The Sketch: Our leaders aren't in touch with their MPs, let alone the nation

Ed told us people were worried about travel costs and water bills. He gets it all right...
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The Independent Online

"And when we've beaten the rabble opposite..." the Prime Minister struck a note of confidence some might find premature. Towards the end of his Queen's Speech, he offered to take us through to 2020 with eight more years of Tory ballot box triumphs. After the local election results, it's probably a sign of not getting it.

Ed Miliband must have got it; "getting it" is core Labour Party policy. It may even be in their new constitution. Ed told us that people were concerned about the cost of travelling to work and water bills. That is getting it, all right. Is that why he's so far ahead in the polls suddenly? Almost certainly not. He hasn't gone up in the polls because he's suddenly got better – it's the other way round.

Who can we turn to, their backbenchers – do they get it? The leaders have difficulty keeping in touch with the nation – and they are now having that difficulty with their own parties. At one point during the big speeches, nine consecutive MPs on the Labour second bench were operating their smartphones – texting, Facebooking, surfing for skiing holidays, who knows?

The flame has guttered. There's smoke, but in defiance of conventional wisdom, no fire. Everyone looks fed up, here at the start of a new session of Parliament. When certain MPs stand up, they are greeted with a communal groan, like a short, noisy yawn. It's awful to hear. And for rhetoric, for argument – it's all the old wallop. The PM told us about his rolled-up sleeves, and being on the side of "doers, strivers and people who play by the rules" (who ARE these people?). He's going to "unleash the private sector" (I'll give you a quid if he does).

In return, Ed quoted Nadine Dorries saying the Tory leaders were "two arrogant posh boys with no passion to understand the lives of others". Is that Ed's passion? Really? The political class wants to understand our lives only to get us to vote for them. It's why we shy away from them.

New-intake Nadhim Zahawi kicked off for the Tories. He's the Iraq-born MP from Stratford-on-Avon. Came here, founded YouGov, became an MP. He gave a very nice speech, finishing amiably with the thought "Shakespeare was a natural Tory". He got some pretty compliments from his leader and Ed Miliband too. When they're polite to each other they're pleasant, attractive, likeable even. There is surely a moral in there.