There are times when the House of Commons demonstrates democracy at its best – today was not one of them.
Instead a bumbling Prime Minister met a mumbling Leader of the Opposition for a master class in how not to do it.
And bearing in mind the “it” was the bombing of Syria, more – to say the least – had been expected.
Prime Ministers Questions had been abandoned and ten hours of parliamentary time set aside for the debate.
But what had been billed as Churchill versus Ghandi turned into Little versus Large even before the votes were cast.
Dave had called the debate when the shambles presently masquerading as the Labour Party fell apart again.
Having played a neat hand as Mr Reasonable he was on his way to victory despite doubts over his case.
But it all started to unravel last night when he was out with the 1922 Committee and his inner-Flashman kicked in.
He didn’t want anybody going into the lobby with Jeremy Corbyn and his “bunch of terrorist sympathisers,” he told them.
As the meeting was private his comments were immediately leaked to the press.
And it was a gift from the gods to the sympathisers, who had been reduced to arm-twisting “colleagues” to minimise defeat.
Fast forward to this morning and there he was, hand-stitched brogues just out of mouth and red-faced even before he spoke.
“What would he say?” was the question on everybody’s lips.
Something mealy-mouthed was the answer as the PM decided to brazen it out.
Last week he was praised for his statesmanship as he made the case for bombing Syria.
But that was out of the window today as he made a speech that avoided any synonym for sorry.
He said the “terrorist sympathisers” he had referred to were “obviously honourable” but he could not find an actual apology in the words he had brought with him.
Alex Salmond made a rare visit to the moral high ground spitting Scottish tacks as he called on him to demur.
But with Chancellor George leaning in to provide backbone, the PM resisted even this invitation.
Finally, case lost in the confusion, he collapsed back into his seat with only a muted roar from his recidivists.
And then it was Jeremy’s turn.
Never happier to be called a terrorist, he stood up and offered to sit down immediately if Dave wanted apologise to him.
It was an offer his supporters may have wished to take up themselves as the car-crash that was to follow unfolded.
From the start it was clear that the rancour from his own MPs earlier in the week had spilled over into today.
As they vied with Tories in unhelpful interventions, Jeremy’s glasses slid further and further down his nose.
The braying brigade opposite scented a kill as he stumbled through his speech and Speaker Bercow had to ride to the rescue more than once.
Just make things worse each side of him sat shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn and Deputy Leader Tom Watson.
Both on the opposite side of the argument to their Leader, they gave a
master class in inscrutability as he laboured his way through the interventions and interruptions.
Thrown off track, he finally finished to relief all round.
Dave had saved his day and he had saved Dave’s.
Tonight the verdict in the Commons.
Tomorrow night the verdict in Oldham West and Royton.
“Don’t Bomb Syria – London protest 28 Nov 2015” flickr photo by The Weekly Bull https://flickr.com/photos/theweeklybull/23271813682 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license