public sector workers... feel the government simply isn't listening."
Cameron defends himself, he says reforms to pensions are "essential" and he has a message for strikers: negotiations are still underway.
Asks about cuts to search-and-rescue helicopters. Cameron agrees to meet with him.
He asks about more support for enterprise zones in Wales. Cameron answers by talking about his Movember moustache and says "we are committed to providing enhanced capital allowances" in enterprise zones.
"Our thoughts should be with his family, his friends and his colleagues", says Cameron.
|@ julianhuppert : In the chamber for PMQs. If called, will probably raise the issue of severely bullied children. #fb|
Number 10 say a "handful" of staff have joined the strike