Jeremy Corbyn kicked PMQs off today by bragging about his party’s impeccable record on gender equality, boasting “more women MPs than all other parties in this House combined”. One of which he’d even bonked himself and then promoted to the front bench! Now if that’s not equality then I don’t know what is.
Of course this being International Women’s Day Mr. Corbyn would not be the only person to pipe up with some cheap gender-points scoring. For the Tories it fell to Victoria Atkins who asked the PM if she would “confirm that, when it comes to female Prime Ministers, it is 2-0 to the Conservatives?”. The surprise here was that this honour wasn’t bestowed upon professional brown-nose Chris Philp, best known for asking the Government probing questions along the lines of “whether or not the Prime Minister would agree with me that the sun does really shine out of her magnificent backside?”.
Nothing’s new under the sun however and Philp comes from a long and noble tradition of political sucking up. 2,000 years ago no doubt Roman Senator Christus would regularly turn up on Channel IV News with Jon Snowus to defend Herod’s demographic policies: “Look, the Office of Imperial Statistics says that death of firstborn sons has actually gone DOWN under this government!”, Roman Philp would obediently spin. Back then he’d have been awarded a province in Gaul; today he has the honour of being the only thing that gets further up the PM’s arse than a pair of skintight leather trousers.
Of course the actual substance of PMQs was spectacularly fluffed by Jeremy Corbyn. The PM skilfully denied his charge that a sweetheart deal was offered to Surrey in spite of a leaked tape apparently confirming it. Displaying the mental agility of an avocado the Labour leader then continued to read from his pre-prepared notes as a comprehensively briefed Theresa May said just as much as she could without outright lying. At one point the PM threw her head back giggling in ecstasy (or perhaps epilepsy) as Mr. Corbyn continued further down the rabbit hole of his own poorly planned questions. Philip Davies quietly simmered on the back benches at this outrageous display of a woman battering a poor defencless old man, a spectacle he no doubt thought the perfect allegory for International Women’s Day.
PMQs done, it was time for a remarkably gag-heavy budget from the Chancellor who it turns out doesn’t just take after Jimmy Carr in his adept tax avoidance. The highlight came when a louche Hammond remarked that Mr. Corbyn was “so far down a black hole that even Stephen Hawking had condemned him”. This was of course a reference to the world’s favourite theoretical physicist opining that the Labour leader had “allowed himself to be portrayed as a left-wing extremist”, and so had something of a communication issue. Then again, he can’t exactly talk!
Some Labour insiders may reflect however that when a man who literally speaks like a robot feels qualified to call into question your rhetorical skills then something is wrong. Expect in the coming weeks the Dalai Lama to damn Corbyn as “a bit wet” and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to come out in vociferous support of humanoid chucky doll Rebecca Long-Bailey as Corbyn’s replacement.
Hammond’s gag laden statement also saw witty digs at “the last Labour government… they call it that for a reason”, EU bureaucrats “I won’t hold my breath for congratulations from Jean Claude Juncker” for meeting European growth targets and a tech-based jibe at the Labour leadership, “driverless vehicles are something I think the party opposite knows all about”. Unfortunately such levity was accompanied by a slew of tax hikes, particularly tough on the self-employed who saw NI contributions raised to 10%. Of course it will all be worth it when the budget is balanced sometime in the next millennium,