This is not one of the many blogs that gives a regular critique of PMQs. But this is an exceptional week.
I thought that Cameron’s performance was weak – well below his normal form. Interestingly, the quotes read well enough when Sky flashed them on screen, but his delivery was peculiarly hollow. Cameron today eschewed humour, which he is good at and to which Brown reacts like a bear tormented by bees. Cameron instead seemed himself unusually ponderous and his points were all obvious party ones. Brown’s divided backbenchers therefore rallied around him with instinctive tribal loyalty.
Cameron really should have used one of his questions to recite the government’s manifest failings, particularly on the economy and civil liberties. It would have given some substance to his call for an election.
Clegg was not a great deal better, though he should stick to the line that New Labour is finished and the choice is now between the Tories and Lib Dems. For the first time in a generation it sounds believable, even if greeted by yells of derision from New Labour in parliament. I strongly suspect it will seem still more believable on Monday.
Brown actually performed pretty well. It was the same old line about getting on with the job, and he was plainly uncomfortable over Darling, though he did manage to talk of him as though he were still alive. But he really gave very little impression of being under pressure and managed to put in a confident performance with no signs of ill temper. Cameron and Clegg really let him off the hook here very badly indeed.
But the overall effect of today’s PMQs was to make the theatre of parliament seem completely irrelevant to the real political drama happening at the moment.
Which is the lesson of the last month, and has to be changed if we are to be any kind of meaningful democracy.