Peter Hoskin

PMQs live blog | 6 May 2009

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Live coverage from 1200.

1201:
And we're off.  The DUP's Gregory Campbell asks what further assistance Brown can offer the devlved regions to help them during the recession.  Brown: "We will continue to offer real help now".

1203:
Cameron kicks off: "A series of U-turns...".  Then asks whether these are "signs" that the "government is in terminally in decline".  Brown responds angrily, saying that Cameron doesn't ask questions about the economy and reduces things to "personality".

1205: Woah, this has become angry quickly.  Cameron says that Brown doesn't realise it is about him: "Your failure to reform public services; your failure to handle the deficit..."  Brown reponds that the worst thing to do would be to "follow the Tories".

1207:
Cameron proceeds at a rat-a-tat pace.  Now he's reading extracts from Hazel Blears' infamous YouTube article.

1208: Brown says that the biggest U-turn was Cameron reneging on his promise (and rightly so) to match the Government's public spending.  Brown's sticking to his main "investment v cuts" dividing line, while hoping no-one notices the hidden cuts written into the Budget.

1209: Incisive quip from Cameron: "I'm sure that sounded just great in the bunker, while the mobile phones were flying."  He then demands a general election.  This is fiery stuff, and there's plenty of noise coming from the benches.

1211: Brown says it explicitly: "We'd invest; they'd cut.  This is the main dividing line between the parties."

1212: Now it's Clegg's turn.  He lays into Brown's speech on education yesterday, questioning Labour's record on schooling.

1213: Brown responds by citing "increased investment".  No surprise there, then.

1214:
And now Clegg's getting angry. "Isn't there a point when stubborness becomes stupidity?" he asks.  When the Labour benches groan, Clegg retorts: "At least I say it to his face."

1215: Nice planted question from Kevin Barron.  Opportunity for Brown to practice his "investment" shtick.

1217:
Even by Brown's standard's, he's laying on the "investment vs cuts" rhetoric on thick.  Almost every backbench question has been answered with reference to that good ol' dividing line.

1220: The Tory strategy is clear - to highlight the mess that Brown is in.   One backbencher (I missed who) brings up the Downing St petition calling for Brown to resign.  He responds in a similar manner to how he responded to Cameron: saying that the Tories aren't asking questions on policy. "I am ashamed by how they are treating the Commons".

1222: Brown: "Has any question time revealed the hollowness of the Conservatives as this one today?"

1224: To be honest, Brown has seemed quite calm amid the tumult.  He's enjoying the charge that the Tories are asking about policy.

1226: IDS says that "we owe a debt of gratitude to the Gurkhas," and asks whether the Government will be bound by the terms of the Gurkha vote last week.  Brown responds by saying that "We will listen to the voice of the House as it was expressed last Wednesday ... we will come back to the House with a statement."

1230: And Brown signs off with a final dig at the Tories and how they "encourage cuts, rather than the investment that our public services need."  That's it for another week.

VERDICT: There was plenty of bluster in PMQs today, with Cameron and Clegg both looking to highlight the mess that Brown is in.  To my mind, it backfired.  Brown seemed comfortable dealing with the attack, and loved deploying the charge that the Tories are more concerned with "tittle-tattle" than "policy".  Sure, he doesn't answer questions and he's utterly disingeuous - but, on this occasion, the PM came out on top.