Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Point of Order Mr Speaker...

Today at PMQs, David Cameron denied that the money for the Sure Start programme had been cut. The denial was puzzling because the point has been made on numerous occassions that Sure Start is being cut. It's not a matter of any controversy, in fact Sure Start is in danger of being decimated and Tories seem happy about that.

Even so, David Cameron said the programme had not been cut. He even insisted in coming back with another denial after Miliband persisted in the accusation.

Tonight Andy Burnham, believing that the PM had got his facts wrong, attempted to raise a point of order with the Speaker, John Bercow, asking that the PM be censured for misleading the House. The Speaker refused, but could he be as wrong as Cameron?

Channel 4's factcheck website has looked at Miliband's accusation, Cameron's denial and the facts of the matter, and comes up with the verdict  

"Cameron misled the House of Commons".

"Cathy Newman's Verdict

David Cameron slipped up today by confusing the Sure Start budget with the broader early intervention grant. On that, FactCheck believes he misled the Commons.

But he was also less clear than he should have been by omitting to mention that this year’s early intervention grant has been cut by 11 per cent – choosing to focus instead on the very small increase in next year’s figures.
And that’s even before we get into the fact that none of the money in the early intervention grant has to be spent on Sure Start.

Councils have been given a free hand to close as many centres as they wish. The Prime Minister may find himself having to clarify all this before too long."

Seems clear enough. David Cameron displayed his usual detached attitude to fact and evidence. He tried to win the argument by presenting fiction as fact, and he has been found out.

I see an abject Prime Ministerial apology approaching.....

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