Wednesday, 8 March 2017
PMQs Review: 8th March 2017 - The Non Event Edition
PMQs is an increasingly pointless affair in the days of Chauncey. Yes he occasionally manages a score draw or even more occasionally finds a hen with teeth, or possibly a funny zinger of a joke to level at the PM. Most of the time however he is so abject, so hopeless it almost feels cruel to write about him. Almost. After all he is the one who keeps insisting that he isn't go anywhere and has a massive mandate, even as Labour figures reveal that the party is haemorrhaging members nearly as quickly as voters.
Today's main even is of course the Budget, the last spring one and the first proper occasion for spreadsheet Phil to show us what he is made of. He did the autumn statement but had only been in the job a few weeks and so hadn't had time to properly get his feet under the table. Still Chauncey, being a keen political tactician, was determined to catch the Chancellor out. He announced to great fanfare that he was going to publish his tax returns and challenged the Government and in particular the millionaire Chancellor to publish theirs. They simply ignored him. That seems to have flattened Chauncey. Bloody Tories.
Turns out though that it was even more hapless than that. Chauncey's return had an error in it and when this was pointed out it took the Labour spinners hours to figure out what was going on. They insisted that they were right and the Government had been wrong by paying him too much. On that many will have been in agreement. Chauncey had put a figure in the wrong box. Last year he sent his tax return in late and was fined £100. This is all excellent preparation for when Labour are in power and they get to shake money from their magic money tree.
Lately Chauncey has been sticking to mostly domestic policy matters at PMQs as this enables him to get righteously angry in much the same way as he does on those marches he turns up to whether invited or not. This is his comfort zone. If only they would allow him to shout at the PM with a megaphone he would feel so much happier and more comfortable. Today though he has to respond to the Budget. This is hard enough for someone who is good in the House of Commons and doesn't have to stick to a script like an orange US president sticks to his conspiracy theories and Twitter account. Chauncey isn't good at responding to the PM when she answer his questions of which she had no prior notice. Responding to a Budget speech when he has trouble with his tax return is a gift for sketch writers everywhere.
The first question of the day though was what the confused old gentleman would talk about before the main event. Brexit perhaps, given the Government's problems with the House of Lords. But then Chauncey has trouble with his own party on Europe, not least because they all seem to have different policies according to who they are, what day of the week it is and whether they have recently resigned and then been reappointed to Chauncey's shadow cabinet. Oh and whether they are being touted as his replacement, even though Chauncey is going nowhere. If only he could ask questions every week about the NHS. Or manhole covers. Or jam making. He would probably do well in those sessions at least 1 week in 4. 2 weeks in 4 if Theresa had a heavy workload and so couldn't check out those fascinating websites about the different patterns and styles of covers or the right ratio of fruit to sugar.
Now in the hands of a decent political operator the recordings of the Conservative leader of Surrey council talking about a deal on funding might at least have discomfited the prime minister. But she faces Chauncey every week. This is why so many now don't bother watching PMQs. Nothing happens. Mrs May turns up - and she is by no means a smooth parliamentary operator - but she wipes the floor with a hapless and clueless Chauncey.
This week he alleged that some kind of sweetheart deal was on offer to a Tory council. Mrs May denied this and read out a list of other councils, all Labour, that have benefited from new arrangements. He was alleging some kind of conspiracy she said, but if she wanted to see one of those he should look at the benches behind him. It was a nice line.
As is his wont, instead of persisting with this line and forensically examining what she had just said he just moved on. If he were a detective serial killers would get off scot free every time. Its an idea for a TV series.
Now he wanted to talk about schools. He accused the Government of a vanity project with regard to free schools and new grammar schools. Again the PM simply airily dismissed him. Even if he had managed to discomfit her it wouldn't have made headlines because of the Budget. As it was he never touched her. She's not a serial killer. But with Chauncey in charge there could be blood on the floor and a night of long knives. She might even privatise the NHS and get away with it. There's a thought.
Much attention has been focused on the PM's pantomime style laughter with exaggerated shaking shoulders. For the record this is merely her attempt to bring out her inner Ted Heath, or at least to resurrect the art of the impressionist. After all look what Donald Trump has done for them. Given the uselessness of Chauncey, she has to give them something.