SKETCH: How nice to be back among the familiar faces

The same 12-year-old making the same pantomime faces with the same fat dame beside him. She was pursing her lips and exercising her exopthalmia; the little one was dropping his jaw and letting his teeth out for a canter – they were both giving us to understand they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. It’s the commedia del arte school of politics, in which words are not enough. In the case of the Eds that’s both astute and true.

“He has no answer to Labour’s Price Freeze policy! He has no idea!” That and “the cost of living crisis” which “IS an economic policy”.

These are propositions that belong in the playground.

On the other side, the Prime Minister failed to wipe the floor with them. A mysterious failure, considering the resources at hand. He had a Miliband quote when he was Energy minister: “To deal with the problems of climate change, prices will have to rise.”

That powerful point – and others like it, such as economic growth, the IMF upgrade, Ed Balls “being wrong about absolutely everything” – got lost in the noise.

As a student of Blair, Cameron should realise that deadliness comes from quietness. It’s how Blair destroyed Hague – he was there, he will remember.

And one Labour point does need some attention from Tory theologians – why is it wrong to interfere in the mortgage market but not the energy market?

But neither was there the correct answer to “Why are energy prices so high?” (No answer is complete without the word “shale” in it.)

The Tory roar at the end showed the Speaker struggling to keep control. Maybe Simon Burns’ bid for deputy speaker is gaining popularity. It’s inconceivable that the Speaker isn’t working behind the scenes on Eleanor Laing’s behalf. It will be the best joke of the year if the House saddles him with his best – and most bestial – enemy.

Remembering Diane Abbott’s parting shot, Ed Miliband seems to be adding a little anti-immigrant nationalism to his socialist instincts. The balance is important, obviously, but that strategy has been electorally successful in the past, abroad.




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