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Gordon Brown's electric speech had MPs hopping, shaking and shouting

This "victory for Parliament" depends on cross-party agreement, Ed Miliband said. He wanted unity of purpose and mutual support in order to speak to Murdoch with one voice. A slightly surly solidarity settled on the House.

And then Gordon Brown rose. The former prime minister was in the House, clutching himself and rocking in that old familiar way. What would he say about his experiences with News International? The inevitable compromises prime ministers had to make; how you must dance with the devil, and what you have to do to lead, or guide the dance? You might say the cross-party agreement just became two cross parties – but that's too understated.

Within minutes, the former prime minister had electrified the Commons. Graham Stuart actually had smoke rising from the back of his collar. The Speaker was shaking, the air crackled, the Labour benches hopped with anger. The Tories were bopping, everyone was shouting – yelling, snarling, shaking their fists, jabbing fingers across the chamber. His ability to create common purpose is legendary.

He made no reference to his front page contretemps with The Sun. Remember, The Sun, he claimed, had published news of his damaged son and that made the family cry.

Tories feel Mr Brown isn't always an entirely reliable witness. Their attempts to intervene therefore became more determined, and his great booming voice denied them.

The madness was exhilarating. At one point, a friend swears he heard Brown say "when office was thrust upon me!" Imagine the delusional background to such a remark. The madness was contagious. The Speaker suddenly erupted, yelling at this member and that in the bawling, roiling House, demanding "Order! Order!"

After decades of somnolence, the House is really alive again.