Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Labour wants to stay in its NHS comfort zone and ignore immigration and the economy

PMQs taught us a number of things about Labour and the Conservatives. The first is that while Labour has a bumper economy week underway, it does not feel sufficiently confident to attack the Conservatives on this issue in an aggressive forum like PMQs. This is probably quite sensible, given the attack that Cameron launched towards the end of the session on Ed Balls. Looking very chipper indeed, the PM said:

‘What is my idea of fun? It is not hanging out with the Shadow Chancellor! That is my idea of fun! And so, I feel sorry for the leader of the Opposition because he has to hang out with him all of the time. What a miserable existence it must be to have sitting next to you the person who wrecked the British economy, and have to listen to them, day after day, day after day, as they say to the British people, we’re the people who crashed the car: give us the keys back!’

The Prime Minister had already ridiculed Miliband's struggle with jobs figures, accusing him of talking down the economy and quoting party figures who worry Labour remains 'anti-business'. But he seemed quite content to go along with the NHS stat attack that Ed Miliband launched as his preferred focus for this session. Cameron's tactic was largely to answer Miliband's questions using different figures which he claimed showed the NHS was improving, and to claim credit for the Commonwealth Fund rating the NHS the best healthcare system in the world. Andy Burnham later used a point of order to accuse him not just of answering the questions with unrelated statistics, but of getting the stats themselves wrong.

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