Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Gift that Keeps on The Giving...


Had the House of Commons been connected to the National Grid this morning the nation's energy needs would have been sorted out in thirty minutes. A plug into Prime Ministers Questions could have heated the whole country and left enough over to give the Chinese something else to buy. 

As it was, oxygen masks falling from the ceiling of the chamber would not have been out of place as MPs put on a bravura performance of "when in doubt - shout." Indeed, passers-by in Peterborough could have been forgiven for looking around in alarm at any time after noon.

Twelve o'clock had just chimed when Speaker Bercow summoned the victim - aka the Prime Minister - to his feet. Dave, as regular readers know, has been behind the eight-ball (as they might say in the United States) for some weeks since Ed Miliband learned how to spell energy. Every time the Labour leader drops the word into conversation, the PM gets a mixture of Dropsy and Tourette's. So today his equally nervous back benchers decided that only volume could save their man from another hammering. This led in turn to an equally robust response from the massed mouths of Labour and the re-appearance of the Speaker's alter-ego, Zebedee. 

To be fair to Dave, he and his advisors had come up with a plan to switch attention to the economy and Labour's failure to get it right. But, whether John Major last week, or the Big Six yesterday,"events, dear boy, events," to quote Harold MacMillan, have conspired to keep energy prices centre stage.
And Ed made it clear from the off that he has no plans to let go of this bone any time soon.

Directional mikes mean that the increasing insults hurled by both men at each other can be heard clearly at home. But the Kop-like atmosphere in the Commons meant that supporters on both sides could only snarl on cue as body language from their bosses.

Frequent interventions from the Speaker brought momentary calm but only as the Tory back benchers, thankfully still wearing their leg irons, compared the distances between them and him. It would be a waste of time to describe the "debate" in detail since it involved Ed shouting energy and Dave shouting economy.

But, even with a game plan, not to mention several weeks of drubbing behind him, the Prime Minister seemed unable to avoid succumbing to energy Ed. And even when it seemed he might be tempted, Ed mark two (Balls, to you), appearing as Shadow Chancellor, was there to drag him back.

It is well known that Ed Balls has a particular gift of getting up the Prime Minister's patrician snout better than anyone else. Today, the "most annoying man in British politics", seemed far enough up it to polish Dave's new specs from the inside. 

As both Ed's mixed and matched their Zippy smiles, Dave held, slipped and finally lost his temper again. His back-benchers roared to hide their own confusion and trotted out the economy questions that should have got him back on track but already the paramedics were standing by.

The noise had clearly discomforted the Deputy Prime Minister into observing proceedings around him with some alarm. Further down the front benches, the Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles, gave a whole new meaning to the expression, "chewing a wasp." Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt looked terrified, but then he always does, and Chancellor George looked a bit bored, but then…

As Ed B's smirk threatened to swallow him, Ed M cracked a joke about Dave and "the Big Seven" and then spoiled it by trying a second funny.

The Prime Minister meanwhile was yet again giving off those warning signs which must contribute to the number of "sickies" pulled in Downing Street every Wednesday afternoon.

The Labour leader, he said, was a "one-trick pony." 

The trouble for Dave, is this nag is the gift that keeps on giving.