Wednesday, 15 March 2017
PMQs Review: 15th March 2017 - The U Turn Edition
And so this week, after much delay, we are on the cusp of Brexit at last. The House of Lords, after much harrumphing and debate finally bowed to the inevitable and passed the bill authorising the invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. As David Davis, the man in charge of the process said: 'We are now on the threshold of the most important negotiation for our country in a generation.' This seems to rather understate and undersell this historic moment. As we all know from the SNP after all, a generation is now only 4 or 5 years. That's inflation for you. Or deflation. Or something.
Big news of the week, however, is not Brexitm it is that Chauncey has destroyed his formerly cherished Adam Faith record collection in the aftermath of revelations that Faith spied on Fidel Castro for MI6. In other news Chauncey is absolutely fine about another Scottish referendum, but his party's policy is to oppose such a referendum on the grounds that we had one only 3 years ago and Labour cling to the view that one day Scots will flock back to them from the SNP in the same way that Arsenal fans are only kidding when they beg and implore Arsene Wenger to call time on his trophy-less recent tenure of the very rich but parsimonious club that has the misfortune of also being the club of choice for the man of the people in whose constituency it resides.
Chauncey, it was revealed last week, instead of spending hours and hours rehearsing and reading and otherwise preparing for his response to the Budget, went to a market in his constituency and bought some North African dates. He then went back to his office and spread them out on his desk in a pretty pattern. This is not the sign of dotty old chap losing his marbles as some have implied, it was actually a homely way of using a comestible to illustrate the state of the economy and the level of debt. Chauncey wanted to picture it before he responded. You will recall that, armed with this image in his head Chauncey dazzled the Commons with his witty and incisive response to a Budget that went down like a ton of bricks with the country. Chauncey was carried head high by a crowd to rally after rally thereafter and did not do his disappearing act as some dishonest media have reported. In similar fashion Chauncey did not say that it was absolutely fine if the SNP wants another referendum. This was dishonest reporting too. He can illustrate it with dates if this will help. Apparently there are as many dates in a bag as there will be Labour MPs after the next general election.
It was revealed this week that Mhairi Black, the SNP MP and the youngest since she was accidentally elected to parliament during the SNP's landslide of 2015, hates her job. Given this here's an idea: why doesn't she resign and go off and get a life before she starts presuming to legislate on how other lead theirs and we could use the resultant by election as a useful test for whether the people of Scotland want another referendum. Failing this there is always the chance of a by-election when either Alex Salmond or Angus Robertson drop dead of smug.
Also Ukip are having one of their periodic crises, possibly an existential one. I mention this just for completeness.
Just before PMQs got underway the Treasury announced that last week's NIC rise from the Budget shambles, roundly criticised in most newspapers and on this blog, will not now go ahead. A spectacular U turn. You can't help wondering why it wasn't announced by the PM herself to take the wind out of Chauncey's sails as she did a few weeks ago. She did explain herself in answer to the first question from Tory MP and suck-up Huw Merriman. She sounded a little defensive it has to be said, but at least, though this is embarrassing, they have performed their U turn quickly and without foot dragging or using their dragged foot to kick it into the long grass. They got it wrong. They have admitted it. Well done.
But sure enough Chauncey got to his feet with his pre-prepared questions about NICs. He was wearing a Donald Trump style red tie, albeit one not tied properly and somewhat askew. It was a nice metaphor for his confusion.
He rambled on endlessly, giving short ranting speeches which didn't actually contain questions. The PM pointed this out to the delight of her backbenches and the dismay of Labour opposite. Chauncey shuffled his papers as he desperately tried to think of some questions to ask.
His first question, which wasn't really a question, accused the Government of chaos. This was quite the funniest thing he has said for some time. The PM did not point out that this was the same man who had said that another Scottish referendum would be absolutely fine at odds with his party's policy only to then blame this on mischievous reporting by the right wing press. Including the BBC? Mrs May did say that, though she would normally tell him that she would take no lectures from him she would definitely do so on chaos.
Chauncey was as hopeless as he has ever been today. Presented with a gaping open goal after the worst received Budget in years he managed to hit the corner flag. He rambled on interminably, talking about self employment and the supposed abuse of it by employers, but the PM, who told him that he ought to listen to her answers, informed him that the Government has ordered a report and review into this very issue. Chauncey went into full rant mode. He looked confused, clueless and at one point looked as if he was going to cry. Maybe he will create a tableau of it all on his desk in a variety of dried fruits. It is becoming more and more pointless and even cruel to write about the confused old gentleman. He is like a political bed blocker. They can't get him out, he's refusing to go anywhere, but his presence is an affront and embarrassment to his party, to parliament and to the country. The only reason the Government performed its U turn was because of pressure from the media and from Tory MPs. Chauncey preferred to play with his dates. His date with destiny seems as far off as ever.
And of course the other subject de jour is the interminable whinging dishonesty of the SNP who clearly think that the Scottish people are stupid if they think they will fall for it. They have performed a screeching U turn of their own only 2 days after Nicola Sturgeon's big announcement by now saying they will try and join the EFTA rather than the EU, which isn't an option. Angus Robertson did at least manage a soundbite worth repeating on the NICs fiasco, but the rest of his question was typical SNP cant and hypocrisy as they try to claim that Scotland is being shut out of a decision that is a result of a referendum. It seems that the SNP only listen to referendums when they suit their agenda.
But the big subject of the day is the U turn and Chauncey's pathetic response to it. As the PM said: I don't think the Right Honourable Gentleman has quite got the hang of this. Indeed. It should be noted that he has been doing it a year longer than she has. It cannot go on like this can it?