PMQs: Vince labels Gordon 'Mr Bean'

by Stephen Tall on November 28, 2007

What is there left to say? Another great PMQs’ performance from Vince has even got worrying that he’s setting the bar too high for whichever of Nick or Chris succeeds him as party leader. For the record, I think he (whoever he is) will do just fine.

(As some political commentators seem to be surprised by quite how well Vince is currently performing, I will take the liberty of posting this link to an article I wrote in autumn 2006: Why I like Vince.)

Below is the Hansard transcript of today’s PMQs joust between Vince and Gordon:

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham) (LD): The House has noticed the Prime Minister’s remarkable transformation in the past few weeks from Stalin to Mr. Bean—[Laughter]—creating chaos out of order, rather than order out of chaos. But amidst the administrative bungling and even the sleaze, does he not accept that the most damaging remark over the past week came from the services chiefs, when they accused him of wilfully neglecting the safety and welfare of the young men and women who serve in our armed forces?

The Prime Minister: At every point in the job that I am in, I will do everything in my power to defend and protect the security of our armed forces. I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that the defence budget is rising every year and will continue to rise, and that when we came into power the defence budget in Britain was the fifth largest in the world. It is now the second largest in the world. As for housing, we are spending £5 billion over the next 10 years on armed services accommodation, more than at any point in the history of the armed forces—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker: Order. Before the hon. Gentleman rises, you have got to be quiet, Mr. Russell.

Dr. Cable: We know about the defence budget, because the Prime Minister signed £5 billion-worth of cheques for the Iraq war, but is not the truth at the end of it that the troops lack adequate equipment, adequate medical care and adequate accommodation? Is not the underlying truth that where the armed forces are concerned, fundamentally, the Prime Minister is not interested and does not care?

The Prime Minister: The chief of the armed services gave a briefing last week, saying that we were better equipped than ever before. That is why we have not only invested the money from the defence budget but, in order to meet the urgent operational requirements of our armed forces, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, invested an additional £6.6 billion above the defence budgets that have been announced. Whether it be for tanks, helicopters, night vision equipment, specific help for individual members of the armed forces in contacting their relatives or accommodation at home, we will continue to do everything in our power to help our armed forces do their duty.