Wednesday, April 02, 2014

PMQs April 2nd - Sand Blasting for Dave

It was hard to tell if the illegal immigration of sand from the Sahara had caused unwanted chafing, but, it was handbags at noon in the House of Commons.

Empty seats in the chamber betrayed those MPs who had taken the bucket and spade option to the latest influx from Africa. But, a vintage performance remained for fans of the Wednesday Whitehall matinee otherwise known as Prime Ministers Questions.

You could tell trouble was coming as soon as Speaker Bercow issued his usual invitation to Ed Miliband to put the Qs into PMQs.
Even before the Labour leader opened his mouth, massed rioting broke out on the Tory back benches.

It is an established political and mathematical fact that noise in the House of Commons rises in inverse proportion to the truth about to be told. And so Ed mentioned the Royal Mail and mayhem ensued.

Just to remind those readers who winter abroad, the postal service was sold off last October amid fanfares of self-congratulation from members of the coalition.
Yesterday, the National Audit Office said the taxpayer had been ripped off to the tune of at least £750m. All Ed had to do was ask "how come?" and we were off and running.

Normally Prime Minister Dave takes a little while to get worked up but he - not to mention his backbench band of bully boys - knew what was coming.
And so it was the full-throttled version which levitated to reply to the charge of "fiasco" from the Labour leader.

There is nothing like a foreign word to get the Tories going and this one was enough for the massed ranks. Switching from serious to splenetic in seconds, Dave said he would not be taking any advice from the "two muppets" sitting opposite, neatly bracketing Ed Balls with his leader.

As sleeves started to be rolled up on both sides Ed denounced the PM as the "dunce of Downing Street", Ed B began some serious sledging and ice creams could have been sold throughout.

Ed M asked the PM a question about numbers as if he didn't know that Dave-Doesn't-Do-Detail and was roundly ignored for his trouble.

Speaker Bercow intervened to call on "the juveniles" in the chamber to calm down and grow up and "the juvies" roundly ignored him for good measure.

Equally ignored - and obviously thankful for it - the trio of Tory women shoe-horned into seats adjacent to the now incandescent PM.
Ever-present since that fateful PMQs when they all went awol, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers had drawn the short straw and sat within finger grasp of her boss.

Jammed next to her Home Secretary Theresa May, counting the tacks in the carpet, and Culture Secretary Maria Miller, just relieved to be in work after her expenses embarrassment.

By now the Prime Minister was "as red as a post box", said the Labour leader as he added in the charge of offering "mates rates" to his millionaire chums.
"Ferrets in a sack", said Dave, apropos of something not quite heard, and MPs on both sides gloried noisily in the level of political debate.

With a wall now moved in, to stick his back against, the PM then made the fateful mistake of uttering "a fact".

Regulars will know that there is historically no place made available in PMQs for either answers or facts.

But, steamed up to the eyeballs, Dave claimed selling off the Royal Mail had been in Labour's election manifesto. As his side cheered the two Ed's checked each other out before somewhat half-heartedly denying it.

Ahead of the game - or so he thought - Dave collapsed back into the safety of his seat, Theresa V imitated a smile, Vince Cable imitated a gargoyle.

A further objection from the Speaker to "braying and sneering" from a Tory back-bencher and it was time for lunch.

But, as he fled the chamber "the fact" Dave had so nonchalantly uttered was on its way to spoil the Prime Ministerial pudding.

The Labour manifesto had never said sell the Royal Mail and - as every politician knows -  the only thing more dangerous than a fact is a wrong fact. 

Expect a few sickies in Downing Street this afternoon.