The Sketch: Cameron won the bonus points and Eddie was left crouching

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ok, he's stopped touching his face. That's an improvement, it shows progress. At this rate he'll be ready to be prime minister when Sam Miliband comes of age (and pips his father to the vote while uncle David laughs).

Ed Miliband wasn't very good yesterday. Johnny Vegas running in Chariots of Fire wouldn't be very good either. Basil Brush starring in Raging Bull would lack realism. Buzz Lightyear leading 2 Para into the Hindu Kush might have similar problems of credibility. Poor old Eddie the Eagle. He flew for a moment, but it turned out to be falling.

He'd asked questions like: "Why doesn't the Prime Minister admit he is complacent?" Where do you start with that? Is it a trick of some sort? Is it part of a joke?

Eddie's arm was going up and down in that mechanical way he has, like someone trying to get a stud horse into the mood. That must be one of the worst jobs he's ever had. Oh no it's not, leading the Labour Party is.

He'd tried a sally on the VAT rise (but Alistair Darling had planned for just that), and something about the OBR's unemployment forecast which allowed Cameron to say employment was going to rise throughout the forecast period.

And then he peaked with Hague's leaked remark about the Tories being "the children of Thatcher". Cameron reached into his pocket for one he must have prepared earlier. "My mother is still with us," he said and paused while we suddenly remembered his father wasn't any more and that added to the texture of it, "so she is able to testify," he went on while everyone wondered what it was he could be saying, "that what the Right Hon Gent has just claimed is not literally true." Various ironies and indecencies flashed through various minds as both sides of the House laughed. Then: "But I'd rather be a child of Thatcher than a son of Brown."

What a roar in the House there was then. A well-timed off the cuff reply always earns bonus points, but this one had an extra dimension to it. Labour sat in appalled confusion, unable to process their charming Prime Minister's comparison. A full half of them suddenly realised they agreed with him.

At the end of the session EDM looked over to Cameron and saw him leaving. That's when he decided to follow (even in this he follows). But he couldn't because he suddenly saw a backbencher behind him making a point of order. He was caught in a halfway position for three seconds neither sitting nor standing. Future prime ministers don't crouch. It's a law, or something.

Then the Speaker stood up, and Eddie was able to leave – which he did decisively, wheeling to go in the opposite direction he wanted to. Nobody spoke to him as he left.