And so we arrive at the weekly face off between Young Dave and Mil The Elder, plus the usual prodding of the PM from the opposition benches, and a few softball grovels from the Tories. What may be on the menu today? Don’t be at all surprised if words like “Pfizer” and “AstraZeneca” get mentioned. So here we go, eyes down and all that.
Long Term Economic Plan. Long Term Economic Plan. Long Term Economic Plan. The Tory back bench record’s stuck. The grovelling questions that come from false aspiration and a little arm-twisting by the Whips’ office are a teensy bit obvious.
Something else that is a teensy bit obvious is that Cameron looks hesitant and distracted. He’s fine on the combative stuff, with the Government benches baying in support, but something is not right. Is he worried about something? Is he unwell? Every so often, Dave seems to trip up over his narrative.
But on to the main event: Miliband splits his attack into rent controls, on which Cameron, to be as consistent as ever, avoids such tiresome things as answering the question.
And then there is, to no surprise at all, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. Would Dave use public interest powers, yes or no? Dave was getting stuck in, doing the right thing, backing British jobs. Look at all those car manufacturers!
So he wasn’t answering that question, either.
What was happening was that Speaker Bercow was once again stamping his authority on proceedings. Extra time was played, as indicated when he once again told the House “the question will be heard, and then the answer will be heard, however long it takes”
And just to emphasise that the Speaker is in charge, Cameron got slapped down towards the end of proceedings. Dave might not like that. His pals in the press will like it even less. But the Commons is not the Prime Minister’s plaything.
In the meantime, can’t the Tories get themselves a snappier strapline than “Long Term Economic Plan”? Grating, much?
Oh, and for anyone wanting to see what use it was, once again I suggest they look at the evening’s TV news bulletins: Miliband crafted his interventions to achieve maximum effect when all is stripped down to soundbites. Too many press pundits still have difficulty understanding that.