The Sketch: Punchy PM may have boxed himself into a corner over dodgy campaign loans

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The Independent Online

There was Judy from Cameron, but from Brown it was Punch and Punch again. Cameron was "a shallow salesman" and nice young Nick was "Calamity Clegg". But the Speaker had called for more decorum, and in the quieter exchanges the arguments came through even to us, the easily distracted.

A shocking patsy from a Labour drone pleaded with Brown to keep the British economy at the top of his priorities. "The British economy can look after itself. I've made a long term decision to take up golf and my swing needs £500bn invested in it," the Prime Minister didn't say.

"The planted questions keep getting tougher," Cameron remarked sardonically and launched into a six-question campaign on the Government's extension to 42 days without charge.

He rehearsed the arguments we've heard before. He got a couple of dud rounds from the PM, including the idea that the Tories "should be ashamed of not supporting the legislation". Really? And the rest of us? Can we get moral compasses on the NHS?

The extension is a "precautionary" measure, the PM told us. But if you remember, control orders were introduced on the same basis, "not to punish people for doing wrong, but to prevent them doing wrong in the first place". It seemed to many of us an unwelcome novelty in British jurisprudence. But now we've got the damn things, why do they need to extend detention without charge? Why not just release the suspect on a control order? I haven't heard the answer to that.

But the opposition inside and outside the Government is surely right. David Davis says that unless 42 days is sharply defeated, it'll be 90 days next year and rising, plot by plot to a year, to two, to indefinite detention.

Cameron did come up with a new idea and asked it twice: would the controversial vote become a vote of confidence? That's when it got a little serious. Twice Brown answered with the uninformative: "We will put this before the House."

Both are now accusing the other of "political calculation". Brown's charge is that Cameron rode his bicycle into work with a car following. Cameron's charge is that Brown is debauching the constitution with a gutless display of authoritarian populism that will make successful bombing and slaughter more likely, not less (colour has been added to the report, for presentational purposes).

What else? Yes, there was one other thing. Douglas Carswell's question in full: "The Prime Minister claims that he had no knowledge of the dodgy loans used to fund the 2005 election campaign, which he ran. Lord Levy has revealed that the Prime Minister knew everything. Is Lord Levy lying?"

The Prime Minister: "I knew nothing of these loans."

Was that reply entirely wise, I wonder?

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