Went into the Chamber for Treasury Qs this morning. The Speaker was doing his best to protect George Osborne from being given a complete mauling, which resulted in three Labour MPs being ticked off. There is now a new addition to the lexicon of 'unparliamentary' language. No more mention of the words 'Bullingdon Club'!
The first of the MPs to be reprimanded, who brought up the subject of George's revelations on the Andrew Marr show, was asked whether she had warned him in advance that she would be raising this. The distinction is between playing the ball or the man. We can criticise policies or pronouncements, but if we intend to get personal, we're meant to tell the subject of the criticism that we're going to be naming him or her. Another Labour MP, Karen Buck, then asked the Speaker if he would be prepared to accept a note signed by everyone on the Labour benches, as it was likely we'd all be having a go at the Shadow Chancellor! (Not quite sure how this plays at PMQs - does Cameron tell Gordon every week in advance that he might just be having a pop at him?)
I hate to admit this, but I'm actually starting to feel rather sorry for poor George, now that the cockiness and swagger has gone. (Cameron, on the other hand, has that Etonian sense of entitlement which I can't see ever evaporating.) Judging from newspaper accounts George seems to have been mercilessly bullied by his (aptly named) Bullingdon mates, and he looked rather like a wounded little schoolboy as he sat there on the front bench wishing it was all over. And it was noticeable that the Tory whips hadn't done much to line up their troops behind him.
Or am I just being a bit soft? Maybe Pretty Little Head were right after all!