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Flood of good feeling dries up as quickly as you can say 'Order!'

THERE is nothing quite like a natural disaster to bring people together.

NATURAL DISASTER: David Cameron faced a stormy PMQs yesterday, but managed not to sink. Picture: PA
NATURAL DISASTER: David Cameron faced a stormy PMQs yesterday, but managed not to sink. Picture: PA

So PMQs began in a cuddly, fraternal mode with Blue Dave kindly thanking the Labour leader's question on the floods and Red Ed kindly thanking the Prime Minister's helpful and informative answer. Cockles were being warmed.

But while a natural disaster can bring out the collegiate spirit, this tends not to last very long in the shark-infested waters of Westminster.

And so, after a few cordial exchanges, the issue of money was mentioned; the temperature dipped and a drop of blood appeared in the pool.

The chief comrade pointed out, to Labour nodding heads, how the PM had insisted money was no object but that one of his ministers had made clear there was no blank cheque. Who was right?

Flashman tilted his nose upwards and stressed money was no object in the relief effort, which prompted a collective expulsion of Labour air and the question to pop up - what about after the floods?

Red Ed began to circle the PM, mentioning how effusive Blue Dave had been in praise of the sandbag-hauling, wellie-wearing staff of the Environment Agency yet 550 of them were, remarkably, earmarked for redundancy. If money was no object, surely he should reconsider the job losses, asked the Labour leader.

Flashman sought to dodge the oncoming threat and deployed the politician's best friend; he rattled off some mind-numbing statistics. When Red Ed repeated the question, the PM simply rattled off some more, eating up more precious minutes.

The chief comrade, adopting his serious and sober tone, accused Blue Dave of having made a "grand promise" to the flood victims and urged him to reconsider the redundancies.

The PM stressed he did not want to see flood victims worried about "penny-pinching" and then sought to harpoon the Labour beast by saying: "I'm only sorry he seeks to divide the House when we should be coming together for the nation." Tories roared and cocked a collective snook at Red Ed.

Amid the national emergency, the key thing for Blue Dave is to try to convince the nation, especially the waterlogged bit, that he has got a grip and that he is not King Canute, hopelessly telling the waves to go back.

While at the moment, he still appears to be a man who is waving and not drowning, he must be warned that Mother Nature has a funny way of sinking even the most confident of captains.

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