The Sketch: He still remains at ease, charming, widely disliked, resented

Click to follow
The Independent Online

If Tony Blair were attacking himself there'd be nothing left. He'd tear himself to pieces. Imagine him in opposition faced with a prime minister who was presiding over the current situation. Mayhem in the Middle East. The largest department of state described as complete crap by its minister.

Billions missing from the exchequer. Sleaze. Corruption. The Deputy Prime Minister's vast, naked, post-traumatic arse forced into the face of junior staff. The PM soars angelically above it. His superiority is astonishing. He remains at ease, charming, widely disliked and resented. The master of the House. Amazing. Gordon Brown is more amazed than anyone.

The Commons excelled itself. The Tories were enjoying themselves too loudly and the Speaker told them to shut their gobs or he'd shove a broken bottle up their begonias (I paraphrase). They settled down, calling "Shh! Shh!" in that schoolboy way they do so well. The old coot misheard, and said: "I can't find out who is hissing, but if it doesn't stop I'll suspend the sitting! That'll be the end of PMQs!" They were chastened. They didn't even start humming.

A Tory said: "Last ya, someone in my constituenca," and the Labour benches started quacking like ducks. "Wah wah!," they went. Some of them really have been overtaken by evolution.

Dennis Skinner cried: "Tory scum! That body of corrupt, lying, bumboys!" I think that's what he said, he got such a cheer from the contemptuous word "Tory" that it was hard to make out anything else he said. That was the gist.

David Cameron had applauded the Prime Minister's abandonment of tribal politics. Everyone else seems to long for its return. "If the Chancellor's doing such a good job, why doesn't he let him take over now?," Cameron asked after a long Brown-friendly answer. Everyone laughed, including the Cabinet. Gordon didn't know whether to laugh or not. Would laughing suggest he was hungry for the job? Or would not laughing suggest he wasn't English? So he did both at once. But it was too late, the moment had passed. Maybe his moment has passed.

The PM made some pretty desperate claims, still blaming Michael Howard for current problems in the Home Office. "That won't wash!," Cameron said. "He can't go on blaming previous Conservative governments! He'll be blaming Sir Robert Peel next!"

Tory MP: "Did he ask the Deputy Prime Minister to give up his residence of Dorneywood?" The PM replied, according to my notes: "I have no intention of discussing the Deputy Penis." This is followed by a stream of canapé-related speculation including the words "Hornywood" and "Pornywood". Tony Wright asked how we could pretend any more that Iraq wasn't in a state of civil war? The PM's answer can be summarised in two words: "Like this!"