Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

PMQs sketch: The bombshell from a man who could be a bore

Explosive stuff at PMQs. Question two and Sir Peter Tapsell, the Father of the House, was called. This quaint semi-official title makes him, potentially, the chamber’s most dependable bore. Not today. He called on backbenchers to enact their ‘ancient but still existing power’ to commence procedures of impeachment against ‘the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair’. Not for war crimes. For lying to parliament about the Iraq invasion.

Wow. This bombshell took the pressure off Miliband who’s in lousy shape and could do with a win at PMQs. Badly. He hasn’t got near Cameron for months. But he decided to shelter behind the nation-quake in Iraq, and he spent all six questions exchanging lightly-armed platitudes with the PM.

But beforehand, he had to endure the wrecking ball of Tory applause. It’s a weekly ritual. At noon, every Wednesday, Miliband enters the debate like a TV star making his Shaftesbury Avenue debut. He’s engulfed by whoops and cries of adoration from the Conservative benches. It’s painful. And he always glares back at them like a vegetarian finding a half-eaten worm in his coleslaw. It’s worse than painful, in fact, it’s tragic. Can’t he hire a comedian to write him a few debonair put-downs for these occasions?

Or is it worth the bother? His poll rating is plummeting so fast they’ll soon start hunting for the pinger. And where Miliband leads, his troops follow. Their hot-button issues are going cold. Food banks, benefit cuts, disability glitches, loan sharks, the bedroom tax? Not a peep from Labour’s backbenchers. Even their spiritual home, the NHS, has become a no-go area because they can’t work out an effective response to Cameron’s Cardiff strategy. Asked any hostile question about health, the Tory leader quotes the control experiment of Wales where Labour’s governorship has simplified the service into a morgue with a waiting-room attached.

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