DAVID Cameron survived yesterday's marathon three hours on his feet in the House of Commons with credit. His speech was comprehensive and he dealt competently with a rapid succession of MPs questions.
He held the advantage because they could not come back with supplementaries except by frustrated gesture but even so the prime minister seemed to have a grasp of all the key issues at this early stage of a complex crisis. Wisely, he did not attempt to analyse in any depth the causes of the recent riotous behaviour -- there will be plenty of time for that -- although his frequent references to responsibility showed the direction in which his mind may be working.
There was, however, one unconvincing feature of the prime minister's performance -- his refusal to recognise the need for reconsideration of the police budget cuts, which was raised by several MPs.
In present circumstances it is unlikley that such a review would provoke any serious objection from MPs, the public or the media even if it meant further economies elsewhere. It is very difficult to understand why Mr Cameron is adamant on this matter. Nick Clegg's attempt to clarify the issue merely confused it further when he actually claimed that the cuts are manageable and will allow police forces to dramatically increase their presence on the streets. To my knowledge, no police chief has said this, only No 10.