PMQs review: Miliband triumphs over the "comedians in the cabinet"

A brilliant Jimmy Carr joke made this an easy win for Miliband.

After Chloe Smith's disastrous interview on Newsnight last night, today's PMQs saw David Cameron suffer his own car-crash moment. In response to the government's latest U-turn on fuel duty, Ed Miliband dug out a brilliant quote from Cameron in which the Prime Minister declared that he would defend "every part" of the Budget having worked on it "line-by-line" with George Osborne. Cameron's response that "it cannot be a U-turn to get rid of a Labour tax increase" fell rather flat because it was a Tory one. He went on to boast that he had "defused" Labour's tax bombshells, rather forgetting his own "VAT bombshell" (in the words of the Lib Dems).

Today wasn't one of Miliband's best peformances but with the aid of Nadine Dorries (who attacked Osborne on Twitter over the Chloe Smith interview) and a brilliant joke about Jimmy Carr, he won an easy victory. Having previously tripped up by describing Dorries  as "frustrated", Cameron had no obvious riposte to the charge that his Chancellor was "a coward" as well as "arrogant", while Osborne, naturally, looked distinctly uncomfortable. The other high point came when Miliband asked Cameron why he had criticised tax avoidance while cutting taxes for millionaires. "It's one rule for the comedians on the stage and another for the comedians in the cabinet," he quipped. So good was the joke that Labour MPs cried "more! more!" as Miliband sat down.

Today's PMQs also offered us a preview of the line Cameron will take on Labour's stance on Lords reform. With the party pledged to vote against the procedural motion but in favour of the second reading, Cameron painted Miliband as a ditherer who was simultaneously for and against an elected chamber. This isn't true, of course, but Labour will need to find a succinct way to explain its opposition to the process but not the principle of Lords reform.

Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked Cameron's Budget U-turns at today's Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Show Hide image

We're hiring! Join the New Statesman as an editorial assistant

The NS is looking for a new recruit.

The New Statesman is hiring an editorial assistant, who will work across the website and magazine to help the office run smoothly. The ideal candidate will have excellent language skills, a passion for journalism, and the ability to work quickly and confidently under pressure.

The job is a broad one – you will need to understand the requirements of both halves of the magazine (politics and culture) as well as having an interest in the technical requirements of magazine and website production. Experience with podcasts and social media would be helpful.

The right person will have omnivorous reading habits and the ability to assimilate new topics at speed. You will be expected to help out with administration tasks around the office, so you must be willing to take direction and get involved with unglamorous tasks. There will be opportunities to write, but this will not form the main part of the job. (Our current editorial assistant is now moving on to a writing post.)

This is a full-time paid job, which would suit a recent graduate or someone who is looking for an entry into journalism. On the job training and help with career development will be offered.

Please apply with an email to Stephen Bush (Stephen. Bush @ with the subject line ‘Editorial Assistant application’.  

In your covering letter, please include a 300-word analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the New Statesman. Please also include 500 words on what you consider to be the most interesting trend in British politics, and your CV as a Word document. 

The deadline for applications is noon on Monday 12th October.