Fraser Nelson

Brown does a Hillary (again) – and fights back

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An angrier Brown was in front of us today, holding handwritten notes for his exchanges with Cameron rather than anything given to him by No10. He would scribble furiously, and went on the offensive - asking Cameron whether he supports ID cards for foreign nationals. It seemed a bit daft at PMQs to hear the PM ask questions of the Opposition leader so often, but it won't be repeated on TV and he needs to show the House he is on the attack. Cameron appeared to say yes, but it wasn't clear. Those normally ashen Labour faces lit up.

 

Brown again brought up Cameron's role "as the principal adviser to the Chancellor" (as if) on Black Wednesday. Cameron responded by listing things Brown believed in his 20s: wholesale renationalistion, etc. I don't think it worked. There is no equivalence between being a Treasury bag carrier and backing loony policies, as brown did, at a time when sensible labour folk had moved on.

 

Brown repeated his Marr line: that inflation was 10% then and 2% now.   This is a fake comparison, as I blogged yesterday. RPI inflation was 10%, for just there months in 1990, and is now 4.3%. The 2% Brown refers to is CPI, which peaked at 8%. Pulling this trick on journalists is one thing, but misleading the House in such a petty way is another. It was beneath him.  Brown later said "inflation is half what it was". This is the truth.

 

Again, we hear brown created 3m new jobs. Now we know that 69% of new jobs are accounted for by immigration, it's bold of him to stick to this figure. Perhaps he feels he'll get away with it unchallenged. He may well be right.

 

A strange opening question from Clegg. Is it "enough" to summon the energy regulator to complain about N-Power's 15% rises? Many may argue it's too much, given that the regulator is supposed to be independent. But he goes on to make a point I'm delighted to see raised at PMQs. There are 25,000 people predicted to die this winter from the cold. Like most of the Lib Dem's better questions, this point was first made on this blog some time ago.

 

Perhaps Cameron stole clegg's best line by going in on identity cards. So a respectable start by Clegg, but not killer Cable. And that is something which, alas, we'll all have to get used to at PMQs.

 

Anyway, from my perch the chamber it looked and sounded a lot better for Brown. There was spirit of the bare knuckle fight about this, probably because the microphones up here weren't working as they should.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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