The Sketch: Labour's extraordinary strategy to be more ordinary

Politicians are directed by different drivers from the rest of us. Nothing is beyond them
  • @SimonSketch

Six soldiers went missing believed dead before PMQs. Total now 400. That's a lot of soldiers; there probably weren't as many MPs in the chamber even though the place was packed. Young men and women fighting, dying in a faraway country of which we know nothing.

The Leader of the Opposition said that "a more stable government in Afghanistan" would produce "more stable outcomes". It might have been the last of the horse jokes.

Surely not, you think, too questionable. You'd get short odds if you were betting against that.

Even David Cameron – who we can still hope is the most decent leader since John Major – said our plan was to defeat both al-Qa'ida and the Taliban, yes, as though they were allies. Politicians are directed by different drivers from the rest of us. Nothing is beyond them, given the right incentives.

A small example. Labour has a communications strategy to show they are more "in touch with ordinary people" than the Conservatives. So we are getting questions starting "Tim from Dartford says". Rachel Reeves got clobbered by little Chloe Smith when the minister replied "Rachel from Leeds says," and quoted her opposite number to Tory cheers.

Yesterday, Joan Ruddock had a go. It didn't go very well either.

She claimed the PM had taken all benefits away from a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy, and she wanted to know with fluting piety: "Is he truly proud?"

What could gilded Cameron know of such things? He replied that one piece of support had been replaced with another, and that he well knew how onerous the previous forms were because time was when he had filled them out himself. Indeed. The Cameron family is known to have been touched with that particular brush. Dame Joan looked perfectly composed, despite the cries of "Shame!" (for once, merited).

But back to our soldiers, and their political directors. Here's an awful thought: we could be heading into World War Three because it's not in any leader's interests to hold back. Doing so may require a moral grandeur beyond anyone in Parliament at the moment. We can, however, hope.