Are we seeing a new approach from the speaker?
The main feature for me of a fairly subdued PMQs was the readiness of the speaker, John Bercow, to stop Gordon Brown from using his replies to attack opposition policy – something that has become almost common place.
It happened in a reply on the first question on the NHS. Brown was just about to launch into an attack on some comments that shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley had made when he was cut short by Bercow.
Then a few minutes later the Speaker stepped in again after David Blunkett tried to ask Brown for his views on a leader who reneges on “cast iron guarantees” – a reference, of course, to the Lisbon treaty referendum decision.
If this is going to be regular practice from Bercow in the run-up to the general election then it could change the terms of trade for this weekly ritual. For the standard approach of all prime ministers has been to use PMQs to attack the policy of their opponents. The new readiness of the chair to intervene means that they lose a key advantage.
There were many who were ready to write Bercow off when he won that election in June. Maybe they will start to revise their opinion of him.
The problem for Cameron, of course, is that if ever he makes the top job then he must assume that Bercow will do the same to him.