SKETCH: Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Electronic Whiteboard

The liveliest moment in the Work and Pensions Budget debate came when Mark Harper named “the very well-known website, Guido Fawkes”. Shouts of protest from Labour. Wasn’t there some sort of rule, some guide to parliamentary language? What was the Speaker thinking?

Ah, Bercow’s campaign to propitiate the Tories is coming along nicely. He is considerably less loathsome in this new incarnation. Hardly loathsome at all, some say (Christians, mainly). If his backstage bullying has abated, that will suggest a complete personal refit. Any information welcome.

Mark Harper. He quoted the story (run below) revealing Ms Reeves’ raving red ambitions to offer hundreds of billions in universal benefits. Had she or hadn’t she said it?

Hers was the party, she riposted, that was prepared to take tough decisions.

She will need something dramatic to entice the electorate. Ms Reeves makes IDS look normal.

She emerged from the same backrooms that manufactured Ed Balls – using what office products were there to hand. She has the charisma of an electronic whiteboard, and engages her audiences as powerfully as those life-sized holograms at Luton airport.

But the text-to-speech program she runs off – it puts in a full stop between words to separate them out. Her Ts are double Ts (‘hospi-tturl’). And she produces sequences – not sentences – like “Labour’s Compulsory Jobs Guarantee” as though it meant something. That’s worse than “the Cost of Living Crisis”.

And they talk about “out of touch Tories”.

Her critique of the Budget mentioned the CJG and the COLC , and the TDs they’d take to A the BT (or the SRS as IDS calls it), but none of this has the pulling power of dusty old annuities.

Abolishing compulsory annuity purchase has thrown the whole one-term-opposition project into complete disarray.

It can’t have been much of a project.

In the absence of policies you need personalities. But Labour hasn’t got them either.

They’ve got RY&EEs.

Like him or not, Cameron is a person. And with a following wind, the same can almost be said for Osborne, too.



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