The Sketch: The front bench just sat there like sacks containing the remains of the Government

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The Independent Online

A "great groan" went up from the crowd when the king of England was beheaded in Whitehall. The Labour Party doesn't understand the need for groaning practice. My word, they are going to be harrowed by what comes next. They are going to be turned over and exposed to the crows. If they think it's bad now it's only because they haven't understood the utterly preoccupying 10-year grieving process for regicides.

The front bench sat like sacks containing the remains of a government. From left to right... Chief whip Nick Brown. To his credit he always looks like that, whatever the polls say. Then "Valium" Jack Straw with a faraway expression: he was thinking of his happy place. Harriet in a battle fatigue jacket yackering like a 50s housewife into Gordon's ear. Alistair Darling's face had slumped, he's not trying any more, it's taken 20 years off him. Nice "Not Up To It" Johnson looked vigorously morose. Big Ed Balls with his huge financial face – he was mentally already in the Treasury. It's all he's ever wanted and if Gordon doesn't give it to him now he won't have a glimpse of it for a decade.

Andy Burnham – the man least likely to lead the Labour party – I saw with a shock that he now physically resembles John Major. I never thought Burnham had a chance until yesterday's Major moment.

Caroline Flint looked faaaaabulous – she sulks superbly. "If the Local Government minister resigns the day before the Local Government elections shouldn't the Europe minister resign before the European elections?" That was David Cameron. He's good fun, Cameron, he's like a person. It's an interesting approach to politics, I wonder if it'll last.

I came into the gallery to hear Shaun Woodward talking about "a society of cohesion and normality" in Northern Ireland. You couldn't help observe the contrast with life in Westminster.

There was some laughter in the dark. "My favourite so far this morning," a colleague said, "was the Charlie Falconer headline: It should be legal to help friends die!"

And there was that Morecambe and Wise exchange between opposition and the seated PM: Cameron: "The Prime Minister is in denial!"

Prime Minister: "No I'm not!"

Gordon has saved his best till last. He was quite good. He was doing anger better, he's got the hang of that. And he showed us his resilience, of course. What energy he has. And the detail he has "met and mastered". He told us that even now he was trying "to have pension credit recast as a rebate". It's amazing how much he knows. When the whole country realises that, I bet all this chaotic election nonsense will disappear.

But his analysis of the Conservative strategy may need a little work.

Cameron hadn't asked about state-aided shared equity schemes, so "he proves to the whole country there's absolutely no substance in anything he says". He's a little ahead of himself there, people think. He said the same sort of thing to Nick Clegg. "None of these parties have anything to offer us!" It's a new definition of the "progressive consensus" he's been building.

He was audacious, too. To the suggestion that the "totally unacceptable" Hazel Blears' resignation had undermined his authority, Gordon said: "I think some people should take a step back and understand what has been happening."

He said a lot of things, then. It was about families. And stress. And every part of the House. It was about public anger, and difficulty and responsibility, and issues. And it wasn't about politicking, it was about the magnificent job the Communities Secretary had done, yes and the Home Secretary too, and the new relationships they had created with Muslim communities, and duties and contributions, and Members, and a Local Government concordat, and acknowledging things and being fair and Hazel's regeneration of shopping centres...

And watching him in such pain, people wondered where in the name of Pity, were the white-coated men with the long syringes?