Today’s PMQs saw Ed Miliband reprise the attack used by Tony Blair on John Major during the dying days of Major’s leadership. In 1997, Tony Blair slammed John Major on his failure to unite the party over Europe and project a consistent message to the public.
“Isn’t it extraordinary that the prime minister of our country can’t even urge his party to support his own position? Weak, weak, weak!”
Today, some 15 years later, the Tories still haven’t solved the problem, with Cameron now struggling to rein in his party over Europe. Miliband jumped at the chance to reminisce:
“Last year, he flouted out the negotiations with a veto… he can’t convince European leaders, he can’t even convince his own backbenchers – he’s weak aboard, he’s weak at home, it’s John Major all over again.”
One crucial difference between the Tory pair: Major actually won an election.
There was a new addition to this year’s guest list for Labour’s summer press reception, where the usual crowd of perpetually thirsty lobby hacks were joined by Messrs Paul Staines and Harry Cole of Guido Fawkes fame.
Ed Miliband’s five-minute chat with Guido – flanked by his press enforcer, ex-Mirror man Bob Roberts — is a marked improvement from the terms on which previous Labour leaders engaged with the blogosphere in general and right-wing bloggers in particular.
According to former Number 10 pollster Deborah Mattinson, she was once harangued by Gordon Brown while brandishing a print out from Order-Order.com.
Miliband’s opponents on both sides of the chamber were hoping that today would be the moment things got very sticky for the Labour leader (see this cartoon from ConHome).
But with the SNP failing to snatch Glasgow City Council and and Ken Livingstone’s defeat balanced by a strong showing on the London Assembly, Miliband-aligned Labour sources are digging their heels in: “None of those looking to destabilise Ed can deliver the change the party needs.”
In perhaps the most effective thing that Ed Miliband’s team have done with his Twitter account, the opposition leader’s team have helped to push an e-petition against the Health Bill such that it has gained 12,000 signatures in one day (click here to sign).
But as ever collectivism is key and a fair portion of these signatures are likely to be the work of campaign group 38 Degrees, who have today also asked their members to sign the petition.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on social media, our nation’s prime minister is disseminating cat photos:
Perhaps Cameron should get his priorities straight.
A “Doncaster” doctor used by David Cameron to promote his health reforms yesterday has quit his commissioning groupand doesn’t even live in Doncaster. The prime minister attempted to embarrass Miliband at PMQs by quoting a medical worker supposedly from his own constituency:
Speaking as acting chairman of the Doncaster pathfinder CCG he said this: ”Becoming one of the first national pathfinding areas is a real boost for Doncaster” … I think what is good for Doncaster is good for the rest of the NHS too.”
But the health profession magazine GP magazine has revealed that Dr Conner was no longer chairman of the commissioning group — at the cornerstone of Andrew Lansley’s controversial reforms — and had actually left the area.
With temperatures barely above zero in the canton of Graubünden, Ed Miliband was determined that his tailoring shouldn’t go to waste earlier this afternoon — shunning a much-required coat while conducting interviews.