Oily’s Confused Advice to Corbyn for PMQs

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Oily Smith has helpfully written to Jezza with some advice on tactics at PMQs:

“Of course, with six questions, you could cover more than one topic … although you know from your own experience that covering too many topics in one session can make the scrutiny less effective.”

Oily as always faces both ways and then splits the difference. Yeah but no but don’t stick to one subject but don’t do too many…

UPDATE: Treated with disdain…

Haven’t We Seen This One Before?

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Last week the outgoing Prime Minister recalled being accosted when on a tour of New York with Mayor Bloomberg. “Hey, Cameron!” yelled a pedestrian, “Prime Minister’s Questions! We love your show!”. The House laughed, but it’s an interesting conceit, and one that is not without its merit. In the Commons relationships are strained and rivalries are fought out, fortunes are made and reputations are dashed, and season finales see big beasts die –  and then sometimes come back to life (if you’re Dirty Den or Boris). All the while the show goes on.

However, if PMQs is a show, then one couldn’t shake the feeling that today’s was a repeat. It started off originally enough when John Glen kicked things off and the House turned to see George Osborne sitting just below him. This certainly was novel: the former Chancellor  marooned on the backbenches, nodding along vacantly in the manner of a hostage going along with their captors’ script. Michael Gove was stranded in the cheap seats too, perhaps concentrating so hard on learning loyalty – as ordered by the Prime Minister –  that he zoned out. So far, so different.

But then as Theresa May took to the despatch box one couldn’t help but notice her husband Philip beaming down with pride from the peers’ gallery above. Ah, now that’s when we’ve seen this one before! It was thirty years ago and back then another Prime Minister’s husband watched a grammar school girl from the provinces who went on to Oxford rip apart a shabbily dressed, white haired old lefty. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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“Remind him of Anybody?”

Theresa May was sounding an awful lot like the last female PM, she opened with a jibe: “In my years here in this house, I’ve long heard the Labour party asking what the Conservative Party does for women. It keeps making us Prime Minister.”

She was at her most Thatcheresque on Corbyn’s troubles:

“He refers to the situation of some workers who might have some job insecurity, and potentially unscrupulous bosses. I suspect that there are many members of the opposition benches who might be familiar with an unscrupulous boss. A boss who doesn’t listen to his workers; a boss who requires some of his workers to double their workload; and maybe even a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career. Remind him of anybody?”

Chills up Guido’s spine…

Theresa May’s First PMQs: Who is Asking the Questions?

Q1 John Glen (Salisbury)

Q2 Mr Jamie Reed (Copeland)

Q3 Julie Cooper (Burnley)

Q4 Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)

Q5 Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Q6 Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Q7 Nusrat Ghani (Wealden)

Q8 Andrew Stephenson (Pendle)

Q9 Imran Hussain (Bradford East)

Q10 Stuart Blair Donaldson (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

Q11 Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)

Q12 Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood)

Q13 Stuart Andrew (Pudsey)

Comments in the comments please…

Wham, Bam, Thank You Cam

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Today was David Cameron’s 147th – and final – Prime Minister’s Questions. 147, not a bad knock all considered, and rather unfortunate in the manner of dismissal: caught out on the boundary by a Eurosceptic when swinging for a six. Rotten luck – he should have played it straight.

But before the long walk back to the pavilion there was just time for his swansong: and boy what a swansong it was. Mr. Cameron naturally opted to go out in style –  no gingham shirt this time, gosh no, strictly Tory blue twill and matching necktie. Dolled up, he then treated us to a real treat: a whistlestop tour of all the tricks of the trade that made him one of the best PMQs performers to have ever graced the despatch box.

To kick off the PM began with a full display of impeccably researched pop culture trivia, enthusiastically congratulating the full list of British Wimbledon winners with barely a glance at his notes. So clued up was he that when Corbyn went off-piste with praise for American Serena Williams, he was able to wholeheartedly agree, noting how she’d now overtaken Steffi Graf’s amazing record of 22 grand slams. Few come to the Chamber this well prepared.

Trivia done with, now a lesson in how to dismantle an argument in style. When challenged on his economic record by his opposite number, the PM furrowed his brow in condescension, before demanding that if we are going to talk about the economic record, let us get the facts straight”. Having teed himself up he then boomed that since he took office we have cut the deficit by two thirds”, and that “there are 2.5 million more people in work in our country. One elbow propping up the despatch box, he went on to rattle off a succession of similar rapid fire statistics with his thumb, completely in command of the chamber. Facts duly listed and voice at a crescendo, he delivered the humourous parting blow that, while Corbyn accuses him of economic sloth, if they ever got into power, it would take them about a year to work out who would sit where”. This was Cameron in full flow, hitting his opponent with a flurry of highly specific data, all the while cockily leaning forwards as if holding court in a saloon bar.

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Cameron’s Farewell: “I was the Future Once”

“Yes we can be pretty tough and test and challenge our leaders – perhaps more than some other countries – but that is something we should be proud of, and we should keep at it. And I hope you will all keep at it, and I will will you on as you do. The last thing I would say, is that you can achieve a lot of things in politics, you can get a lot of things done, and that, in the end – the public service, the national interest – that is what it is all about. Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it. After all, as I once said – I was the future once.” 

Farewell, Prime Minister…

“I Love Your Show”

Cameron retells a story about the international recognition PMQs gets. Great accent, Prime Minister…

Cameron’s Last Laugh Over May, Labour, and Watson

An email from “Judith” over Tom Watson’s threats to the Labour leadership poses a particular highlight in Cameron’s last PMQs against Corbyn. The buoyant PM looks raring to go…

Cameron’s Empty Schedule

“Other than one meeting this afternoon, the diary for the rest of my day is remarkably light.” Classy…

PMQs: Who is Asking the Questions Today?

Q1 Danny Kinahan (South Antrim)

Q2 Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington)

Q3 Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton)

Q4 Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Q5 Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West)

Q6 Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden)

Q7 Jo Churchill (Bury St Edmunds)

Q8 Carol Monaghan (Glasgow North West)

Q9 John Mc Nally (Falkirk)

Q10 Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central)

Q11 Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West)

Q12 Steve Brine (Winchester)

Q13 Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Q14 Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber)

Q15 Mr Robin Walker (Worcester) (905847)

My Name is Jezzimus Momentus Corbinius, And I Will Have My Vengeance

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Those who still vaunt Jeremy Corbyn’s pacifism might take a moment to consider that the only thing keeping the Labour leader hanging on these past few days has been his steadfast desire to run Tony Blair through with a rusty bayonet (courtesy of Sir John Chilcot). It was a heady mix of spite and righteous indignation that sustained Jezza through this week’s endless barrage of condemnation and resignations. Though mortally wounded, he did not falter, limping valiantly on to the Iraq Inquiry debate in the Commons this afternoon.

Some PMQs hilarity before the Chilcot solemnity. The Prime Minister lauded Corbyn’s rotating frontbench as the “biggest job-creation scheme I have ever seen in my life”. The fact that the Tories were themselves split and would also have a new frontbench soon did not matter. This was demob-happy Dave, blissfully firing off a few shots without a care in the world before packing up for sunnier climes. In this same spirit he later admonished a particularly moany group of heckling Picts to stop “whinging endlessly”. A somewhat cruel admonishment considering how intrinsic such an activity is to being an SNP MP, but the message was clear: no longer did Cameron care to sugar (or batter in this case) the pill.

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PMQs: Who is Asking the Questions Today?

Q1 Chloe Smith (Norwich North)

Q2 Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Q3 John Glen (Salisbury)

Q4 Sir David Amess (Southend West)

Q5 Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East)

Q6 Seema Kennedy (South Ribble)

Q7 Kevin Foster (Torbay)

Q8 Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South)

Q9 Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton)

Q10 Chris Law (Dundee West)

Q11 Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk)

Q12 Rachel Reeves (Leeds West)

Q13 Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central)

Q14 Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West)

Comments in the comments please…

Corbyn Gets His New Politics At Last

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Jeremy Corbyn managed – just – to find someone to sit next to him. He didn’t talk to Tom Watson (who’s gamely riding out the worst post-Glasto comedown conceivable), instead turning his head towards the less dangerous Kate Osamor. He then exchanged a few words with the surely harmless Clive Lewis, and some more with Dennis Skinner. Watson was blanked.

It’s times like this that one thinks of Tony Benn’s take on the Labour Party. The party, philosophised Benn, is like a bird, dependent on both its two wings to fly. The similarities don’t stop there. Both tend to migrate to second homes in sunnier climes over summer, living in comfortable nests far above the general population. And of course both have a tendency to crap on the British public from a great height. But I digress, Benn’s point stands, and right now those two wings couldn’t be further apart.

The Prime Minister’s frontbench was little better. The Chancellor, who has visibly aged by about twelve years since the Referendum result came in, opted to sit this one out having made two whole public appearances since Thursday. Squirrelled away in Number 11, George must have spent the time being consoled by the finest Peruvian imports (a last hurrah before it became an even more costly pastime with the pound crashing).

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Corbynistas Weaponise Cameron

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Pro-Corbyn supporters are jumping on Cameron’s call for Corbyn to goDave looked like he was being sincere but has he made it harder for Labour to get rid?

Ed Miliband has now called for Corbyn to go – no Shadow Cabinet job for him then. Momentum have curiously cancelled their “Keep Corbyn” event tonight “due to overwhelming demand”, which is odd. The manoeuvring John McDonnell meanwhile has a “major” speech lined up for Friday morning. Team Corbyn are under no illusions what that means…

PM to Corbyn: “For Heaven’s Sake Man, Go!”

Ouch…

PMQs: Who is Asking the Questions Today?

Q1 Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland)

Q2 Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston)

Q3 Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)

Q4 Alex Salmond (Gordon)

Q5 Mr Douglas Carswell (Clacton)

Q6 Mike Gapes (Ilford South)

Q7 Nick Thomas-Symonds (Torfaen)

Q8 Jeremy Quin (Horsham)

Q9 Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central)

Q10 Simon Danczuk (Rochdale)

Q11 Jake Berry (Rossendale and Darwen)

Q12 Jim Shannon (Strangford)

Q13 Neil Gray (Airdrie and Shotts)

Comments in the comments please…

SKETCH: Cameron’s Last PMQs?

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Outside, a 35-strong fleet of Brexit-backing fishing boats sailed past with Nigel Farage at the helm. The only parallel that springs to mind is the Raid on the Medway during the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1667 (also in June). Then, Dutch vessels launched a daring campaign that would pave the first steps for the overthrow of King James II. A year later the Bill of Rights was enshrined ensuring the sovereignty of Parliament and an end to its subjugation by overbearing despots, intent on imposing laws on a servile populace. Well, if it worked for them…

Inside, Jeremy Corbyn started poorly and somehow managed to get even worse. The Labour leader wasted his six questions, opting for a scattergun approach that included the posting of workers directive (yes, again, and no, we still don’t care), phone-hacking (for those nostalgic for 2011), having a dig at Boris and Gove (obviously something that would appeal to the PM) and fishing quotas (the sort of subject that really gets your wavering voter going). Corbyn finally managed to get on to the EU referendum in his sixth and final question. “With just eight days to go before the referendum”, he began to uproarious cheers from the Tory benches, “the Labour position is that we are going to be voting to Remain because we believe it is the best way to protect families, protect jobs and protect public services”. Not exactly “I have a dream…” but at least he set out the “Labour position” (although some will have noticed he declined to elaborate on his own position).

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Corbyn Will Block Osborne’s Dead Cat Budget

“We would oppose any post-Brexit austerity budget, just as we have opposed any austerity budget proposed by this government.” It ain’t gonna happen…

Who is Asking the Questions Today?

Q1 Peter Aldous (Waveney)

Q2 Mr George Howarth (Knowsley)

Q3 Amanda Solloway (Derby North)

Q4 Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green)

Q5 Mr Alan Mak (Havant)

Q6 Roger Mullin (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

Q7 Carolyn Harris (Swansea East)

Q8 Mr David Nuttall (Bury North)

Q9 Kelly Tolhurst (Rochester and Strood)

Q10 Robert Jenrick (Newark)

Q11 Huw Merriman (Bexhill and Battle)

Q12 Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North)

Q13 Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke)

Q14 Nigel Adams (Selby and Ainsty)

Comments in the comments please…

PMQs Bout: Not the Greatest, Not a Thriller

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It’s all gone a bit Pete Tong for the PM. It turns out lining up every global leader, trade envoy and financier from Canary Wharf to Chongqing to warn the serfs to vote Remain on threat of nuclear apocalypse wasn’t actually the best idea.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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