There was a hint of Midland civil war in the air during yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions, as Political Editor Jonathan Walker reports.


First, Peter Hain had to resign from the Cabinet after police launched an inquiry into his finances.

Then, Tory backbencher Derek Conway was roundly condemned by an official watchdog for employing his son - at the taxpayer's expense - on an "excessive" salary.

But you wouldn't have thought it, to watch Prime Minister's Questions yesterday. This was the dog that didn't bark.

Neither David Cameron, the Conservative leader who gets to ask the questions, nor Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister who is supposed to answer them, wanted to talk about "sleaze" yesterday.

It's come to something when neither of the main parties feels it can claim the moral high ground.

Instead, Mr Cameron set out to prove that Britain wasn't a safe place under Labour.

He began by telling Mr Brown that "for more than three years, the Conservative Party has been arguing . . ." Hold it right there! What the Tory leader wanted to say is that he had been arguing in favour of cutting police paperwork, but the Labour MPs had heard enough.

As one, they started bellowing at the opposition leader, emitting a barrage of noise designed to force Mr Cameron into silence.

The result was that he admitted, kind of, that the Conservatives had spent the past three years arguing (full stop).

Labour MPs were delighted, declaring that the Tories had spent their time arguing about Europe and grammar schools and that kind of thing, and were clearly hopelessly divided.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg tried a different approach, attacking the Government for providing lousy medical care to Britain's armed forces.

But hang on, what's this? Suddenly, the place roared into life, loud cheers filling the Chamber, as Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable rose to his feet. Dr Cable, you may recall, was the acting Lib Dem leader for a while. He is generally thought to have been very good.

This was a crisis moment for Mr Clegg. Would Dr Cable deliver another classy performance? Would he, heaven forbid, make his party leader look a bit rubbish by comparison?

Luckily, Dr Cable put on a bit of a lacklustre performance. It looks like the Lib Dems won't be choosing a new leader for a while longer.

It was left to Shropshire MP Daniel Kawczynski (Con Shrewsbury) to give proceedings a rousing finish.

He complained that schools in his constituency weren't getting enough money - and schools in nearby Telford got too much.

Voice rising, he asked Mr Brown to support rural schools "and not pour money into Telford!"

Thus did the great Salopian civil war begin. Historians may look back on this as a pivotal moment.