David Blackburn

PMQs Live Blog | 11 November 2009

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Stay tuned for live coverage from 1500.

Later than usual this week because PMQs was pushed back as a mark of respect for Armistice Day. Serving soldiers are in the gallery to watch proceedings. I'm interested to hear Coffee Housers' thoughts on all this.

15:04: Brown opens up by paying tribute to the Great War generation and succeeding generations of servicemen and now he reads the butcher's bill. Tragically, this is becoming an expert way of wasting time.

15:05: Ann Begg asks about military equipment and a possible surge. Brown reiterates that he has pledged to send more troops and they will be fully equipped. Brown says that Obama will make the announcement in a few days. Lots about the strategy that will not change.

15:07: Here's Cameron. 20% Youth unemployment  - the government have failed. Brown defends the record, despite the leaks about cuts that were made last week. Then, staggeringly, Brown says the figures include 250,000 students. Oh dear.

Cameron points to failures - Germany and France have nearly half a million fewer unemployed young people. Cameron playing the One Nation progressive card to good effect; the government has palpably failed. Brown defends by attacking the Tories' proposals, ie those drawn up by former government advisor David Freud. Can't see that one running.

15:12: Cameron in full flow now and its damaging. Here comes the leaked unemployment cuts - Cameron says that Brown's pledges about investment are disingenuous because of the mess he's made of the public finances. 

15:14: Brown defends saying Cameron hasn't got a clue, which is rich. Cameron keeps on the disingenuous point and that Brown is planning cuts next year, lots of savage asides as well and Brown is floundering and the atmosphere is raucous for the first time this session. Brown does not answer the question - no commitment and convictions; expect cuts, though no one believed Brown's line in any event. Cameron wiped the floor. 

15:18: Shoneigh MacIsaac introduces her admirable war memorials proposal - the house seems in agreement.

15:20: Each of the three party leaders have listed the war dead. I understand the need to respect the fallen, but is this really necessary.

15:20: Why is Labour cutting housing allowances? Good question. Brown says he doesn't believe the figures which show that 300,000 of the poorest in society will lose out so that the Treasury could save £175m.

Clegg says that's funny because they're Brown's figures. Brown says he's protecting the poor and reminds Clegg about his "savage cuts comment". Advantage Clegg I think because that cut is certainly official - it was leaked months ago. More evidence of the government's disingenuousness about cuts and investment.

15:22: A Labour backbencher recommends the introduction of a Tobin tax. Well, blow me, Brown responds with "This is the first time that he has agreed with my economic policy". Well that's rather witty, but also very revealing - Brown actually wants this dangerous tax. I wonder why...

15:25 Tory Tim Laughton says 60% of local authorities are failing to recruit and maintain childcare staff. PM replies all that Lord Laming's report into child protection was accepted in full.

15:27: Eurosceptic Independent MP Andrew Pelling, a former Tory, wants an EU referendum. Brown takes this to be the real voice of the Tory party

15:29: Elliot Morley with a plant about the fiscal stimulus and how it has helped manufacturing jobs in Grimsby. The Spectator has obtained an FOI request on this and the results are intriguing, more later.

Verdict: Brown is caught in a self-imposed Catch 22. He cannot admit that cuts are being planned for next year because that would be a recognition of economic mismanagement on his part and break his vote winning conceit about investment. But his credibility is being demolished by a succession of leaks that prove he's been planning cuts prior to the last budget. Cameron, and Clegg, pointed these out with real drive and Brown had no answer. The opposition won hands down.