Put the worm back in the can and psephology on the back burner. If you want to know how John Howard’s travelling, it’s all in the shoulders.

During an interview with Kerry O’Brien on The 7:30 Report last night, John Howard barely flinched when asked about Treasury Secretary Ken Henry’s criticism of the government’s environmental economics.

Switch to the topic of David Hicks however and it’s a different story.

There’s some subtle swaying from side-to-side from Howard after O’Brien asks if he’s “satisfied that the right outcome has been reached in the David Hicks case, without political interference or undue pressure?” 

Later, a brief smile of affection ripples through Howard as he mentions President Bush.

But it’s when O’Brien asks about Pentagon involvement in Hicks’s plea bargain that the shoulders really go to work. Click here for the twitch in full.  

It’s early days in The Shoulder Index, though a first trend is emerging. The left shoulder is jumpier. When the right shoulder joins it in a demented chicken dance the Government back bench should probably start to worry.

For the interview in full, click through to part one and part two.