Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bottling it in Brighton is not an option


Those who think that political reporting is dominated by the trite and the irrelevant should note that today the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland wore his reading glasses for the first time in chamber of the House of Commons. It should further be noted that informed sources place the provider of the specs as Boots the Chemist, the inspiration for them as SamCam - more recently noted for inspiring her husband on Syria - and the cost = £15.

Purists might argue he actually unveiled them yesterday at a select committee meeting but - never letting the facts get in the way of the story - Prime Ministers Questions is named as today's historical location. There will be many who, having watched today's PMQs, might conclude that the above sums up everything of substance that occurred. But, involved in the flourishing of the glasses was the subject which, for many, silently dominated the session - the future of Ed Miliband as Labour leader.

The specs got to play a leading role when Dave was asked an embarrassing question on city bonuses by Labour MP Gloria de Piero. Ignoring Gloria's question, Dave strapped the glasses across his ever-broadening face, and said he'd noticed she'd taken to Twitter this morning to seek advice on what to ask. The first reply she received, revealed the newly-sighted PM, asked if she was happy with Ed as her leader at the next election.

Those Tory MPs not already exhausted by the adulation they'd offered to their Leader's new glasses, fell about at this latest opportunity to put their names down for the imminent re-shuffle. William Hague's head suddenly discovered a mouth, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin almost smothered Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt - too far away from the PM - looked for someone else to lick.

But, on the Labour benches only grim faces, particularly from those who had read the reviews of Ed's appearance at the TUC yesterday. Ed Balls, his own position under regular questioning, stared off into space hardly bothering with the hand movements which moved Dave to name him "the most annoying man in British politics. Harriet Harman, now regularly trotted out to tell us what the Leader really meant, checked on her shoes.

But, Dave, now in full-chortle, waved the new specs around with gay (pre-war) abandon.
Ed M's less-than-confrontational confrontation with the brothers in Bournemouth had provided guaranteed fun for the PM who charged that he had "bottled it." 

For once, it was Ed M's voice which slipped on an octave as the massed ranks of the expensively tanned opposite seized on his discomfort. He did have a go at the Chancellor for "total complacency and total hubris" but George just arched and purred  at the compliment.
And Michael Gove was wisely absent as Ed described him as an "absolute disgrace" for saying people who use food banks have only themselves to blame.

In times past Gove's slip of the silver tongue added to rising unemployment everywhere north of Watford would have been enough to let loose Labour's dogs of war. But, with the present party seen to be repeating the triangulation of Tony Blair, it's teeth seem to have been drawn in a desperate attempt to avoid annoying anyone.

Squandering Syria and backing down to the brothers are already headlines in too many minds.  Now Parliament is packing in to allow MPs out into the country to meet the next best thing to real people at party conferences giving Ed less than two weeks to come up with the speech of his life. 

Bottling it in Brighton is not an option.