Peter Hoskin

PMQs Live Blog | 28 October 2009

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Stay tuned for live coverage from 1200.

1159: Still waiting for the main event.  You can watch it here, by the way.

1203: And we're off.  Brown starts by paying tribute to British troops in Afghanistan, as well as aid workers killed in Kabul

1204: First question from Stephen Hepburn on whether pleural plaque victims will get compensation.

Here's Cameron now.  As expected, he leads on Brown's embarrassing U-turn of TA cuts; an issue the Tories have been pushing for the past couple of weeks.  Cameron asks hopw Brown could have thought about cutting training during wartime.

1206: Strange.  Brown responds by repeating his condolences - it's basically a carbon copy of his opening statement.  Seems like he's using it to defuse Cameron's point.

1207: Brown's response is that he's taken another look at the numbers and decided that ... yada, yada, yada.

1208: Cameron's going for the jugular, saying that the Opposition forced the government's hand.  "Why does this Prime Minister get everything wrong."

1209: Brown hits back, saying that the Tories have the "wrong policies" for the recession.  Erm, I think that's rather set Cameron up...

1210: And, yes, Cameron brings up the fact that we're still in recession.  He deploys one of his favourite PMQs questions: "Will the PM confirm that he was wrong to say 'no more boom and bust'"

1211: This is fertile territory for Cameron.  He's now quoting Brown saying that "we're leading the world out of recession"; that "we're coming out of recession" etc.

1212: Brown's continuing with the "Tories got it wrong theme".  He's actually on unusually fiery form, but it won't play well against the backdrop of continued recession.  Cameron has the upperhand on this topic.

1213: Brown: "They were wrong on the VAT cut, wrong on ... wrong ... wrong ... wrong."  The Labour benches are cheering loudly, but I suspect this will come across as arrogant in the face of the GDP figures.

1214: Erm, I don't think Brown meant to say this: "[The Tories] have no ideas for getting us out of growth."  I should hope not.

1216: Here's Clegg, and he leads on climate change, asking how Brown would characterise Labour's record on this.  Brown responds with claims about what will be achieved in Copnehagen.

1217: Brown says that Brown's record on climate change is rubbish.  The attack isn't quite hitting home.

1219: Question on 200,000 grandparents who look after their grandchildren.

1220: On Afghanistan, Brown says that a long-term aim is to "split the Taliban ideologues from the rest".  Overall goal is to boost Afghanistan's military and police capacity, so that British troop numbers can be reduced.

1221: Bob Spink asks Brown to "continue his honourable support of the Gurkhas" by looking at their pension rights.  Brown says he will give it some attentions.  Pays tribute to the Royal British Legion.

1223: Daniel Kawczynski asks why Brown is leaving it to the Scottish to deal with inquiries into the Lockerbie bombing.  Brown stresses that al-Megrahi is still regarded as a "terrorist" in the law's eyes.

1224: Planted question from Chris Ruane on the Tories' grouping in the European Parliament.  Allows Brown to expound about "out of touch" Tories.

Cheeky question on an EU President.  Brown says that if Lisbon goes through, and if Blair puts himself forward for the role, "we will support him".

1226: Tom Watson says that consumers are being ripped off by phone companies and their hidden charges.  Brown says that OFCOM is investigating.

1228: Questions on the climate change talks in Copenhagen.

First mention of expenses.  Stuart Bell asks what the "next steps" are, once the Kelly Review is released.  Brown says that it will be "a matter for the House" to implement it - presumably referring to the vote that MPs will have on the proposals.

1231: After another question on climate change, Brown tries to caricature the Tories' views: "they're against wind turbines ... they're against nuclear power".  And so on.

1233: And that's it.  Verdict shortly.

VERDICT: A PMQs to demonstrate just how disastrous the prolonged recession is for Brown.  To be honest, the PM was in punchier form than usual today, while Cameron put in an effective performance without quite soaring.  But it didn't matter: the simple fact that we're still in a downturn undermined everything that Brown said, and made him seem equal parts arrogant and complacent.  It's almost getting to the point where Cameron needn't turn up.  Brown is getting defeated by circumstances; the rhetoric is superfluous.