PM's team orchestrated Commons heckling campaign
David Cameron’s aides orchestrated a heckling campaign against Ed Miliband, it can be revealed.
It is the noisy highlight of the parliamentary week – the verbal sparring at Prime Minister’s Questions. Now leaked emails reveal the orchestration that goes into ensuring that the heckling and barracking are delivered on cue.
Conservative MPs are being sent weekly memos urging them to shout down Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, every time he rises to his feet to question David Cameron.
The emails, sent by one of the Prime Minister’s senior aides, ask them to provide a “protective wall of sound” against Opposition criticism.
The disclosure comes days after a heated PMQs session in which the Speaker rebuked Mr Cameron for calling Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, a “muttering idiot”.
Chanting, booing, or interrupting while another MP is speaking is banned under a rule dating from 1693, which says offenders “shall incur the displeasure and censure of the House”. John Bercow, the Speaker, has warned that the public “detest” rowdiness in the Commons.
The campaign to keep up noise levels on the Conservative benches has been led by Desmond Swayne, the Prime Minister’s parliamentary private secretary. Each week, shortly before PMQs starts at midday on Wednesday, he emails 280 MPs, from backbenchers to ministers.
The circulation list includes the Chief Whip, the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister’s political private secretary at Number 10, and even the Prime Minister’s smartphone.