The Sketch: The day Meryl Streep saw a performance in the House of Commons

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The Independent Online

Meryl Streep's down there." "Meryl Streep? What, literally? Where?"

"Down there in the Chamber."

"No, that's Norman Baker. You can tell by the teeth. If you have difficulty telling Meryl Streep from Norman Baker, concentrate on the teeth."

"Norman Baker's at the dispatch box talking about 'resisting the imposition of top-down targets'. Meryl Streep is sitting in the visitors' seats at the back researching her new role as Mrs Thatcher."

"She's playing Mrs Thatcher? But she's American. Her English accent was ridiculous."

"As, to be fair, was Mrs Thatcher's."

Meryl had come to get the flavour of the House of Commons at PMQs, and she looked fffffffabulous. She gave the impression of wearing dark glasses and carrying a little dog without doing either of those silver-screen things.

What did she see to help her build her role? Far too many people in far too small a place, making far too much noise. The Speaker reported to the House that a 10-year-old child had asked him last week "why they shouted at each other so much". Children ask the most annoying questions.

We left David Cameron last week holding Ed Miliband by the throat and slapping him repeatedly round the face. When bullying those smaller and weaker than ourselves we have to make sure the victim stays down. If he keeps coming back up – it makes us look nasty. But he is a readily adaptive performer and Mrs Streep would have observed the Prime Minister giving the Leader of the Opposition a straightforward battering in the old-fashioned way. Of the Future Jobs Fund, abolished by the Coalition, Cameron said the scheme had only run for six months, and within one month half the graduates were back on the dole, and in Birmingham only 2 per cent... and that's as much as any of us could take in.

It couldn't have been far removed from Mrs T knocking about with Neil Kinnock. Although Kinnock wouldn't have said (as Miliband did of Cameron): "He can't make the guarantee because he's abolished the guarantee!" Then again, Miliband can actually think whereas with Kinnock it wasn't thinking so much as a sub-vocal tremor of the larynx.

It's very difficult being a successful politician; far more difficult than acting. You can tell by the number of popular politicians.

A number of MPs queued up to offer Meryl their autographs, and she disappeared into the Whips' office. Is this anything to do with ancestral English practices, she must have wondered. I do hope she didn't find out.



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