PMQs: A not-so-merry Christmas for Miliband

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 14 December 2011 in Diary
In the last PMQs before Christmas, the prime minister rolled out some festive ferocity

Today, Ed Miliband was a broken string of fairy lights compared to David Cameron's star at the top of the Christmas tree.

In the last PMQs before the Christmas break, the quips and the one-liners dominated - and the prime minister was feeling festively ferocious.

The leader of the Labour Party presented his first question as an end-of-year report.

"As this is the last prime minister's questions of the year, let me remind the prime minister what he had to say in his new year's message of 2011," said Miliband.

"He said this: 'Uppermost in my mind as we enter the new year is jobs.' In light of today's unemployment figures, can he explain what's gone wrong?"

David Cameron played a straight bat on this one. "Any increase in unemployment is bad news," he said. "We'll do everything we can to help people back into work."

"Youth unemployment remains over a million and is still rising," tutted Miliband. "Isn't the reality that he's betraying a whole generation of young people?"

It was around this point that Santa Cameron stopped handing out presents and reached into his bag for the coal.

"Even his brother admitted the other day that youth unemployment was not a problem invented by this government," the PM said, dropping the D-Mili-bomb. "It's been going up since 2004."

Ed Miliband didn't rise to it the first time. "The truth is that his promises for next year are as useless as the promises he made in 2011," he ploughed on. "Let's turn to his broken promises on the coalition. And let me say, it's good to see the deputy prime minister..."

His sentence was drowned out however. Backbenchers had started shouting at Ed Miliband, "Where's his brother?"

And Cameron was listening to their cries.

"No one in this House is going to be surprised that Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don't always agree about Europe," he said. "[Ed Miliband] shouldn't believe everything he reads in the papers. It's not that bad. It's not like we're brothers or anything."

The chamber roared for over 10 seconds in appreciation at this quip. I was counting.

Miliband tried his ace card - a joke about the Cameron-Clegg marriage.

"I think our sympathy is with the deputy prime minister," he said. "His partner goes on a business trip. He's left waiting by the phone. And he hears nothing until a rambling phone call at 4am confessing to a terrible mistake. Now let me ask him, how is he going to pick up the pieces for the bad deal he delivered for Britain?"

He added: "This prime minister thinks he is born to rule. The truth is he's just not very good at it."

But Cameron was on a roll. "Even his soundbite is recycled from a previous PMQs. This leader of the Labour Party makes weakness and indecision an art form.... He has achieved one thing. He has completely united his party. Every single one of them has asked Santa for the same thing: a new leader for Christmas."

We all expect some family arguments over the festive period. Cameron brushed his problems with Clegg aside. But Ed Miliband's familial disputes have lasted beyond the turkey lunch.

He walked straight into the 'absent brother' joke - and not for the first time.

When it comes to David Miliband, Ed is treading on glass baubles. A year on, it's still excruciating to watch.

For Cameron, the Milibands are the gift that keeps on giving.

Tags: David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Prime Minister's Questions

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