For the final PMQs of this parliament Jeremy Corbyn graced us with a selection of his greatest hits, and of course no Best of Jez Compilation would be complete without him reading out bizarre letters from improbable sounding individuals. Today was the turn of Maureen and Sybil, who apparently aren’t characters in an Enid Blyton novel but are actually 100% non-fictional Labour supporters. Happily Maureen wanted to have a moan about her pension, and Sybil was writing to let Jeremy know that at the age of 88 she was now afraid to go into hospital. Isn’t every 88 year old?
But the coalition of victimhood wasn’t complete just yet. The Labour leader went on to wail about housing (worse now than it has ever been at any time since the Normans invaded and we lived in little mud huts); and of course his favourite myth: “an education system that relies on begging letters from schools to maintain employment and books in the classroom”. All the while he painted a picture of a Britain full of downtrodden yet whiny little peasants being repeatedly stamped on by the capitalist jackboot.
That’s how Jeremy Corbyn views the world you see, as some sort of Ken Loach-esque struggle between the plucky oppressed proletariat and the evil capitalist monster let loose by an indifferent state. In this absurd alternate reality 88-year-olds called Sybil are marching hand in hand with non-binary inter-sectional lesbians and coal-stained miners straight out of the pit. Think the Pepsi advert, but more nauseating.
The whole situation reached peak absurdity when Corbyn opined solemnly that: “many people feel that the system is rigged against them”. To his right Emily Thornberry nodded sagely. Of course Lady Nugee knows all about the sort of working class people that might have it stacked against them having built her career over the past few years by publicly slagging them off on Twitter.
Deprived of any white working class peasants to mock in the chamber today however, the Shadow Foreign Secretary had to settle on the opposite benches, jabbing her little finger at and goading the Prime Minister. At one point Corbyn rattled off another dubious statistic (150% of children in Manchester are living in poverty worse than Swaziland, or something like that), only to have Thornberry cry “Shame! Shame!” across the chamber like some sort of itinerant priest from the Middle Ages about to lynch a deviant.
However not even Thornberry could unseat Bercow in the pomposity stakes. Having been thanked by Jeremy Corbyn for the manner in which he “presided over this House and sought to reach out to the wider communities in this country”, the Speaker lowered his head in solemn benediction as if he were some sort of saintly figure about to leave this place and ascend to the heavens. Blessed John Bercow, the patron saint of cuckolds and dwarves (and especially cuckolded dwarves).
For her part the PM put in a solid show, building her message of “strong and stable government” (2017’s “long term economic plan”) and scoring a memorable hit riffing on a website called ILikeCorbynBut.com, a site supposed to drum up support for Jez by countering any objections to him. Following May’s shout-out the site went down so we can only speculate what’s on it. Presumably it features testimonials along the lines of: “I like Corbyn but I’m mentally deficient”, or “I like Corbyn but then again I like Bounty chocolates and watching Miranda” or “I like Corbyn but I’ve dyed my hair green and have a nose ring so my judgement is questionable”.
Perhaps the funniest part of PMQs came when having fielded a particularly thorough question from Sir Eric on Lib Dem anti-Semitism, Tim Farron rose to speak. Westminster’s very own Mike Pence was red in the face as the House erupted with laughter. Poor Tim, all he ever wanted was to virtue signal about how nice he was, and now because he thinks gay sex is a sin he’s been kicked out the “kind left wing people club”. No more hummus and tofu nights. No more earnest monologues to camera with a raised brow. No more sycophantic Newsnight and Channel 4 interviews. Even his question on refugees did little to counterbalance it. At this point nothing less than publicly coming out as a card-carrying homosexual will redeem him. Luckily as it happens, I know a washing machine salesman named Jim who would be more than happy to show him the ropes.