PMQs review: Cameron's health problems get worse

A confident Ed Miliband left Cameron badly beaten on the NHS.

The NHS has become the Tories' biggest political headache and Ed Miliband has every intention of making it worse. He devoted all six of his questions to the subject at today's PMQs, the last before the recess, and earned one of his most convincing victories to date. Confronted by the sheer size of the opposition to the health bill, an ill-tempered David Cameron was forced to fall back on platitudes about his "care" for the NHS and Brown-esque statistics on higher spending. He quoted the Labour manifesto on the need for "sustained reform", forgetting that the choice isn't between reform and no reform but good reform and bad reform.

At one point, after Miliband had recited a roll call of Labour's NHS achievements, Cameron replied: "if the record was so good, why were they thrown out at the last election?. A quip which rather invited the response: "if the record was so bad, why didn't you win?" It was an embarrassing and undistinguished performance.

A confident Miliband, buoyed by polls showing that Labour enjoys a clear lead on the NHS, declared of Cameron: "he thinks he knows better than the doctors, better than the nurses, better than the midwives, better than the patients associations." It was a damning charge that the PM had no way of refuting. Armed with a quiver of poisonous quotes from No 10 ("Lansley should be taken out and shot"), Miliband could legitimately claim: "he knows in his heart of hearts this is a disaster." The PM's protestations to the contrary only made him look insincere.

It was notable that Cameron offered a less than fulsome defence of Andrew Lansley, remarking only that his "career prospects" were better than Miliband's, a comment that will do nothing to dampen speculation over the Health Secretary's position.

"The NHS will go on going better and his (Miliband's) prospects will go on getting worse," Cameron snapped towards the end of the exchanges. But an increasing number of Tories fear the reverse is true: the NHS will go on getting worse and Miliband's prospects will get better.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Quiz: Can you identify fake news?

The furore around "fake" news shows no sign of abating. Can you spot what's real and what's not?

Hillary Clinton has spoken out today to warn about the fake news epidemic sweeping the world. Clinton went as far as to say that "lives are at risk" from fake news, the day after Pope Francis compared reading fake news to eating poop. (Side note: with real news like that, who needs the fake stuff?)

The sweeping distrust in fake news has caused some confusion, however, as many are unsure about how to actually tell the reals and the fakes apart. Short from seeing whether the logo will scratch off and asking the man from the market where he got it from, how can you really identify fake news? Take our test to see whether you have all the answers.

 

 

In all seriousness, many claim that identifying fake news is a simple matter of checking the source and disbelieving anything "too good to be true". Unfortunately, however, fake news outlets post real stories too, and real news outlets often slip up and publish the fakes. Use fact-checking websites like Snopes to really get to the bottom of a story, and always do a quick Google before you share anything. 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.