Simon Carr:

The Sketch: He fell from power but Hilary has ascended opposition heights

Share
Related Topics

Here is Hilary Benn rocking or possibly rolling into the House on his peculiar legs. His arms are held out at the elbow like a gunfighter, he carries his big head low at one end while kicking his feet ahead at the other. Full of character, I mean. Tall, rangy, something wrong with his pelvic cradle but that adds to his battle-glamour.

Is this the same fellow who came so low in the deputy leader poll he did not run for leader? He was a minister then and disabled by it. He glared at us in those days, and his head turned left and sharply right in a way that suggested a genetic experiment by Bernard Matthews.

Now in Opposition, he behaves like a completely different person. That is, like a person. It has happened to Andy Burnham as well. You can suddenly see the point of men who'd been place-holding, arse-covering, bench-blocking collectivists. Suddenly they are themselves.

Fluent, mocking, crackling with energy, Mr Benn tears into the Coalition week by week the very day after Ed Miliband has failed to do anything like as well.

He had come in early to hear the writ for the Oldham by-election being contested. There had been some jiggery-pokery behind the scenes about this. I got the jiggery but not the pokery. Labour was going to oppose it and force a debate – but nobody had told Mr Miliband, who was up in Oldham launching the campaign – or in the other version, he had not told them – so Labour suddenly had to decide not to oppose the campaign they had already launched.

The efficiency is virtually Teutonic, isn't it? But human failings bring our representatives closer to their people.

Poor Chris Huhne has travelled a Via Dolorosa in the other direction. He had discovered his voice as a shadow Home Secretary – full of energy and conviction. Now in office, the life has been crushed out of him and he uses that quiet, passive-aggressive drone that defies you to follow what he is saying.

The Speaker himself is a great example of the effects of high office. The popularity he lobbied hard for (how many MPs' hands has he shaken this year?) has suffered a sharp reverse among the new Tory intake. John Bercow's covert flaw that is turning into a blazing vortex is a hatred of Tories. A recommendation for many politicians but not right in a Speaker.

twitter.com/simonsketch

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The traditional Boxing Day hunt in Lacock  

For foxes' sake: Don't let the bloody tradition of the Boxing Day hunt return

Mimi Bekhechi
 

Letter from the Deputy Editor: i’s Review of the Year

Andrew Webster
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all