It's not often I blog about the weekly ritual of Prime Minister's Questions. Most of the time there seems very little point. This ritual, which gives an appearance of accountability, seldom sheds lights on the government's actions - especially when the PM is a slippery customer deft in the art of answering everything but the question. And don't even get me started on friendly "don't you think the government are the best thing since sliced bread"-style queries. It's small wonder the public at best don't care or, at worst, find the whole spectacle alienating. It really puts the endless commentary trying to apportion points to the PM or the Leader of the Opposition into perspective.
But because today's questions saw Ed Miliband's debut at the despatch box, there will be a bit more interest than usual. As a new leader uneasy with the manner of his election and a whole host of Big Issues before Parliament, his performance had to satisfy the party faithful and those MPs eager to seize on any pretext to wield the knife. For once the points game did matter.
And how was it for Ed? Presentationally he did well. His measured questioning and passive-aggressive sparring with Dave may come across well. Ed stuck to the issue and stuck Dave with a barb where appropriate, whereas the PM came across as an Old Boy braggart desperate to win points through colourful insults. Those who tuned in might possibly see Ed's performance as a step away from Punch and Judy.
Ed Miliband's choice of issue, however, spoke volumes about political pose he wants to be seen striking. On the benefit cap and more medical tests for disability living allowance, Ed promised to work with Dave on supporting the coalition's proposals. But it was on the scrapping of universal child benefit and the well-publicised anomalies the proposed changes will throw up that Ed chose to attack the government. While any socialist worth their salt should defend universal benefits, Ed's angle focused on their "unfairness" rather than the correctness of the principle.
True, the government deserve condemnation on this matter, but given Ed's trajectory since winning the leadership I'm left wondering. Did he go for this (even though the Browne report is juicier) out of genuine concern, or because it's an issue championed by the self-proclaimed daily papers of Middle England?
It is right for Labour to try and win over relatively affluent voters in swing seats. But that Ed chose to do so on his first outing while the concerns of the vast majority effected by the cuts go unvoiced tells us who he wants to be seen championing. If this is the shape of Labour strategy to come, we might as well have voted in his brother.