Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Eyes Have It...


In human beings, according to Wikipedia, eye contact is a form of nonverbal communication and is a meaningful sign of confidence and social communication - unless it's Prime Minister's Questions and you've got Ed Balls in your face.
Each Wednesday, as he manoeuvred his hair into place in front of the mirror, David Cameron knew that whatever else happened he faced the certainty of serious sledging by the Shadow Chancellor from the Commons slips.
Ed Miliband would get the official credit for the weekly wind-up which would see the PM ape the Aurora Borealis and put paramedics on standby, but it was the alter Ed's asides which were the real reason.
But, then today Dave came up with a new strategy that worked - he decided not to look.
Now, this may seem trivial in the great scheme of things but, how many lives were blighted and bad decisions made as he stormed out of the Chamber at the end of the weekly torture by the man he described as "the most annoying in modern politics"?
Both Eds were in place for today's session and Ed M thought he was on a winner as the Governor of the Bank of England had chosen this morning to reveal inflation was not only on the way up but would stay that way until 2016 at the earliest. As Ed B beamed on, the Labour leader asked Dave for his views on this latest calamity which will mean living standards will have fallen for every year he has been PM.
Staring pointedly over his left shoulder the Prime Minister brushed away the attack and then he stared over his right one to repel the next attack. Down the Government front bench normally somnolent Ministers squirmed as they realised Dave seemed to have them in his sights as he ran through his excuses. 
Education Secretary Michael Gove, whose recent retreat on GCSE's has not apparently dampened his ambition for further and higher office, took to shaking his head in agreement so violently that members opposite looked as if they were laying back in anticipation of an imminent accident.
Noticeable by his absence was Ed B's other regular target and author of today's woes, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, although George and he are a matched pair on the insults scale. And talking of insults Environment Secretary Owen Paterson had also headed off to swap them with our continental cousins over who is to blame for putting horse on the menu. 
As the clash continued the PM continued to look anywhere but straight ahead where Ed B by now was waving his hands like some mad magician in a movement simulating flat-lining, the situation he says the economy is in.
Ed M took on a distinctly queasy look too as his head rolled around and around as he tried and failed to make eye contact with his opponent. And there were more shocked faces on the Tory back benches as members tried to work out why Dave was suddenly eyeing them up.
The Labour leader did get a couple of punches in but the newly astigmatic PM seemed to roll with them and then unnerved Ed M with a request for Labour's economic plans. Even Ed B went quiet for this one as it is tomorrow that the party says his boss will make "a major speech" on the economy.
Dave's disasters over the past year have kept attention away from the wasteland that is Labour's policy portfolio for the next election but there are increasing internal demands for something solid to sell the electorate.
And, as Ed sat down and the PM's eyes settled back in their sockets the electorate, or at least that in Eastleigh where the by-election to replace Chris Huhne happens in a fortnight, came in for consideration.
The Lib Dems, who hold the seat, have declared success over the Tories will be vital and so it was fitting that their leader, Deputy PM Nick Clegg, should be in Mozambique for three days thereby promoting hapless Scottish Secretary Michael Moore into the seat he normally occupies to be equally ignored by the Prime Minister.
His absence muted the insults Tories would have heaped on his slice of the Coalition but the newly-refreshed PM was happy to recommend his candidate - although her Sarah Palin tendencies have apparently so unnerved Central Office that a 24 hour guard has been mounted on her mouth.