SKETCH: Labour Bravely Faces the Good News Disaster

Ed Balls’ face said it all. Serious, sombre, stoical. What substance he has, what fortitude. He really has the gravel to face the worst.

Yes, the employment figures were in and they were catastrophic. So wholly and voluptuously positive that If you had instructed your statistician to come up with a Balls-crushing statistic and he’d produced this you would have said: “Steady, we want to be a little bit credible.”

The very morning of PMQs heralded the biggest quarterly rise in employment since the Norman Conquest.

Ed Miliband began a line of questions with the words “today’s welcome fall in unemployment” and prompted the longest, uninterrupted barrage of Tory artillery we’ve had for many years.

A welcome fall, he said. Welcome.

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PMQs Live Chat: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs Edition

At 12.00pm: Oral Questions to the Prime Minister

Q1 Stephen Timms (East Ham) If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 22 January.

Q2 Nick de Bois (Enfield North)

Q3 Duncan Hames (Chippenham)

Q4 Mr Steve Reed (Croydon North)

Q5 Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton)

Q6 Simon Kirby (Brighton, Kemptown)

Q7 Phil Wilson (Sedgefield)

Q8 Christopher Pincher (Tamworth)

Q9 David T. C. Davies (Monmouth)

Q10 Ann McKechin (Glasgow North)

Q11 Mark Pawsey (Rugby)

Q12 Mr Michael McCann (East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow)

Q13 Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East)

Q14 Jonathan Lord (Woking)

Q15 Damian Hinds (East Hampshire)

Comments in the comments please…

SKETCH: PM’s Answers More Than Enough for These PMQs Bercow Compare and Contrast: Bullying Works

The surge in good economic news and the collapse of the Socialist experiment in France has added two new characters to the opposition front bench.

A surly, sullen but above all silent Ed Balls – and a wounded fawn of a Labour leader.

They still do the look they’ve always done – cocked heads looking at the PM as if to say, “What a curious person saying such peculiar things. I wonder if he knows what he thinks he’s saying sounds like?” At school it was called “dumb insolence”. It amused us but works no better now than it did then.

Cameron was back as the Master of the House thanking three or four Labour Members for their suggestions, commending opponents, smiling, taking things seriously, not rising to the bait.

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PMQs LIVE: Da Bankers Da Bonuses Edition

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Attack Dog Holiday

John Rentoul has been analysing the Miliband mantra to make PMQs all nice and fluffy:

“But something had changed. If I had been more observant, I would have noticed that Michael Dugher, the Labour noise machine, was not sitting in his usual place on the steps of the gangway next to the opposition front bench.”

If he had been more observant, Rentoul would have noticed that Michael Dugher has been Tweeting about being in Israel all week.

Sketch: Quiet Commons Helps Cameron


For once, our television screens broadcast a quiet, respectful, intelligent PMQs.

How the public detest it! My mailbag was full of disgusted members of the public complaining about the lack of passion, energy, class war, amusing abuse, animal noises, flying fruit, incarnadine faces and generalised, unspecific roaring.

“If aliens had landed in the middle of this and were told ‘This is how we hold our Government to account’ they’d say, ‘Bollocks you do! That’s just a bunch of kids pretending to be grown-ups!”

Some say the tenor was set by the death of popular Paul Goggins, announced this morning. There was mourning, condolence, fond memories, kind wishes. And this is how it should be, the decencies were observed. Though in my experience, the political reaction is “X has cancer. He’s dying.” “Oh no! That’s awful!” Beat. “What’s the majority?”

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Tories Deny PMQs Deal

A senior Tory pours cold water on the suggestion by Nick Robinson that today’s PMQs could have been the result of Ed and Dave agreeing to take PMQs down a notch or two after the rowdiness of the last year: “You brief people you want calmer, more dignified when you are losing.” That’s that then.

UPDATE: Ta da:

PMQs Live Chat: Boring Snoring Edition

https://twitter.com/OHwinsAgain/status/420890450275221504

Comments in the comments please…

GALLERY GUIDO PMQs SKETCH: Bercow’s Descendancy

“The booing and jeering from the Government benches at Bercow was as bad as I have ever known it,” a back bencher said. “And when Therese Coffey wished him and his family a happy Christmas, that got booed as well.”

It was quite a scene. When John McDonnell called the Prime Minister a liar – or was it “Lies! Lies! All lies!” as another witness had it – the Tories started to chant the only really offensive word in his Speaker’s lexicon. The word is “Order.”

“Order! Order!” they shouted. “ORDER!”

The English translation is: “You dirty, rotten, cheating, twisted little berk – you’ve ratted on all your colleagues, you’ve connived and conspired against one side of the House and sucked up to the other, you bend, bribe and bully decent people with your gifts and positions and quid pro quos, you’ve used the highest position in Parliament to puff your pompous little personality out of its skin, your language is ridiculous, your snobbery is disgusting, your megalomania is obvious, your taut, fake smile is completely unconvincing, and you do not deserve our respectful goodwill a moment longer!”

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PMQs Live Chat: Christmas Jeer Edition

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GALLERY GUIDO PMQs SKETCH: Balls Crushed

No howling, no animal noises, no Brueghel peasant carnival atmosphere. It was PMQs but not as we know it. The almost orderly session revealed several new dynamics on the floor of the House.

Ed Balls seems to have been crushed. “Red Ed and redder Ed,” the PM laughed, recalling the pulsing flush that suffused the shadow chancellor last week. And then, more bruisingly,“The autumn statement proved one thing. He can dish it out, but he can’t take it!”

True, the shadow chancellor’s hand gestures were so poor he couldn’t have got a job at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. The downward pointing finger was picked up by Cameron – that’s the only direction the Balls career is going.

That’s what caused a little too much visible pleasure in the Opposition leader.

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PMQs Live Chat: Selfie Respect Edition

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SKETCH: PMQs Parliamentary Outreach Programme

With the Prime Minister in China, PMQs was run to a new format.

Hon. Member: Question Number 1, Mr Speaker.

Russell Brand: I’ve been asked to reply.

(Prolonged cheers. Animal noises. A klaxon. A row of minor parties stand up wearing one communal 14-foot moustache to raise awareness for Displaced Syrian Children with Prostate Cancer. Some banner-waving and a fist-fight. An hon. Member plays a trumpet.)

Mr Brand: Okay, I’m reading this off the card. ‘This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues’ – actually some really bizarre people I wouldn’t wish on anyone. There was literally a man there in black tights and a, like, medieval waistcoat – there he is there sitting at the table. ARRGGHH!!!! He really is there, is he? I thought I was back on crack.

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DPMQs Live Chat: Green and Yellow Crap Edition

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PMQs Live Chat: The Roma Are Coming Edition

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UPDATE: Fabbers’ tash in all its glory:

Fabricant Promises to Wear Fake Hairpiece at PMQs

Michael Fabricant will be be wearing a fake moustache at PMQs today to raise awareness for prostate cancer.

He’ll be hoping to catch the Speaker’s eye for a Fab first – wearing fake hair.

You can donate to his cause here.

PMQs SKETCH: Power is Not the Only Drug

Considering the aggregate of recent events Stephen Brine enjoyed quite a range of options with which to open the Government batting at PMQs. He said: “The nightmare of my disbelief at the Opposition Leader’s gay-porn male prostitute front bench million pounds for hard working mums and dads against Ed Miliband’s Welfare party on amphetamines?”

The Prime Minister agreed that there were questions for Labour to answer, about who knew what when, why, whither and who in the Labour party had put the meth in Methodist.

“Edward Miliband!” the Speaker called in such an impartial way that a stress fracture broke out in his forehead.

Ed Miliband rose to speak for the children of Chipping Norton. They were having their Children’s Centre closed. “Children’s lives are being destroyed by the Conservative cost of living crisis,” he said. “Heartbreak soldiers pride in British children with a fair wage, without VAT tax evading fraudsters pouring money into the Conservative party because their leader is a LOSER!”

The Prime Minister handled it with ease and some asperity. “What he doesn’t say, because he’s pathetic, is that now there’ll be one fewer set of school gates where Labour donors can peddle crack cocaine!”

That played into Ed Miliband’s line of attack: “I think we have established that the out of touch Prime Minister just doesn’t understand that the price of crack cocaine now puts it totally beyond the reach of squeezed children who are being forced into coke banks by pay day Tories!”

George Osborne heckled: “Shove it up your forearm with a turkey baster, you sick, bent, rent boys!”

Visibly deflated, the Opposition leader concluded his attack with, “What he has shown today is that he has no answers!”

“I may not have answers,” the Prime Minister laughed, “but you don’t have any questions.”

“Touché,” all sides cried and repaired behind the Speaker’s Chair where the crack pipes are kept.

Note. Reconstruction. Dialogue may not represent actual dialogue. Steve Coogan appeared as David Cameron and Johnny Vegas as Ed Balls. Ed Miliband was played by himself.

PMQs LIVE: Crystal Methodist Edition

Burnham’s £189,637 Bottled Water Bonanza

Bercow interrupting Cameron just as he was about to slap down Andy Burnham – “I’m not going to take lectures from a govenrment who had patients drinking out of vases” – had the PM properly hitting back at the Speaker. That mooted 1922 letter never came, but the Tories are publicly bashing Bercow again this afternoon.

To be fair to Dave, attacking Labour on Mid Staffs is one of his best lines, so no wonder he was peeved. One that Bercow certainly wouldn’t let go uninterrupted: as neglected patients were forced to drink from vases, Burnham’s department spent £189,637 on bottled water when in government. The champers clearly wasn’t enough…

SKETCH: Angry Reserves, Sliding Strikers and a Biased Ref

“He won by a mile,” both sides say.

Which do you prefer? These figures or those figures? The useless or the clueless? The useless clueless or the useless gutless? The one who doesn’t know anything or the one who’s got everything wrong.[…] Read the rest

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