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Prime Minister's Questions: #Budget2014 Special

Prime Minister's Questions: #Budget2014 Special

Labour leader Ed Miliband was mad at today’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). He was ‘John McEnroe mad’ – and there was general unhappiness with Putin’s Crimea annexation and the way mental health services are treated in the NHS. 

On Putin, Miliband asked the Prime Minister if he agreed the Crimea referendum was “illegal” and expressed anger about the shooting of a Ukrainian serviceman yesterday. Cameron’s strong response was perhaps better than anything we’ve heard on the international stage so far. Britain’s Prime Minister called the referendum “illegitimate and illegal… spatchcocked together, held at the point of a Russian Kalashnikov”.

Miliband called for the “toughest possible” economic and diplomatic sanctions. He went on to ask if Russia would now be thrown out of the G8. Cameron was firm that Britain led the way by shunning the future G8 meeting in Sochi and would look seriously at a full expulsion.

In his next batch of questions, the Labour leader wanted to know why mental health was not treated as seriously as physical illness. Cameron has legislated to create “parity of esteem”, but Miliband moaned that children were being treated on adult mental health wards and the percentage of spending dedicated to mental health was falling. 

Apparently the real problem, the one making Miliband so mad, was that the NHS Constitution had not been amended. I have never read this document, but if its anything like the European Constitution I’m sure it’d drive me round the bend.

PMQs this week, as it often is on Budget Day, was more notable for what wasn’t said: no Labour MP was willing to talk about unemployment figures. But that was easily made up for by the fact that almost every loyal Tory backbencher banged on about how well things are going for Britain’s economy.

Andy Stephenson (Con, Pendle) was delighted that unemployment had fallen to 3.8 percent in his patch. Cheryl Gillan (Con, Chesham and Amersham) pointed out that unemployment had fallen by 63,000 in the three months to January. Even John Whittingdale (Con, Maldon) crowed about how well things were going. 

I can understand why Red Ed was so mad. 

Not only is Crimea gone and mental health undervalued, but his whole narrative on economic flat lining is on the line. 

Will he be like John McEnroe and continue to squeal that the economic umpire has “got it wrong”? He shouldn’t. His policy is out, and the economy is not flatlining… which is more than can be said for his Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

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