He’s doing it deliberately, isn’t he? The twisted tie and splayed collar and that ghaaaaastly coat and shirt combination. The vanity of being above appearances. The Labour leader is manifesting Vogue levels of virtue-signalling in his dress.
Then all that rubbish about the “very sad news” of having a United Nations committee coming over to investigate the human rights of the disabled. It was “deeply embarrassing”, he said. Cameron classified that as left-wing cack and that proper Britons couldn’t give two flying fingers for a UN committee (I translate). The miserablisation of Labour continues.
Still, Corbyn’s better than Miliband. And better than the next leader (as long that’s Eddie Izzard).
Fat Labour loosened its corsets but couldn’t fill its benches. Many gaps in the ranks. Opposition MPs were wandering Westminster in a daze of incredulous despair and failed to find their way into the chamber.
Many of them will fail to find their way back into the House at the next election.
Their constituencies are being swamped with aliens who don’t share their values or culture and who are swarming over their General Committees to vote in others of their kind. They stick together, those Trots. Boy, do they breed. And like cockroaches, they survive.
They must have been pleased to see the end of Harriet Harman. It was her last stand-in at PMQs. She finishes her career surprisingly as a crypto-Tory. Cameron paid her a handsome tribute (being one of his own) and she missed the opportunity to cry shame! Shame! Shame on you! Her sharpest point was a suggestion he call for a summit of EU leaders to deal with the refugee crisis (as if he could).
The first Tory budget in 18 years prompts a mass Die-In outside parliament.
Inside the Commons it’s a mass Die-In of the Labour party .
Osborne’s hour didn’t just make the political weather it changed the political climate.
Harriet Harman’s response began by lamenting the non-electrification of the Midlands mainline.
Mind you, she’d just been hit by a train.
Benefits. Subsidies. Tax. Pay.
Gordon Brown’s transformative budgets were written in an age of boom and borrowing. Osborne has achieved the same scale of change in an age of austerity.
Every Labour fox was destroyed. Not just shot but run over with a combine harvester.
Never mind deciles and target audiences and the calculus of electoral investment – Osborne has destroyed the opposition. And in an act of retrospective slaughter he destroyed Ed Miliband’s opposition as well.
We’re just waiting, aren’t we? Just starting the second trimester. The labour for Labour is months away but Harriet is very sensibly taking things easy. In the autumn, she’s hoping for the great cry, “It’s a girl!” Pessimists in the centre are expecting, “It’s a boy!” But realists anticipate a great rush of wind and the announcement, “Sorry everyone. Phantom pregnancy. Back to the mattresses and start again.”
In the interim, Harriet seems to have lost the will even to “stick it to the Tories.” Her first question asked him how he could stick it to the French. Tempting question for an English prime minister. He stuck it to the Italians instead. Her second question asked him if “he could say a bit more about strengthening security,” and he said there was “no point in pointing the finger of blame.” If this is war it’s extremely polite. It’s the other sort of civil war.
So, there’s a prime minister in waiting. Gallery reports of his sneeriness should be discounted.
True, even when he isn’t sneering, he still wears a sub-cutaneous sneer, an impression of a sneer, some sort of metaphysical sneer plays around him like the smile of Lewis Carroll’s cat. But for us in the television audience, George Osborne was controlled, confident and across all that stuff prime ministers have to pretend to know about.
Deradicalisation, for instance. By a happy chance, his prepared joke about Hilary Benn prefaced his remarks on the teenage suicide bomber who blew himself up. For a jihadist to be remembered in Parliament as an adjunct to an indifferent joke about Labour party Bennites is a very fitting memorial.
The deputy leader of Labour is now the leader and her deputy seems to be this Benn fellow. He produced a series of sensible, dutiful questions which got the Commons talking excitedly (about who was winning what election for which committee chair). It’s a glimpse into the sort of PMQs that Speaker Bercow is trying to make the norm. Nothing will turn people off politics more thoroughly.
It’s still possible to hope Jeremy Corbyn will be up there at the despatch box after the Conferences. Are there 50,000 mental lefties out there? Democratic jihadists who’ll infiltrate the Labour Party and blow it to glory?
Now more than ever we need the audacity of hope.
At any rate – an utterly uneventful afternoon in which Tory spines were stiffened at the prospect of a plausible successor and a Tory government through the 20s.
If this was his audition for First Lord of the Treasury he’ll certainly get a call-back.
Harriet was always going to use that line about gloating.
The PM is back to his easy, lordly form. He deflected hostile questions (“It’s an important point she raises.”) He congratulated opposition MPs. He made a pretty decent UKIP joke that made Douglas Carswell laugh – “He has made political history. As a party of one he’s had a backbench rebellion.”
He has all the characteristics the country expects from a decent, moderate Conservative. So Harriet had her work cut out to make a sow’s ear out of the silk purse that is our prime minister.
She had it all worked out. She was going to define him in the public mind before he could define himself.
At the outset he had made laughing reference to Labour MPs voting for an EU referendum. He called the occasion “the biggest mass conversion since that Chinese general baptised his troops with a hosepipe.” He could have said anything. It didn’t matter what it was. In defiance of what was happening in front of her, Harriet came back with the one she had already prepared: She said: “He won the election. He’s the prime minister.” (Huge Tory cheers. So far, so accurate.) “He doesn’t need to be ranting and sneering and gloating . . .”
As ranting, it didn’t qualify. The sneering was absent. And the Eton Gloating Song hadn’t even got to the humming stage.
But it was very Labour.
Setting out to fit facts to theory, no matter what the reality.