James Forsyth

Tories push benefit cap in PMQs, Miliband ignores it

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As expected, the Tories did everything they could to make the benefit cap the subject of PMQs. One Tory MP managed to slip in a question on it just before Miliband got up, allowing Cameron to press the Labour leader on the issue even before he had started speaking.

Tory MPs kept coming back to the benefit cap — there were five questions on it in all — allowing Cameron to repeatedly mock the Labour front bench for not saying what its position is. ‘Just nod — are you with us or against us?’ was one of the lines Cameron tried to goad them with.

But in the main clashes between the two leaders, which were on top pay and the NHS, Miliband actually did pretty well. He caused Cameron some discomfort on the question of why the government weren’t using their power to make the banks declare how many people earn more than a million pounds. When it came to the NHS reforms, the Treasury bench seemed to slouch — knowing what was coming. Cameron read out a long quote from Tony Blair to justify the reforms but it didn’t quite work in the chamber.

In keeping with what seems to happen almost every week, there’s a bit of a flap on about one of Cameron’s jokes. There’s chuntering that Cameron’s ‘Baldemort’ reference to Liam Byrne was a bit below the belt. But everyone should calm down. If Cameron is an electorally successful Prime Minister, the Labour benches will have plenty of time to throw bald jokes at Cameron and find out whether he can take them as well as dish ‘em out.