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Row over Minister For Fun is no laughing matter

THERE was none of the usual hearty cheers just a grim silence as Blue Dave entered the arena for the expected monstering from Red Ed.

As the Tory backbenchers sat, buttocks clenched, the chief comrade rose to a rousing cheer to ask - so what lessons had the PM learnt from the car crash that was Millergate?

Flashman, looking almost contrite, accepted public anger was still raw over the expenses scandal, which boded the question: why on earth did he wait days to act?

In an attempt to justify himself, Dave stressed how he wanted to give the now ex-Culture Secretary a chance to clear her name and get on with her job. "That is the right thing to do," he declared. But even his own backbenchers, arms folded, looked unconvinced.

Ed pointed out how the public would be confused as to why Maria Miller had resigned if she had done nothing wrong. He then upped the ante and, to Labour cheers, accused the PM of making a "terrible error of judgement".

But Flashman attempted a counter-attack, saying if the chief comrade really believed Ms Miller should have gone, why hadn't he called for her to resign. Tory eyes suddenly opened.

Dave accused Ed of being the first Leader Of The Opposition to call for someone to resign after she had, er, already done so.

"Now, I've heard everything," blasted Ed. "It's my job to fire members of his Cabinet." Labour MPs liked that.

Flashman accepted Ms Miller had got things wrong for which she had apologised - albeit in 30 seconds flat - but again sought to get back on the front foot and accused Red Ed of seeing a passing bandwagon and jumping on it "after the whole circus has left town".

The PM insisted more work needed to be done to reassure the public this was a "good and honest Parliament with hard-working people in it" but said the Labour leader had come simply to play politics and get a good soundbite.

Ed, seeking again to put the focus on Dave's judgement or lack of it, insisted the PM just didn't get it and, rather than being an "apostle for better standards, he spent the last week being an apologist for unacceptable behaviour".

Flashman was bruised and battered; he had survived he monstering but it might have been much worse if the Minister For Fun had still been sitting beside him on the front bench.

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