The Week According to Sean Dilley
Broadcaster and general nuisance Sean Dilley gives his take on the week in politics.
The term "Ballsing up the economy" has been bandied about by some Tories for a while but now Ed Miliband appears to sympathise as Labour insiders say the Shadow Chancellor's been given until next autumn conference season to come up with a credible economic plan – a bit of Westminster gossip the prime minister referred to with some glee during the final PMQs of 2013.
The exchange, which came hours after the story emerged would not have been out of place in a pre-school lunch break punch-up but a clearly pained Ed Balls sat two and a half sword lengths in front of the PM gesticulating wildly – replacing his usual wave of the hand in a flat lining motion – hardly fitting with news of 99,000 fewer unemployed people and with an economy which contrary to Labour's predictions is growing – with a flick down of his hand that would look more at home in an MC Hammer rap video. Anyway, in a no nonsense counter-strike, the PM hit back, calling him a "turkey".
For those not in 'the bubble', it's absolutely true that PMQs is a choreographed act of theatre, I've written about it many times, but for the avoidance of doubt, David Cameron and Ed Balls really do get on like… well Ed Miliband and Ed Balls I suppose.
The conviction of Lee Rigby's killers who's names have deliberately been omitted from this article sends a clear reminder to all of us in political circles and beyond that there are people living in our communities who wish to do us harm.
Some extreme commentators will of course fail to distinguish sufficiently between Islam and, to quote the prime minister, the sort of "perverted" version of Islam practiced by the Woolwich butchers.
The conclusion of the Trial will free us up to say what we think – and by all means enjoy the freedom this brings but spare a thought for those men and women in our intelligence services and indeed from all mainstream political parties who have to address very real security threats within the UK with freedom. It is an impossible job to get right, but since terrorists by their nature want to restrict our freedom, we mustn't do the job for them. The sagacious Benjamin Franklin perhaps said it best when he warned "those who would trade freedom with security will lose both and deserve neither".
If you want to be seen, stand up. If you want to be heard, speak up, and if you want to be respected, shut up.
Advice that could almost be tailor made for convicted expenses cheat Lord Hanningfield who this week described a Mirror investigation in to his parliamentary attendance as "a storm in a teacup".
Peers are not supposed to be paid a salary for their duties in the Lords – instead they may claim an unchecked allowance of £300 for each day they enter the Chamber – an antiquated system that frankly needs changing – but one might have thought that the expense cheating Peer may be slightly more magnanimous when confronted with evidence that he had spent an average of 40 minutes in the Lords over the month he was being tracked by the tabloid.
But rather than saying nothing, or saying very little, the former Chief Executive of Essex County Council defended pocketing the tax free £5,700 that month in a move that would have had comical Ali blushing with embarrassment by complaining that the system had effectively short-changed him on days he arrived at the Lords too late to clock in to the Chamber.
For a moment I was thinking he was a chiselling Charlie but around 600 other Peers have also got their noses in the trough according to the 73 year-old pig farmer.
One can only imagine Fletcher and Godpa having a dam good laugh while they serve their 'porridge' at HMP Slade as the thorny topic of votes for prisoners continues to create headaches for government – or more accurately the UK's selective membership of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is beginning to come to a head.
Remember the controversy last year when the ECHR said the UK could not simply ignore it's ruling that it is unlawful to deny all prisoners the vote? Well that's predictably back on the table as a cross party committee of MPs and Peers says prisoners serving less than a year and those coming to their final six months in custody should be entitled to vote.
The unique thing about this story is that the notion of prisoners being entitled to vote, while inflammatory is very much a side-show to the question of the UK's sovereignty versus the reality that most of our laws are made by unelected Commissioners in Europe – don't read any political view in this assertion since it's simply a fact.
Now I was scratching my head when I wondered how the government could adopt the cross-party committee's recommendations when David Cameron has previously ruled out allowing prisoners to vote protesting the notion makes him "physically sick" but then I remembered how he said he would eliminate the structural deficit by 2015 and that there would never be a third runway and thought to myself, yes Mr Cameron, you turn if you want to.
In politics, anything's possible.