The Full Story: PM's questions


Prime minister's questions

It didn't take long and today at PMQs the prime minister's conference soundbite came back to haunt him. Gordon Brown's slogan that "it's no time for a novice" was designed as a slapdown of the two Davids Cameron and Miliband.

But in the glow of an Obama victory in the United States, it sounded misplaced as the American electorate overwhelmingly chose change over experience.

David Cameron wasted no time in rubbing Gordon Brown's nose in the political irony of his own words. He asked the prime minister whether his congratulatory message to the President Elect included the phrase "this is no time for a novice?"

But Gordon Brown was prepared and hit back with another of his favourite expressions that "serious times need serious people".

The historic nature of the US election framed the terms of much of today's debate. The message from the American electorate that it's time for change resonating in the political arena here as each party leader tried to turn the Obama victory to his own advantage.

Amid rowdy scenes David Cameron demanded to know "how much longer have we got to put up with more of the same from a government that has failed," casting himself as the lightning rod of change for Britain.

But although tired from his trip to Gulf the prime minister put his own spin on the tumultuous events across the pond. He talked of the close bond the two governments would have because of the American people had voted for "progressive policies" that were similar to his and the Labour party's.

That provided the perfect opening for the Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg, who has been calling for tax cuts for low and middle income earners.

If he asked the progressive policies of Gordon Brown and Barack Obama were so similar then why wasn't the Prime Minister calling for similar tax cuts?

Mr Brown responded that the big difference was that the President Elect wasn't calling for 20bn worth of spending cuts like the Lib Dems. And so the debate went full circle.

Despite the enormity of what has happened in America, the economic backdrop looms ever large and the Tory leader was keen to return to what the government was doing to ease the pain of an impending recession.

But the personal differences in style between Gordon Brown's experience and David Cameron's youthfulness have been pitted against each other even more vehemently as both leaders try desperately to frame the US election campaign in their own political image.


The Daily Politics' analysis of Prime Minister's Questions and Obama's US election victory with Nick Robinson, Ken Clarke and David Lammy.

1240 David Cameron is desperately hoping to associate himself with Obama, says David Lammy, by using the word change a lot. But he his not the only one, says Nick Robinson. The race is on now to get the first photo of Gordon Brown with Mr Obama, he says, but it is unlikely to happen at next week's Washington summit.

1237 It's all over and the post-mortem is under way on Daily Politics. The session has, inevitably, been dominated by Obama, as nearly every MP found a way of referring to the president-elect, in questions ranging from the future of the special relationship to prescription charges for long term patients.

1235 Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross finally get a mention at PMQs thanks to ex-Tory minister Stephen Dorrell. Mr Brown could issue a statement on the "antics" of two presenters with the independent BBC - so why could he not express a view on the independent Bank of England's "too slow" movement on interest rates? Mr Brown bats it away with an attack on the Tories.

1231 Veteran left winger Dennis Skinner rises to cheers from the Labour benches, although the Speaker has to calm down the opposition benches who are heckling him. In the end, he lobs a soft question about Mr Brown's handling of the economy, giving the PM a chance to have a pop at the Tories, who he accuses of lacking solutions.

1229 Back to Obama - and Mr Brown hails the president-elect's pledge to close down Guantanamo Bay.

1227 Afghanistan equipment shortages now. Mr Brown adopts a sombre tone as he lists all of the new kit that has been ordered over the past few years, including "a total of 1,200 new vehicles", claiming troops are better equipped now than they have ever been.

1226 Back to domestic matters and Mr Brown assures MPs the much delayed statement on Equitable Life will be released soon.

1225 Ex-minister Elliot Morley asks about climate change - Mr Brown says he has a similar policy on emissions to the incoming US administration and hails a "new deal for the environment in Britain and America".

1224 Iraq now - as Labour Parmjit Dhanda brings up Obama's intention to withdraw troops. Mr Brown says UK troops have already moved to an "overwatch" role and he will announce a further fundamental change in their mission in the new year.

1221 Labour grandee Sir Stuart Bell offers Mr Brown another chance to praise Obama's achievements as the first black President.

1220 Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg's turn to get in on the Obama act, by calling for Mr Brown to emulate the president-elect by offering tax cuts to lower income voters. Mr Brown accuses him of being out of touch.

1219 Another novice reference. Mr Cameron has shown he is a "novice" in Parliamentary procedures says Mr Brown. Mr Cameron says America voted for change, why can't Britain have a chance to do the same? America voted for progressive values similar to Labour's values, counters Mr Brown before trying to rise above the fray by saying "on this day of all days I believe we should recognise the truly historic decision of the American people".

1215 The two men trade blows over whether Britain is prepared for a recession. "You cannot build a new Jerusalem on a mountain of debt," says Mr Cameron, quoting a Labour Party conference speech, to cheers from Tory MPs.

1214 Speaker Michael Martin gets involved the fun - urging MPs to be quiet so he can hear from David Cameron what had been said at the Labour Party conference - "I'm not allowed to go", he explains to widespread laughter.

boxing glove
1211 We are back to last Autumn for a moment, as Mr Cameron attacks Mr Brown for "bottling" an election. Mr Brown seems to take the battering with better humour this time.

1210 The first mention of novice. After hailing Barack Obama's "stunning" victory, David Cameron asks if Mr Brown's message for the president-elect was "this is no time for a novice", Mr Brown hits back with another of his standard lines - "serious times need serious people". The Commons is in uproar.

1207 Labour MP Kate Hoey asks about aid for Zimbabwe. Mr Brown assures MPs the government is doing everything it can.

1205 Lib Dem MP John Leech brings everyone back down to earth with a question about local government funding in Greater Manchester.

1203 Mr Brown sends the congratulations of the whole House of Commons to Barack Obama, saying he knows the president-elect will be a "true friend" of the UK. He also pays tribute to defeated presidential hopeful John McCain.

1202 We're off - Gordon Brown who, like all the other MPs I can see is sporting a Poppy, begins by sending his condolences to the family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.

1201 Ken Clarke says George W Bush is a good advert for the British "ladder system", which dictates you must serve your time in Parliament before mounting a bid for the top job.

Nick Robinson
1200 Here's a good game - let's see how many times the word novice is mentioned during PMQs, says Nick Robinson, as David Cameron attempts to turn Mr Brown's famous jibe against him to his advantage.

1159 Labour minister David Lammy, who knows Mr Obama, says on Daily Politics that America has put ideas and vision before any racial divide. Tory big beast Ken Clarke is also "delighted" by Obama's victory as it reaffirms America's world leadership but is worried about the sky high expectations around his upcoming presidency.

1158 The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, in Washington DC, who has been up all night covering the results, says President Bush is due to give his reaction to the result later this morning. He has already congratulated the president elect in a telephone call.

1155 The really big question though, according to Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil, is what will the Obama children's new puppy be called? Any ideas?

1153 Obama's victory is certain to dominate prime minister's questions - but the party leaders will also have to concentrate on more mundane domestic issues. So what is likely to come up? Feelings are still running high about alleged equipment shortages in Afghanistan. Also the Bank of England monetary policy committee meeting to decide interest rates means the economy is certain to feature. The government has also been defeated in the Lords overnight about people not being able to get themselves removed from the DNA database.

1143 Mr Brown may get an opportunity to congratulate Mr Obama in person on 15 November, at a G20 economic summit in Washington. But Downing Street were playing down the possibility in this morning's lobby briefing, saying invitations were a matter for the Bush administration, and it was still unclear whether Mr Obama will be invited to the summit.

1139 Gordon Brown hopes to speak to Mr Obama in the next few days, Downing Street has said. The prime minister has also written a personal letter of congratulations to the president-elect. The PM did not stay up through the night to watch the results coming in, having just returned from his trip to the Middle East but he did watch a replay of Mr Obama's acceptance speech this morning, his official spokesman said.

1132 As MPs bleary-eyed from watching coverage of Barack Obama's historic presidential victory get ready to troop into the Commons chamber at noon, the party leaders have already been vying to claim a slice of the Obama magic for themselves.

1130 Welcome once again to our live text coverage of prime minister's questions. You will be able to watch the 30 minute session live on this page as well as getting all the best instant reaction. You can also take part in the debate via our Have Your Say debate.


Have Your Say "I want to know where's our Obama, and why British politicians are so miserable and uninspiring"
Richard Edwards, UK

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say Could the Prime Minister confirm in his hailing of the 'novice' Obama at the White House and the optimism that is gripping America that he agrees that its time for him to call an election and let the British people have their say? Ordinary Joe, Leicestershire

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "So Cameron wants to be the British Obama! Obama is an example of how anyone can reach the top in the 21st century. Cameron and the Tory front bench are a return to the 1950's when the 'old school-tie' was the way to the top." Billyhano, UK

Have Your Say Dennis Skinner is trying to make a virtue out of having to call the fire brigade when you've set your house on fire because your neighbour's house is on fire as well and they've now called the fire brigade. Andrew Carter, London

e-mail sent in by reader
Have Your Say "Brown claims to share many of the same values as Obama. Would Obama never answer a straight question with a straight answer in PMQs?" Jonathan Cook, Hampshire

From Have Your Say Cameron should ask Brown: "In light of the US election, would the Prime Minister like to stand by his claim that this is no time for a novice?" Conspiracy2012

Have Your Say "Members of the public should be allowed to ask the questions.When the Opposition put them they are just evaded." Phil McDonald, Belfast


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