David Cameron's first PMQs in full Tory goverment: The bunfight returns

 
Catherine Neilan
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Today was the first PMQs of the new parliament - and it was the usual bluster and rhetoric (Source: Parliament.tv)
The economy took centre stage during David Cameron's first Prime Minister's questions in this parliament – but if the electorate was looking for any particular commitments to anything, they would have been left frustrated.
Several new MPs were welcomed to the weekly bun-fight but the rhetoric on both sides was all business as usual.
Labour's acting leader Harriet Harman attempted prodding Cameron with some questions on home ownership. Although he admitted it was “challenging”, he said nearly 100,000 people had been helped onto the housing ladder through Right to Buy and Help to Buy.
“As ever, the enemies of aspiration in the Labour party won’t support it,” he said of the schemes.
Later he went even further, saying: “The party opposite, after the most catastrophic election defeat in years, can’t even spell ‘aspiration’.”
Harman tried to argue that the Tories would not be able to blame Labour for unpopular decisions during this parliament, but Cameron hit back. “We’re still clearing up the mess her government left behind,” he said to much jeering (directed at Labour).
And when new Labour MP Cat Smith ventured a question about the UK's credit rating, Cameron suggested she was more on the ball than her colleagues.
Noting her question was "about fiscal responsibility and responsibility," the Prime Minister said: "I take that as a sign of progress.
"There’s a leadership election on, I’d throw your hat in the ring. In that one question she made more sense than all the rest of them put together, go for it."
In fact Cameron spent much of PMQs getting digs in at Labour, noting in one of his responses that there had been a number of results in Yorkshire that he took “particular interest in and was pleased to see happen”.
Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls was ousted from his West Yorkshire seat in Morley and Outwood in the election.
Of the two Eds, Cameron added: "It’s extraordinary, the two people responsible for this great policy of theirs, one lost the election, the other lost his seat. The messengers have gone but the message is still the same."
But the Commons wasn't all the usual bluster and bad dad jokes. After the grilling, several MPs offered some heartfelt words about the former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, who died this week.
Cameron said:
Charles Kennedy will be remembered for his success, for his principle and intellect and above all for his incredible warmth and good humour.
Harman agreed:
He had a deep seriousness of purpose and great intellect but he wore it lightly. He could be the most intelligent person in the room but still be warm, funny and generous. He showed you could be in profound disagreement…while still respecting the good faith of those who take a different view.
He stands tall amongst a Scottish generation who were head and shoulders above their peers. I remember when he first came to this house. The golden boy from the Highlands, he shone in this chamber. He was elected so young and it’s a tragedy that he’s died so young.
Speaker John Bercow added:
He was a good talker but an even better listener, above all and perhaps most strikingly, Charles had the rare ability to reach out to millions of people of all political persuasions and of none, across the country who were untouched by and in many cases actively hostile to politics.
Charles was the boy next door of British public life. We salute him, we honour his memory and we send today our sincere, heartfelt and deepest condolences to his family and his friends.
And speaking from the back benches, Nick Clegg said:
When people think of him they smile, he saw good in people, even his staunchest political foes and that always brought out the best in people in return. He was the polar opposite of a cardboard cut-out point scoring party politician – brave, yet vulnerable, brilliant yet flawed.
As he would often say about people he admired most, he was a fully signed up member of the human race.

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