Harriet was always going to use that line about gloating.
The PM is back to his easy, lordly form. He deflected hostile questions (“It’s an important point she raises.”) He congratulated opposition MPs. He made a pretty decent UKIP joke that made Douglas Carswell laugh – “He has made political history. As a party of one he’s had a backbench rebellion.”
He has all the characteristics the country expects from a decent, moderate Conservative. So Harriet had her work cut out to make a sow’s ear out of the silk purse that is our prime minister.
She had it all worked out. She was going to define him in the public mind before he could define himself.
At the outset he had made laughing reference to Labour MPs voting for an EU referendum. He called the occasion “the biggest mass conversion since that Chinese general baptised his troops with a hosepipe.” He could have said anything. It didn’t matter what it was. In defiance of what was happening in front of her, Harriet came back with the one she had already prepared: She said: “He won the election. He’s the prime minister.” (Huge Tory cheers. So far, so accurate.) “He doesn’t need to be ranting and sneering and gloating . . .”
As ranting, it didn’t qualify. The sneering was absent. And the Eton Gloating Song hadn’t even got to the humming stage.
But it was very Labour.
Setting out to fit facts to theory, no matter what the reality.
She concluded with: “And frankly, he should show a bit more class!”
Raucous laughter concealed utter bewilderment. Labour was left wondering whether the class war had developed not necessarily to their advantage.
After a pretty sensible sequence of exchanges on this and that, Cameron made another light – though perhaps a little sharp – remark, quoting Harriet’s observation that there were Labour supporters out there who were “relieved we didn’t win.”
Harriet then became the 1950s housewife, caught in an embarrassing situation. “He can’t help himself but gloat. Go right ahead and gloat!”
That is, “I’m in the wrong, I have no defence. My position is indefensible. Attack!”
She calls it “sticking it to the Tories”.
There’s not much else she can do.
How completely bust the Labour party is. Its leaders have been executed or gone into exile. It has no idea what it is or what it is for.
From Cameron’s account of the Tories it is very likely they will win the next election, and probably the one after that.
He said they were going to make a certain level of childcare tax deductible. That they’d raise the minimum wage and take those earning it out of tax. Peace and easy taxes. The Adam Smith solution.
And with Osborne promising to apply the full Keynsian discipline (low public spending as a proportion of GDP, and surpluses in the boom to ease the inevitable recession) – there is no need for a Labour party.
When that sinks in, and only then, we might hear on the hay harvest breeze, the opening bars of the Eton Gloating Song.