The Independent is reporting that the final Prime Ministers questions before Christmas descended into a trading of insults between David Cameron and the Leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband.
There was a distinct lack of the season’s goodwill in the House of Commons, as David Cameron called Ed Miliband a “waste of space.”
Labour leader Miliband had accused Prime Minister Cameron of “giving up on compassionate conservatism” and exposing the Tories for “who they really are” as he attacked Cameron’s record.
Both politicians appeared to abandon policy entirely and opt for personal attacks in a vicious exchange of insults and bad jokes.
Miliband had said the following.
“You have lost two MPs to Ukip, you lost 26 in Europe and you brought a whole new meaning to the phrase conviction politician when Andy Coulson (Cameron’s Press Officer) went to jail.”
Cameron retorted thus.
“I almost felt sorry for Labour MPs before attempting a joke about a ‘silent night’ for the opposition.”
“I have to say I almost feel sorry for Labour MPs — they can’t talk about the deficit because it has fallen,” he said.
“They can’t talk about growth because it is rising, they can’t talk about jobs because we are increasing them, they can’t talk about immigration because they have been told not to talk about immigration.”
“They can’t talk about their leader because he is a complete waste of space. No wonder for Labour MPs this year it’s a silent night.”
The spat even continued on Twitter as the respective party press offices traded insults.
Despite Prime Minister Cameron’s insults, the New Statesman felt that Mr. Miliband had come out of the exchange well by pointing out the Office Of Budget Responsibilities comments that Cameron’s austerity measures would mean that public spending would fall to its lowest level since the 1930s.
As Parliament goes into recess for the Christmas break, both Cameron and Miliband will have considerable thinking and planning to do as the campaign for the May 2015 election gets under way. Parliamentary spats such as this, played out in front of the television cameras, will do little to reassure voters who seemingly have little time for traditional politics.
Reuters today highlighted the scale of the problem faced by both Cameron and Miliband as they claim “rising support for nationalist and single-issue parties is threatening to plunge Britain into unaccustomed political instability.” Reuters continued that voters are attracted by “formerly fringe groups that are now challenging the already declining power of the traditional two-party system, attracting Britons who feel betrayed and ignored by what they regard as a remote political class.”
In England, the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP) is siphoning off support from Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives; in Scotland, nationalists have turned defeat in an independence referendum into a comeback that threatens Miliband’s Labour party.
The rise of UKIP, the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Green Party and others makes the outcome of next May’s parliamentary election hard to predict.
It all points to a very interesting few months in British politics. We are unlikely to have seen the last of the insults between Cameron and Miliband.