Wednesday, January 15, 2014

PMQs January 15th 2014 - Come on you Eds. Time to look again at Plan P.

When Sir Winston Churchill said jaw-jaw was better than war-war, he was 80 and had obviously not been down the House of Commons recently. If he'd been there last week, he would have seen Ed Miliband proposing a unilateral truce in the weekly head-banging contest known as Prime Ministers Questions.

Cynics said it would never last, but they were wrong - by four and a half minutes.

That's all the time it took to bring to an end Ed's attempt to put light where there had only ever been heat. To be fair to the P in PMQs, Dave hadn't been asked it he wanted to take part in the peace process. But, the wall of sound from the Tory side which greeted the Labour leader left him in little doubt that it was off before it was on - and so was he.

Labour had started the day well, exposing the machinations by RBS bankers to double-double their bonuses despite being owned by a nation whose pay rises had struggled to one per cent.
Dave knew he was in trouble as soon as Ed asked him what he was going to do about it - and so did his back benches. When in doubt - shout, has always been their motto, so much so that a special Dave support group was formed late last year after continued successful Ed-attacks on their leader.

The group, specially selected for their ability to shout without shame, meet each week
before PMQs to decide on how to unnerve Ed and practice the insult of the day. They then position themselves out of the Speakers eyeliner and proceed to barrack the Labour leader as soon as he opens his mouth.

With all the subtlety of the Kop, "the beserkers", as they are aptly known in the party lived proudly up to their name this morning. Ed had hardly got the word "bankers" out of his mouth before they were on him.

Labour MP's looked as if they didn't know whether to twist or bust as their leader pressed on with his peace plan. Speaker Bercow, with his rare opportunity to play Ban Ki Moon now clearly out of the window , didn't even bother to appeal for calm. And with both him and Ed now thoroughly worked up, the beserkers proceeded to out-bray themselves with pleasure.

But, as the Labour leader was pummelled back into his seat, it was clear that even Dave didn't know quite how to play it. His natural Flashman rose to the sound of his bully boys but he was half way through the session before he realised the full import of the Ed truce - the silence of the other Ed.

Since time immemorial, or at least since this Parliament began, the Prime Ministerial ankles have been regularly snapped at by Shadow Chancellor Balls. Indeed his regular forays up the PM's patrician nose earned him the soubriquet "the most annoying man in British politics" from Dave, whose blood pressure regularly soared under his encouragement.

Thus the sudden unnerved shriek of the PM when he realised the Miliband PMQs peace plan had also been enforced not just on Labour back benchers but his tormentor-in-chief. And, enforced it definitely appeared as the Shadow Chancellor sat glowering, moody, if mute, as Dave had a rare and unrequited go at him.

The Prime Minister managed to get "silence" and "shadow chancellor" into same sentence before seemingly realising the danger of poking an angry bear with a stick. Up and down the Tory front bench, Minsters took time out from chatting to enjoy the self-imposed silence of their opposition.
Relieved Tory MPs realised a long lunch was on the cards as a normally enraged PM would not need to be fed a few of them. 

But, it was a different matter over in the side of the people's party as their MPs looked uncertain about what had just happened.

It's clear that stronger shackles will be needed to for Ed B next week unless plan P, like Plan B, is looked at again.