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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Why it's Cam v Hattie at PMQs

It's David Cameron up against Harriet Harman at PMQs* today. It will be the Prime Minister v the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Given that Ed Miliband is away on paternity leave, this may raise a few eyebrows. Does it mean that Nick Clegg is running scared after last week's bruising encounter with Harriet Harman? Isn't this a break with tradition?

Well, the answer to both of those questions is a firm 'No', certainly as far as Downing Street sources are concerned.

I'm told that Mr Cameron is simply following precedent - and let's be honest there haven't been many precedents of 'paternity leave' in Westminster life.

But I've looked up the last time this happened and indeed Tony Blair took on William Hague in February '06 when Cameron himself was away after the birth of Arthur Elwen.

When Harman was acting Labour leader she had a fair few months of sparring with Cameron at PMQs proper. Let's see if there's any hint of nostalgia today.

Nostalgia didn't exactly improve the Blair v Hague rematch (their first since 2001) four years ago..

 

*FOOTNOTE: As for the issues Harman may go in on today, 'vanity staff' U-turn is a gift. But it may be that she highlights the Greater Manchester Police decision to lay off more than a 1,000 cops.

Or it could even be Francis Maude's remarks this morning that he wanted mutuals to provide "cheaper" public services - again allowing Labour to say the Big Society is just a cost cutting project. (Maude may have been better advised to say that mutuals offer 'better value for money for the taxpayer'..but that's another story).

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