Unusually, the Prime Minister called the Speaker. It’s usually the other way round.
The noise from Labour was so great – the raucous enjoyment of their weekly Ten Minute Hate – that on two occasions the Prime Minister shook his head and gestured towards the Speaker indicating he should intervene. The first time, the Speaker got up at once to call for quiet. The second time Cameron had to say: “Mr Speaker, really,” and up the Speaker popped up to do the bidding.
What a change!
Hard to say who won on noise.
As for the argument – gender politics. Not my subject, really.
Ed Miliband had prepared his attack by packing as many women as he could into his front bench. At 11.59 they’d managed six women to three men in the first nine. They needed another. Rachel Reeves looking almost sexist she’s so gorgeous (as I say, it’s not really my subject) went to sit on Ed Balls’ knee. What with his wife two seats down, Balls had to bump her off and onto the bench and that brought the male/female front bench numbers to 70/30 in favour of the females.
The pound gained 3 per cent against all major currencies.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” the Labour leader gloated, waving that funny thing he’s got at the end of his arm. There wasn’t a single woman on the Conservative front bench.
At best, Cameron had a woman right behind him. Anne MacIntosh tweeting, possibly. “Take that, Ed, ha!”
Cameron said the Tory female figures were 24 per cent of something and 48 up from 17 of something else. This was very good. Or a disgrace, depending on where you were sitting.
Cameron’s “We had the first woman prime minister,” produced goal-scoring celebration from Tories. “Yeah, and she actually won elections,” Miliband responded which drove his fans to their feet. Everyone having a terrific time.
Speaker’s turn for the worse
Suddenly the Speaker burst a blood vessel. He’d stood up and shouted for order, no one had paid him any attention and he’d sat down again. Now he addressed the Education secretary (we bullies know who to pick on). “Mr Gove!” (Laughter) “You really are a most excitable individual!” (Dissenting noises from Labour. They wanted a different description.) “ORDER!” (Looking as though he was going to hit someone) “You should write out a thousand times, ‘I must behave at prime minister’s questions!”
But his voice was going, and the noise actually increased. The House was out of control and the Speaker could only let it roar.
On occasions like this, we see how the Tory loathing, the product of years of abusive treatment from the Chair, is still bubbling beneath the surface.
Back to gender rage
Ed made the point that Cameron had greeted a high-profile business woman at a reception with the words: “Where’s your husband?”
The pound lost 3 per cent, and the output gap widened.
Miliband may be right that his core vote will be energized by hatred. Odd that such a mild-mannered, decent fellow should hope to become prime minister of Britain on the basis of a hate crime.
On with the show
Jack Dromey stood up. Robert Buckland called out, “Where’s your wife?” – or so Labour’s Kevin Brennan tweeted. Feelings about Mr Dromey are strictly non-party political.
The Birmingham MP told the House: “Queen Victoria was on the throne when the Dunlop factory in Erdington started making those big black things – what are they called? They’re circular, you know, they get pumped up really hard, fully-inflated some of them are enormous. Some of them so gigantic you think ‘No, too big for me, it’ll never fit!’ TYRES! Thank you!”
If he didn’t say that I must have drifted off half way through.