POLITICS

PMQs 8 February - NHS Attacks Leave Cameron Floundering

08/02/2012 10:19 | Updated 08 February 2012

PMQs this week was a rough ride for David Cameron, who faced a sustained and effective attack from Ed Miliband over the NHS reform. The Health and Social Care Bill returns to the Lords today, and Ed Miliband used all six of his questions to reel off a list of those within the health sector who oppose the reforms, as well as castigate Cameron for reneging on his pledge for no "top-down reorganisation."

Commentators immediately seized on what was fairly limpid support from Cameron for the health secretary Andrew Lansley, who has had a torrid week of alleged briefings against him by Downing Street. All the PM would say was that Lansley's prospects were better than Miliband's. Hardly an enthusiastic backing, frankly.

The PM was expected to throw his weight behind Lansley today - is this his idea of doing so? HuffPost UK came away from PMQs convinced that Lansley was a prime target for either the chop or a reshuffle move.

Lansley was in the chamber - but only just! He was obscured by the Speaker's chair for most MPs. But at least he showed up.

Speaking of limpid support, we weren't bowled over by the PM's backing of Sarah Teather, who didn't vote in favour of the welfare benefit caps when they returned to the Commons last week. She was apparently on departmental business in Sheffield, but the voraciously independent Tory MP Peter Bone basically called for her to be sacked. The PM would only say that Teather was a government minister and as such supported government policy.

The PM was just as vague on Wednesday as Theresa May was the day before on Abu Qatada. All Cameron would say was that the situation was unacceptable, and promised to resolve the Qatada problem. But he didn't have any details about how this would happen, except to say that they were working with Jordan to ensure deportation.

All in all, not a good week for David Cameron at all. Ed Miliband seems to be finding his groove - and his improved performances at PMQs don't seem to have been just a blip. Now we'll have to see if Labour can keep it up on the NHS in the Lords later.

Highlights from PMQs below:

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