James Forsyth James Forsyth

Miliband relieves the pressure

After last week’s performance and this weekend’s headlines, Ed Miliband needed a win at PMQs — and he got one. Knowing that David Cameron would attack him over the fact Labour will vote against the welfare reform bill this week, Miliband had a string of questions for the Prime Minister on the detail of the bill and whether people recovering from cancer would lose the contributory element of their benefits. The issue was both wonky and emotive.

The fact the questions were about cancer meant that Cameron couldn’t deliver his usual string of put downs to Miliband. Indeed, when one Tory backbencher heckled him, the Labour leader shot back that ‘it’s a disgrace that Conservative members are shouting as we talk about cancer.’ By the end of the session, Miliband had scored a clear points victory as Cameron struggled to answer his detailed, technical question.

Miliband and his team clearly knew what was at stake today. He was flanked on the front bench by the Blairite Tessa Jowell and Douglas Alexander, who ran David Miliband’s leadership campaign. As Miliband sat there listening to Cameron’s responses to his questions, he had to grip his own knee to stop his leg from shaking. But by the end of it, Miliband had got through a session that looked set to be as awkward for him as last week’s should have been for Cameron.  

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