Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ed Milliband - Life After Death

There are times in the House of Commons when democracy would seem better served by the early application of breathalysers to its members. Unsuspecting voters making their way to work could have been forgiven for thinking they were passing a late-running rave instead of the much more mundane Prime Ministers Questions.

Had it not been before lunch, the volume of noise emanating from the parliamentary chamber would have been hard to explain without the addition of mood-changing substances.

To be fair to MPs they were already over-excited since Chancellor George was due up post-PMQs to reveal his latest plan to cut the UK out of recession. But with half an hour to fill in beforehand there had to be another reason. And there was; Ed Miliband proving there really is life after death.

Life After Death  


Just seven days ago the Labour leader was written off - yet again - after a pathetic performance at PMQs and a week of putting Labour policy noisily into reverse. He was at his Mr Bean worst as a newly resurgent David Cameron, fresh from hob-nobbing with world leaders, displayed every penny of his expensive education.

The prospect of more of the same had the Tory side howling in anticipation and Labour barracking back in defence even before today's session started. Questions about Scotland had preceded PMQs, and are normally ignored by every one south of Carlisle, but MPs got in early to practice for the main event.

Speaker Bercow made an early move on noise control but, as usual, was given the verbal two-fingers by honourable members. As PMQs got underway it was the Tory side who cheered Ed to his feet, but not for long - Ed asked Dave a question about detail.

The Devil's in the Detail  


Now the PM might do good hair, good dinner parties and good world summits, but he doesn't do good detail. Ed said the Government had promised 261 school developments two years ago, but how many had started?
Dave blanched as best he could beneath his perma-tan as he scrabbled and failed to find an answer. (The answer by the way is 1.) His voice started its climb up the Richter scale as Ed followed up with another question involving numbers and then, annoyingly,  another. By now Prime Ministerial panic had fully set in and it was Labour's turn to cheer at the re-discovery of their own leader.
The Speaker, up and down so often his spring will have to be replaced, tried more calls for calm but was again impolitely ignored. It had not meant to turn out like this. Dave had expected an easy ride with all attention saved for the Chancellor and his spending review.
But George, who looked as if he had climbed out of the crypt early, sat silently by, his own white face testament to the ordeal yet to come. By now Labour MPs were so happy at proceedings they broke into song at the announcement it was the birthday of one of their number, going on to ignore the question he asked.

The Chancellor and "Just a Minute"


Dave tried to deliver a couple of his pre-prepared off-the-cuff jokes but you could see his heart was not in it and it was to his obvious relief that PMQs was called to a close.
Whether unnerved or not, the Chancellor seemed to have adopted the "Just a Minute" approach to speech-making. No deviation, no repetition and almost no breathing.

He went at the words as if he was hammering six inch nails into wood, cheered on at first by his side who finally fell silent as he rattled through the set aid of the even-harder times that are to follow the hard times.
Unlike Dave, the Chancellor does do detail, but so much that even his supporters took time out to get on with their emails.

We learned everything we already knew plus that the Tories will not fiddle with pensions - as a majority of pensioners vote Tory.

We learned immigrants must learn English before getting the dole - as a majority of them don't vote Tory.

Ed Balls then stood up to confirm hard times ahead - whoever you vote for.