Wednesday 30 November 2011

PMQs - 'Weak, left wing and irresponsible' becomes new catchphrase

It’s not often I see Ed Miliband smile in the House of Commons. I mean a proper smile – open mouthed with teeth showing in absolute delight.

But David Cameron’s comment that he came into politics to improve people’s welfare was enough to force one on to his face, and on to that of his dramatics chum’s face Ed Balls.

It appears to me that Leader Ed has been taking some lessons of the other Ed on how to act while not speaking at PMQs. Widow twanky would have proud of Balls’ gurn when a question was asked by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP – a man who was written by PG Woodhouse rather than born. Indeed watching the Eds contort their faces as the Prime Minister spoke today was much more entertaining than listening to the PM try and bat away questions.

That might also be because PMQs was a bit banal after the hype of the Autumn Statement yesterday. Even the strikes, which formed the first part of the debate between the two leaders, didn’t really ignite – perhaps Cameron wanted it that way given that he branded the action a “damp squib”.

Ed knew that if he were not to exacerbate the difficulty of his position on the strikes, he would have to highlight them and align himself with anti-coalition feeling, if not fully back or oppose the action – something Cameron constantly poked him on, provoking the response from Ed that he would not “demonise dinner ladies”.

Cameron came back with the usual line about Labour being in the pocket of the unions (better than taking millions from Lord Ashcroft retorted Ed), but twice used the phrase “weak, left wing and irresponsible” – suggesting this might be the new buzz phrase the Tories use when attacking Labour over industrial action in coming months.

After that Ed floated on to tax credits and borrowing covering a lot of ground but not quite hitting any one of them meaningfully, a recurring theme in his PMQs attacks for me – until he gets that sorted I’m not sure he should be smiling quite as much as he was.