Punch and Judy politics returned to prime minister's questions on Wednesday. David Cameron called Ed Miliband and Ed Balls "Muppets". The Labour leader dismissed Cameron as the "dunce of Downing Street".
The pair traded blows over the government's controversial privatisation of the Royal Mail. A report by the National Audit Office has made it clear that the coalition could have achieved better value for the taxpayer. The NAO said the government could have made the taxpayer £750m more if it had handled the sale better.
Miliband told the Commons on Wednesday that it was a "fiasco" and said Cameron had "flogged it off to his friends in the City". The Labour leader said the prime minister was "not so much the Wolf of Wall Street but the Dunce of Downing Street". And he drew laughter from Labour MPs when he joked that the prime minister had turned "red as a post box" in face of the accusations.
However Cameron hit back by insisting that the £2bn the government had managed to sell the Royal Mail for was a good deal - one that the previous Labour government had not been able to achieve. He told Miliband: "He sat in a cabinet that wanted to privatise the Royal Mail, they couldn't do it because the trade unions wont let them".
And pointing at Miliband and Balls he said he would not take economic lessons from "the two Muppets who advised the last chancellor on selling the gold".
Cameron's line of attack was reminiscent of the time he called the shadow chancellor, who spends the majority of prime minister's questions heckling, a "muttering idiot".
The Labour leader had, for a few weeks, tried to take a more "statesmanlike" approach to PMQs. And Cameron famously said he wanted to see the sessions become more civilised. Wednesday's exchanges showed the two men have given up any attempt at avoiding combative personal attacks.Suggest a correction