Wednesday, February 12, 2014

PMQs Feb 12th 2014 - Dave, Ed and the perils of plumbing

You could tell it was going to be serious because flood faces had been handed out in advance. MPs had them firmly fixed in place as they gathered for Prime Ministers Questions to ask if Mother Nature had washed away their majorities.

The detritus of recent days could already be seen on the Government front benches.
The sandbag known as Eric Pickles, holed below the waterline after his skirmish with Environment Agency boss Chris Smith, sat slumped and silent.
Equally forlorn, Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, who'd sailed unprepared into a clash with a furious Thameside floodee. 
And bringing up a not-inconsiderable rear, today's Cabinet sacrifice, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
He had been trotted out to explain when the Prime Minister said "money was no object", for the floods, he didn't mean "money was no object".

As the three searched for a smile it can be reported that not all was doom and gloom on the Government side.
Earlier cheers had broken out as Theresa May, aka HMS Home Secretary, hoved into view majestically moving under full sail.

Mrs May, who surely has a future out of politics strapped to the prow of a ship, docked in her usual berth just before the start of PMQs. You will remember how she had suspiciously gone awol last week.

Indeed, all the women in Premier Dave's Cabinet has suddenly found better things to do at noon on a Wednesday to the delight of Ed Miliband and picture editors throughout Fleet Street. But no such mistake this week as whips were three-lined (if such an analogy is seemly) as grey suits were shifted. 

It appeared as if every woman ever to cross the threshold of Number 10 and shake the Prime Ministerial hand had been invited. Unknown faces attached to unknown dresses replaced the portly presences who normally snatch a pre-lunch snooze on the green benches.

But, even they seemed unable to raise party spirits as a subdued Government side waited for their leader to explain how they were going to get out of this one.
Dave quickly found himself having to cope with his own crimson tide as the changes to his above-neck colour are affectionately known to the opposition.

Having spent most of the week in wellies, the PM was in no mood to be lectured on the perils of plumbing by the leader of the Labour Party.
But, unable to find any bit of the flood donkey on which to pin the Labour tail, he had to endure Ed M's insults.

The Labour leader, who thankfully kept his welly-wearing to a minimum this week then deliberately made matters worse.  What could the Prime Minister tell him about plans to sack hundreds of people whose job was to protect against floods, he said.

As the PM blanched beneath the tide there was a pause as if he was finally going to say "Dave doesn't do detail".
But, having considered that option tradition kicked in and he ignored the question and the one after that to make the point. By now even Ed Balls, mercifully recovered from a recent bout of foot-in-the-mouthness, was happily biting on the patrician ankles.

As Dave floundered, worried looks appeared the faces behind him and also on a face much closer, that of his best buddy Chancellor Osborne.
It is not known if George spent the night in intensive care following Dave's apparent pledge to spend whatever it took to bale out flood victims.

But, he still had a pasty look about him as the Prime Minister made it even more unclear whether new money was going to be found or old money moved around.
The Government "needed to speak with one voice" said Ed M as eyes switched between the PM and his Chancellor.

Earlier the Transport Secretary had successfully muddied the waters by translating  the phrase "money no object" into the words "no blank cheque".
And with George glowering on it was obvious that Dave was not going to make it any clearer than that.
It will get worse before it gets better, he said - and he could get to say that again a few times.