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. The one that goes round personally sacking nurses or the one who’s a corrupt mafia-backed mayor?

Or you might prefer the Speaker himself, he called them all, as a whole, “low-grade” and “downmarket”. John Bercow is the Ambassador for Parliament, so that’s quite an assessment from the Chief Outreach Officer.

He put in another cracking anti-Tory performance – and so soon after the one two weeks ago which had the 1922 executive on the point of sending a delegation to him to complain. The delegation idea didn’t work so they were going to send a letter. In the end, they did nothing. The inactivity is something less than masterly.

Emboldened, the Speaker interrupted the Prime Minister again today, as he was winding up for one of his shoutable lines (the PM’s mike gets turned off when the Speaker rises). And Bercow also told him off in a tone of jocular contempt for not answering a question.

The deputy chief whip then tweeted: “PMQs getting like Old Trafford, 5 minutes extra time in the hope that the Reds score a late equaliser.”

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PMQs LIVE: Pompey Eruption Edition

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PMQS LIVE Chat: Dave on the Ropes Edition

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PMQs SKETCH: No More Ladies’ Tennis

What very different reactions to PMQs. Some scored it all Miliband’s way, I gave it half and half, sophisticated pollsters registered everything in between and at either end.

It was, we can agree, less like the Ladies’ tennis we’ve been seeing lately.

Shouty Dave? Perhaps – but then the Speaker organises it that way by letting Labour barrack more loudly. Clever Ed’s cunning questions? Possibly – but there’s still no getting past the comedy teeth and the looming lips.

Ed claimed a consensus on the need to recoup cash from energy company profits – his price freeze or John Major’s windfall tax. John Major who had won a majority, unlike the prime minister. Laughter. Labour resurgent.

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PMQS LIVE Chat: Major Intervention Edition

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PMQs SKETCH: Just Press Record and Replay, Week by Week

They’ve decided it’s not worth preparing all morning for it and decided to do this week what they did last week.

If you think there’s “a cost of living crisis” you will have approved of the Opposition leader’s repetitions. He referred to the long term unemployed, the rise in energy prices, the Tory complicity in legislating for green levies, the energy company that has an “obsession with dividends” without being in any way interested in “getting prices down for consumers”?  But he had no answer to the rebuttal.

Cameron called it “same old Labour” but it may not be. Miliband’s price-defying approach hasn’t come to full maturity but it’s shaping up for something more deluded than Labour has attempted in living memory. Continue reading

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.

PMQs LIVE: Birthday Edition

Stay tuned for Simon Carr’s first Gallery Guido sketch. Comments in the comments please…

Dave PMQs Jibe Helped By Former Tennis Partner Andrew Castle

The PM returned Labour MP Gloria De Piero’s attempt to crowd-source her PMQ on Twitter by referencing the awkward first reply to her tweet. It turns out that reply was from Andrew Castle, her GMTV colleague who used to be Dave’s tennis partner:

Game, set and match…

Another Short-Sighted Politician

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Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner:

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