Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Off with their Eds

It is probably a political truism to say that when Tory MPs lie on their backs, waving their arms and legs in the air, it is either after lunch or after victory...

As today's display of crab-like behaviour came at 12.35pm it was clearly not lunch. Sadly for Labour, it came at Prime Ministers Questions, for so long guaranteed entertainment for Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition at noon each Wednesday. 

Dave would turn up in the Commons, place his feet on the fire lovingly prepared for him by Ed Miliband, and boil up nicely for the next 30 minutes. His remains would then be escorted out of the Chamber to be cooled down for a repeat performance the following week. But that was before Ed and his alter-Ed decided the time had come last weekend to bite the bullet on their economic plans.

All appeared normal today as the Prime Minister dutifully lost his rag at Labour's first question about hospitals. Both sides apparently spend hours working out how to handle PMQs but Ed decided to play dirty today and ask real questions about a real issue, Syria.

Real questions, like real answers, play little part in PMQs and MPs seemed shocked silent by this breach in tradition. But, statesmanship was quickly parked and the Speaker happily rose to his feet demanding order as normal service resumed.

Ed M accused the Prime Minister of perfidy over pay and Ed B accompanied the charge with sustained barracking across the Despatch Box. Ed B, as regular readers will know, has more previous than Ronnie Biggs, with regard to winding up Dave. 

The PM chooses to survive by avoiding eye contact with his nemesis but this can only mean terror for nearby Tory MPs suddenly fixed with his furious glare. Ed M proudly declared the return of "the crimson tide", as Dave's Ibiza tan turned puce above the Prime Ministerial collar. And Ed B helpfully pushed water in the direction of his insults as he called on Dave to calm down.
If all that were not bad enough, the PM could only seek refuge sandwiched between his indifferent deputy Nick Clegg and the grimace that is Justine Greening, the former Transport Secretary transported to International Development for being anti-Heathrow.

Normally by now, alarmed Downing Street watchers would have put the paramedics on standby before taking afternoon sickies. But, that was before the weekend conversion of the two Eds to the newly discovered politics of austerity. And even before Dave turned to this richest of veins he had the pleasure of raising Labour's latest donor and the tax-avoiding advice given to him by the party.

Had not Ed M said tax avoidance was terrible? asked Dave and then accepted £700,000 that could have gone to the NHS. Confused Tories, not certain if their party opposed or supported the idea, jeered and cheered.

Labour MPs, short of campaign funds, got on with their emails. The Eds appeared not to have heard.

Dave then asked about Ed B's iron fist on the economy. Would it mean reversing the bedroom tax, would it mean freezing benefits. The Eds appeared to nod.

Was it true Labour planned to cut pensions. The Eds appeared to shake. 

Just 23 months to the General Election.