PMQs Sketch: Cameron Likes Farming Today, But Keeps On Digging

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Is it possible that MPs are scared of Lord Justice Leveson? It certainly looks that way - following the judicical equivalent of a telling off yesterday, there was not a squeak about anything forthcoming at his inquiry at PMQs about Jeremy Hunt or Adam Smith.

The only reference to anything Levesonian was from Ed Miliband, who suggested David Cameron should sign off a text to President Hollande of France with "LOL" - a question which seemed entirely posed just to get that gag in. Surely there was a better home for it?

Cameron could only attack Gordon Brown's record with phones in return, saying at least he didn't throw his around. Tories liked that, but you're in dangerous territory when all you can do is mock former Labour leaders and not the current one.

PMQs began with a relatively high order of civility. Miliband welcomed the fall in jobless totals, and David Cameron welcomed Miliband's welcoming. But it quickly descended into yet another statistics-spat, with the PM growing increasingly annoyed with that old chestnut about how many front-line police officers were left.

Ed Balls managed to derail Cameron's reply on this with his usual gesticulations. Balls has gone back to the flat palm going up and down manoeuvre, characteristic of his later-winter period. Despite being an old trick it managed to grate.

"I'm extremely calm," said Cameron at one point during his exchanges, although his face was reddening, as usual. Cameron has a new haircut, which makes his temples pulse like airport landing lights.

Miliband later went for an omni-cuts attack strategy, asking how many frontline police officers had been slashed (Cameron was unclear), then on how many nurses had gone (Cameron said the number of clinical staff had risen but wouldn't give a number on nurses). The exchanges were so predictable the Hansard writers could almost CTRL+C bits from every previous PMQs from the last six months and paste it into today's entry.

We did learn that Andy Coulson was in the process of being fully vetted for security clearance before he resigned, despite a previous decision by Number 10 that spin doctors shouldn't be given the full clearance. Why they changed they mind about this is unclear.

We also heard David Cameron confirming that he listens to Farming Today on Radio 4 - which is admirable and adds weight to his recent claim that he's at his desk and working by 5:45am every morning. Shouldn't he be listening to Wake Up To Money on 5 Live though, given the state of the economy?

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