The only really enjoyable part of PMQs came right at the end in a question on immigration, and time running out. The PM broke off his answer with an abrupt change of subject to congratulate ex-Chief Clerk Sir Robert Rogers on his peerage.
It had been an indirect attack on the Speaker to make the hated Rogers a peer, now a slightly less indirect way of rubbing salt into the open wound that sits in the Speaker’s chair.
The House loved it. And not just Tories. Witnesses inside the Chamber said the cheering came from both sides of the House and went on for a parliamentary eternity (about 15 seconds).
The Speaker busied himself in conversation with his secretary. He wasn’t taking on that mob.
Feelings about the Speaker are like a tsunami wave travelling a long distance. Out at sea the wave looks like any other. Only when the seabed rises approaching land does the wave rise and reveal itself.
That was one moment of the wave passing an island. Up it reared.
In every second of every cheer the House was saying, “We know what you’re like. You bullied, browbeat, berated, swore at a decent man until he couldn’t take it any more and quit the job that meant the world to him. You have revealed yourself. And we won’t forget it.”
The occasion passes, the wave resumes its normal height, but it’s still traveling with undiminished power .
The questions of Prime Minister’s questions.
It was a dialogue of the deaf.
The Prime Minister accused his questioner of having no answers. That’s an innovation even Blair didn’t dare. Then he went into his government’s Roll of Honour on the NHS.
More spending, more outpatients, more treatments, more patients, more operations, more doctors, more nurses.
he leader of the Oppodigion replied with: Longer waiting lists, more missed targets, more delays, more cancellations, crisis, breakdown, disaster of Tories who want poor people to die if they get sick
The PM quoted Tony Blair’s old health adviser, now running the service. He says things have only got better.
The opposition leader said all the same old Tories could offer was five more years of crisis. And the worst cost of living crisis since the end of the last ice age. And a reference to the deficit crisis. He remembered to make that point.
The PM said the NHS had just been rated Best in Class by some supranational pack of busybodies, and Ed said, no all that was on offer was five more years of crisis.
Cameron’s lordly ease is always a pleasure to watch, for those that like lordly ease. And Ed’s mouth excelled itself – a deck quoit. Like that comedian imitating a Black and White minstrel with a deck quoit for a mouth. Something for everyone.