The Sketch: Questions are not there to be dignified

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The Independent Online

What is going through the Prime Minister's mind when he says of Cameron: "This is the man who made a cast-iron guarantee on a referendum on the Lisbon treaty!" He laughs lingeringly, and seems to enjoy the sally. His back benches roar away.

Does he believe what he's saying? That Cameron reneged on a referendum and he didn't? These days, people at the top of politics believe what they want and when they want – but in what way does Gordon Brown believe what he's saying? Now that people are saying he is fundamentally a decent man, is it worth wondering?

Does he muse to himself in his quiet moments: "It's as if they think I promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. But I never did. That was Jack Straw and Tony Blair. I was always against a referendum.

"And anyway, that manifesto was for a different government. Everything changed when I took over. It was the first thing I said in Downing Street. 'This is the time for change'.

"And anyway, that manifesto offered a referendum on a European Constitution whereas Lisbon was a constitutional treaty. Cameron offered a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. But we never offered a referendum on the Treaty. He broke his guarantee through sheer dithering."

There must be some argument like this underlying the line. Or is it just the Hate Hour in 1984 where the leader switches the audience's rage from enemy to ally and back? No, it can't be that because of the PM's fundamental decency. In which case the poor fellow is completely bats.

Cameron went back to the figures to ask: "Will he admit he's planning cuts next year?"

The answer came straight back: "Yet again, not one policy from the opposition!" What did that mean? When adulterers are accused by their wives they admit their guilt by saying, "I'm not going to dignify that with a reply." Now they can say: "Not one policy from the opposition!"

Cameron suggested that if you took out unemployment benefit and debt costs, public spending was, by the government figures, set to fall by 0.7 per cent.

The answer: "Conservatives were responsible for the highest levels of unemployment this country has ever seen and would take us back if they had the chance."

The fall in spending is sofa-change but it cannot be admitted. The PM told Cameron he was wrong about that and wrong about everything.

Wot, everything?