“Last week Mr. Speaker”, boomed Jeremy Corbyn, “four hundred and eighty five people in England spent more than twelve hours on trolleys in hospital corridors”. “SHAME!” (for once justly) heckled one backbencher. The Labour leader then inquired if the Prime Minister thought “fiddling the figures” would be the best way for her to manage such a crisis. Not a bad start at all from a newly rejuvenated Corbyn: someone clearly had a happy Kwanzaa.
Facing such a serious accusation of bureaucratic indifference to the plight of the ill, Theresa May decided to grace us with her best impression of an ill-tempered Soviet apparatchik discussing peasant fatalities after a particularly bad harvest: “There are pressures on the NHS”, she intoned stonily, “There are always extra pressures during the winter. But we have at the moment the added pressures of the ageing population and the growing complex needs of the population”. Finally solace for those serfs lying in their own filth for the best part of a day: if only their needs weren’t so complex and they weren’t so damn old then maybe they could be seen a little earlier!
Corbyn was not satisfied, and so decided to change tack. “She will not listen to professional organisations that have spent their whole lifetimes doing their best for the NHS”, he began, “but will she listen to Sian?”. At this point Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth’s head started shaking from side to side vigorously in the manner of a someone having an epileptic fit. Thankfully he didn’t have to go to A&E because he may have had to wait a while.
“Good God man no! Don’t do it”, he seemed to say, all too aware of how fond Jeremy is of engaging in a bit of PMQs self-immolation by reading out a particularly mental letter from a Momentum activist posing as a member of the public. Fortunately for Jon this was one of the more realistic epistles thought up by Corbyn’s disciples and received without widespread chuntering from a sedentary position.
Thus far, Corbyn – 1. May – Nil. Although it would be wise not to overstate the brilliance of the Labour leader’s questioning. Having spent every Wednesday for a year wailing about our holy NHS, blessed be thy name, it was statistically inevitable that Jeremy would finally get the chance to hit the PM on the issue at a time it actually resonated. After all it’s not just broken clocks that get it right every now and then: broken leaders do too. Although rather less frequently than twice a day…
What’s more, Corbyn’s proffered solution to “cancel the corporate tax cuts and spend the money where it is needed”, i.e chuck more cash into the pit of Sarlacc that is the NHS budget, would do little to solve the increased demand the PM identified as fuelling the crisis. In response Mrs. May could have shot Corbyn down in an instant by mentioning that the reason we’re in this mess is that his party decided to give free boob jobs and gender reassignment surgery (in some cases both at the same time) to every Tom, Dick and Harriet that landed at Heathrow with a sob story. But that would be mean.
And not only that, it wouldn’t be Theresa May’s style. The PM doesn’t do genuine conservatism or quick thinking and intellectual debate. Instead she waits for a crisis to develop and then manufactures some government announcement or orders her subordinates to go out and spin for her. Hence why we’ve had all this blather about mental health recently, and why a document claiming that the PM had previously wanted to prioritise British children over asylum seekers in school places was leaked just as the record migration figures came out. This is a PM schooled in the dark arts of politics: the anti-Cameron.