This week saw the leaders return for the final PMQs of the year, where the hot topic was the NHS. Leonie Martin watched it so you don’t have to.
The final PMQs session of 2015 saw the return of party leaders, who kicked off this week’s session by wishing each other a happy Christmas….and then arguing about it.
Jeremy Corbyn asked a series of ineffective questions which left him unequipped to pressure the PM on the usually comfortable Labour territory of health. Cameron, who made several attempts to change the subject, was able to deploy his usual ammunition of falling unemployment figures and a ‘strong economy’, with little rebuttal from the opposition leader.
More a lack of an adequate opponent rather than a confident offensive, Cameron takes the win this week by a whisker.
Issue of the week
Corbyn devoted all six of his questions to NHS-related issues this week, questioning Cameron about the government’s decision to quietly axe the publication of NHS performance data, contrasting this with Cameron’s previous comments about transparency and the ‘power of information’. Corbyn followed this by stating that the number of days that patients spend in hospital has doubled because there is nowhere safe to discharge them.
These attempts to land a blow on Cameron were somewhat defused by his claim that the average time spent in hospital has fallen from five and a half to five days since he became Prime Minister. He also added that the number of operations and outpatient appointments made per day has risen. The Tory benches erupted as Cameron jibed ‘we kept our promises on the NHS’.
Whilst Cameron had answers on the NHS, they weren’t especially good and after Eagle’s impressive performance in the battle of the deputies last week, Labour supporters may find it worrying that their leader is once again unable to effectively corner Cameron on what should be safe ground.
A significantly less rowdy (and arguably less interesting) PMQs compared to last week, Corbyn received his first positive reaction when stepping up to the dispatch box. The cheers were a far cry, however, in both volume and magnitude than those of what Angela Eagle received last week.
It was one of Cameron’s former Deputy Chief of Staff, Oliver Dowden’s first time taking the stage at this week’s PMQ’s. After speaking of the importance of the British film industry, making reference to the star wars franchise which began at Elstree studios in his constituency, Cameron made a wince-inducing gag about his staffer “never joining the ‘dark side’”.
It was Corporate King (or clown) Donald Trump himself this week who got a mention. Labour’s Tulip Siddiq blasted Donald Trump saying he should be banned from Britain because he is ‘not conducive to the public good’. Cameron, answered by saying that he thought Trump’s remarks were “divisive, stupid and wrong and I think if he came to visit our country I think he’d unite us all against him.”
Joke of the week
Cameron’s comment about Labour’s seemingly contradictory policies on keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and also reopening of coal mines, undoubtedly takes the crown this week. “Presumably what they’re going to do is dig a big hole in the ground then sit there and do nothing.”
In 140 characters
Cameron edges the win over an uninspiring Corbyn in a flat last PMQs of the year #overandout