PMQs verdict: Miliband finally trounces Cameron
Most PMQs are over by the time the first question is asked. Nail it and the laughter will give you momentum. Misfire and silence will dog you throughout. Ed Miliband nailed it.
The Labour leader kicked things off with the reported U-turn on minimal alcohol pricing, a policy David Cameron has personally invested in. "Is there anything he could organise in a brewery?" Miliband asked innocently, raising a smile even from the prime minister. "The reality is he's been overruled by his home secretary on this one," he added, twisting the knife.
The opposition leader was keen to wring as much material out of the embryonic Tory leadership challenges as he could. May, who tried to stab Miliband to death with her eyes when he referred to her ambitions last week, adopted a different tactic for this session. She hid. It was not the best attempt imaginable. An excessively coloured top gave her away beneath the Speaker's chair. Not far from her was Michael Gove, who reportedly gave her a public dressing down for her treachery yesterday.
"She gets told off by the children's secretary – who is hiding down there – for jockeying for position," Miliband explained to the Commons. May glanced at Gove, but he dug his phone out his pocket and stared at it, about as convincingly as a blushing teenager.
There was plenty of material open for Miliband and he made good use of it. Things got so bad even Baroness Warsi was sent out to fight for Cameron over the weekend, although she failed to live up to the moment when she insisted the prime minister had the full support of "large sections" of his party. "Maybe he's even got support from large parts of his Cabinet, I'm not sure," Miliband laughed. Again, even Cameron smiled.
The prime minister was reduced to trying to highlight the divisions between Ed Balls and Miliband, or harking back to the good old days when right wingers celebrated Miliband's victory as the moment the Tories won the 2015 general election. Those times are long gone, as Lord Ashcroft's polling shows. As things stand, the Labour leader is on course for a majority.
"I've got the top team I want and he's got the top team I want too," Cameron quipped, but it was poorly constructed and badly-timed. Miliband met the jibe with his extraordinary collection of facial expressions: furious bafflement, toothy mock grin and an excessively furrowed brow. Bruiser Balls just kept on pointing violently at the Tory front bench, like a madman in an A&E waiting room. "My party has unanimous support for his leadership," Cameron tried. Again, it didn't resonate.
The benches behind him told the story. Winchester MP Steven Brine slumped ever further down in his seat, like a spilt drink. Andrew Lansley vacillated between despair and sleep. Clegg looked anaemic and broken, although there's no change there.
On the Labour benches one or two MPs appeared to be looking up at Miliband with admiration rather than duty. Those of a positive bent might soon start believing the opinion polls.
Final score: Cameron: 0 Miliband: 3