Questions to the Prime Minister, most usually abbreviated to PMQs, which takes place most Wednesdays at 12 noon sharp, is an event that many in the top job have dreaded. Even Tone, who never had much trouble seeing off William ‘Ague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, was not keen on the prospect, to the extent of changing it from two sessions a week to just the one.
And, before the last election, Young Dave and his jolly good chaps made hay at these confrontational and gladiatorial occasions by taunting Pa Broon often to distraction. But now that the boot is firmly on the other foot, with Mil The Younger ably supported by the likes of “Auguste” Balls giving Cameron that same grief, the Tories and their apologists don’t like it at all.
This dislike has now extended to an inability to retell those occasions where the “arrogant posh boy” Cameron has lost it in the face of winding up from Balls, who now has the role that Denis Healey used to play when Margaret Thatcher was at Number 10. Such an occasion arrived yesterday, when Young Dave snapped and then had to withdraw his unparliamentary response.
Straight bat: Simon Hoggart
The exchange was viewed by the Guardian’s sketch writer Simon Hoggart who titled his analysis with the matter-of-fact observation “David Cameron loses it again with ‘muttering idiot’ jibe”, telling of Balls’ mocking of the PM for his disclosure of “chillaxing” (What that? – Ed) and of taking four glasses of wine with his Sunday lunch (a truly unfortunate revelation for a modern parliamentarian).
Harry Potter and the Gobshite of Arslikhan
But for the toadying Quentin Letts (Let’s not), labouring in the obedient service of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, such a factual version of history could not be allowed to enter. So Cameron losing it, in an act of revisionism that would have found favour in Pyongyang, was an act that “delighted” the Commons. Balls was a “gurning looby” (What that again? – Ed).
Moreover, Young Dave had been “abused by Mr Balls from a distance of two yards for some 25 minutes”. Bit like Brown and Osborne pre-2010, then. Letts, dutifully skipping over those four glasses of wine, continued by stressing the intellectually challenging range of questions, to show that his hero is really A Jolly Fine Chep. And the moment Cameron snapped was then reinvented as an act of popular heroism.
“Mr Cameron finally went for the shot,” announced Letts. “The Government benches loved it”. That the opposition pelted Cameron with cat-calls of “Flashman”, and that the Labour front bench congratulated themselves on a job well done, was airbrushed out. Instead, readers are reassured with the flagrantly dishonest “Balls almost swallowed the end of his nose”.
Still, it keeps Letts from trying to close another theatre. Mustn’t grumble.