Published on October 16th, 2013 |
by Oliver Campbell
Image © The Prime Minister en route to the G8 and G20 summits in Canada, 24 June 2010; Crown copyright
Prime Minister’s Questions: Party Direction is Becoming Clear
Prime Minister’s Questions were back again today and with it the hilarious, yet outrageously pompous, quips. Last week in response to Ed Balls’ remark that Labour’s election campaign depended on their proven track record, Cameron stated that it was ‘like the captain of the Titanic running on his safety record’. However this week it was the Labour leader Ed Miliband who took the quip of the day. In exposing the Tories reversal on supporting green energy, Miliband described David Cameron as going ‘from hug a husky to gas a badger’. Now there’s a satirical cartoon waiting to happen.
However behind all this tomfoolery, a clear discourse is fixing itself in place as preparations for the election campaign begin to get underway. Miliband declared last week how there was a ‘cost of living crisis’ and after todays PMQ’s it is clear that this is the issue that Labour will concentrate on in their election campaign.
The leader of the Labour party stated how the coalition government was not doing enough to counter this problem, a problem created by the fall of the real wage. Gareth Thomas, MP for Harrow West, gave further ammunition to this argument, describing how ‘Under this government wages in real terms have fallen in every region of the UK’ with those in London being ‘£2,200 worse off each year’. These statistics make for worrying reading and it is clear that this is a problem that needs solving.
David Cameron reacted, declaring that his cut in taxes had helped to solve the problem. He then went on to say how ‘you can only cut taxes if you cut spending’ which they have done, lifting 1 million people out of taxes. This seems impressive, however it is only part of the picture. These income tax reliefs have seen a reduction of £700 for the average person, while people on the minimum wage are still taxed. With the London numbers and this then, it does seem that poorer families are still worse off, hinting that more is needed to be done about the cost of living.
This weeks PMQ’s has therefore given an insight into the divisions that lie between the Labour and Conservative parties, setting up a platform for debate as we move closer towards 2014. Today’s PMQ’s also discussed ‘Plebgate’, a story that is once again in the spotlight due to the police officers involved not being punished, despite Andrew Mitchell’s apparent innocence. With both sides of government calling for action this is a story that will make for interesting reading over the next few weeks, especially with the Police already being under scrutiny as the Mark Duggan case continues.
However it is the cost of living problem that will dominate parliamentary discussion in the near future. Holes are forming in the arguments of both sides. Ed Miliband testifies to being the savior of the cost of living crisis, however can he really hope to deliver an energy freeze? Alongside this, if taxes do rise under him then that is surely exacerbating the situation? Meanwhile David Cameron remains committed to cutting public spending despite rising energy bills and a fall in the real wage. This is worrying as the winter months loom, with poorer homes being forced to turn off the heat for longer, which will no doubt result in more people in hospital, damaging an already stretched NHS. This debate is therefore far from over.