PMQs sketch: Seamless Miliband gets level pegging with Cameron

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Confident: Miliband has a good day in the Commons
Confident: Miliband has a good day ion the Commons

There was, of course, an open goal. The open goal was George Osborne's U-turn on fuel duty. The coalition is a generous beast, and it often goes out of its way to assist the opposition. Osborne therefore dutifully failed to tell Cabinet of his decision, gave ministers 'Labour hypocrisy' attack lines just hours before the announcement' and packed off an under-briefed junior minister to face the Jeremy Paxman monstering machine.

Miliband lapped it up. The chancellor's decision to not tell Cabinet was part of his "seamless political strategy", Miliband smirked. "From the country's point of view 'a shambles, from his point of view it's just another day at the office."

Miliband even found time to fit in a few Jimmy Carr jokes from last week. "It's one rule for comedians on stage, another for comedians in Cabinet," he said, to cheers from the benches behind him. By the time he sat down he will have savoured the chants of 'more' from his MPs, who not so long ago were deathly silent.

His posture is still all wrong. He stands crooked like an old woman's nose – all right angles and creaky joints. He is teacherly, bemused and still slightly wonkish. But that is the worst thing you can say about him. Today's victory over Cameron did not come because he was shooting at an open goal. It came from a confident, commanding performance, plenty of great lines and a commendable throughline of argument which brought in backbench rebellion, incompetence, the fuel duty U-turn, the 50p top rate and Jimmy Carr.


Cameron faltered slightly. He keeps stretching his hands out and pushing them down, in a 'calm down' motion. When Tony Blair used to do the bear pit, he would minimise the problem with his hands - make it manageable, then split it up with slow chopping motions and address each one. Cameron instead seems about to be drowned by it, desperately trying to subdue something which is stronger than he is.

If this was your first PMQs, you’d probably think the two men were equal opponents.
 

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