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Tributes paid to the four service people killed in Iraq. First question pointed out how only a quarter of the British public thought Tony Blair was doing a good job (not covered in the BBC’s summary).

David Cameron asked why the Minister for Hospitals (Jane Kennedy) had resigned over the handling of NHS reform and asked why Clarke had been sacked if the prisoner debacle was being handled so well. Blair denied that the Minister for Hospitals had resigned, Cameron’s rebuttal that she definitely had and that Blair was losing track of these things was embarrassing for Blair.

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Regarding the length of Blair’s tenure, he quoted Blair saying "a full-term was a full-term" when he was on the way to Khartoum… "presumably he wanted to see the place where Gordon was murdered" (cue biggest laugh of the session). In reply Blair righteously reuttered the line about Cameron "rehearsing that line all morning" – as if that is something he had never done.

Cameron quoted a leaked Number 10 planning committee report on the
local elections, which said that "people were angry with Tony because
they love him so much and they were angry that he might go.", commenting that this must be "the view from the bunker".  Blair refused to answer and made a pretence of wanting to focus on policies – trying to tease Cameron for being light on them. Cameron’s last question concluded with "shouldn’t he go, and go soon?"

MPs talked throughout Menzies Campbell’s questions on the single farm payment scheme and action on troubled government departments. His gravitas problem doesn’t look like going away anytime soon.

John Maples taunted John Prescott (sat next to the PM) at length for
his incompetence and expenses, finishing with "it’s better to pay him
to not run a department". Blair said that he had presided over more electoral success than Heseltine, the last Conservative DPM (not supposed to be the purpose of the ODPM, but never mind), and executed his pre-prepared line badly – "I prefer Prezza to Hezza".

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Nadine Dorries raised the issue of a man who fired a warning pellet at a stray dog that was scaring his sheep being subsequently arrested in front of his grandchildren by an armed squad and jailed with no way of contacting anyone.

The House, particularly the Tory benches, was in an excitable mood. Cameron had so much ammunition from the previous week’s events that he didn’t even need to mention the elections – Blair had a lot to take on the chin today.

Deputy Editor

19 comments for: PMQs: Buoyant Tory benches

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