David Cameron was very well prepared today for a strangely subdued last session of Prime Minister’s Questions in this parliament, and generally got the better of Gordon Brown with a series of hard questions aimed at appealing to traditional Tories and right-wing media outlets such as the Sun.
There were raised eyebrows when Cameron began by accusing the government of neglect in resourcing troops in Afghanistan, only seconds after the two leaders had paid solemn tributes to the latest British soldiers to fall there. Brown claimed he had met the demands of the military and Cameron sought to ridicule his answers.
Cameron, wearing a true blue tie, then moved on to the economy, accusing Brown of “robbing” the pension funds and introducing a “jobs tax” with the National Insurance rise. Brown (red tie) talked of the “same old Tories” with nothing to offer for the future. Yet — though it is true Cameron outlined no policies of his own — the Tory leader’s style was sharper than that of Brown, who seemed a little less confident than he has been in recent weeks.
Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, made a strong intervention on political reform, accusing the two other parties of conspiring to block reform to party funding because of their “paymasters” — in the trade unions, for Labour, and Michael Ashcroft, for the Tories. Brown claimed that only Ashcroft was standing in the way of a deal on party funding, but Clegg hit back, pointing to the Labour benches and declaring “It’s over” for this government.
Overall, both Cameron and Clegg slightly got the better of Brown, who will have to be stronger in the televised debates. But the Prime Minister had one great line: “To think, he was the future once.”