Prime Minister’s Questions at The Palace of Westminster
12.00 pm on 15th July 2015
The final PMQ’s before the summer break saw David Cameron in confident form. Clearly cheered by the shambles of the Labour leadership contest, He would take on acting Labour leader Harriet Harman one final time before the recess. Harman began asking about the sustainability of the Greek deal.Cameron, although not asked about it, was keen to make clear Britain would make no contribution to the bailout and problems in the Eurozone were not, thankfully, a matter for him. Harman stated what happened would affect us, Cameron agreed but stressed again the resolution to Eurozone problems were not a matter for him.
Harman then turned to domestic issues. Surprisingly she merely glossed over the increase in unemployment, as this would have appeared fruitful territory. Her point about tax credits making people worse off was easily batted back by Cameron who had figures showing those on the lowest pay would be as much as £5000 a year better off under the proposals. He also pointed out Labour had voted against the living wage the night before, something we will here much more of I am sure.
The second point Harman made was more difficult as she discussed the support for the disabled under cuts to the ESA (Employment Support Allowance) which gave support to vulnerable people out of work. Cameron claimed the cut would apply only to those claimants that could work and nobody currently on the scheme would lose out, the change would apply to new claimants after 2017 who were assessed fit to work.
Cameron had clear grasp of the figures but Harman was doing OK too, until she strayed onto easy territory for Cameron, trade union funding changes. Cameron responded that however much Labour go round the topics, ‘It always comes back to their trade union paymasters.’ The changes are aimed to stop trade unions moving funds into general political funds given to the Labour Party which in effect mean any member of an affiliated union is paying money to the Labour Party, albeit indirectly, even if they have rejected becoming Labour affiliates themselves.
Harman tried to draw a parallel with the Tories hedge fund donors, but it does not work as they are doing so voluntarily, rich though they maybe. She stated it was an attack on working people having their say. Cameron responded by saying the current position was an attack on working people forcing them to give to a party they don’t support. Finishing on the unions allowed Cameron to talk Labour leadership, they are against welfare reform, strike law reform and in an attack on Jeremy Corbyn, he added ‘and some consider Hamas their friends.’ Finishing with a great line refering to the seeming march to the left ‘In the week we learn more about Pluto, Labour want to colonize the red planet.’
The rest of the session was pretty quiet with SNP leader Angus Robertson asking about protection for rape victims and serious Northern Ireland issues from the DUP and SDLP leaders. This was until Labour MP Michael Meacher handed Cameron the perfect finish. Meacher attacked the economy recovery, in doing so, allowed Cameron to list a lot of things the Government has achieved in the last parliament and new measures in this one. finishing with a flourish to cheers of the Tory benches and sending them home in good mood as they head off to the Summer recess.
MOON OF LIBERTY VEDICT (Out of 5) David Cameron 4 Harriet Harman 2 – Confident Cameron triumphs after Harman blots her good start by ending with weak questions about the union funding.