PMQs Sketch: Chamberlain Would Have Felt Like a War-Monger

simon

Let the history books show that on the brink of World War III, with a Russian jet shot down by NATO, terror threats against national leaders, the EU capital in lockdown, an apocalypse promised on the plain of Dabiq by 30,000 death-loving jihadis – the Leader of the Opposition questioned the Prime minister on subsidies to solar panels.

Chamberlain would have felt like a war-monger.

You can see his three levels of thinking. He’s too grown-up to join in marching to the drum beat of war. He’s avoiding yet another issue his shadow cabinet hasn’t decided on. And most deeply, he’s showing us, possibly unintentionally, that PMQs is no place for discussion of great affairs.

So, “Ziggy, IsraelĀ and Jay” were introduced to the mockery of the Tories. They were concerned at job losses in the solar panel industry, Jeremy said. They wanted to know why the PM wanted “to throw it all away”.

Cameron replied that the manufacturing cost of panels had fallen so much that the subsidies could only be paid for by higher energy bills served on hardworking families.

Every question Jeremy put was picked off with answers like that. Left and right, bang, bang.

He’s even got the hang of treating women MPs with the right sort of equality.

He is so self evidently what he seems to be – a decent, liberal Tory, bred in the Treasury – that he might even claim to be a “pretty straight kind of guy,” if that phrase hadn’t been tainted.

Right or wrong in his recommendation to go to war in Syria, it is perfectly possible to think he isn’t making it for other reasons – to win an election, to wrong foot the opposition, because he’s gone mad.

On the other hand, let it also be said that Corbyn is at least as successful as his two predecessors.

Gordon got by through confronting and defying his parliamentary party. Miliband got through by caving and pandering to it. Corbyn is getting through by getting the membership to confront and defy it.

The battle for the Parliamentary Labour Party will not be taking place in Parliament. If the PLP lose it, Labour will be down to 65 seats after the next election. Sixty-five foaming, loathing robots.

Which is as well because without Cameron’s lordly ease, the Tories would struggle in these peculiar times, these final days.

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