6.45pm: Guido has a graphic that the Brownites will hate.
4.30pm: I won’t endear myself to the diehard loyalists with this verdict but Brown did okay this afternoon. He wasn’t as witty as Cameron. Nor as smooth. But he was weightier. Cameron’s remarks were light on policy. Peter Riddell wrote last week that our party still had some way to go on policy substance. Peter was right. Brown also thinks he is on to a winning theme with whether or not the Conservatives will hold a referendum on the EU Treaty, should it be ratified. He kept inviting David Cameron to say whether he would or not. An uncomfortable-looking Cameron stayed glued to the green benches. He did get up later – challenging Gordon Brown on whether he had looked at the opinion polls before cancelling the election and if he had planned to cut IHT before the Tory plan was announced. The Tories roared with laughter when Brown said the IHT tax cut had been long in the pipeline. I wouldn’t say that Brown won the exchanges but this was an improved performance and a clear signal of his attempt to revert to his pre-Chicken Saturday strategy: I’m fit to be PM; Cameron is all PR. Brown will find that a much harder sell than it was six weeks ago.
Fraser Nelson otoh thinks Cameron easily won the exchanges.
3.30pm: David Cameron finishes by listing what Britain really needs. He lists key Tory pledges on school reform, the environment and the family.
3.28pm: This is an incompetent government. Its own lab caused Foot and Mouth. We’ve had the first run on a British bank. The Government doesn’t know how many immigrants are in Britain. The PM’s British Jobs for British Workers pledge is illegal. Where was the PM’s moral compass when he borrowed slogans from the BNP and National Front?
3.27pm: This is a government of dithering and U-turns. School surpluses. Taxes on bins. Entrepreneurs pay CGT. And then the biggest U-turn of all – the election was called off. We’ve swapped a strong PM for a weak one.
3.25pm: Labour backbencher asks if Cameron will offer a referendum if the Treaty is ratified? Cameron responds by saying he wants a referendum now and calls on Labour MPs to vote for it.
3.24pm: There is only one black hole in British politics and that’s where the Prime Minister’s credibility used to be.
3.21pm: Where is the Government’s vision? His Budget wasn’t a tax cut, it was a tax con. His Party Conference speech was a laundry list of small promises. It was a speech borrowed from John Kerry. The Pre-Budget Report had a flight tax, inheritance tax and non-dom tax – all taken from the Conservatives. The PM has nothing new to offer.
3.20pm: Attacks proposed abolition of A-levels, slamming on the brakes on City Academies and Labour’s obsession with top-down control.
3.19pm: Attacks the PM’s promise of deep-cleaning for the NHS. What needs a real deep clean is the Government’s reputation for half-truths.
3.17pm: The real problem with this Prime Minister and this Queen’s speech is that it’s all quick fixes and no long-term thinking.
3.16pm: Quick mention of Brown’s broken promise on referendum.
3.15pm: There is no case for extra state funding of political parties unless there is a cap on all sources of donation. Having chickened out of one election, Brown wants to fix the next.
3.15pm: Welcomes Counter-terrorism Bill and inclusion of Tory recommendation of post-charge questioning.
3.13pm: We welcome some Bills – not least those we proposed. Some of these Bills have been recycled including the one on CrossRail – announced 11 times before.
3.12pm: After jokey responses to the traditional speeches from the Government backbench David Cameron invites the Prime Minister to comment on strategy in Afghanistan.