Simon Carr: Labour's new general fails to impress the troops in first big battle

Sketch

Share
Related Topics

Maybe he's playing himself in; working up to it – there may be many reasons for it, but the Leader of the Opposition failed to collect the voice of his party yesterday. Looking over their doubtful faces as he spoke, you could see them wince, flinch or cringe. Bob Ainsworth – perfectly decent fellow – held a hand over the lower part of his face, hiding. Sandra Osborne looked down at her leader like a Coronation Street granny in front of an ICA installation. Keith Vaz was chatting under the clock. Rows and rows of faces thinking one collective thought: "Oo-er."

Harriet squinted in a way no one had seen before, trying not to see what was in front of her. Alan Johnson looked on: "I better do better than that," he was thinking. "Maybe I should have gone for it after all." An unseeing Yvette Cooper sat like a stunned mullet. Her husband struck his Mt Rushmore pose: politely attentive, but with a lightly furrowed brow indicating incredulous concern (he was first out of his place to leave the chamber).

Ed had no clap traps, no narrative, no point that got through. He seemed a little shocked by the (fatuous) cries of "Apologise!" and "Say sorry!" when he stood up and he never hit his stride. When he mentioned "aircraft carriers without aircraft" he was visibly rattled by Tory shouts of "Stupid! Stupid!" His big line? "It's a spending review dressed up as a defence review". They won't be humming that in the streets of Islington, will they? He sat down, conscious that it hadn't gone well. Heaven knows, that's a rotten feeling – to fizzle. A packed Commons is the worst place in Britain to fizzle.

When Cameron described James Arbuthnot's question as the "crucial" one you wondered why Ed hadn't asked it himself (it was – if we can do without fast jets for a decade, why do we have them at all?).

It's early yet, of course. There are years to go and war is difficult for Labour. He couldn't exactly say: "With cuts like this we'll never be able to invade Iraq! And if Argentina invades the Falklands we can't even drop a nuke on them. It's political correctness gone mad!"

Cameron was in full floreat Etona mode. Labour haven't been able to train fire on this fast-moving Coalition. They can't cope with the charm. The scale of the changes are bewildering. And the alliances have changed the terrain out of recognition. They saw Edward Leigh get behind the idea of letting the French use our aircraft carriers. What are they to make of this baffling new world? It's too early to tell, obviously.

PS: Ed's fidget is back. Fingers gouging things out of his eyes, lip picking, head scratching, cheek stroking. An old school rule the new generation should follow: a lady never touches her face in public. Nor should a leader.

simonsketch@twitter.com

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Membership Manager

£35 - 38k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Advisor / Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This position will in the main ...

Recruitment Genius: Ecommerce Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the top Cosmeceutical br...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer  

It's not just air conditioning that's guilty of camouflage sexism

Mollie Goodfellow
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks