Oliver Dowden was standing in for Rishi Wotsname (how quickly we forget) at Prime Minister’s Questions, as yer actual PM was travelling to Japan. Worst excuse for avoiding the weekly torture yet.

At first, I took Mr Dowden for another Tory toff. Maybe it was the compulsory blue suit and tie. Or maybe I thought his accent plummy, but I am Scotch and think Alf Garnett and Jimmy Nail sound posh.

At any rate, as he reminded Labour deputy leader Angie Rayner, he was of lower class origin, taken off chimney sweeping as a boy and hired by the Conservatives to buff their shoes and blow on their soup.

Yellow-haired and ashen-faced, Oliver has an almost kindly face for a Conservative, more suited to a teddy bear pit than the snarling ursine place of slaughter that is the House of Commons.

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Almost the first question he received could have had him licked. Craig Mackinlay (Con) wanted to know what he was going to do about “Amazon selling counterfeit postage stamps from China”. Your correspondent was so gobsmacked by this intelligence, so to say, that he didn’t write down Dowdie’s answer.

But presumably, as on panel shows, he’d had the chance to swot up on the issue beforehand (something with which he helps the PM normally). At any rate, reporting for the record, I can confirm he did not say, as would you or I, “China, eh? Stamps, eh? Well, well.”

The aforementioned Angela lied that it was a pleasure to welcome Ollie to proceedings, pointing that she was now on her third Tory Deputy PM. “You know what they say,” she noted cheekily, “the third time is a charm.”

She also acknowledged that, at least in Oliver, the PM finally had “a working class friend”. And she reminded the assembled mob that, when Mr Dowden had worked at Number Ten previously, he’d had to listen to the radio every morning “to find out what was really going on in the country”.

Oliver riposted that everyone knew what was going on with Ange and her leader, Keir Starmer. “It’s all lovey-dovey on the surface. They turn it on for the cameras. But, as soon as they’re off, it’s a different story. They’re at each other’s throats. Mr Speaker, they’re the Phil and Holly of British politics.” Good line, for sure.

Otherwise, though, Mr Dowden stuck with Rishi’s tropes: “petty politics”, “union paymasters”, “our precious Union”. Might as well have put up an AI bot.

Angela, meanwhile, displayed her usual streetwise passion rather than Sir Keir’s lawyerly cunning. It’s heart vs head with these two.

She recalled her time as a single mum wondering how to pay the bills. (Tory thoughts: ‘Why not find a nice husband from the officers’ mess or the clergy? Obvious really.’) Mr Dowden had his own prolier than thou claim, averring: “This comprehensive schoolboy is not going to take any lectures from the party opposite about the lives of working people.” No, why Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he went on to study law, was positively pullulating with the blighters.

Ollie’s problem, apart from his dubious proletarian claims (even his school, with its 17th century roots, was “partially selective”), is that, whereas Ange looks like a potential leader, or at least a rabble-rouser, he looks like, well, a stand-in. He’d tell any rabble to simmer down.

Talking of rabbles, the SNP is still fighting Brexit, the constitutional process by which England sought independence from an unequal Union in order to run its own affairs.

Deputy Westminster leader Mhairi Black said even Nigel Farage had admitted that Brexit had failed, prompting the Deputy PM to slam the SNP for trying to “undo” Brexit, which he made sound like a pair of trousers or lederhosen.

Fiendish looking Sir Desmond Swayne (Con), touted as the bad guy for the next James Bond film, disparagingly noted Labour plans to let EU citizens vote in a general election. This would expand the franchise by the number of voters in Wales, he complained.

Labour’s idea is that they’ll all vote for them, which I wouldn’t count on. When the suicidally PC SNP enfranchised EU citizens and English incomers for the independence referendum, they nearly all voted No. On that basis, enfranchised EU nationals in a general election will probably vote Farage.

Mr Dowden said the question was “actually quite interesting” – I see – and then roped it in with illegal immigration, declaring: “While the Conservatives will stop the boats Labour will rig the votes.”

Hey, this boy will go, er, no further.