There is nothing like a by-election to breathe life into a moribund political party — unless it’s two by-elections.
So for a few brief moments at lunchtime today, the kiss — or at least the peck of life — was applied to the corpse of the Labour Party.
Had you been doing the windows in Stoke or Copeland just after noon today you may just have heard your name in the wind.
Indeed such was the volume of noise you could have been fooled into thinking your future was actually under review.
But it was only Prime Ministers Questions the day before you decide just where in the Labour Party coffin you are going to place your nails.
That Labour will lose — even if they win — seems in little doubt, but for ten minutes today, the fiction was maintained.
The two seats became vacant, you will recall, because both sitting Labour MP’s believed the game is up.
The reason they both believe so stood up in the House of Commons just after twelve.
Jeremy Corbyn has been remarkably resilient for someone who is said to share the view that he is unsuited to the job.
He has had to learn many things since taking over the Labour Party and success at PMQ’s has not been one of them.
In times past PM’s and wannabe’s have deployed everything from silky skills to guile to get through the weekly torment.
Jeremy has deployed shouting.
Jeremy is not a shouter, although as an inveterate political rally preacher he does have some previous.
But, as he has learned since taking on the Leader’s job, preaching to the un-converted is a wholly different matter.
And if he thought Tory MP’s would be as un-converted as you can get, that was before he met his own.
But with the by-elections just a day away a 24-hour truce — on the Labour side — had to be called.
Wth that in place Jeremy, not to mention the rest of the parliamentary labour party — but one must — began to shout.
The disaster that is the National Health Service under this Government remains Labour’s strongest card.
Jeremy shouted out for the NHS in all six of his questions.
His normally indifferent MP’s, with futures now equally indifferent, took on the excitement of City fans at last night’s game.
Indeed at one stage the sphinx, aka Tom Watson the alleged deputy leader, was seen to mouth what could have been a shout.
Diane Abbott, returned to favour after vote-dodging, swapped endearments across the aisle and unknown members of the shadow cabinet joined in.
The cunning plan is always to set up a suitable soundbite for tonight’s TV news.
But, as usual, nobody had told Jeremy.
Across the aisle the Queen of Serene sat like someone waiting to have her nails done.
As the shoutee, target of the shouters, Theresa May, can be seriously discomforted, but not today.
Jeremy came close with a couple of his darts but fell away as his contribution continued.
The PM, now mistress of all she surveyed, sneered at every shout, winding up Jeremy, Tom and the rest of the PLP like a clock.
The other Jeremy, the one in charge of the disastrous NHS, was so emboldened by her indifference that even he had the temerity to join in.
As MP’s on all sides marked ‘there but for the grace of god’ with increasing volume Speaker Bercow sat suprisingly silent.
Usually anxious to mark his contempt for at least his own historic side, Speaker B let mayhem ensue.
Having blown off over President Trump, he’d obviously decided no volume at all on his part today would be wise.
With one final shout, Jeremy, now over-excited by his own over-excitement, sat down.
Theresa May delivered one final insult and she too returned to her throne.
Up north they turned away from their windows just for a moment to switch off PMQs for another week — and politics for maybe a bit longer.
“Theresa May – Caricature” flickr photo by DonkeyHotey https://flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/28452193475 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license