James Forsyth

Was today a turning point?

Was today a turning point?
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I suspect that when we look back at this year, we might conclude that today's PMQs was a turning point. David Cameron has had a poor January but today he was back on form, winning - as Lloyd Evans says - PMQs for the first time this year.

Perhaps more significantly, there was real noise from the Tory backbenches, which have been noticeably quiet in recent weeks. It was as if the party was pulling back together after a relatively trying period. It was also significant that Cameron stayed on the offensive throughout; he didn't get drawn into conducting the debate on Labour's terms despite Brown's best efforts. Gone was the defensiveness that got him into trouble over recognising marriage in the tax system and the extent of the cuts 2010-11.

To be fair to Brown, he still had some good jokes - it is 12.08 and Tory policy is - but the smiles of David Cameron's aides as they chatted with journalists afterwards told the story of who had won. (If these stories about Brown misleading the House get traction, the Tory victory will become even more emphatic.)

As I write in my column for the coming issue, the Tories know that they have had a poor start to the year and need to sharpen up their act. That's encouraging, recognising you've got a problem is the first step to recovery. In the long run, the recent polls that have shown the Tories falling short of an overall majority might have done them a favour as it has snapped them out of thinking that they can win this election by just playing things safe.