'Will he tell the House how welcome he was? And how isolated everyone said the party opposite is? Will he rehearse for the House in laborious detail the many reasons why he should be congratulated?"
Normally when people behave like this they're dressed in latex, being dragged around the cellar on a leash. How do I know? Mind your own business. I'm guessing. I've been to that party in the Commons swimming pool.
There must be some sort of advantage for new Tory backbenchers in saying these self-abasing things. But I'm jiggered if I want to know what it is.
The Prime Minister had come back from his first European Council meeting full of the amateur spirit. He was as fresh as you can be after such drudgery – laughing, poking fun, being nice to Labour people when he could.
Yes, his reception had been friendly. "Perhaps at the first Council meeting you get an easier ride," he said. Self-deprecation is not something we could ever accuse his predecessor of.
And further to that point, Cameron didn't say, "Multi-lateral negotiations in an inter-regulatory context will reprioritise the outstanding balances owed by Iceland to this country." He said, "Iceland owes this country £2.3bn, and we want that money back." It's a pleasure to listen to. The only question is: will it work? Can the amateurs with their lightness of touch beat the grinding professionals over the long run?
There was a tactful absence of Liberal Democrats, so Harriet's appeal to that part of the coalition's europhiliacs fell a little flat. As did her praise for the EU's "growth-friendly consolidation strategies". Just because you can say it doesn't mean you know what it means.
At least with Cameron we still feel he hasn't been sucked into their world yet, into their class, into their distant, alien community. "Sitting around strategising, they often talked a big game, but then nothing happened. We should start with small projects and make a success of them first," he said. Burke, sort of thing. A bit of a Burke, in his own way. It's the best thing to be in the modern world.
Earlier there had been an Urgent Question from Ed Balls, an earl of the political class system. New free schools. He urgently warned that there will be "scuttling", and then "touting" and worst of all, loathsome business people "making a profit" by cutting school lunches for the poor. It's difficult being in opposition, especially without experience. Unless you have the best argument in the world, people think: "Just let someone else have a go".
"This is permissive legislation for enthusiasm and idealism of teachers," Michael Gove replied. Oh, give us some of that!
As to whether private schools would be able to turn themselves into free schools and then be paid for by the taxpayer – that urgent question didn't find an urgent answer. It may actually be quite pressing.Reuse content