Donald Macintyre's Sketch: ‘It’s a fair result, Gary, but I feel Ed should have scored’

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Big day then, Alan. Talk us through Ed Miliband’s game. Well, Gary, it didn’t really catch fire until Ed’s fourth shot, pointing out that David Cameron had said six days ago that Maria Miller had  “done the right thing’ and that we should ‘leave it at that’–“Does he now recognise that was a terrible error of judgement?”

So what did you think of Dave in defence? Well, I’m not sure about all this “I think that it was right to allow her the chance to get on with her job” he kept trying. It may sound good to say “it’s not leadership but weakness” to “fire someone at the first sign of trouble”. But it sounds a bit like “we thought we’d give it a whirl and see if she could get through to the Easter break”.

But then Dave’s cleared the ball big time with “If he thought that was the case, why did he not call on her to resign? He seems to be the first Leader of the Opposition… to come to this House and make his first suggestion that someone should resign after they have already resigned.”

Hang on though, Alan, Ed was pretty quick on his feet with “Now I have heard everything – it is my job to fire members of his cabinet!” You’re right Gary, this shows the lad is nimble under pressure. But there’s a dilemma here. If Ed had called on Maria to resign, Dave’s team might have rallied round her to deny Ed a scalp. But Ed couldn’t really say that.

I buy that, Alan, but then Ed went on: “The reason that the public was so appalled is that if it had happened in any other business, there would have been no question of her staying in her job. Why was he the last person in the country to realise that her position was untenable?” Good point, Gary. It rather sets up Dave’s “he is jumping on this bandwagon after the whole circus has left town”. And if Ed was saving it up for when they got on the park today, then he’s left it too late.

Do you reckon Dave put the spot on Maria to make sure that didn’t happen? Well he insisted it was “her own decision” but though it wasn’t Ed that flushed this out, Dave didn’t directly deny that he “or his staff” asked her to go.

OK. Alan, did you think Dave moved ahead with his offer of cross-party talks to “do everything we can to show that this is a good and honest Parliament with good and hard-working people in it. That is the assumption that I start from, and I make no apology for that.” Well, Gary, the team will like that, though I’m a lot less sure about  the paying public. But it might have been better for Ed to have staked out the idea of talks first.

So a nil-all draw the right result, then? I guess so, Gary, but I can’t help feeling Ed should have scored.

Incidentally, Alan, what do you think Sajid Javid and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander were barneying about on the bench before kick off? It looked a bit more than Danny congratulating Sajid for his promotion to the Cabinet from the Treasury, which seems to have been a George Osborne idea. Well Gary, he was probably saying something like: “Remember where you came from, son. The arts budget is top of my hit list so don’t go native with those luvvies. George can give, but he can take away as well.”