PMQs Sketch: Ed was right said Dave and Dave was right said Ed

The Alex effect that brought the two leaders together.

When your back is as firmly against the wall as Ed Miliband's you seek help anywhere you can find it and today it came in the rotund shape of one Alexander Eliot Anderson Salmond First Minister of Scotland. After experiencing the annus horibilis of his political life in one week, Ed turned up at the first Prime Ministers Questions of the New Year with all the obvious pleasure of a condemned man being asked to drive himself to the gallows.

Even as he set out he received the happy news that after 20 months presiding over the worst economic crisis since 1929 the latest opinion polls give the Government a 40% share, exactly the same as that of Labour. Buoyed up with that news, not to mention the fullsome advice from former friends and foe to beef up his performance, it was unsuprising that he looked a tad nervous not helped by the welcoming cheers of the refreshed Tory boot boys and girls happy to see him humiliated further.

His nerves had not been helped by his mugging by John Humphries on The Meet John Humphries Programme just 24 hours earlier and a less than fiery non-relaunch of Labour's programme for the future. It was against this background that his advisors had to come up with a cunning plan to persuade both party and country that Ed could have the occasional good days to balance out the bad.

The shelves in the cunning plan shop were clearly empty so Ed' s team turned to a tried and tested formula to keep him out of trouble -- bore your way through. Prime Minister Dave, whose own star has been on a par recently with that seen over Bethlehem, could not wait to get at the Labour leader and seemed non-plussed to be asked about rail fares from Bedford to London. The 500 MPs for whose constituents commuting is not a problem looked elsewhere as the two left the audience behind in an argument about who should take the most blame.

As a tactic it worked since Dave did not get a chance to open the book of Ed insults he had clearly got for Christmas and had brought with him to the Chamber. But the purpose of PMQs is two-fold, first to encourage the troops and discourage the opposition and secondly to get a sound-bite for the evening news.

Ed's record on the first has been somewhat patchy and early success against Dave has only served to bring out the years of bully-boy behaviour so attractive in Britain's ruling class and its Thatcher adherents. Even on the sound-bite front Dave has managed to pull off more wins than losses in recent weeks and Ed's boys knew another victory would only lead to even more smelly stuff being poured on their man.

With that in mind they decided to play the Armageddon card -- Scotland -- to guarantee success. Dave and Ed might hold each other in mutual contempt but that counts as nought for the the lack of fraternal feelings they have for the man who sailed to substantial victory in Scotland, SNP leader Alex Salmond. It is not enough that the Tory Party has, as one SNP member put it, "less MPs than Panda's in Edinburgh Zoo" or that Labour, once controllers of Scottish politics, are now a rump party, but it is the sheer perceived smugness of Alex that really upsets them. Not only do they know he has shafted them but he is happy to remind them at any opportunity and never more so than this week as Dave tried to remind him that the UK still has the U bit at the front.

With the timing and wording of whither Scotland now firmly on the agenda it is one of the few subjects guaranteeing unanimity between Ed and Dave. Ed was right said Dave and Dave was right said Ed as both pledged to work together against the Alex effect. Even the Commons seemed stunned into silence by this sudden outburst of unanimity.

It got Ed through this PMQs but the trouble with Armageddon is coming up with the sequel.

Peter McHugh is the former Director of Programmes at GMTV and Chief Executive Officer of Quiddity Productions.

Peter McHugh is the former Director of Programmes at GMTV and Chief Executive Officer of Quiddity Productions

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs


The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.


For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming


With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.


On the Middle East:


To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 


We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”


In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.


America will start winning again, winning like never before.


On trade


This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  


We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland