The Sketch: The West Saharan question

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The Independent Online

They are focused with a laserlike concentration, we are told. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are bearing down on our greatest concerns. On the economy. On public services. On how well they can insult each other. Yes, they are finally putting the work in where it counts. The lamps burn late as satirists, ironists, flyting dialogue-writers and every manner of publicly funded sarcasticiser hones his barbs and shafts.

Yesterday's PMQs saw Cameron accused of having a red face. Cameron had said that the Chancellor was offering the deepest cuts for 20 years and invited the Prime Minister to repeat the words. The PM said: Look, he's got a red face! Cameron noted the PM had promised to behave differently to his colleagues. "In what way would he be different?" he asked.

Answer: "Different? He looks very different from his poster!" (Labour shouts.) Cameron then went into it a bit, as stand-ups call it. He asked for a show of hands for who was going to put the PM on their election leaflets. A dozen responded. Cameron said, "Four! Six ministers wanted him out of the Cabinet and just four who want him on the their leaflets." Thus the punchline: "He's been air-brushed out of the whole campaign!"

It's getting more artificial. They'll soon be wearing periwigs.

Did we get anywhere? Brown kept saying Cameron didn't have any policy. Then he said Cameron had three policies instead of one. And Cameron said Brown didn't have any policies at all. Please can't we have an election?

Andrew Murrison asked the funniest question of the year. He got up with one of those short ones that are the devil to answer. "Can the Prime Minister say what his attitude is to the situation in the Western Sahara?"

The Western Sahara? Is that on the left of the country? Is that where those shot footballers came from? Is there a disaster there? Had the "centre of the world's compassion" shifted there from Haiti?

The PM produced one of the best answers of its kind. He was very concerned about ethnic violence which is why aid had been doubled, and of course, more concerning, the growth of terrorist groups. I was pretty sure he was talking about the eastern Sahara, if that's where the Yemen and Somalia and so forth hang out. Then I realised it was an answer that could apply to almost anywhere – he might have been talking about Burnley (where the disappointed bishops come from).

But it was no worse than anything else said in that wretched half-hour.

simoncarr@sketch.sc

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