The Sketch: Ed expected lashings of laughs. All he got was pain


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"Lashed to the mast," was Ed Miliband's big line. In his obstinate refusal to change economic direction the Chancellor was "lashed to the mast and possibly not for the first time". Knowing laughter. There has been talk about the Chancellor's early experiences of coke, and tarts and S&M. The usual, you know – there's nothing odd about George.

But Ed, honestly, can't you get anything right? "Lashed to the mast" isn't S&M at all, it's B&D. Totally different. If you paid to be lashed with a cat-o'-nine-tails and you ended up being lashed to a mast – you'd ask for your money back, wouldn't you? Of course you would. "I'm a pain slut," you'd tell them. "Do I look like a bondage freak?" Actually, don't ask that, you might not get the right answer.

And in point of fact, didn't the dominatrix that Ed was alluding to, didn't she say that George didn't join in the sex parties because he was "one of the straight ones"? We never thought to hear that said about George, but she'd know what she was talking about. In the matter of lashing, I'd always had George down on the other end of the stick. The handle end.

But we seem to have strayed from the subject of deficit reduction and employment. The pain – oh, I SEE – felt by Britain's unemployed was channelled into the chamber by the Labour leader in order to shame the Government. That was the idea.

When Ed speaks I do feel his pain, and don't enjoy it one little bit. Cameron dispensed with him by quoting his line to the TUC: "We can't spend our way to the new economy." Sir Peter Tapsell asked a question, one of his larger ones.

By the time he'd finished it seemed to have started around the time of Suez. He gave a philosophical and historical sketch of the "over-mighty citizen". In the 18th century they were the nabobs of India, in the 19th, the robber-baron industrialists, in the 20th they were the unions tamed by Mrs Thatcher (Tory cheers), and in this century the bankers. I'd always had Sir Peter down as a banker and an over-mighty citizen as well. Personally, hope he remains untameable.