The Week in Politics: Stuck in a caricature Dave just can’t get out of
David Cameron is at his worst when he's being mocked. The prime minister likes to keep his cool, like the rest of us, but finds his political composure is easily ruffled when the caricaturists get to work. The Eton education which made him born to rule is also what often holds him back, too.
That was the story of this week, when Ed Miliband successfully turned a sexism row into something going a lot deeper into the heart of the Tory soul. The decisions of two local Tory party associations to deselect longstand MPs Anne McIntosh and Tim Yeo were, in their own special ways, very bad news for the party leader.
McIntosh, who is 59 years old, was described as a "silly girl" by her local chairman. It appears, from reading the reports which emerged from the affair, that she was the victim of a dirty tricks operation which led to her being ousted. Not exactly a positive development for Cameron, who is finding the number of women MPs who are leaving Westminster is rising worryingly high.
Second came Yeo's departure. His was a more straightforward case of a backbencher not caring a jot about his constituency, and his local Tories acting accordingly. This would have been all fine if the PM hadn't voiced his support for Yeo. Now it looks like the local association was spurning the views of the party leader.
Then came prime minister's questions. This was a success for Miliband – it always feels slightly novel to be saying that – compounded by the fact none of the four Cabinet ministers with ovaries were sitting on the government frontbench. Miliband talked about Cameron's Bullingdon Club background. The Labour narrative about this posh-boy prime minister is undoubtedly going to damage the prime minister when it comes to election time.
Oddly, though, the 2015 election is starting to feel further away because of the now-looming approach of 2014's European elections. This is going to be a fun night for all the family, especially if you follow it with Politics.co.uk's excellent coverage, but is likely to be not so enjoyable if you're a Conservative supporter.
But the likely drubbing the Tories can expect this year may not be so damaging as feared if the endless revelations about hard-right Ukip candidates continues to emerge. This week the most shocking story was about MEP Gerard Batten, who is sticking by his view that Muslims should sign a charter he's written dismissing carefully selected sections of the Koran. The debate about whether Ukip should be fairly described as 'far-right' continues.
Meanwhile the business of government continued carefully unravelling itself this week. The Department for Education became a battleground as Michael Gove and David Laws locked horns over an Ofsted appointment. Elsewhere, senior Lib Dem Tim Farron revealed more of his outspoken views on the environment and energy, which clash with those of the Lib Dems in government. Clegg declared he wanted a fundamental reform of drug policy. And this, it turns out, is only a warm-up to the main differentiation strategy we can all look forward to this spring. Oh, what joy.