House of Commons is a brutal place, where things run to the second. When the division bell rings, MPs have 8 minutes to make it into the voting lobbies from wherever they are, on or off the estate. If an MP arrives at the door one second late, it is slammed in his face, or hers. And that's just what happened to the fast-rising Welsh Labour MP, Owen Smith tonight. At 7 minutes 57 seconds he scorched into the chamber, espied the open door, and headed for it, beaming with with relief. He'd made it. But he needed four seconds to get through it. Wham. Almost took his nose off.
Reminded me of the bus driver who sees you coming and waits until you are touching distance away before moving off. Or the cricket umpire who shakes his head thoughtfully for several seconds - just long enough to inspire hope in the praying batsman, before lifting up his finger and delivering the 'sentence' as stifling a vicious smirk. My enormous pleasure at Owen's discomfort tonight was only tempered by the fear that it could be me next week. And my Chief Whip and his deputy are not men to tangle with.