For the first time in my time in the Commons, the press gallery was full. “A lot of so-called journalists I’ve never seen before” grumbled the doorman. And no wonder. This was box office – or was supposed to be.
It turned into a rather tame love-in. David Cameron had technocratic, statesman-like questions – getting prepared for Gordon Brown already. Tony Blair tried his line about NHS waiting times (which I fisked last week) and even Jeremy Corbyn’s “lets pull out of Iraq” line was an easy bowl for Blair. He made soft jokes about a P45. A LibDem asked him about his thoughts on disestablishment of the Church of England. “I’m really not bothered about that one,” said Mr Blair – to squeals of delight from the chamber. He won’t be once he coverts to Catholicism. Only Sir Nicholas Winterton raised the EU referendum (Cameron should have spoken on this vital issue – Winterton is a gift to the pro-Euro side as he can be better written off as a crank). Blair said he could hear “the guffaw from his own benches” – unfortunately, he was right. The EU will be delighted the referendum will be eclipsed by whatever stunts Gordon Brown has for us in the next few days. If the Tories let go of the issue, that’s it. “Au revoir, Auf Wiedersehen and Areverderchi” Mr Blair said, almost tauntingly. He closed off with a little paean to the Commons, and was rewarded with an ovation. I’m afraid I’ve heard too many of these goodbyes to take them too seriously. Thank-you and goodnight, Mr Blair. Now let’s bring on the next bloke.
Outside, Brian Haw is screaming his head off (“45-minutes, Mr Bliar”). He and the camper-protesters squatting on Parliament Square will have special reason to be nostalgic today. Protesting against Gordon Brown won’t nearly be as much fun.Tags: The week that was