Isabel Hardman

You can tell a lot from watching how MPs act

You can tell a lot from watching how MPs act
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One thing worth noting from today's PMQs - and indeed from all the

sessions since the start if the year - was how many MPs left early. They are now not taking the sessions seriously enough to stay to the bitter end because they tend to involve the two party leaders talking at one another about their pet issues rather than actively debating. Even those who remained in the Chamber weren't really paying attention, striking up conversations that rattled on over serious questions such as the one on organ donation from Glyn Davies. As their leaders debated MPs having second part-time jobs, backbenchers were clearly preparing for the end of their part-time stint in Parliament before returning to their constituencies to campaign.

But while they were there, it was obvious that both sides were up for a

good fight this week and that both enjoyed the exchanges between their leaders. Labour MPs have been sullen lately but today they were full of

heckles. Some impersonated chickens, others rubbed their fingers together

as though counting money. The Labour heckling squad, led by Michael Dugher, was out in full force too.

It does make rather more sense that both sides look enthused as neither

has much to go on in the polls - other than Labour enjoying a small, wobbly

lead. But, when you talk to MPs behind the scenes, it is rather telling that the least optimistic Tory MPs are the ones who have a City background and who therefore like looking at numbers rather than capturing the mood of the party. The Tories may be slicker and they may get more sympathy from the press, these downbeat MPs point out, but they can't see where the breakthrough is going to come from that gets them into government.

Written byIsabel Hardman

Isabel Hardman is assistant editor of The Spectator. She also presents Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is author of Why We Get The Wrong Politicians.

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