The new opposition came out to disappoint those who were looking forward to slapstick. The new fellow Toby Perkins asked a perfectly reasonable question in a perfectly reasonable way – as did Sharon Hodgson (forgive the note of surprise in my voice).
No, the real victim of Education questions is that nice-looking, well-off, highly educated, widely known young Tristan Hunt. The House has made a collective decision to laugh at him. He's had it, unless he can come up with something brilliant.
Two things happened to him (that's all it takes to make a reputation in the playground). Michael Gove chastised him for using "less" instead of "fewer" (the House rocked with laughter). And yesterday, John Hayes told him he was a member of the bourgeoisie (the slightly charged way Hayes refers to the upper middle class). The laughter – most from his own side – went on for half a minute.
To call it a playground underdescribes it; the pains and humiliations of the Commons stay with you for life.
Elsewhere: the Prime Minister sits with an ease in stillness – chin up but not too up, legs crossed, features composed into attentive respect. The Leader of the Opposition is a very different pup. First, there is that odd-looking appearance of his. You know how your face feels after too much dental anaesthetic? That's what Ed Miliband looks like.
Second: what a fidget! His fingers play over his face, he brushes his moustache line, he makes the "putting on lip gloss" gesture with the ball of one finger, he picks dead skin off his lips. At one point he found something annoying stuck in his teeth and disposed of it. Then he was scratching both sides of his chin with a simultaneous thumb and forefinger. He chewed his lip, adjusted his tie, adjusted his cuffs, let his head drift off to one side as a train of thought took him away...
His PPS, the venerable Anne McGuire, leant forward and said something in his ear – "For goodness sake sit still!" perhaps – and he clamped his hands between his knees.
Cameron's composure comes easily to one who spent part of every school day in church. Poor Miliband never acquired the skills of the believer. In the Commons, during that sombre statement yesterday, he looked like a clever child made to be quiet during the annual sermon.
Yvette as well was feeling her way into her role as shadow Foreign Secretary with a slightly citric series of questions. The old stager Jack Straw upstaged her deftly by offering "my full support for the excruciatingly difficult decision".
And so we start to settle in.Reuse content