I thought that politicians are born just like the rest of us, yet there was great hilarity in the House of Commons when Ed Milliband mentioned that today was the Prime Minister’s birthday. Everyone found the idea hilarious and no one had brought any birthday cards or presents. There wasn’t even a cake for our first amongst equals. For a moment I thought Milliband might lead the Labour benches in a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to You, but he made do with wishing the PM Happy Birthday.
The pleasantries only lasted a few seconds before the Labour leader was back at the party political barricades, quoting the Chancellor’s claim that Labour’s energy policy was like something out of Das Kapital. It probably seemed a good line to ask the PM if freezing energy prices was a Communist plot, but it backfired, giving Cameron the chance for a well-received response – ‘I’ll leave the Communist plots to him’. Milliband joined in with the laughter and Ed Balls gave the impression that maybe he was smiling somewhere deep inside.
Milliband finished one question with the phrase ‘We have a Prime Minister who always stands up for the wrong people,’ which sounded good, but Cameron got bigger laughs when quoting Ed Balls’ plan to win the next election. This is based on his and Milliband’s experience, track record and credibility. To howls of mirth Cameron compared this to being like ‘the captain of the Titanic running on his safety record’. Milliband claimed that Cameron was floundering, but the PM had the best of their exchanges.
The leaders’ pantomime over MPs raised some serious points about rural post office accounts, diet pills, and childcare before a statistical slanging match over jobless figures between the PM and Julie Hilling. Cameron told the House that there was nothing he would rather be doing on his birthday than answering PMQs, although his facial expressions suggested this wasn’t completely true. He claimed though that he had been given the best birthday present he could have had – the shadow chancellor staying in the shadow cabinet.
With a bit of work Balls and Milliband could be an award-winning double act. The way they turn to each other with raised eyebrows and mock indignation at everything the Prime Minister says has perfect timing. When they are done with politics they might well have offers from Hollywood. ENERGY! Two men’s fight against the price of gas could be the the first summer blockbuster with utility bills as an important part of the plot.I might start penning the first draft this evening.