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Miliband performs strongly on weekly PMQs

KEEP calm and look prime ministerial.

Keep calm and look prime ministerial.

Red Ed, despite the provocative Tory hoots and cackles, was desperate to maintain his new "serious and sober" strategy and so began his weekly stint in the Westminster bear-pit by sounding statesmanlike and measured on Syria.

It was only when the chief comrade welcomed the big drop in unemployment that the chamber erupted with Conservative MPs braying with glee.

In fact, such was the Commons commotion that Mr M had to repeat his remarks, which, of course, just sparked another round of Tory merriment.

Blue Dave, nose upwardly tilted, not only gloried in the latest job statistics but claimed, to Ed Balls's shaking head, that people were actually better off because of the Coalition's tax cuts.

Red Ed's blood was up. He could not believe the out-of-touch Flashman was telling those living in the land of the cost of living crisis that they were not really worse off but actually better off.

The PM rose slowly and reached for his trusty friend: the cudgel marked "recession".

He told his Labour opponent: "Every week he comes here and raises a new problem that he created.

"We had the betting problem, then we had the banking problem, then the deficit problem and now we have the cost of living problem.

"He's like an arsonist who goes around setting fire after fire and then complains when the fire brigade aren't putting out the fires fast enough," Tory stomachs merrily bobbed up and down.

Still serious and sober, Red Ed hit back, saying: "He comes here every week and does his Bullingdon Club routine and all he shows is that he has absolutely no understanding of the lives of people up and down this country. That is the reality."

The comrades liked that one.

But Dave was determined to ride the feel-good wave for a bit longer, referring to those global guardians the IMF, who this week upped their forecast for UK growth.

"For months, Labour told us to listen to the IMF. Remember five tweets in one month from the Shadow Chancellor - listen to the IMF. Now it is telling us the economy is growing, stick to the plan - not a word," he said to Ed Balls's still shaking head.

Given the stats, it was an open goal for Flashman but Red Ed did much better than expected and left the chamber reminding himself - keep calm and look prime ministerial.

He'll convince himself yet.

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