The Sketch: Miliband turned on the charm, but all eyes were on Cameron's bald spot

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The Independent Online

As the one who first noticed David Cameron's bald spot, I feel proprietorial about it. Kevin Maguire noticed it yesterday from the gallery and was trying to appropriate it for the Daily Mirror. No! It's mine! I discovered it a year ago, planted a flag in it, claimed it for The Independent. It's an expanding dominion, I might say. It's getting bigger. Soon we'll be able to plant it with tobacco and transport convicts to it. But you can see how the First World War started.

Cameron had come to hear a statement on Pakistan and Kenya (wot? No South Shields?) The new David Miliband model is not trying so hard to be so charming and that allows the charm he has to come through. He can say what he likes because he is so young it doesn't matter. He told us about the "appalling violence" in Kenya, the killing of women and children, humanitarian disasters. "I have arranged for nine statements to be laid in the Commons library," he declared. We had run out of rose petals to throw into the chamber.

What connected these two unhappy countries? Strong economic growth was causing rising tensions among dynastic allegiances. "That's South Shields," someone said. Corruption, extremism, vote-stealing, ballot stuffing. "Reporting of votes has been plagued with irregularity." Even more like South Shields. (No letters, please.) "Kenya needs democracy!" they cried, like turkeys gobbling. Miliband deployed his vast historical knowledge to wonder whether "winner takes all is the right solution for Kenya?" Yes, that is what people normally associate with democracy. Maybe Miliband is post-Blair on whether democracy is a "universal human value". So maybe he won't be tempted to invade countries to bring it to them.

James Clappison asked the Department of Work and Pensions about the Resident Labour Market Test (it's a cross-departmental exercise to try to keep "British jobs for British workers"). Peter Hain had obviously never heard of it. More surprisingly, a DWP civil servant in the gallery hadn't heard of it either. More surprisingly still, neither had the department.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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