With the election of the leader of the free world for the next four years now sorted out it seemed only sensible that politics should move swiftly on to its next seismic event, Prime Ministers Questions.
And, as if to mark the significance of the day, it was PMQs with a difference, in that the afore-mentioned P was absent from the proceedings.
There were some who unkindly suggested that Prime Minister Dave had “done a Dorries “ and fled abroad to avoid his weekly hammering at the hands of Labour’s Ed Miliband.
The more mundane truth was he had popped out to the Middle East to flog armaments to those bits where the Arab spring has not yet sprung. With Dave out of town parliamentary procedure meant that Ed could also take the day off to look after his goldfish and colour in some more of the empty spaces in Labour’s manifesto.
Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the House of Commons where MPs see PMQs on Wednesdays as bookable pre-prandial entertainment on the way to an early lunch. But, thanks to the Coalition the absence of the usual hors d’oeuvres meant the appearance on the menu of that tasty alternative the Deputy Prime Minister.
Nick Clegg is a regular attendee at PMQs but seemingly only to practice his latest yoga moves so his elevation to the firing line brought out foes on all sides ready to merrily munch away. You could tell his Coalition partners were concerned for his safety by the sudden appearance by his side of Chancellor George Osborne clearly ready to slip his hand up the back of his coat if he started to waver.
The plus for the Deputy Prime Minister is that he does not have to look for his enemies, since they are all around him but he managed to even unnerve himself by winning cheers all round by congratulating President Obama on being re-elected. But, that was the extent of his general popularity as Labour produced its own deputy Harriet Harman to lead the assault. It took Ed more than a year, and almost his job, to start to shine at PMQs and Harriet’s lack of experience showed as she read her way through the regular insults.
She did put down a marker on what Labour clearly gambles as the next chance to bash the Government, with a question about the Leveson inquiry. With Dave now desperately trying to get Fleet Street bosses back on board after dissing them with Leveson, Labour senses the chances of another Coalition split when the inquiry reports later this month.
The PM has been trundling out his acolytes to preach freedom of the press in order to ignore any significant changes proposed by Lord L but Harriet at least got the Deputy PM to promise fair play which could come back to bite the coalition where it hurts.
By now, the massed choirs on both sides were in full voice and Speaker Bercow had to make his now regular threat to delay luncheon until he got some order. Already showing signs of losing his voice Nick swopped the usual insults with Harriet who threw in some extras about police and childcare.
She was aided throughout by noises off from Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper in a touching reminder of her husband Ed Balls. He, it should be remembered earned the title of the “most annoying man in British politics” from Dave for his skill at sledging during PMQs.
But, even this insight into what might be normal behaviour in the Balls-Copper household had to be parked when Nadine Dorries finally got her mention. Tory MP Nadine has held a special place in the hearts of all since describing her Prime Minister and Chancellor as “two arrogant posh boys” who don’t know the price of milk. Having thus laid down her application to be selected again as a Tory member her sudden appearance in Australia as a contender in “I’m a Celebrity” for a fee of £40,000 plus change could only have come as a surprise to those who think Radio 3 is light entertainment.
MPs cheered and jeered and some looked nostalgic as Nadine, now suspended from the Party joined the illustrious ranks of Georgeous George Galloway and Lembit Opik.
Usually this far into PMQs MP’s have had the pleasure of seeing Dave brought to the boil by Ed and there was clearly some disappointment on all sides that the Deputy PM was still standing although shouting down the opposition had clearly got to his throat.
Speaker Bercow had tried to ride to the rescue by calling on members “with previous” on the Clegg front to quiz him but when regular recidivist Peter Bone praised the coalition even he gave up.
Vince Cable looked disappointed, Ken Clarke looked sleepy.
The Mother of Parliaments went to lunch.
Eat your heart out Barak Obama.