Today George Osborne helped Ed Miliband achieve something he’s often struggled to do on his own in the past – give Cameron a real thrashing at PMQs. After a confident start Cameron proved himself to be as underprepared as the hapless Chloe Smith. Had Ed Miliband been inclined to repeat his questions (Paxman style) the result would have been similar.
Yes Miliband had an open goal today, and steered the ball into the net with few problems. But the pinpoint cross? That was provided by the Chancellor. His fuel tax announcement – which even took the cabinet by surprise – has acheived the impossible – a Tory PM getting no credit for a tax cut.
Although Ed will receive plaudits for today, this wasn’t his best performance. He was often shrill and repetitive. His jokes are still naff (although the one about the “comedians in the cabinet” might just stick). But he was confident. That’s the sole necessary attribute for the Wednesday lunchtime sojourn to the Westminster bear pit.
The Prime Minister however, was awful at PMQs. Atrocious. The worst I’ve ever seen him. Angry, sure – he’s angry every week. Failing to answer the questions, sure – we expect nothing less. But this stumbling, mumbling, confused performance was quite unlike him. The normally articulate sentences and carefully pronounced vowels were shredded. He looked and sounded like a man whose tie was too tight.
Unusually, the chancellor wasn’t say at Cameron’s side. He was three or four seats to his left. It’s probably for the best – Cameron probably wanted to throttle him on the way out.
Ed however should have high-fived George on his way out of the chamber. For this week only they were tag team partners – and a highly effective team at that.