Wednesday, July 16, 2014

PMQs Sketch July 16th - Here today, Gove tomorrow.

You have to hand it to Michael Gove - and the queue would have stretched out of Parliament, up Whitehall, round Trafalgar Square and onto the 11.15 from Euston. He should have gone missing after David Cameron placed his tender parts between two house bricks yesterday and squeezed. But the former Education Secretary, now Chief Whip, didn’t get where he isn’t today by being sensitive.

So there he was, 24 hours after being shafted, rictus grin applied, ready for all comers at Prime Ministers Questions. There are always bodies in various states of decay dotted around the chamber but there was a particular poignancy today.

Wasn’t that the remains of Andrew Lansely, once architect of the new NHS, stuck on the back bench but one. And surely that used to be Owen Paterson and Liam Fox glaring from the reception area for the undead behind the Speaker’s chair. In their places “the totty” as the Sun surely would describe Michael Fallon, the new Defence Secretary and and the two unknown men next to him - who may have just taken the wrong turn on the way to lunch.

There too, brand spanking new Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who had left his personality at home yet again.
And of course there were a few models, mums and make-overs, according to the Daily Mail, booked to bring some colour to the TV screen.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had moved himself out of the way to let at least three sit down.

The PM must have been stung by the attention his new cabinet members got since he sashayed into the Chamber wearing a little Richard James number in dark blue.

Richard knocks suits out for three and a half grand and Dave chose a white shirt and pale blue tie to offset its dark intent. His outfit seemed to miff his near neighbour Nick Clegg who had also obviously made an effort for the last PMQs of the season.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s mood cannot have been helped by the direct effect on himself by the re-shuffle. In happier times past he could while away PMQs in desultory conversation with Leader of the House Lansley and Tory chief whip and gent Sir George Young. None of them had any real interest in Government business and could happily swap stories on how to tie up their shoes as Dave droned on.

With his pals axed, Nick now has new leader William Hague and the aforementioned M. Gove esq. as his chums.  With such targets right in front of him even the often ocularly challenged Leader of the Labour Party could surely not fail.

How come Dave had said just last month that Gove could stay in his job for ever, said Ed Miliband, and then demote him yesterday. With four years experience under his belt, the PM replied by not replying.

Instead he accused Ed of not talking about the economy - which of course was true since he had been talking about Michael Gove.

As Ed would have known Dave would not answer, he surprisingly asked him again - to be ignored again.

Ed got frustrated, the Kop End of Tory back benchers got noisier and Dave just smiled - and pounced. Had not Ed’s deputy Harriet Harman, said yesterday that the middle cases should pay more taxes.

Having invented “the squeezed middle”, the last thing Ed wanted to hear was that his party wanted to squeeze them more.

As the Kop went berserk, Ed went hapless and Harriet appeared to mouth ”yes I did.”

Chancellor George looked as though he’d got eight draws in the World Cup and his opposite number Ed Balls did his goldfish Impressions.

Elsewhere in the chamber, MPs paused in emailing partners with packing suggestions for the long vac to note this was the first - but not the last - time they will hear Harriet’s quote.

This has not been Ed’s best year.
Near the door Desmond Grieve, sacked as Attorney General for thinking he was the Attorney General could just watch. He had to go, said Dave, because he had been in the job four years, just like Ed.

The Prime Minister said in his party, the leader reshuffles the Cabinet. 

In the Labour Party, the Shadow Cabinet wants to reshuffle the leader.

It’s going to be a long hot summer.