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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee