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Red Ed's Cameron offensive falls flat

THE season of goodwill somehow bypasses Westminster.

upper HAND: Prime minister David Cameron came out on top in the final PMQs of 2013.
upper HAND: Prime minister David Cameron came out on top in the final PMQs of 2013.

Funny that.

And so it was with the final PMQs of 2013 when Red Ed decided, perhaps unwisely, to make note of the improving economic figures - unemployment down and employment at a record high.

As soon as he mentioned them the blue rinse chorus hooted "more!". Despite the fact the Labour leader warned many of the jobs were part-time and low-paid, his reference simply gave Blue Dave a platform to wax lyrically about what a brilliant success he was making of steering the British economy through treacherous waters.

So as the Tory chief read out improving stat after improving stat his followers' eyes grew wider and their voices grew louder.

The PM could not believe his luck at Ed's opening gambit, given he had made sure every Tory backbencher who stood up mentioned the improving unemployment figures.

The chief comrade sought to dent the Cameron armour by pointing out how wages had fallen £1500 since 2010 and Britons were feeling worse off.

But Dave was not going to budge from the sunny glow of good news and, pointing out how Labour had warned the Coalition's austerity programme would cost one million jobs, noted how, actually, it had created 1.2m. The words pipe, stick and smoke sprang to mind.

Red Ed sought to get back on track by claiming the PM's boast he would balance the books had fallen flat, his pledge to keep Britain's triple A credit rate had been broken and, by the way, he wasn't doing a good job as prime minister. Yet the chief comrade's attack had all the strength of a wet sock.

As Flashman rattled off a list of Coalition successes, Ed Balls started pointing downwards, mocking the PM's bravado.

But all it did was give Dave an excuse to indulge in his favourite pastime - poking fun at the Shadow Chancellor.

"Ah, we've got a new hand gesture from the Shadow Chancellor," he quipped to Tory cheers. Referring to some anti-Balls briefing, he added: "You don't need it to be Christmas to know when you're sitting next to a turkey!"

As the Tories again barked "more!", Ed, looking crestfallen, took the opportunity to remain seated and wait for the Speaker to intervene, which he duly did.

Judging by the happy faces on one side and the glum ones on the other, there will be no prizes for guessing whose household is going to be jollier this Christmas.

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