PMQs SKETCH: Cameron Went Easy on Corbyn

He was twice as good as last time. Let’s not argue about it. He’s in his late sixties. At this rate of improvement Jeremy Corbyn will be dead before he wins an election. Britain’s first posthumous prime minister – a great progressive victory for Labour. And the dead actually do turn out to vote, compared with the voters Corbyn is relying on, so it all may yet work out for the new politics.

We heard from Kelly and Matthew and others, by and large people who didn’t have enough money. Corbyn presented their problems to the Commons and a few younger Tories obligingly laughed. Experienced MPs looked grave, or saddened, as MPs have to do when people without enough money are mentioned.

Some say Cameron was under pressure, but he looked calm enough to go easy on the old fellow opposite. The questions were long enough for observers to nod off in the middle and wake refreshed for the PM’s answers.

The new low-energy question time does allow the arguments to be heard. This may be a mistake for Corbyn. Wither-wringing is what the left does best. Showing their sores and shaking their stumps at the world. If it’s a matter of argument, the Right are on their chosen ground.

Corbyn said Kelly would be £1,800 a year worse off and that 200,000 more children would be going into (relative) poverty. Cries of Shame! Cameron said there were 480,000 fewer children in workless households, that there were 2m more jobs and unemployment had fallen 140,000 which Corbyn hadn’t mentioned. Cries of Shame!

Cameron also said the tax credit bill went from £6bn to £30bn while in-work poverty rose 20 per cent.

When the country absorbs such facts – if facts they are – it is quite capable of saying, “Don’t have babies if you can’t afford them,” and “houses have always been unaffordable,” and “If you want to get ahead, get married, stay married, give up drinking and work two jobs.”

Unless Corbyn and Ed Miliband are correct and the centre has shifted left/the discourse can be changed/people’s false consciousness can be cured/the dead come out to vote.

PS: The Speaker let the front benches go until 12.18, and then blamed the House – not Corbyn – for asking overlong questions. While Bercow was answering points of order I finished Paradise Lost.




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