Editor’s comment: "Unfortunate first question from David Cameron on the sleazebuster (asking why an appointment of the Chairman of the Standards in Public Life Cttee hadn’t been made… and it’s being made later today). David Cameron’s canoe line was good but Greg Hand’s joke was better. Sensible, I think, for David Cameron to be asking about issues other than political funding. Labour will ultimately be judged for its failures on prisons and defence etc rather than political funding."
Highlights, not verbatim:
12.23pm: Great question from Greg Hands MP… With three police investigations under way, two of his Cabinet ministers in breach of rules and his General Secretary faces charges of law-breaking, is this what the Prime Minister meant when he said he was a "conviction politician"?!
12.14pm: Vince Cable asks about Northern Rock. Borrowing is growing every day, he says. What guarantee does the taxpayer have that all the money will be repaid? He encourages temporary public ownership of the Northern Rock, noting that the FT and Economist also support this option. Brown replies that Cable appears to be better at jokes than economics and says that the current process of seeking a private buyer for Northern Rock is the best route to protecting public funds.
12.12pm: David Cameron: ‘Like the man in the canoe he wants us all to believe he hasn’t been around for the last five years.’ But, the Tory leader continues, he was the man who underfunded the prison service. Great line!
12.09pm: Cameron quotes Lord Boyce’s claim that Des Browne’s status is an insult to the armed forces. He then asks about Labour’s early prison release scheme and says that sentences should fit the crime and not the number of prison places. To loud Labour jeers, he says ‘they don’t like to see their Government falling apart’.
12.08pm: David Cameron quotes a former Labour Defence Minister who believes that the part-time nature of the Defence Secretary is unacceptable. Gordon Brown asks for evidence that Des Browne isn’t performing his job and says that the Tory 2001 manifesto promised that the Secretary of State for Scotland job should be shared. He implies that George Osborne is opposed to any further defence spending.
12.05pm: David Cameron asks if the Whitty report has been suspended. The PM says it hasn’t been put on hold. David Cameron responds by producing Labour NEC minutes which suggest that parts of the Whitty investigation have been suspended. Why isn’t he being open? The Leader of the Opposition then asks about the fact that the Defence Secretary is also Scottish Secretary.
12.03pm: ‘Why has it taken seven months to appoint a new Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life?’ asks David Cameron. Brown replies by saying the appointment will be announced today. He challenges the Conservative leader to accept Labour proposals on party funding.
Noon: Radio Five Live announcer: We wondered if Gordon Brown might have chosen to disappear down the Thames in a canoe today!
11.57am: John Pienaar has just told me (and a few other Five Live listeners) that it’s been hours since a new scandal rocked Labour! :-)