The Sketch: Gordon has lost his way – and his comic timing too

  • @SimonSketch

The first question had the least interrogative merit but the greatest effect. William Cash asked if the PM was planning a reprise of his "comedy appearance" on YouTube. Cue a great shout of Tory laughter, not all of it fake. If you haven't seen the clip, it bears Googling. Diligent Brown-beaters use the performance as evidence the PM may retire early ("health reasons", they say nastily).

Gordon has come back from the worst trip of his life. He flew out through a storm of sleaze, got snubbed by the Pakistani president and twitted by the Polish prime minister. "What a trip when the highlight was a visit to Auschwitz," my gallery colleague murmured.

The toll it had taken on the PM's powers of concentration can be judged by the way he talked about Presidents Karzai and Zardari "going to Washington to meet President Bush, hmm? What? Obama, yes, I apologise, President Obama." They're easily confused, I agree, but purists insist that two out of three isn't good enough.

And also by that memorable moment at the end of PMQs. The Speaker had said, "Statement: the Prime Minister!" and the PM just kept walking out of the chamber. The laughter was swelling around him. He must have been halfway between Luton airport and Lahore when a colleague stopped him and pointed him back towards the despatch box for his AfPak dissertation. It's surely an internet hit already, and there's the answer to Bill Cash's question. The PM is already back on YouTube with an even greater comedy moment: "Directionless PM gets lost in his own front bench."

David Cameron had taken a gently-gently tone with the old bruiser, thanking him and empathising and asking him sappy questions. When would the National Flu line be open? How soon would we all be getting anti-viral treatments? Gordon answered these questions in the normal way (he didn't) but Cameron thanked him "for the information" without a hint of vinegar. What's he up to?

Maybe he thinks there really are "health reasons" looming and he doesn't want the blame for actually driving the PM round the bend. And also, because Gordon had no opportunity to bellow his list of Labour achievements he didn't get a backbench roar to buoy his spirits.

Nick Clegg made two good points – one very neat. Of Ghurkas' immigration status: "Shouldn't people who are prepared to die for this country be allowed to live here?" And secondly: Brown's cynical politicking around the recent terror raids resulting in maximum panic and zero convictions – wasn't that the reason why the Pakistan president refused to share a press conference with him?

It wasn't very neat, but then he didn't get all of that in.