Leading article: Back in time

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Prime Minister's Questions has begun to degenerate into the ritual exchange of arcane insults and obscure cultural references. Yesterday, Ed Miliband accused David Cameron of behaving like Flashman, who first appeared as a minor character in the mid-19th century novel Tom Brown's Schooldays. The Prime Minister shot back that the Labour leader reminded him of Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, a hopeless British ski jumper, who was a household name 20 years ago.

But two decades is the blink of an eye when it comes to this new trend in Commons insults. Last week, Mr Cameron accused a Labour MP of living in "Fairy Dairy Land", which was a reference to a Benny Hill record that was number one in the charts in 1971. The most up-to-date cultural reference in PMQs of late has been to an advert starring Michael Winner that was taken off the air a full six years ago.

It is all harmless fun of course. If MPs want to exchange insults so ancient that they're covered in cobwebs that is up to them; it's one way of keeping them out of trouble. Just as long, though, as our MPs don't expect anyone in the country under 25 to have a clue what it is they're going on about.

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