Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Finally - two worthy gladiators for PMQs

Relief, and trebles all round, for Labour backbenchers this lunchtime. Ed Miliband had to score on his first outing at Prime Minister's Questions and the undisputed verdict in Westminster is that the new boy done well.

Relief for all political observers too - at least we know we're going to see an evenly-matched fight every Wednesday from now on.

I'm sure Cameron didn't know exactly what to expect from his new opponent but perhaps he should have been watching videos of his own performances in preparation rather than trying to second guess the Labour leader.

The Labour team haven't been asleep on the job in the five months since Cameron started standing at the dispatch box. We, in the press gallery, might not have taken these early outings against Harriet Harman too seriously, except that they allowed Cameron to fit comfortably into the role.

But Labour noticed that the Harman-style, of drilling calmly away at an issue, repeating the question if the answer has been flannelled, actually gets Cameron quite riled. He raises his voice, you keep yours calm, you look in charge. That's the theory, and it worked for Miliband, though the lisp, which people will get used to, sounded more pronounced.

Cornered, twice, on the fairness of the child benefit cut Cameron was in one of these damned if he did and damned if he didn't situations. Result, he hesitated a wee bit, enough of a chink for a blow to be scored. You win PMQs over the course of two seconds, although the ordeal last half an hour for the Prime Minister.

Cameron underperformed, by quite a bit for him, but he'll be better prepared next week, when the subject will inevitably be the spending cuts.

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