SKETCH: Unnamed Prime Minister in Slippery Threesome

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“All that rebranding, all that time and all that effort and what was the point. What was the bloody point. The single biggest endeavour of my career has been to rebrand the Party, and for what? For nothing. The Left still think I’m a heartless, tax-dodging Tory bastard. I hugged huskies in the Arctic. The Arctic for Christ’s sake. I don’t even like the cold, or huskies for that matter. They’re terrifying. I almost froze my todger off up there detoxifying this party. And that’s just the physical ordeals. What about the countless personal embarrassments I endured? Having to pick a football team and then suffer the indignity of forgetting it in front of everyone like a malfunctioning robot, or ride a pedal bike to work everyday for a year in £3.99 polyester tracksuit bottoms, or touring the most Chlamydia infested recesses of the North East encouraging people to embrace the scallywag Asbos that loiter there. I even flew easyJet. But what good did it do me? I’m being hammered from the Left and screwed from the Right. In fact I’ve got more slippery pricks trying to do me in than there are in Elton’s paddling pool. When I leave this prison of a job I’m going to go full Blair and get a yacht and I’m going to sit in it in my pants watching Top Gear. And not the BBC version either, the proper one, with Clarkson in it. Oh yeah and I’m going to murder Stelios for all the easyJet flights I’ve had to sit through before I hop on my learjet to St. Tropez to drink Bollinger out of the bottle and eat caviar by the kilogram. And wear white tie and tails, oh yes”.

This is what the Prime Minister thought as he stepped up to the despatch box and saw Jeremy Corbyn sitting opposite him in a blazer that was somehow simultaneously grey, beige, brown and khaki. He must have realised then that there is no way that he could ever compete with the over-earnest, emotionally driven, childish leftism that the Labour leader so effortlessly embodies.

Despite releasing his personal financial data, despite all but ordering his Chancellor to do the same, and despite refusing to make the entirely rational case for individuals attempting to minimise their tax obligations, he will never be one of them. They still mass outside Downing Street of a weekend, demented swathes of unwashed morons led by even more demented harridans, incoherently clamouring for him to resign. They still gnash their teeth and wail that he isn’t being sufficiently transparent. They still clutch their Panama Papers in their hands, waving them about like this is his Watergate moment rather than a desperate attempt of a dying newspaper to drum up some sales before it all goes kaput. No matter how much he tries, no matter how much he kowtows, he will never be accepted as the socially liberal, progressive PM he is so desperate to be.

And so now it was time for the him to face the music. First of course both leaders proffered their sincere condolences for the apparently wonderful but sadly now deceased playwright Arnold Wesker that the PM had certainly never heard of until that minute. Then Jeremy decided to press the PM on the issue of the week: how much money was he going to squeeze out of business to create the socialist utopia we all dream of? As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and people prattling on about taxes”.

Corbyn began by asking for an explanation of the “scandalous situation where wealthy individuals seem to believe that corporation tax and other taxes are something optional”, before asking why the Prime Minister was cutting tax staff considering the HMRC’s own admission of £34 billion tax gap.

Predictably, the attack was parried, with Cameron immediately expressing glee that the Labour leader “wants to get onto our responsibilities to pay our taxes”, before getting down to the serious business of poking fun at Corbyn. “His tax return” boomed the Prime Minister, “was a metaphor for Labour policy. It was late, it was chaotic, it was inaccurate and it was uncosted”, to assorted laughs from the Tory benches.

(Viewers may have at this point noticed one notable absence to the chuckling in the form of George Osborne. The Chancellor is currently on a vital trade mission to Bolivia or sitting in a field somewhere burning ants through a magnifying glass. Treasury sources won’t confirm which. In his place was Nicky Morgan, a good fill in, who did well to capture the Chancellor’s dead-eyed stare and complete absence of charisma).

Corbyn responded to Cameron’s quip by saying he was “grateful” to the Prime Minister for drawing attention to his tax return, and its “generous donation to HMRC”, referencing his faulty overpayment, before finishing with the stinging barb that he “actually paid more tax than some companies owned by people that he might know quite well”. Quite an amusing parting blow from the chief proponent of the new, kinder politics, and one that was met with cheers from the Labour benches.

Leaving aside how foolish Corbyn made himself look by overpaying – no voter likes a mug – the Labour leader did nonetheless demonstrate why Dave could never dream of competing with him when it comes to populist virtue signalling on tax. For the modern left it’s not enough to simply pay tax, one has to enjoy it, and if possible put even more into HMRC’s coffers than legally required.

Now that the political issue was out of the way, it was time to get onto the serious business of emoting, because that’s what the majority of PMQs is nowadays. A backbencher raises an emotional plea for the Prime Minister to condemn wife-beating, or brain tumours, or cancer, and he eagerly takes the opportunity to look sombre and agree, piggybacking on the gravity of the issue in the hope that some of it’s weight will rub off on him.

So today we covered dead playwrights (RIP), domestic violence (bad), brain tumours (very bad), British asparagus (good), women’s refuges (good), and The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time (also good). Serious Parliamentary debate is now a relic: in its place is trite cliché.

It was in this vein that Rupa Huq chirped up to talk about the appalling deficit of gender equality in the contract for junior doctors, before closing her remarks by asking, “as the Prime Minister is a self-confessed feminist leading a progressive government. Will he reverse this blatant injustice that has no place in 2016?” If there was any more resounding confirmation needed that Cameron’s socially liberal posturing has found him hoisted by his own petard, this was it.




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Quote of the Day

Sky’s Faisal Islam on the mood in Parliament at the moment:

“It’s a totally febrile atmosphere here. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones meets House of Cards – and if you chuck in the Labour Party – Laurel and Hardy too.”

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