The Sketch: Dave's wit and charm make a pantomime villain out of raging Ed

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The Independent Online

Leaving the gallery, we all thought Ed Miliband did well enough in the last PMQs before Christmas. The seasonal exchanges finished with a cheery "And you!" from the PM (Ed had just called him a @#xx!), and there'd been that singalong with Labour chanting "Broken! Broken!" as Ed read out his list of Tory promises.

But television clips showed a very different picture. The sound was off, Cameron was there at his despatch box upright, clean looking, Captain of Boats sort of thing. Cut to Ed Miliband and it was like a door had been flung open into a dark and stormy night. Here was a desperate housewife, raging and raving at the nice young man.

"You're never there, you never take me anywhere, everyone thinks you're nice but if they knew what I know, you'd be finished! And I'm going to tell them, I'm telling them now!"

His face was going off in all directions, the eyebrows bouncing around like a pair of flamenco dancers, the right of his mouth billowed wide as his anguish poured out. Labour liked it – but they couldn't see what it looked like. What do those dead-eyed union officials who voted for him make of these performances, I wonder? Nothing he can do about it; not without more botox than he could afford on an opposition leader's salary.

But he could stop putting in those Oxford Union jokes. "Good at the broad brush, good at the air brush," he said of lack of policy detail, but was swamped by Cameron's reply: "Broad brush, air brush, sometimes I think I'm up against Basil Brush." And then comparing the Coalition to two ends of a pantomime horse (topical association for added relevance) Ed got walloped with: "He wants to talk pantomime – it won't be too long before it's: 'Look behind you!'" Both times, as the Government benches roared, Labour sat in appalled silence.

We have a revolutionary situation at the moment – a dramatic reduction in the size of the state. The Coalition is putting plans together at such speed because it has to – the public can't keep up and the Opposition can't hit the moving target. Andrew Lansley's treatment of the health committee yesterday was a model of how to bypass Parliament – the vital papers were released 20 seconds before the committee met.

Plans for universities and the NHS are rocketing ahead. A flailing Labour leader can't get to the first base of scrutiny, being blocked by Cameron's charm, wit, grace, good manners. In the class war, these are the most unexpected weapons.