Of course Miliband had the most open of open goals today, the posts spanned the length of the commons chamber and Cameron was a diminished goalkeeper standing at its centre, smaller somehow, and incapable of the political athleticism that would allow him to keep ball from net.
He’ll be glad it’s two months before he has to do this again.
Like last week I almost pitied the Prime Minister, as this week he had been sent naked into the debating chamber without his usual weapon of choice. He could not wield the Flashman temper in a shouty ranting crescendo of opprobrium. His little spat with Jesse Norman last night meant that such behaviour would have caused peals of laughter, rather than cries of fear, to ring out from the opposition benches.
91 seats down – this was a Prime Minister with little to shout about. Instead he adopted the demeanour and tactics of Gogol predecessor Gordon Brown. And like Brown he had come to the commons armed with lists – perhaps lists of lists – to read out in response to ever question.
He spent more time looking at his trusty PMQs folder than usual – and he needed it. Because unlike in previous sessions, Ed Miliband used range, rather than depth, to probe the Prime Minister. Of course he noted Cameron’s inability to keep his troops in line, but he came back to the issue that is still, months later, his most potent weapon.
This week – Ed went “Back to the Budget”. The ball shot into the far corner of the net. Lords Reform may be embarrassing for the PM, but the budget lost votes. It was pleasing to see Miliband – on fine form today – has not forgotten that. He knows that the polling and public opinion are on his side on the economy. He also knows that he needs to damage Cameron’s reputation for leadership.
Today he did both. The Milibandwagon is speeding into the summer recess, unlike last year when many feared the wheels were coming off. Cameron, meanwhile – the shrinking PM who never won an election – looks very lonely indeed.