David Blackburn

PMQS live blog

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VERDICT: A rowdy session, but constructive. Miliband went for the Big Society, which is in severe difficulty at present. He was very effective, but his attacks lacked absolute coherence. He failed to establish a link between his examples and his wider political point that the agenda is mere packaging for latent libertarianism. So, Cameron had enough wriggle room to repulse Miliband and was able to launch his own attacks on the Labour leader's irresponsible opportunism, and he also savaged Liverpool Council's reactionary politicking. Both leaders had good lines and were deft on their feet, as point was met by counter-point. Their supporters were in full voice too, sufficient to allow the quibbling Speaker to intervene and re-assert himself after last week's wife-related incident. All in all it was a high scoring draw, but Miliband will be the happier of the two. 

12:34: Tory backbencher Priti Patel raises tonight's prisoner voting rights debate; she asks if parliament will have the final say. Cameron is non-committal. That's at least four or five hostile questions from the Tory backbenches, others involving AV, local hospital closures and control orders - was it coordinated?

12:30: Cameron responds to Labour's earlier assault on his law and order policy by attacking the previous government's record on knife crime, which he pledges to tackle - despite the Brook Kinsella furore earlier this month.

12:28: Cameron uses the opportunity to 'bust some myths' about the forestry consultation: it will not allow the sale of forestry without guarantees and rights of way will be protected. All well and good, but the Big Society aspect of this idea seems to have dropped.

12:25: A Labour backbencher points out the government has softened policing pledges, terrorism legislation and anti-social behaviour. It's a reminder of the government's vulnerability on law and order, and of the Labour's intent to outflank the Tories. Andy Coulson would never have allowed it.

12:20: Sombre backbench questions for the most part, but Julian Lewis, the sometimes dissenting Tory MP, using a closed question to attack the Lib Dem's 'boasting' about delaying the renewal of Trident. Cameron says his government is committed to renewing the nuclear deterrent.

12:16: Miliband replies: 'He should not be so angry, it will cloud his judgement. And that's not the first Prime Minister I've said that to.' Cameron's rises to the debate by banging on about Labour's baleful record and deficit denial, which sligthly undoes his earlier good work. His rehearsed and unoriginal line: the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem' has a slightly braying quality to it.

12:15: Bercow has to intervene as the Tories get behind Cameron. Miliband now reverts back to the attack line that Cameron's cuts are making 'society weaker'. It's a sharp line, but Cameron has an excellent response. Liverpool Council, the errant council that left his Big Society vanguard project, will have its funding returned to the levels of 2009 by 2013. This whole campaign, Cameron insists, is nakedly political and Miliband should stop being opportunistic and fight his councillors like the responsible Labour leaders of the past did. This is compelling viewing and the protagonists are combative without being bombastic.

12:11: Quiet man Miliband has turned up the volume on the 'nasty party' and his party is in joyous mood. Armed with the LGA's leaked email about its lack of faith in Eric Pickles, Miliband asserts that the country and its local representatives are not with the government's baldly ideological programme. He also cites David Davis' quip about the Big Society being a Mother Theresan cover for rolling back the state. Cameron urges Miliband to get off the bandwagon and get behind society, a firm answer

12:09: He moves on to Sure Start, Cameron responds well here (and he needed a firm riposte) by pointing out that the director of Sure Start is behind his proposal. Cameron then has another dig at Miliband's position on banks.

12:06: Miliband raises the ghost of Dame Elisabeth Hoodless and the shortage of funding for voluntary groups. Cameron responds by listing how he is protecting the funding of voluntary groups, and then segues into banks, hoping to deflect Miliband's confident start. The deal with the banks, Cameron says, will allow the Big Society Bank to raid £200m in addition to those from dormant bank accounts.

12:05: Miliband rises to his feet wearing a wry smile. 'How is the Big Society going?' He asks. Cameron defends his passion for 'thriving communities'. Even so far, but Miliband's far from finished.

12:02: We're underway. After remembering the recent dead in Afghanistan, a question from Lib Dem Roger Williams: he asks if foreign students will be put off by tuition fees and immigration changes. Cameron responds with a mesh of statistics, whilst defending his policy of clamping down on bogus colleges.

11:50: Stay tuned for coverage from 12:00