One of the joys of working for oneself is that one can watch The Daily Politics and PMQs live, if one should feel the need.
Yesterdays PMQs was particularly acrimonious. Jeremy Corbyn gave an impassioned speech about the Windrush debacle, calling on Amber Rudd, or possibly Theresa May (some people aren’t quite sure which) to resign.
The theme was that the Tories had deliberately created ‘A Hostile Environment’ for immigrants and that both legal and illegal immigrants were ‘caught up in the fallout’. It suited the Labour Party to conflate the two whilst angrily accusing the Tories of doing the very same thing. See how Dawn Butler MP operates on The Daily Politics (arguing with David Jones MP.)
It’s impossible to get a straight answer out of her. She knows what she wants to say and she isn’t budging from the script. I’d like to know what Jo Coburn really makes of this performance.
Isabel Hardman describes PMQs here “The Maybot returns…” but fails to mention the potential elephant trap that the Labour leader set for himself when he chose to refer to the Stephen Lawrence affair and screeches in that old-man-Steptoe voice of his: “we must stamp out institutional racism”.
You’d think, under the circumstances, that mentioning institutional racism was treading on dangerous ground. Unforgivably, Theresa May missed her open-goal-level of an opportunity to hit the back of the net.
The most striking contribution, towards the end, came from Yvette Cooper. Looking a bit like a very indignant chipmunk, she blurted out a bombshell that could prove to be a big embarrassment for the government.
When I listened to Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg giving their customary summary of what had just gone before (in case we lesser beings needed to have it spelled out it in big print for the hard-of-comprehending) they described something I barely recognised. More interested in Yvette Cooper’s intervention than anything else, harshly critical of Theresa May, it was apparent that they accepted Corbyn’s histrionics as par for the course, as they ignored them altogether; it’s as if they hold the current Labour Party to a different set of standards than all the rest. As if, like the Palestinians, Jeremy Corbyn and his followers have little or no agency.
As far as a gentler, kinder politics, this was not it. Jeremy Corbyn was rattled; near hysterical, while May’s manner was exaggeratedly condescending and painstaking as if explaining a simple principle to a very thick child (!) and the child was just not getting it. Both sides made a pig’s ear out of the whole thing, and everyone, not least the BBC, missed their respective opportunities, dragging the tone from poor to abysmal.