Something has happened in the last few weeks. Perhaps it’s the return to recession, the revelations that drip out of the Leveson enquiry or the drubbing of the government parties in the local elections. Whatever it is, it has shifted the balance of power at PMQs.
Even just a few weeks ago, when Miliband’s performances at the dispatch box were improving markedly week on week, there was always a fear that Cameron could go up a gear and speed past his opponent. If he could keep his cool, attack Ed at the right times, shop up Labour’s ample rhetorical weaknesses, mention David Miliband a few times and talk about tackling the deficit, then he’d be home and dry.
That doesn’t cut it any more.
Ed Miliband today appraoched PMQs with a completely different demeanour. Not a swagger as such. The very idea of Ed Miliband swaggering is enough to coax guffaws of laughter out of the most ardest Milibandista. But he looks and sounds confident. He smiles when he’s trying to be funny (although, I’d still prefer it if he binned the gags), the heckles which once led to him repeating Mr Speaker now see him fighting back and landing jabs on the opposition benches, he’s no longer blown away by the noise, the drama or the attention. He looks like he belongs there, rather than someone who is filling in.
You can, dare I say it, imagine him standing at the other since of the despatch box – answering the questions.
That’s not to say that Labour should be complacent about PMQs. Anything but. It would only take a few weeks of good news coverage (however unlikely that might sound now) to put the fire back in Cameron’s belly. And he’s still a top performer in this format. But his mojo has gone, and the Mili-mojo is getting its first real outing.
I used to fear PMQs, watching them through my fingers and desperately counting down the minutes until they’d ended. Even when Ed was winning it was like watching your team defend a 1-0 lead in the cup final - simultaneously pleased but expecting disaster.
Now I look forward to them. And I bet there are plenty of Tories who now felt like I did a few months ago.
I could get used to this.