David Blackburn

PMQs Live Blog | 4 November 2009

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Stay tuned for live coverage from 1200.

1159: Still waiting for the main event.  

12:02: And we're off, Brown paying tribute to the 5 soldiers killed and those injured by the rogue Afghan policeman.

12:04: Labour's Jamie Reid asks for the end of the postcode lottery on cancer screening. Brown says he will and launches an attack on Andrew Lansley - Ha! ha! Speaker Bercow, the Labour puppet-speaker tells him to be quiet.

12:05: Here's Cameron - what does the incident in Afghanistan say about our mentoring strategy and security in Afghanistan?

Good, perhaps a change of policy is finally being recognised.

Not by Brown at any rate - sticking to this is a rogue problem.

12:07: Cameron agrees, but says that the public will be concerned that our troops are not being safeguarded against such fifth columnists. Pointed question to which Brown has no specific answer - it is essential that we are NOT SEEN as an occupying army and we're stepping up our co-operation. Hasn't answered the question about the infilitration of a corrupt and inefficient organisation. Brown doesn't grasp the thrust of the question - wait for the review is the answer.

12:10: Cameron calls for stronger economic and social support behind the military efforts of the coalition. Calling for a single strong man to work with the UN, the coalition and Karzai's government.

Brown talks about corruption within Karzai's government, which he assures will stop, which in view of the men who helped secure Karzai's victory is a fantasy. He says that the move from heroin to wheat production in Helmand has been successful, which is far from certain but at least effort is being made.

12:12: Both Cameron and Brown call for the adoption of Kelly's recommendations in full. Why Cameron didn't raise the issue of the government, referenda and Lisbon defeats me - he should take the attack to the government and not be afraid about confronting European issues.

12:14: David Blunkett asks a plant about trusting a leader who reneges on "cast iron guarantees". It backfires because Bercow is on fire - "Can the Prime Minister tailor his answer to government policy", which as I understand it comprised the rejection of a cast-iron manifesto pledge. Brown can't make the attack stick - as I wrote yesterday, Labour's line on this will not work.

12:16: Clegg asks two questions suggesting that the problem in Afghanistan stems from the corrupt Karzai government. The Prime Minister assures Clegg that all will be better in the future. The two had this exact exchange three weeks ago and Brown assured Clegg that all would be better following the Afghan electoral commission's findings, which were delivered two weeks ago.

12:18-22: Succession of hilarious plants congratulating Brown about keeping his "cast iron guarantees" - if you excuse the pun, it's so laboured.

12:23: Praise for last week's Youth Parliament and Brown says he supports reducing the voting age to 16.

It's very tame session this.

12:25: Monmouth Tory David Davies wants more information about servicemen wounded in Afghanistan and their compensation.

12:26: Here come some Reliant Robin Statistics about the car scrappage scheme. Brown says it's a success and vindicates his scrappage scheme. Read Mark Bathgate on these pages for the alternative view.

12:29: Very interesting question from Lib Dem Will Rennie about Rossyth Dockyard becoming a Nuclear Graveyard for decommissioned subs - something that Brown specifically promised would not happen. Brown's repsonse is that without this government there wouldn't be a Rossyth Docks without this government - exactly Gordon.

12:30: Question about the worth of Afghan police and ANA - this tragic incident finally seems to have awakened supine minds.

12:32: Dr Ian Taylor wanst an assurance that scientists bearing politically difficult advice will not be shot. Brown supports Johnson. Harman's statement to follow.

VERDICT: Difficult day for Cameron with all the "cast-iron" nonsense, but he made some legitimate points about strategy in Afghanistan. Cameron should have asked a question about the government reneging on its manifesto referendum pledge, poor planning. For once I thought Clegg was more effective.

Generally, the House seems to have woken up to the fact that there is very serious strategic and tactical errors being made; understandably, in view of this morning's news, the issue domianted the debate.