Wednesday, 26 April 2017
PMQs Review: 26th April 2017 - The Chauncey's Last Stand? Edition
These days general election campaigns are sophisticated affairs with extensive and detailed polling, social media campaigns, specific targeting of individual voters, huge advertising campaigns with clever slogans, election buses, rallies, rebuttal units to hit back hard against the claims of opponents. Of course little of this applies to Labour. They haven't even got a slogan. They do however have their own rebuttal unit. Unfortunately however this exists to correct whatever gibberish the leader of the party said in a media interview earlier in the day.
Chauncey was at it again at the weekend talking about the highly expensive weapons system he has been forced to retain at the insistence of his party and its union paymasters but which he would refuse to use. He would also refuse to drop a bomb, not mother of all bombs or even a little sister of all bombs that would give him a nasty scare on the leader of ISIL without first giving him the opportunity for a nice chat over a cup of tea and the opportunity to be nice. Oh and Chauncey has a man writing his manifesto who thinks we should disarm the police and abolish MI6.
Labour are committing so many unforced errors they look like a British tennis team being abused by a racist former ladies man. There's another 6 weeks of this to go. Never mind though today they are promising to give NHS workers a pay rise and recruit more of them with money from their magic money tree. That magic money tree is going to be getting quite a shaking this next few weeks. It's the only tree in the land that will be denuded of all leaves and life by the middle of June.
Meanwhile the Lib Dems, perennial purveyors of the politics of all things to all men are however worried if all things to all men involves certain activities between men they regard as sinful. Tim Farron the born again Christian leader of the party keeps being asked if being gay and having gay sex is a sin. He said it isn't. We're not sure if we believe him. But then he is a Lib Dem. Isn't that sin enough? When did we start believing a word they say anyway?
The Tories are telling the country today about their success in getting the deficit down to its lowest level since Gordon Brown - a sour faced man who ran the economy (badly) once and even became PM for a time - was in power. Labour have pointed out that the Tories promised to eradicate the deficit by 2015 but are now promising to do it around 2020. Or thereabouts. How this works as an attack line by Labour though is a mystery. Labour have complained bitterly about all Tory cuts or the lower levels of spending needed to constrain the deficit and get it under control. The Tories have been cautious about cutting spending too hard and seem to have got it about right hence the steady growth of the economy. Labour wants to start spending lavishly again on anything and everything whilst abolishing trade union rules meaning that we would soon have national strikes demanding massive pay rises. In quick time we would be Venezuela. But without the oil. We have got shale gas of course but Labour wouldn't allow that.
All in all this is one of those elections when we all think we know what is going to happen. The Tories are trying to persuade us that nothing is certain and that we must all turn out to vote. And they are trying not to appear too complacent. As proof of this they have tied Boris to a chair in a back office until June 9th. Nothing is being left to chance. Their election strategy can be summed up by pointing at Chauncey and raising an eyebrow. My brother thinks they should erect giant posters of Chauncey with the slogan Really? or Seriously? Or they could resurrect the old Labour isn't Working posters but with a picture of Chauncey shouting at people through a megaphone. It's going to be a Chauncey theme I feel.
The polls are looking disastrous for Labour. The latest today has the Tories on 49%. They are even ahead in Wales and making a comeback in Scotland. Looking on the bright side however Labour have been backed by Commies. The Communist Party is four square behind Chauncey.
This is the last PMQs before the election. Next week Parliament will be dissolved, MPs will cease to be MPs, some of them in the Labour Party forever rather than face the humiliation of having to pretend that they want Chauncey to be PM. Others are standing down because of old age or infirmity. Ken Clarke is now not standing down for precisely the same reason.
According to the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, this Parliament has lasted for only 299 days and there have been only 61 PMQs. This is Chauncey's 53rd. His last? Don't bet on it.
Chauncey got to his feet in full on sanctimonious mode. He paid tribute to departing MPs, many of whom are departing because of him. He was cheered roundly and fulsomely by Tories who amused themselves with planning the election literature with him on the cover. And the back. And every page in between.
But he also went back to basics so to speak. Back at the beginning he used to crowd source his questions. Today he had cherry picked a few more from people who echoed his own prejudices and desire to spend ever more money we don't have. Government is about hard choices. Labour under Chauncey could not even decide to kill a terrorist who throws gay people of high buildings and encourages his followers to drive lorries and cars at schoolchildren. They would make the hard choice of throwing money at everything. And taxing anyone who earns more than £70, 000. These are the rich.
Chauncey's questions ranged across all of the subjects. Next to him he had Miss Piggy lookalike Lady Nugee gurning and shouting in sympathy. The central theme of his questions was however about money. Labour want to spend it and accuse the Tories of cutting. What has happened in reality is simply that the Government has increased spending less rapidly. Hardly the same thing. Government spending has increased every year since the Tories came to power in 2010. In Labour la la economics though (c) Gordon Brown it amounts to a cut. It's why we are still grappling with his deficit.
None of the exchanges between the two were at all illuminating of course. It was just an exchange of slogans. Chauncey was a little more coherent than usual if only because he had had his questions written for him by the public. It's what it says about his political philosophy that is revealing. Mrs May was well prepared with slogans and the themes of the election plus a website that seemed to be in favour of the Labour leader but.....Mostly though she kept saying the same message over and over again. Strong leadership, strong economy, tough negotiator, Labour can't be trusted. That is what we are going to hear again and again. The public seem to believe her.
If there is a vulnerability for Mrs May it is over issues like aid spending and pensions. It is notable that she has refused to explicitly promise the continuation of the so called triple lock on pensions. The reason for this is simple and easy to understand. It is too expensive, was born of coalition politics and very close elections. It is unfair on the succeeding generations who have to fund it that pensioners are so lavishly rewarded with freebies and guaranteed pension increases. The PM found a form of words that boasted of its record without promising to continue it. She did however say that pensions will continue to increase. They will just not increase as quickly. More detail in the manifesto presumably. There may even be a surprise on this. That seems to be her preferred modus operandi.
You can expect the opposition parties, who are all under pressure this election as they face a resurgent and confident Conservative Party, to concentrate their fire on this area. And the NHS. And schools. So in other words it will be like every election in history. The Tories can just talk about Brexit, negotiating, strong leadership and the economy and play safety first. That is what the PM did today. Though Chauncey was not terrible neither was his performance anything other than average. For him that represents a triumph. But then that's why he is 20 plus points behind in the polls.
And that's it until June. For now we don't really know when we will be back. We just think we know.