Wednesday, 20 July 2016

PMQs Review: 20th July 2016 - The Snarling Thuds of May Edition

It's fortunate that this is the last PMQs for a few weeks and that parliament is now going into recess. It will give Chauncey plenty of time to conduct his latest reshuffle, one made necessary by the government one last week - bloody Tories. How dare they cause difficulties to the great leader.

It's been hot this week. Damned hot. I however have it on good authority that Chauncey was seen out and about in London yesterday still wearing that nasty brown jacket of his. Another good reason for a recess. Have it steam cleaned. Maybe they should consider having him refurbished at the same time as the Houses of Parliament.

Labour, like the venerable Palace of Westminster, is in the process of disintegrating. It cannot fill all of the shadow roles it needs to in order to be a functioning opposition and yet Chauncey sees no reason why this should cause him to quit. He is clinging on, not so much like a limpet, but like a proton to a neutron by means of the nuclear force. That is a quantum mechanical joke. Chauncey's opponents should try it to try and force him out. They've tried everything else. Chauncey hates all things nuclear.

There was a debate and a vote on Monday to decide whether to renew Trident. Chauncey gave the same speech he has been giving all of his life, a sophomoric, naive, blinkered and facile argument delivered with his usual teenage assurance.  It is immoral to have weapons, he said, although he doesn't seem to mind when those weapons are bricks flung at his critics' windows. Critics of nuclear weapons cannot seem to get their heads around the fact that the point of them is never to use them. They then turn this around, without noticing the contradiction, by claiming that it is a huge waste of money when the weapons will never be used.

The SNP asked Theresa May, making her debut at the dispatch box as PM, if she would ever use the weapons to kill hundreds of thousands of people. 'Yes,' she said, ' the whole point of a deterrent is that our enemies need to know that we would be prepared to use it.' This elicited oohs and aahs in pantomime style from the SNP who have a longstanding and similarly deranged dislike of nuclear weapons. In their case however they mostly use these weapons as weapons in their continued campaign for independence. According to the SNP - who of course speak for all of Scotland - this is another example of England imposing something on our northern neighbours. They overlook that it provides thousands and thousands of Scottish jobs.

The Trident vote was passed by a majority of 355. Only 47 of Chauncey's MPs voted with him and against Trident. 140 voted with the Government. In doing so, it should be pointed out, they were merely voting in accordance with Labour Party policy, something that of course has done nothing to appease the cult of Corbyn brick throwing tendency who are mad as hell and aren't going to take this anymore. Anyway, there was us thinking that Chauncey is a democrat. He was roundly heckled and abused by his own MPs throughout his speech since not only was he going against Labour policy but breaking his own promise to them to refer to Labour policy in his speech. It's that straightforward, honest politics again I expect.

Oh and the attempt to depose Chauncey is proceeding with the efficiency that seems to characterise the modern Labour Party. They were not even able to agree a single candidate, although to be fair, given the choice they had, trying to get one half decent candidate worthy of the name has proven challenging. Angela Eagle finally stepped up to try and depose the great leader and then someone that nobody had ever heard of called Owen Smith joined in. He is the Andrea Leadsom of the Labour Party. Owen Smith is a man who makes Andy Burnham look inspiring. Hell, he makes Wallace look inspiring. Why would Owen Smith wake up in the morning and think: actually I think I can be the next leader of the Labour Party? Then again this is the Labour Party we're talking about. It elected Chauncey last year. If he falls under a bus Diane Abbott is going to have another crack at it.

Polls suggest that Chauncey would thrash Smith and Eagle too before she dropped out. This is hardly surprising. Labour has been described by many as a cult. But it's worse. It's more like one of those death cults they have in America that barricade themselves in and then blow themselves up to establish their true love for the leader and their doctrinal purity.

Labour doesn't know what it stands for. Many of those opposed to Chauncey suggest that they don't disagree with him on policy, even though he doesn't really have any policies other than being pro chaos and the causes of chaos. Leadership is just something that weak leaders do.

Chauncey would claim that he is anti-austerity. Anti- austerity is not a policy. It's a T shirt slogan masquerading as a policy. We're all anti-austerity. It's just that sometimes you have to have austerity because, you know, there isn't enough money. Anyway, we still have a huge deficit so it's a peculiar form of austerity. Fortunately Owen Smith is going to solve the whole problem of austerity by reintroducing the 50% top rate of tax. Christ! Why didn't anyone think of that?

To be fair Chauncey's established 30 year stance of being anti nuclear weapons is a policy. But it is not the official Labour policy. It is also idiotic. What do they think unilateral nuclear disarmament would achieve? Putin would throw down his weapons and usher in a period of peace and tranquility in return for being allowed to cheat at the Olympics?

Until Labour decides what it is for rather than what it is against, until it gets someone to annunciate this in clear and popular language, it is doomed to its current fate. That is why Chauncey won last year and why he will win again this year. He is the accidental leader who is incapable of leadership and who is going to take his party to accidental oblivion. He is a protest politician protesting at his own party's policy. The party is going to either follow him to extinction or split and maybe, just maybe, reinvent itself. Its problem is that the only people it could find to challenge Chauncey were Angela Eagle and Owen Smith. The two have at least agreed to become one. This is something of breakthrough moment for Labour. They have come to a firm position on who is going to be humiliated by a pathetic never has been whose idea of firm leadership is to hide in his office refusing to see anyone who might shout at him.

How they must be laughing in the Conservative Party. Can they really resist putting off a general election?

Anyway, to the first PMQs of our new prime minister.

Mrs May stood up and it was as if she had always been there. She looked composed, relaxed, she even cracked a joke or two and wished Edward Leigh a happy birthday. Chauncey expressed the wish that they would have the kind of exchange he had wanted from the beginning of his time talking to Dave. He wanted a debate he said. He then got one. Well, kind of. PMQs is not really the place for debates. But this was the closest approximation we get. And Theresa was on top of it. In fact she kicked him around the ball park. Her only real failing, for entirely understandable reasons, was when Chauncey brought up some of Boris's past indiscretions.

And it is hard to have a debate, even when six questions are allocated to the Leader of the Opposition (albeit one whose MPs don't support him) when he keeps changing subjects from question to question. He could choose a more forensic approach, try to zero in on inconsistencies. This isn't really Chauncey's forte. He hasn't the brains for it. It was announced this morning that he is going to be appearing in a court case challenging the recent NEC decision to allow him on to the Labour leadership ballot. Then we'll see him on the receiving end of some forensic analysis.

Today though he asked about Orgreave, a peculiar obsession of Labour from the 1980s. Maybe they are trying to get a replay of the miners' strike. If they win then all of the mines would have to reopen and Arthur Scargill would make a triumphant return alongside Chauncey and Len McCluskey. Then Argentina would invade the Falklands and the IRA would make a comeback, all cheered on by Chauncey and his Shadow Chancellor. The PM told him that the Home Secretary would be making an announcement on this later today. I'm sure the nation will be on tenterhooks.

And the PM gave a short sharp lesson on all manner of issues to a flailing Chauncey. He talked about housing (as usual) he talked of austerity, he raised zero hours contracts for the umpteenth time on a day that unemployment has fallen again. She explained to him the economics of home ownership in Britain (prices vary across the country) she had even memorised some of the average home prices. And, though the government has rowed back on its promise to cut the deficit, she reiterated that plan. And she explained to Chauncey that this is not austerity. It is living within your means. She may not be a soundbite style prime minister, but she knows how to deliver a withering line nonetheless.

There were even jokes. Yes, jokes. Chauncey asked about unscrupulous bosses. What? said Theresa, deadpan, you mean bosses that don't listen to their workers, who require some workers to double their workload without additional pay, a boss who exploits the rules to further his own career? Did this remind him of anyone? she asked. Chauncey did not respond. He probably wished he could go and hide behind his office door again.

And she took on the SNP. Angus Robertson wanted to know how her talks with Nicola Sturgeon had gone. Why doesn't he just ask her? She's his party leader. The PM didn't say this. She said that her discussions with the first minister had been constructive and cordial though they clearly had much they disagreed on. Then Robertson continued the SNP theme of Scotland somehow and mysteriously staying in the EU - something that is legally and politically impossible. The PM was having none of it. She pointed out that the SNP campaigned for Scotland to leave the UK less than two years ago. That would have also meant leaving the EU. Now they try to use the EU as a wedge issue. Their dishonesty knows no bounds.

And so, as we expected, Theresa was a class act at PMQs. She has hit the ground running and her new less flashy style has impressed the country. It also seems to have impressed her party. The Tories looked as united as Labour are a rabble of surly, angry, muttering children. Mrs May looked as though she has been in her position forever. Labour are in the business of ensuring that she is.

We reconvene in September when Labour start the process of falling apart in earnest. In the meantime I think we've all earned a break.

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