ONE of the phrases David Cameron likes to say most when facing Ed Miliband at the Despatch Box is that he will "take no lectures" from the Labour party.
For the most part, the Prime Minister likes to finish that thought by accusing his political opponents of ruining the economy.
But an unusual thing happened yesterday at Prime Minister's Questions. While Mr Cameron was desperately shoehorning yesterday morning's good employment figures into almost every answer he gave, the Labour leader took his chance to be the one to throw a curve ball.
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"I will take no lectures...", he told the Tory Prime Minister. For once, MPs appeared to be flabbergasted. For a moment or two there was an awkward silence in the Commons chamber. And then the politicians present responded like the high-minded elected representatives that they are.
"Ooooooooooo", they chanted.
The Labour leader had seemed determined to come out fighting, following a week of disappointing poll results. At one point, while discussing corporate takeovers, he bellowed: "This is IMPORTANT."
For his part, Mr Cameron was also keen to prove his mettle as a leader. Asked about the former Take That star Gary Barlow - told this week to pay a large tax bill - the Prime Minister was not going to let his opinion be swayed by the fact the singer is a staunch Tory supporter. Mr Cameron told MPs that he wanted the singer's money - and he wanted it Back for Good.
So strong a leader was he, the Prime Minister appeared to suggest he could even show magnanimity to his one-time opponents. And so it was that the Tory MP started to praise his predecessor, former Labour leader Mr Brown.
However, that involved describing his one-time opposite number as the "Honourable member for…" . And that is where Mr Cameron came a cropper, at what could hardly have been a worse time. All the assembled MPs knew that he was on the eve of high-stakes pro-Union visit to Scotland.
So it was all the more unfortunate that he struggled to pronounce "k-k-k Kircauldy and …".
"Kirkcaldy" the Labour benches shouted. Only a cynic would suggest it appeared that the Prime Minister did need some lectures from the Labour Party after all.