The Sketch: Ed's learning to fight, but his punches are still powder-puff

When Cameron doesn't want to answer a question, he asks himself an easier one
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It's a big goal and there were several balls in play but it was still a score draw. Everyone was happy in a noisy, terrace end sort of way. Chanting and pointing from both sides. Bit of a singalong, "Down! Down! Down!" the Tories went, following David Cameron's lead. But they got confused trying to do a collective "94 per cent!" They needed the lyrics on a karaoke screen.

It was back to the early years of the last decade, it's the Blair inheritance. When Cameron doesn't want to answer a question, he asks himself an easier one.

He accuses his opponent of "opportunism" and "lack of substance". He asks the Labour leader what he'd do. Ed doesn't quite shrug.

Ed put in a performance pitched to please everyone. Good enough to hearten his own side and not good enough to rattle the PM. But he has developed something new for the dispatch box: a private voice.

Quite an achievement in that arena. The way he was angled I couldn't see his radio face, but there is a richness in his voice that is coming through now that he keeps the volume down. Mind you, I like the way William Hague speaks too. What else is in his favour? He's not peaking too early. That's clever.

His rate of improvement is steady and he may have three years to get better. But he does lack profusion. His attacks are more like jabs. The sequence never builds to a satisfying climax, his rhetoric lacks deadliness.

At the end of the session he looked up with his lovely big, soft, brown, fawn's eyes and found his press spokesman in the Gallery. Bob – a bit like Bambi's mother – gave him a You Did It expression.

You can still look into his eyes and see a Tory majority. The session finished at 12.37pm, with the Speaker saying that there had been so many interruptions it wasn't fair on backbenchers.

But the only interruptions had been from the Speaker himself. You'll find them in Hansard. Nine interjections and 228 words.

When he said: "What will the country think?" there was an audible groan from the House.

He said at one point: "I am not afraid of anyone!" An odd thing for a Speaker to volunteer during Prime Minister's Questions.

One Tory heckled: "What about of your wife?"

Comments