Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Job losses, poppies and border controls

Who won?

The three themes of today’s PMQs were job losses, poppies and border controls and there wasn’t much else. David Cameron started off in a sombre mood, presumably because of this week’s Remembrance Day and the resultant general seriousness of the House. He even looked a bit weepy, knocked sideways by the first question and all its associated jeering about jobs and growth, the lack of both under his reign and the relaxing of red tape for companies, which means workers can be fired at a moment’s notice.

Ed Miliband used his opponent’s fragility to launch a strong attack. In a game of political tennis about border controls, Ed used his questions to castigate the failings of the home secretary Theresa May on her recently admitted mistake of relaxing borders over the summer. Forceful, coherent and calm, he hammered his point. ‘When things go wrong, it’s never anything to do with them!’ Cameron looked defeated as William Hague stifled a yawn. ‘It’s just not good enough,’ yelled Ed. ‘It’s a fiasco! The PM cannot tell us how many people came into this country over the summer!’ Ed was doing so well and there was so much support in the House that the speaker had to chip in and ask the members to ‘stop shouting their heads off’.

When all was going well for Labour, Cameron swooped in with his killer line. Regaining his usual cocky confident stance, he cautioned the leader of the opposition to listen to the Labour adviser and founder of ‘blue Labour’, Lord Maurice Glasman, who famously noted that too many people immigrated under Labour. An unfair comparison from Cameron, but, nevertheless, it worked. Verdict: a tie.

Best answer?

No real jokes today, but there were a few attempts at witticisms and political quips. When Labour’s Geraint Davies MP questioned the danger of losing voters alongside the constituency boundary review (registration will no longer be compulsory) – making the point that Cameron is forcing austerity on vulnerable people and taking away their right to vote – Cameron was ready with a sly response. Using the word fairness, Cameron quoted the number of people in Davies’ constituency, and compared it with a higher number in the constituency of an MP behind him.

Backbench watch

A bugbear of the backbenches was the poppy. Tory MPs Tracey Crouch and Alec Shelbrooke both asked questions and expressed outrage at Fifa’s ban on poppies on football shirts. Cameron promised to write to Fifa. MPs cheered in solidarity at the fight against football.


Laura Nelson is from Ealing North CLP and writes the Delilah blog. Follow her on Twitter @Delilah_mj


Photo: UK Parliament

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Laura Nelson


  • Mmm. you watched a different PMQ’s to me. Sorry – quite wrong to focus all 6 questiuons on this subject especially when we do not have a very good record on the issue.

  • Only you and Ed Miliband have the opinion that using his questions on the Theresa May issue was the right attack! With the prospect of Committee grillings, parliamentary scrutiny and possible legal challenges why waste PMQs with questions that have no known answers? Anyone with a brain would have concluded “don’t go on immigration”, so who was the numpty who advised Ed and who was the numpty who agreed?

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