PARLIAMENT: THE SKETCH - Unity or Death? the Latter Looks a Favoured Option

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GIVE ME unity or give me death, poor Mr Thing has said. Hmmm, that's the choice, is it? Unity on the one hand, or ... death. That's a tough one.

There's no obvious answer to that. It could turn out to be the same thing for marginal MPs if they unite behind their leader; that's certain suicide. But then if they did unite, it could only mean death for poor Mr Thing. But then again, unity he seems to be asking for. But then, thrice again, judging by the coalition that is seen developing between the furthest reaches of the party represented by Michael Portillo and Eric Forth, the party has never been more united. What does it all mean? Death, death, death, everything means death, this is the modern Conservative party, a death cult realising for the first time that all roads lead to Waco.

After the latest drama in which his judgement has been derided and his prospects discounted to absolute zero, poor Mr Thing rose to the demands of the narrative magnificently. In PMQs yesterday, he turned in the single worst performance of any parliamentary leader since Michael Foot turned up in a donkey jacket to the state opening of parliament and heckled the Queen.

For his opening shots, he asked precisely the same questions he asked last week. The comedy was enlivened by the fact that he got precisely the same answers. Farce repeated itself as tragedy. His inability to move the debate forward makes the tender hearted among us weep. Yes, we laugh at them too.

It was top-up fees. Last week, Mr Thing got top-up fees on the agenda (he got no credit for it then and gets no credit for it now). …