PMQs verdict: Cameron beats Miliband on points

Cameron won this round but he may live to regret his obstinacy about housing benefit.

David Cameron saved the best till last at today's PMQs. He seized on the leaked PMQs memo (£) in today's Times and taunted Ed Miliband with its contents: "It's important to have a cheer line." Having used up all six of his questions, Miliband could only grin as Cameron landed an easy slam dunk.

The Prime Minister finished: "He's got a plan for PMQs but he's got no plan for the economy, no plan for the debt." That alone was enough for him to claim a points victory.

But that flourish followed a fierce exchange on the housing benefit cap in which Cameron offered no hint of compromise – a stance he may live to regret. Miliband's joke that a glum Nick Clegg "was back on the fags" may have fallen flat, but he was right to draw MPs' attention to a glum-looking Simon Hughes.

Hughes, who has warned that ministers will have to "negotiate" to win approval for the "draconian" measures, will be alarmed by Cameron's obstinacy. The Prime Minister's repeated insistence that "we're sticking to our plans" throws into doubt the possibility of transitional arrangements for London, as demanded by Boris Johnson.

It was left to the Lib Dems' serial rebel, Bob Russell, to sound a note of caution when he warned that the subject was "no laughing matter". Should, as charities warn, 82,000 families be forced out of London – the largest population movement since the Second World War – Russell's words will prove prescient.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the cap itself, the population churn will overwhelm local councils. Expect calls for compromise to spread to the Tory benches in time.

Miliband's performance had improved noticeably since last week and his urge for Cameron to "think again" about housing benefit will have resonated with Lib Dems. He and Labour will have many more opportunities to exploit divisions on this issue.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland