Cameron loses his rag: 5 of the best

Video clips of the Prime Minister losing his temper.

David Cameron's temper is becoming legendary (and not in a good way), with Ed Miliband making concerted efforts to rile him in Prime Minister's Questions. It's a clear weak spot. Last week, the Labour leader said that he hoped Cameron would be getting anger management lessons before his appearance at the Leveson inquiry. After Cameron lost his temper again today, we have collated five of his "finest" moments.

1. The muttering idiot

Ed Balls takes great delight in teasing Cameron at PMQs, and hit his target today, being called the 'muttering idiot opposite' by Cameron. The speaker asked for the remark to be withdrawn.

2. “Calm down dear”

Cameron alienates feminists (and Michael Winner-haters) everywhere by telling Angela Eagle MP to “calm down dear, calm down, calm down” when he mistakenly said Dr Howard Stoate had lost his seat in the previous election. He hadn't, he'd stood down.

3. Help the aged

Dennis Skinner, 80, was told by the Prime Minister "Well, the honourable gentleman has the right, at any time, to take his pension and I advise him to do so," after the MP accused Cameron of letting Jeremy Hunt take the blame for his inappropriate relationships with News International. So that's the geriatric vote gone.

4. Balls again

It's fair to say the House of Commons sometimes has the atmosphere of the school room. Never more so than David Cameron's snapping at the two Eds as he heard them talking during his speech. He said “I wish the Shadow Chancellor would occasionally shut up and listen to the answer.” and labelled Balls “the most annoying person in modern politics”.

5. "I know you're frustrated"

Cameron hit the feminists again, patronising Nadine Dorries, when he said “I know you're very frustrated”, over the abortion debate, then tried to restrain his giggles. Statesmanlike.

Photograph: Getty Images

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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