Simon Carr:

Simon Carr: With all eyes on him, Ed Miliband was firm - don't mention the strikes

 

Share

What with the European monetary system in the melting pot, and the Greek streets in flames, and the biggest British labour protest since the Chartists, all eyes were on the Leader of the Opposition to see whether he could obamalate the hopes and fears of his generation.

Would he start with: "There's a little girl with blue eyes and cancer crying in Cumbria. Why is she crying? Why doesn't the Prime Minister care he doesn't know? Does he believe that little girl is somehow less important than his own children?"

Or something introduced by: "Can the Prime Minister explain why in the Draft Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill..."

Or perhaps: "I'm thinking of a number. Can the Prime Minister tell the country what that number is? No; 521! Pathetic!"

It was a bit of all three, but certainly nothing about European money and Greek streets and so forth. And even more certainly nothing about today's strikes. That Labour disapproves of 750,000 public-sector workers striking against a Tory government is inconceivable. But he has to pretend to disapprove – and that's why he lacks an integrated presence.

There was a riot and a half in the Commons. Miliband asked a couple of technical questions and then supplied the answers to them, one with a made-up number (see above).

The noise was such that no one noticed that Cameron had answered one of the questions. Asked how much he would spend on making NHS staff redundant, he said: "Changes will have a one-off cost of £1.4bn." Miliband couldn't say, "Oh, that much, really? I thought it was about half that." He just ploughed on, asserting that the question hadn't been answered.

Cameron then launched his own prescripted peroration. And pretty blistering it was. Ed Miliband couldn't talk about strikes because he was in the unions' pocket; nor about Greece because "his plan is to make Britain like Greece".

But at his point of take-off ("He has to talk about the micro because he cannot talk about the macro"), the Speaker interrupted him, made him sit down, refused him leave to get up again, and called out that comedy name: "Guto Bebb!"

Cameron shot the Speaker a look like a flame-thrower.

And Bercow had been doing so well with Tories over the past couple of months!

React Now

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

SQL DBA (2005/2008/2012, projects, storage requirements)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Tiger skin seized from a smuggler by customs officers in Lhasa, Tibet  

Save the tiger: Poaching facts

Harvey Day
 

Save the tiger: 7 saddening facts about the extinction of Javan tigers

Harvey Day
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried