Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Take that, clever wordplay!

At least Gary Barlow won’t be joining all those musicians (Paul Weller, The Smiths) protesting at having their work invoked by David Cameron.  Nevertheless, the PM’s creaky gag in Prime Minister’s Questions about the singer’s tax issues – “this Government have taken action to say to people, to coin a phrase, ‘We want your money back for good’” – is surely just the kind he would have vetoed on naffness grounds when he was preparing John Major for PMQs.

Labour's Kerry McCarthy had been commendably brief in asking why he was not condemning the antics of the “Tory-supporting” Barlow. In contrast to Sir Roger Gale, who went on so long about a threatened airport in his constituency that even Iain Duncan Smith joined Labour protests by making energetic concertina-ish gestures to urge his fellow Tory to compress it.

But today’s prize for expressive ministerial body language went to Vince Cable. While Tory ministers nodded loyally as Cameron celebrated the arrival of overseas pharmaceutical companies, the Lib Dem Business Secretary was utterly motionless. Maybe Cable had co-incidentally chosen this moment to go into a meditative trance. And maybe not.

Given that Miliband had to brave mocking Tory cheers by welcoming the jobless figures, Cameron failed to draw quite the blood he might have expected. His main charge was that Miliband had not met Pfizer and that the Labour government had removed the option of calling in a merger on public interest grounds. But this point is non-lethal, since Miliband has offered to back the secondary legislation needed to put it back.

During an answer on Nigeria, Cameron graciously mentioned Gordon Brown, who had been early in sounding the alarm on Boko Haram’s hideous kidnap of the schoolgirls.

But he stumbled over the name of the ex-PM’s constituency. Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath is a bit of a mouthful, but could Cameron have also been subconsciously choking on the prospect that it may fall to his much reviled predecessor to save the Union - and conceivably his own premiership?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Investigo: management accountant

£250 - £300 per day: Investigo: Growing international marketing business requi...

Recruitment Genius: ORM / Online Reputational Consultant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ORM Consultant is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of educat...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore