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Simon Carr

Simon Carr: The day the PM was reduced to silence by antics of Mr Ed


It's still work in progress but there are signs of activity on the construction site that is Edward Miliband. Why aren't the workers working harder though? Why aren't they doing more things?

The Prime Minister had had the worst week of his premiership. He was diminished both by events, and by his colleagues. He looked smaller than an English patriot would like and came within an inch of the ridiculous.

The only thing worse was Ed's response. That made Nick Clegg look prime ministerial. He turned from stand-up to heckler, making begging gestures and looking wildly around, showing us the Mr Ed teeth. "Come on everybody! Can't you see this guy's like, just a guy?"

His sidekicks, Douglas Alexander and Ed Balls, started making comedy gestures of their own. The Prime Minister stood at the despatch box. He looked at the spectacle and looked away. He opened his mouth and then shut it. The Opposition benches were crowing, thinking he didn't know what to say. It's true. That fluent, voluble politician was lost for words.

But Ed's image builders are worse than regular builders. They've gutted the premises, stripped the fittings, knocked out the interior walls, chucked everything on to a skip and are now getting on with the serious business of standing around smoking and wondering what to put back in.

The activity doesn't amount to a programme yet but here it is. He cut his hair himself with a pair of nail scissors. And he uses the word "guy" to refer to the Prime Minister.

It's a start, he must think. Pompeii wasn't built in a day. It was demolished in a day, but that's for later. EDM is reaching out of the Westminster bubble to talk directly to the new generation. His people. Younger people. Informal, casual, modern, young people who look at the world with the easy disrespect of those who still think everything is possible. That surprisingly homogeneous crowd who fill the Hammersmith Odeon to watch stand-up comedians referring to their body parts.

He's saying to them: "Oh, thou who wear T-shirts and unstructured jackets and who shave unsystematically, I am of you. Our mutual understandings are beyond the reach of older generations. They are squares. I shall communicate with you now."

His difficulty is that he also feels the equal and opposite need to talk about bilateral this and multilateral that – the business in Libya – and it's not clear that the unstructured jackets will give their full attention to that sort of discourse. The rest of us daddios don't want to listen to him. So he's caught uncomfortably in between us, part of his own squeezed middle.