Just catching up on my connection with the outside world this evening, I played back yesterday's questions to the Prime Minister, and within three minutes banged hand to forehead as Ed Milliband disappointed the entire Labour Party one more time within seconds of opening his mouth. From the official record:
Edward Miliband (Doncaster North) (Lab): May I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Captain Tom Jennings from the Royal Marines, Squadron Leader Anthony Downing from the Royal Air Force, Private John King from 1st Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, and Rifleman Sachin Limbu from 1st Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles? All of them showed enormous courage and bravery. They have made sacrifices on our behalf, and our deepest condolences go to their families and friends.
In the autumn statement the Chancellor said that train fares would rise by only 1% above inflation. Can the Prime Minister therefore explain why rail companies this month on some of the busiest commuter routes have increased their fares by up to 11%?
The Prime Minister: The power to do that was given to them by the last Labour Government.
Look, one doesn't need to be an expert in British politics to know the following:
- A six percentage-point rise in rail fares does not seem to be the most weighty issue of the day in the United Kingdom;
- If it were truly significant, but one might have a perception coming to it cold that it's a somewhat trivial issue, one might expect the Leader of the Opposition to, you know, work up to it;
- Given that the Leader of the Opposition has as much time as he wants to ask questions during PMQs, he certainly had time to segue between, you know, mourning the deaths of four British soldiers and a complaint that trains cost more; and
- Wait, did he go from acknowledging the deaths of the brave men who have made sacrifices on the country's behalf and a £10 hike in the fare to Milton Keynes without as much as a "Mr. Speaker, as you will no doubt be aware..." ?
- Harriet Harman is sitting right next to him and doesn't kick him in the fork for scoring an own-goal within the first three minutes?
- Doesn't this guy have staff that can say, "Ed, our lot passed that one, best leave it alone?"
Sorry, I degenerated into a rant there. It's just that I am naturally inclined towards the left, and the Labour Party represents the left in the UK, and I think the Conservative Party is dead wrong about how to get the UK out of recession...and my guy is up there squandering his opportunity to ask the Prime Minister about...well, anything other than rail fares.
It gets worse. A few minutes later we hear this exchange:
The Prime Minister: It is time for the Leader of the Opposition to listen to his shadow Defence Secretary, who wrote very candidly over Christmas: “There is a difference between populism and popularity”— and that difference is called credibility. Time to have some, I think.
Edward Miliband: Instead of his pre-prepared lines, the right hon. Gentleman should get his facts right about his own policy.
"Pre-prepared lines"? My forehead hurts from where my desk just rose up to meet it.
Look, I'm not a UK voter, I'm just a fan. But please, Labour Party, please, I beg you, please get this guy away from microphones. I'm sorry Harriet Harman doesn't want the job, because as boring as she may seem on TV, she's actually a foot smarter than her boss. I'm beginning to think the party took a collective step back the moment someone asked for a volunteer while Milliband was too stupid to realize what was going on and so stayed put. (Think about that for a moment, it will come to you.)
Oh well. The Lib Dems may bolt the coalition in a few months and give Labour another chance. Or not. It's possible we have this clown until the next election, whereupon I hope his own large intestine reaches up to strangle him so Labour actually have another chance at Number 10 in my lifetime.