David Blackburn

PMQs Live Blog | 14 October 2009

PMQs Live Blog | 14 October 2009
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So Parliament is back, and so, too, is PMQs.  Stay tuned for live coverage from 1200.

12:02: And we're off. Brown pays his respects to those who have lost their lives in Afghanistan and lists their names. Very sombre and he has pitched it right. There are a lot of names; it takes five minutes to read them. It's extremely moving.

12:06: Ann Winterton on the Lisbon Treaty. Brown replies by praising the troops in Afghanistan - over doing it as ever. Swipes the sovereignty aside.

12:07: Tony Wright: "Is it more dangerous when politicians become generals, or generals become politicians".

12:08: Now Cameron's on his feet. A question about the 'military covenant' - General Dannatt's chief bugbear. Brown waffles, taking two minutes to dispense platitudes about the forthcoming White Paper. Nothing about the injury payment though.

12:11: Cameron what's been done for wounded former servicemen as they get older, especially to avoid suicides among former servicemen in the future? Brown praises the improvements made, notably at Headley Court and Sellyoak. Fair enough on that point - but the court case and the defence review still hold against the government on this. The atmosphere is akin to a morgue.

12:14: Cameron twists the knife slowly about the government's cuts for the TA. Cameron is slowly winning this debate. Brown's claims that all troops being sent to Afghanistan will receive adequate training are demolished by the fact that various TA soldiers being deployed without adequate support. Brown flaps, defending the indefensible. Cameron sits down.

12:17: Brown much more effective in replying to a Labour plant, praising 100 years of the Girl Guides. Dear God.

12:18: Clegg opens up by condeming the corrupt Karzai government. Clegg wants answers and after a calamitous conference he needs to pack a punch.

Brown hopes that Clegg will wait for the UN-Afghan report into corruption. Brown says it's remarkable that the Afghans could hold their own elections amid insurgency - it isn't because they didn't.

12:21: Clegg re-states the question; Brown repeats his answer. Missed opportunity for Clegg.

12:24: Lib Dem Steve Webb on the 2.4% pension rise. The elderly will be worse off. Brown says he's detrimined to do his best and gives some tractor stats. Same old Gordon.

12:26 Peter Bottomley desires action over the Trafigura injunction. Brown says that Straw is looking into the issue. Murmurs of discontent around the chamber - nothing like Parliamentary Privilege being subverted to rile them. Neither Brown, nor Bottomley have mentioned libel laws - early days on this issue though.

12:29: Interesting riposte to Ken Clarke's conference small business plans. SDLP's Alistair MacDonald says that lending has got worse and that banks aren't lending. Brown's answer is to throw money, not to release small businesses from regulation. "It depends on our willingness to spend to protect recovery". Expect more of that.

12:32: Brown is asked about former servicemen in prison. Brown doesn't know the figure. I can tell him that it stands at 20,000, according to The Times - nearly twice what it was in 1997. Brown and New Labour on the dock for that.

12:33: A Labour plant about poverty. Brown lays into the Conservatives' claim to the progressive argument on the grounds that you can't do that with cuts. Blah, blah, blah, blah: "let's do the time warp again!"

12:35: Michael Spicer asks if the PM will soldier on to the bitter end. He says he will...

Brown makes a statement on Afghanistan and Pakistan to follow...

Verdict: Back to business without a bang. The old dividing lines are in place and that is an argument that the Conservatives will win. Brown bored all tears, and Clegg was as pointed as a broken pencil. By contrast, Cameron gave a well executed attack on Defence - an area that the government cannot win on.