Simon Carr: Hunt was left flailing, mastered by Miliband

Sketch: Labour leader used his peculiar – no, his richly individual – voice to good effect
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The Independent Online

We mustn't miss the ugly duckling moment that happened over last weekend. Who, what, why and how are unknown but one moment the Leader of the Opposition was waddling round Westminster making clacking noises with pondweed on his beak – then whatever it was happened, and on the Marr show he was this rather elegant swan.

Calm, contained, confident and using his peculiar – no, his richly individual – voice to good effect. To emphasise a point he dropped the volume and gentled off the edge of the consonants. It's not easy and it makes those who do the opposite sound shrill.

You may not be as shocked and disappointed as I am because you are decent people. I feel strangely lonely.

There was a media statement on phone hacking given by Jeremy Hunt the Media minister – but Ed Miliband chose to supplant his own media man to stand up at the Dispatch Box to ask the questions. This was asymmetrical – and possibly a little misjudged by our swanlike friend. He shouldn't be seen on the seesaw opposite a duckling like Hunt.

The poor boy – every time Hunt mentioned the Prime Minister Labour yelled "Where is he!" He had no answers to the questions about Andy Coulson and what the Prime Minister had been told about his low-life associations. The charge that a man who had commissioned criminals had been taken into the heart of Downing Street – that is starting to gain momentum. Poor little Hunt was flailing and faltering in such a way that Alan Johnson called him "a monkey". It was ruled in order by the Speaker. Hunt bantered back that he didn't mind being called that because in his wife's country they ate monkeys.

Oh dear, yes, they hold the primates in a vice and eat their living brains. A sight preferable to the one we were witnessing on the floor of the House.

Labour's partisan points may or may not work long term. They are on safer ground with Tom Watson's charge of "institutional criminality" at News International.

And there is a terrible counter-charge possible, as Tories pointed out. Coulson may be guilty as charged – but Miliband has Tom Baldwin on his staff. As as Lord Ashcroft has written, there is an unrefuted allegation out there involving Baldwin, Class A drugs, and the criminal trespass into Tory party bank accounts. Miliband "accepted assurances" from News International that Baldwin did nothing wrong. But what are these assurances worth, from the "institutionally criminal" organisation that has lied to the police, MPs and to parliament?