PMQs 29 Feburary 2012 - Cameron Attacks Union Strike Threat

PA/The Huffington Post  |  By   |  Posted: 29/02/12 11:02  |  Updated: 29/02/12 13:17


David Cameron insisted today that Labour should start "turning back" donations from the Unite union after its general secretary called for civil disobedience during the London Olympics.

Labour leader Ed Miliband described Len McCluskey's comments, also threatening strike action during the Games, as "totally unacceptable and wrong".

But the prime minister said Miliband's intervention, in a message on Twitter, was not enough given Unite's financial support for the Labour Party.

"Unite is the single biggest donor to the party opposite, providing around a third of their money, and had more role than anybody else in putting the Right Honourable Gentleman (Miliband) in his place," Cameron said during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

"It's not good enough for them just to put out a Tweet, they need to condemn this utterly and start turning back the money," he said.

Ed Miliband
Any threat to the Olympics is totally unacceptable and wrong. This is a celebration for the whole country and must not be disrupted.

Tory MP Richard Graham, who said Mr McCluskey's remarks would "damage the reputation" of the UK, represented the views of "the whole country".

Downing Street earlier denounced the threat of strikes to disrupt the Olympics as "completely unacceptable and unpatriotic".

The party leaders also clashed over the government's controversial NHS Bill. Miliband said the government were 'digging their own burial" with the legislation, a warning it would cost them the next election.

"It's hard to keep track of opposition to this Bill," he said. "Every week that goes by more and more health organisations come out against this Bill."

But Cameron said Miliband opposed putting extra money into the health service and accused him of performing a U-turn on whether he supported key measures in the Bill.

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@ jreedmp : RT @eugenehenry84: Is Clegg going to propose to Cameron today?

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DUP MP Nigel Dodds says the "happiest people live in Northern Ireland". But he says the high price of petrol is threatening to make people sad.

Cameron responds with a pretty good gag: "I'm delighted to hear the people of Northern Ireland are the happiest in the UK…their representatives in this House don't always give that impression".

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@ AdamLake : I'm sure she is very good but if I hear 'Mary Portas' mentioned one more time I'm going to scream #pmqs

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@ RicHolden : Bizzare Ed Balls 'digging' gesture at #PMQ's suggests he's preparing the ground for a #Labour leadership challenge to Miliband. #lasagne

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Tory MP Stewart Jackson worries that immigration policy will be undone by the "curse of Clegg".

The prime minister says Jackson is "being unfair" and says the government has "a tough migrant cap for migrant workers".

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@ Tony_McNulty : Another Tory attacks Clegg through sheer ignorance of his own Government's policy - hard to figure!

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Cameron is given an opportunity to slam the Unite union for threatening to strike during the Olympics.

"Unite is the biggest single donor to the party opposite," he says. "It is not good enough for them to put out a tweet [condemning Unite]."

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@ Lobbydog : Ed apparently found this so comical that he rocked forward almost head butting the despatch box #PMQs

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Nick Clegg usually sits through PMQs trying not to move, smile, frown or even blink.

But having been taunted by Miliband about whether he supports the bill or not the deputy prime minister shouts back that he supports it.

Which drives the Labour benches into fits of laughter.

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@ JamesMills1984 : Ed Miliband MP is really finding his feet at #PMQs good performance so far!

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Miliband says "it's hard to keep track of opposition to this Bill."

"Every week that goes by more and more health organisations come out against this Bill," he says.

Ed Balls is making a "keep digging" hand gesture at David Cameron. Which is a change from his "flatline" salute.

Miliband says the Tories are "digging their own burial" with support for the Bill.

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@ glenoglazaSky : Miliband notes the Health Secretary "is not here". "Hiding!" shouts Andy Burnham. Cameron claims 95% of GPs support health reforms #pmqs

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On to health now. Miliband says with every week that goes by there are more "damning indictments" of the NHS Bill.

Miliband makes fun of Andrew Lansley for not being in the chamber for PMQs. He says the PM has lost the confidence even of GPs he wants at the "heart of his reforms".

Cameron says Miliband is against the "money that needs to go into the NHS" and also had performed a U-turn on supporting patient choice.

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@ paulwaugh : EdM adopting funeral tone for both Leveson and nhs Qs

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@ Parlez_me_nTory : Ed implying the Gov benches are encroaching on leveson, Ed, thin ice matey #pmqs

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Ed Miliband's first question is about Sue Akers and the Leveson Inquiry.

"Does the PM agree with me that the allegations at the Leveson inquiry about widespread corrupt behaviour at heart of press and police are devastating?" he says.

David Cameron says there is "all party support" for the Inquiry.

The prime minister tells MPs it is "hard to think it is right in any circumstances to take money".

Miliband says Michael Gove was "ill judged" to say the inquiry was having a "chilling effect" on journalism.

Cameron says Gove "fully supports" the Leveson inquiry.

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This happened as the PM took his seat for PMQs. It's the only highlight of what has been a tedious Welsh questions.

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@ arinakabob : Not the best timing from Len McCluskey re: Olympics strike. Gives Flashman another reason not to bother actually answering questions. #pmqs

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Guido has nicely pointed out something that Chris Huhne might be keen to forget today.

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@ CliveEfford : Margaret Thatcher’s boycott of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was an attempt to politicise the games - it was wrong then and it is wrong now!

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@ nickfaith82 : At #PMQs Ed should not focus on #workfare - Party seen as too soft on benefits - and the PM must hit Ed on #McCluskey comments

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@ ChrisBryantMP : Maybe we could turn PMQs round and instead of Cameron asking questions he could answer them. 29/02/12

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  • Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith)
  • Tony Lloyd (Manchester Central)
  • Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)
  • Mr Nick Raynsford (Greenwich and Woolwich)
  • Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East
  • Peter Aldous (Waveney)
  • Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green)
  • Julie Hilling (Bolton West)
  • Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)
  • Mr Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Lagan Valley)
  • Gregg McClymont (Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East)
  • Michael Connarty (Linlithgow and East Falkirk)
  • David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale)
  • Ian Swales (Redcar)

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