Corbyn’s NHS Attack Glossary

Today’s déjà vu PMQs was little more than a throwback to the worst recurring terror in the panoply of British political nightmares: Theresa May vs Jeremy Corbyn on ‘Our National Health Service’. Across the despatch boxes the topic is life-sucking, it has the signal-jamming effect of blocking all thought, locking onto any form of intelligent argument and blowing it up as would an interceptor missile. To watch May and Corbyn on the NHS engenders a particularly strong sensation of their detachment from reality; we too are trapped in their eternal feedback loop of massaged statistics, meaningless platitudes and over-hyped, baseless accusations, always – wave to the sheep – diverted via Wales, fated only to end up where we began. These exchanges are as incisive as a blunt scalpel and enjoyable as a bout of haemorrhoids…

Jezza’s NHS attack glossary lay open before him, embossed with a gold inlaid portrait of Nye Bevan (probably). The curious attack lines were entirely his own:

“Jackpot time for the privateers”this turned out to mean that it is not, in fact, jackpot time for the privateers, because the proportion of spend in the NHS outsourced to the private sector has not gone up.

Serious risk of harm”this turned out to mean that the National Audit Office had, in fact, not found any examples of harm caused by outsourcing.

“(The Tories) opposed the NHS in the first place”This attack line had accidentally been left in the back of the folder from 1948, so Jez simply blew off the dust and threw it in as a bonus. Bonanza…

Meanwhile, Theresa’s front-foot attack playbook read as follows:

“Wales.”

No wonder it all felt oddly familiar…

The PM boldly moved onto new territory as she launched a SAM at Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell for his comments on ‘overthrowing capitalism‘. It seemed the Mini-Me Marxist was once again absent from PMQs – he usually is nowadays. Theories abound as to Comrade McDonnell’s regular truancy from the high point of the political week: is he the socialists’ designated survivor, not allowed in the same room as Jezza so that there can be continuity of communism in the event of a nuclear strike? Is he simply too bashful to appear on the frontbench after his many embarrassing statements? Has Team Jezza deemed him a liability? It was enjoyable to see May skewer him regardless…

But, trust her luck, as soon as she stuck one in the net for the free market, one of May’s own backbenchers rose to slyly attack her on her true blue credentials. Troublesome Philip Davies rose and said:

“I believe in the free market, I believe in individual freedom, individual responsibility and I’m suspicious of the nanny state. Am I still a Conservative?”

The Prime Minister paused for a moment, backbenchers shouted “yes”. “Yes”, she replied with a smile – that’s all she said – and promptly sat back down. She clearly preferred taking about the NHS…


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Andrea Leadsom told BBC Radio 4’s Today

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