No statues were pulled over at Westminster today. The Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition contented themselves with spraying abusive slogans over each other.
And for that kind of hooliganism, Boris Johnson has a natural flair. He accused Sir Keir Starmer of being a lawyer, which is true.
To Starmer, being a lawyer means fighting for human rights and campaigning against the death penalty.
To Johnson, it is less principled and more mercenary: “One brief one day, another brief the next, I understand how the legal profession works.”
A low blow, and one the Prime Minister might have refrained from striking if he were still married to a lawyer.
The Leader of the Opposition tried to rise above it: “I know he’s got rehearsed attack lines.”
Johnson continued with his attack lines. He said the Government’s attempts to help the British people, indeed to “put its arms round the people” (is this in accordance with social distancing?), are not assisted “by the wobbling and tergiversation” of the Labour leader.
Starmer had earlier recited the British death figures for the pandemic, adopting the tone of reproach a Victorian headmaster might use towards a pupil who is found to have engaged in disgraceful nocturnal activities: “There’s no pride in these figures, is there.”
The Prime Minister cannot bear that kind of moralising. He sought to ridicule his opponent as a man who is hopelessly out of touch: “I’ve been in contact with the Honourable Gentleman by a modern device called the telephone.”
Starmer retorted in an aggrieved tone that on the subject about which he wanted to ask, the reopening of schools, they had never had a telephone conversation, “so please drop that”.
In his view, Johnson is simply not providing the leadership which is required: “It’s no good the Prime Minister flailing around trying to blame others.”
Kirsty Blackman (SNP, Aberdeen North) asked Johnson if he still believes Donald Trump “has many good qualities, and if so, what are they?”
Johnson responded in a trenchant tone: “He is the President of the United States, which is our most important ally. The United States is a bastion of peace and freedom and has been for most of my lifetime.”
The Prime Minister’s critics treat him as a disgraceful person, who consorts with other disgraceful people. He indicates that they’re a lot of prosy, anti-American prigs, and reckons he can carry the British people with him.