The Sketch: Twenty-two wrongs don't make a right

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The Independent Online

I've been counting how many times the Prime Minister is right and the Tories are wrong. That is, how many times he says so. That is, how many times he actually uses the very words.

Last week the Tories were "wrong" 16 times but this week only 14 times. Maybe they're an eighth more correct, maybe the PM is running out of energy. Last week he said he was right eight times, and this week he was only right three times. A drop of two-thirds in rectitudinal output. Are you worried? No need, because he implied, or insinuated or led us to believe, or left us with the impression that he had been right about everything that he had taken a decision on. The recession, the banks, the economy, the jobs market, the climate, and compensation for people with pleural plaque: ("it is right that we have proper compensation in place").

The Prime Minister has always taken the right decisions. And it was right that he took the right decisions. Why? Because that was the right thing to do. "Right throughout the recession we have got things right," he said.

David Cameron takes a different view. He says Gordon has got things wrong. This seems to be one of those dividing lines the PM is always looking for. But having said he was wrong, Cameron told us Gordon had done the right thing about the Territorial Army training budget – but only because he'd been forced to. Doing the right thing had been "humiliating" and represented "a loss of authority". On balance we have to admire Gordon here. He will do the right thing no matter what the cost to his reputation.

What about Gordon's assertion, Cameron asked, that Britain would "lead the rest of the world out of recession"? Had that been right? Now that the rest of the world has emerged from recession and we haven't?

Gordon explained it to the House. "If I have to explain it to him," he started. The explanation was that Germany and Japan had had a far deeper recession than we'd had, and that Tories were committed to keeping us in the recession (a wrong policy).

As an explanation it didn't seem quite complete. But then, it couldn't be repeated often enough, the Tories were "wrong about the recession", and Cameron "couldn't deny he'd been wrong about every aspect of the recession".

Then David Cameron came back with his own list about things Gordon was wrong about. It was very like the list Gordon said Cameron was wrong about.

Gordon said the Tories were also wrong about nuclear power. That's odd, because the Tories are in favour of it. But so is the Government. It's a wrong-wrong situation. It was used 22 times by one or the other. Twenty two wrongs don't make a right, you know.

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