Shambolic Prime Minister David Cameron attempted to combat widespread ridicule by playing the law and order card today.
Labour MPs condemned the PM's crude tactics, while rumblings of discontent spread among Tory backbenchers over the government's embarrassing Whitehall farce.
Mr Cameron proposed "tough but intelligent" crime policies, with harsher sentences and major privatisation of ex-prisoner rehabilitation.
He proclaimed that introducing payment by results for the rehabilitation of prisoners was "such a good idea that I want to put rocket boosters under it."
Sir George Young, appointed by Mr Cameron as chief whip to replace the disgraced Andrew Mitchell, was summoned to a crisis meeting at Downing Street to discuss curbing the Tory malcontents.
Old Etonian Sir George was spotted strolling gingerly past Downing Street police officers at an early hour, with an intense look on his face.
Tory MPs openly guffawed at a confession from top Downing Street adviser Oliver Dowden that he was constantly surprised by the course of events, and he often only discovered the news agenda by listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
The Daily Telegraph quoted a senior Tory as describing Mr Cameron's core team as "a bunch of gentleman amateurs and chums."
Right-wing Tories are stirring up mayhem over the PM's toffee-nosed aloofness and his dithering approach to events such as Mr Mitchell's foul-mouthed outburst against police officers.
Labour's shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said: "These posh boys think they were born to rule, but it turns out they cannot even boil an egg.
"A more incompetent and bungling bunch of people it is impossible to imagine.
"Cameron's attempt to appeal to the right of the party on crime will not save them."
Mr Trickett urged people to "organise and mobilise" against the government's "reactionary policies."
Referring to the chief whip crisis, Mr Trickett declared: "The ex-Rugby schoolboy failed, so Cameron's first reaction was to try and find somebody who went to Eton.
"Lo and behold, he found George Young."
Leftwinger Dennis Skinner likened the government's plight to the failed government of John Major following Black Wednesday in September 1992, when £10 billion was lost in an afternoon.
At the time Mr Cameron was an adviser to failed chancellor Norman Lamont, recalled Mr Skinner. "Now he is in again, and we've got the same sort of mess."
The labour movement must keep up pressure inside and outside Parliament to hasten a general election, he urged.
Left Labour MP John McDonnell said: "This government's incompetence is reaching farcical proportions.
"It would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact that it is destroying the lives of so many people.
"All our efforts now have to be focused on getting rid of this shower of toffs."
Miners' MP Ian Lavery said the patchwork millionaires coalition was "decaying at the seams," while fellow Labour MP Grahame Morris said their "arrogance is only matched by their lack of competence and ineptitude."
Responding to the PM's announcement on prison and community sentences, probation officers union Napo assistant general secretary Harry Fletcher complained that spending cuts and payment by results were underming the whole system.
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