Donald Macintyre's Sketch: The real winner in all this? It’s John Major, of course
After years of being taunted by Tony Blair, John Major finally had his victory at PMQs
Donald Macintyre writes political sketches for The Independent, having been Jerusalem correspondent since 2004, covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, as well as travelling for the paper to Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Egypt.
Wednesday 23 October 2013
It was never going to be easy, once Sir John Major had trained his flame-thrower on the Government by proposing a windfall tax on the utilities. But there were too many signs that David Cameron was in deep trouble from the opening of Prime Minister’s Questions not to realise this was a parliamentary train wreck in the making.
An early signal that he was rattled came when he found himself rebuked by the Speaker for lashing out at Ed Miliband, by calling him a “conman” for showing his “heart was in the right place” [copyright J Major] by suggesting a price freeze on the energy companies.
It soon became more serious. When obliged to come up with an answer of his own to the energy bills problem, he chose “rolling back… green charges” – public subsidies for renewables – as his policy. It’s a measure that currently has little chance of getting approval in the Coalition, if the stony face of Nick Clegg sitting beside him – not to mention the ostentatiously shaking head of LibDem front bencher Tom Brake – is anything to go by.
But perhaps the surest sign was yet to come.
Cameron was reminded by Miliband that, “of course, John Major was a Conservative Prime Minister who won a majority, unlike this Prime Minister”. In return, he dissed his opponent by gratuitously attacking the equally absent Lord (Neil) Kinnock. Yes, said Cameron, Sir John had beaten “a weak and incredible Labour leader. Is that not rather familiar?”
This managed to be ungracious to both the main men in 1992: Kinnock, who was tough enough to defeat the left’s supporters of a barmy defence policy and help pave the way for Tony Blair’s modernisation of Labour, and Major, for suggesting – no doubt in the heat of the moment – that he only won because of his opponent.
No doubt Miliband was facing an open goal. But even the best strikers miss sometimes – and on probably his best Wednesday since 2010, he didn’t, from his first question onwards. “The Prime Minister has said that anyone who wanted to intervene directly in energy markets was living in ‘a Marxist universe’,” he said. “Can he tell the House how he feels now that the red peril has claimed Sir John Major?”
But the real winner was elsewhere. After years of being taunted by Blair, John Major finally had his victory at Prime Minister’s Questions.
- 1 Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
- 2 Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
- 3 Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Isis 'jihadi bride' claims forced sex with Yazidi girls is never rape because Koran condones it
Woman accidentally shoots herself in the head while posing for a selfie
Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...