Wrapped in the Flag, Keir Doesn’t Quite Land His Punchlines mdi-fullscreen

The LibDem leader led on raw sewage. It’s always good when he does that. Sewage is his comfort zone. It’s the party’s natural element. He might have a word with Stella “Sobbing” Creasey who concluded PMQs by pumping into the chamber such parliamentary effluent as to make seasoned observers gag. One of her 16-year-old constituents had been murdered by another 16-year-old. She said in her breaking voice that her constituents had asked her to come to Westminster “to beg” – yes, beg the prime minister – to do something about youth crime and young people’s mental health so that “every young person can have the future they deserve.” What, really? Every young person? To get the future they deserve? That’s too harsh for me. A little forgiveness is necessary with the young. Very few of us could bear the future we deserve.

Caroline Lucas made a special and successful effort to cheer us up by extolling the merits of the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea. It is shortly to be opened up and it’s huge. It’s a whopper. It’s going to produce more energy than 28 countries combined. What a lifeline that’s going to be – that really will deliver a future for young people. The Greens should be congratulated for recognising its importance.

Tommy Sheppard from the SNP gave the renewable industry a bit of a pummeling. A pellet-burner in Yorkshire daily burns 20,000 tonnes of trees and trousers £1.5 million a day in subsidies. Burning wood pellets – producing more carbon than coal – has made an enormous contribution to our carbon statistics as it is accounted as carbon-neutral.

Rishi – normally on top of these things – let himself down by claiming the UK’s carbon emissions had fallen by 50% and that renewable energy costs had come down from £140 an hour to £40 an hour (which they haven’t). The carbon in our balance-sheet emissions has come down by 50% on account of Drax burning 20,000 tonnes of trees a day.

Will he correct the record? It’s unlikely to be imminent.

Keir Starmer started what might have become a halfway decent joke but finished with the punchline from a different joke. He began with “correcting the record” (following Stephen Timms’ point last week about “record employment numbers”). But the punchline suggested that record didn’t need correcting. The PM had predicted that 1,000 Conservative councillors would lose their seats, and 1,000 Conservative duly lost their seats. Keir declared it was “the only Tory promise they haven’t broken”.

It’s a daring sally for someone in Keir’s position. In his defence, he might say that he doesn’t break promises, his undertakings are so flexible he bends them into unexpected shapes. As a leader, he is the most renewable thing in politics.

And to be fair, he restored his stand-up reputation with: “the prime minister keeps entering a two-horse race and somehow finishing third.”

That’s always a popular piece of humour.

But, truth to tell, the poor fellow’s serious points sound silly. That Rishi “smiles”. That he is “gloating” while waiting lists grow. That a non-dom tax would pay for “thousands of doctors and nurses”.

We don’t need an Institute for Fiscal Studies to confirm that a tax on non-doms would raise enough over three years to pay for twelve NHS diversity officers.

His attack lines on Rishi’s family wealth are said to be getting through. I’m probably more out of touch than anyone so I don’t feel the points landing. The counterpunch though, was palpable. When Keir referred to the Rishi as a boy, caught on camera saying that he didn’t have any working-class friends, he got a very decent right hander in return: “We all say silly things when younger. Though the hon gentleman was in his 40s when he was talking about abolishing the monarchy.”

You could feel the oof from fifty feet away.

As a monarchist, Keir is really nouveau. Better nouveau than never, you think? It won’t last – he’s only halfway through his cycle.

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mdi-timer May 10 2023 @ 15:05 mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer
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