Wednesday, February 05, 2014

PMQs Feb 5th 2014 - Dave's Sensitive Bits...Between Two House Bricks

There are times in every man's life, it is said, when he calls out for his mum - and it was David Cameron's time this morning. Though to be fair to the dowager Mrs Cameron, just about any woman of a Tory voting disposition would have done to plug the hole in his defences.

The day had started off badly enough for the Prime Minister as the wrong sort of water continued to fall down south and what had begun as an inconvenience turned into a full-blown crisis. Ever since Prince Charles slipped the royal wellies into the water yesterday, Dave, who has yet to get wet, knew he was in for a hard time.

With Prime Ministers Questions on the way, Dave announced he would now be manning the political pumps and chairing a meeting of COBRA where everybody who is anybody gets together to agree there is a crisis. With the solution likely to be whatever the reverse is of a rain dance, Ed Miliband arrived at PMQs happy to demand Dave pull his finger out - or put it in - depending on which cliche you would like to use.

The PM knew he would have hearty support from his own benches who aways need to noisily remind him of their loyalty after shafting him, as they did last week over immigration. They were therefore in treble volume as their leader, conscious of the importance of the constituencies about to be part of the English Channel, promised to move hell if, sadly not, high water.
He tried dropping a quick Bob Crow into the argument to deflect attention and the usual suspects howled their approval.

But, Ed didn't get where he is today by dissing the unions and he slipped Bob's name - and his tube strike - off into the ether accompanied by the less-than-good wishes of the Tory benches.
By now a disconcerted Dave was clearly sinking, grimly grasping the Prime Ministerial specs to steady his shaking fingers.

An early retirement now would have given Ed a victory and left the PM with at least enough appetite for  the finger buffet.

But Ed had not finished.

Out of the blue (sorry), he asked Dave how he was getting on with "leading equality" in the Tory Party -  and the world stood still. Actually it did not stand still, it went berserk as the berserkers behind him sensed a trap and upped the volume as their leader burbled a few facts and figures about women MPs and his party.

Did the Labour leader not realise that 24% of the members of his Cabinet were women, he said. and all eyes were naturally drawn to the Government front bench. There was William, and next to him George, then Jeremy, then the slim one from defence and the fat one from somewhere else. Even Danny had his mam's permission to turn up and so the suits went on and on - off into the distance - and not a dress between them.

Regular readers know that PMQs is enlivened by the appearance among the old boys of those few women who have risen, some without trace, to the cabinet. The scowling face of International Development Secretary Justine Greening, sacked by Dave from Environment, is a regular sight over the PM's shoulder as is the frightened Theresa Villiers, when summoned back from Northern Ireland. But, pride of place always goes to the formidable features of Home Secretary and potential future leader Theresa May brave enough to sit within arms length of Dave.

But, today, nothing, nada, no-one as Ed happily pointed out with a sweep of a contemptuous hand, It will never be known if a deliberate deal had been done to emasculate the Prime Minister but he had all the look of someone whose more sensitive bits had been placed between two house bricks.

As the old boys went even beserker Dave fell back on his last defence and uttered 'Margaret Thatcher' to defend the Tory Party's position on women in 2014. As grown men - at least on the Conservative benches - almost swooned at the name, the noise was loud enough to produce ripples in the Somerset levels. Education Secretary Michael Gove got so carried away that Speaker Bercow, already hoarse at being ignored, warned him lines were in order for bad behaviour.

As florid faces fought for breath, final confirmation of the day's disaster came as Culture Secretary Maria Miller - the only representative of the 24% - burst into the chamber a full 20 minutes after kick-off. Maria should know, as indeed should the rest, that a full inquiry will already have been launched by the Daily Mail and the guilty women will be named, shamed and framed by tomorrow morning.

Just to help the inquiry; Nick Clegg was in Mexico.