Wednesday, 11 January 2017

PMQs Review: 11th January 2017 - The Crisis, What Crisis? Edition

We're back! After the year to end all years, they've only been and gone and given us another one.

And what a year it promises to be. Its not just that we have President Trump to look forward to with his considered, mature and gracious style of governing via the medium of Twitter. We are particularly looking forward to him leaving the situation room during international crises in order to tweet about some Hollywood star who has been disobliging. Perhaps he will give television addresses in addition to Tweets to inform the nation and the world that he has declared war on California 90210.

We have Brexit to look forward to as well. Or at least we will have if the Government ever decides what it wants and if the civil service allows it to enact it without resigning en masse and writing resignation letters so self pitying and tendentious they could be written by The Donald himself. Except of course we know that he tends to be more concise. You see that's what we need in a leader: a narcissistic personality disorder allied with a short attention span.

The year has been relatively kind to us so far. The only people to have died have been a theocrat in Iran and that bloke out of East is East. We haven't, unlike last year, suffered terrible floods across much of the country, although this does have its downside. I for one was looking forward to seeing the prime minister in a leather trousers and wellies ensemble followed by a spat with Nikki Morgan about how she should have bought her footwear from Asda like Dave.

The year has not started well for Chauncey. He has not yet faced a leadership challenge and, as we have all seen, this is the only time when the poor old chap becomes energised and consequently visible. Some have let it be known that Chauncey really must start doing better this year. Or else. Or else what? Face another leadership challenge against someone even more hopeless than he is who promises to ignore the will of the British people and keep us in the EU? That kind of or else?

Chauncey's Labour Party are currently lulling the Tories into a false sense of security and allowing them a double digit lead in the polls. Cunning!

Chauncey is having a relaunch this week. The man who has twice won his party's leadership and likes to talk of the size of his mandate, is nevertheless having to start again from scratch. This seems to involve his doubling down on his socialism by calling for a maximum wage, a policy that has only been adopted in those great beacons for equality and prosperity Cuba and Venezuela. Labour are also talking more softly about immigration, but nobody really knows what that means, least of all Tom Watson the deputy leader. Chauncey is all for the rights of workers and thinks it terrible that Poles come here to be exploited by earning far more than they would at home, even if this is on our minimum wage. Chauncey does not seem to be for any workers who simply want to go to work by means of Southern trains or the London Underground on Monday. Strikes supposedly over safety are alright by Chauncey. The workers united will never be defeated, so long as they get on their bikes as Norman Tebbit might have said.

Chauncey got a bit confused during his relaunch yesterday and kept changing parts of it. His maximum wage was roundly ridiculed too since it was economic illiteracy on stilts. It's only politics of envy types like Chauncey who have a problem with people earning lots of money, people like footballers for instance who would be picked on by this brainless policy. What would be the end result? Footballers would go and play in other countries. This is a fundamental truth of markets and one that the likes of Chauncey can still not get their heads around. It was a policy that unravelled quicker than a Ken Livingstone theory about Nazis and Jews. Labour are the joyless, moralising new puritans for the modern age who cannot get their heads around basic common sense and human nature.

But of course Chauncey is at least entertaining. Take this gem from his big relaunch yesterday:

"Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle. But I don't want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out."

This isn't populism, it's cretinism. Chauncey says he wants to be for the Labour movement what Donald Trump has been for conservatism. Trump famously uses Twitter to bypass the media. Chauncey is waiting until they up their 140 character limit. By a factor of a thousand.

For Chauncey, 2017 looks like being a very very long year. I'm looking forward to it already.

Anyway, to the main event.

We started  the day of course with New Year best wishes sent to all honourable members and their staff. Then the SNP, in the form of Chris Law MP, first questioner of the day and year, made the startling claim that theirs is the only government in the UK that has a plan for Brexit. Given that this is a plan that involves various legally and politically impossible manoeuvres Mrs May dismissed them out of hand.

Chauncey, inevitably, wanted to talk about the NHS. And to be fair he was focused on the issue with questions that hit the right notes. The NHS is going through its now traditional winter crisis, which is to say that lots of people are using it and that sometimes they have to wait a long time. As ever this crisis concentrates on A&E departments, which are inundated at times with huge numbers of people that are neither accidents or emergencies. Jeremy Hunt has said that there needs to be a conversation on the subject of the NHS. Maybe our schools should have lessons in Citizenship classes.

Earlier this week the Red Cross made the ludicrous claim that some of the treatment in these under pressure departments is a humanitarian crisis. The PM was excellent in response to this facile  nonsense. We have all seen humanitarian crises around the world, she said and this label was 'overblown and irresponsible.'

The PM was largely on the defensive during this session and her halting style can make this worse. But she was across the issue and had the information to hand. We didn't learn anything. If the Government is planning changes or more money then the PM did not say so. She is keeping her cards close to her chest on this issue as everything else.

Chauncey does what he always does during these sessions. He sounded angry. It does kind of work for him, although he does look and sound like someone at Speaker's Corner ranting rather than a potential prime minister when he does this. But it is how he channels his old self from his comfort zone into his new persona. Yesterday, in other arenas he showed how useless he is when he cannot shout and rant.

But the PM was by no means defeated. She was prepared for the questions and had answers. She made a couple of good jibes about Chauncey's changes mentioning at one point that she had the same answers as she had given just before Christmas, whereas Chauncey changes his mind within a few hours as we saw yesterday.

She finished the session with a flourish that had her backbenchers cheering. She pointed out that Labour has spent the money they claim they would get from reversing a corporation tax cut 8 separate times. This is what Labour does. They also cannot get their heads around the demonstrable fact that we are in a competitive world and corporation tax needs to be lower to benefit the economy and eventually raise more money.

All parties however need to talk more honestly about the NHS. How is it that other countries do not have the same issues and pressures as we do? How can we spend more on healthcare and social care without imagining that it can all come from general taxation? The Government gave the NHS what it said it needed for the next few years. As ever this was not enough and we have another winter crisis. It is perpetual and inevitable. When will the country realise that it is because the current model simply does not work and that our love for it is killing it?

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