It was bishops, policemen and nurses galore today – but this wasn’t some kind of kinky fancy dress party, this was the House of Commons at midday on a rainy Tuesday.
However, after a gentlemanly attempt at an adult discussion about Gaza and Israel by David Cameron and Ed Miliband, in which the former favoured negotiation above running to the UN, PMQs unfortunately soon descended into the usual anarchic atmosphere more suited to a party than Parliament, bishops or no bishops.
The Labour leader decided to give up on arguing about the NHS during his second bout of questions to congratulate (in that uniquely both sarcastic and frenziedly obsequious sense reserved only for PMQs) the PM for making history this week – “give him credit Mr Speaker though, he did make history this week, he’s got his own word in the Oxford English Dictionary – ‘omnishambles’”.
This joke possibly stemmed less from heartfelt fury about the fall in NHS nurse numbers and more from Ed’s envy at having his lexicological crown stolen. His ‘squeezed middle’ won OED’s 2011 Word of the Year. I wonder which phrase will be more enduring…
But the PM certainly gave what he got, mocking Miliband’s chameleon-like adoption of a motley crew of former politicians – Disraeli, Thatcher, and, erm, Blair – cackling “He's impersonated more politicians than Rory Bremner this week, except this time the joke's on him.”
And he didn’t stop there, taking the chance to swat criticism of the vast sums spent on PCC elections last Thursday aside by noting that former DPM John Prescott had lost the election in Humberside. “The people of Humberside spoke for the whole nation!” he cried. “The people of Corby spoke for the country!” yelled Miliband. Who says Westminster is London-centric?
Sadly, beneath all this noise, the cross-party agreement on women bishops and peace in the Middle East was barely audible.