Miliband remains Mr Reasonable as PM gets stuck in

Labour leader Ed Miliband during today's PMQs Photo: PA

Last week, it looked as if the good cheer of the Christmas break had finally gone to party leaders' heads, as we witnessed Mr Reasonable (Ed Miliband) turn up to have a quiet chat with Mr Reasonable (David Cameron).

Perhaps inevitably, this didn't last long, the Prime Minister getting stuck in with gusto from the start of PMQs today in a more familiar tone (roughly; the Leader of the Opposition is a fool and his policies are ridiculous).

Prime Minister David Cameron adopted a familiar tone at today's PMQs. Credit: PA

But despite some pretty consistent goading by the Tory backbenches, Ed Miliband stuck to the demeanour we witnessed last week.

His voice grew a little louder and his tone more aggressive as the session wore on, but he was clearly avoiding any hint of the abuse that used to be a regular feature of these exchanges on both sides.

So what is going on? A deliberate change in strategy, I assume, by the Labour leadership.

The truth is that all polls show that not enough of us can yet envisage Ed Miliband as Prime Minister.

But as we approach the election, he will inevitably get opportunities to shine (the debates etc) and the intention is clearly to paint him as a breath of fresh air - calm, reasonable, sensible - and his opponent as Flashman.

Will it work? Who knows, but there doesn't seem much doubt that it is a change in strategy.