Prime Minister’s Questions 12:00 PM Tuesday 03 Feb 2016 – From the House of Commons, The Palace of Westminster
Cancer policy exchange leaves one wondering about Corbyn’s listening skills
With the Prime Minister on the ropes with the press and his backbenchers over his EU ‘deal’ PMQ’s will have been a relief for David Cameron. Given there was a statement on the EU issue to come later it would have been odd if Jeremy Corbyn had led on that in this exchange. He instead went on the issue of cancer and the NHS generally. He started in regard to cancer waiting times that were not being met. Cameron conceded one of his three targets, a target around treatment within 62 days, was not being met but stated this was one of three targets around cancer treatment and the other two were being met, which, you have guessed it, were not under Labour.
Corbyn moved on to ask about cuts in radiologists. At first Cameron appeared stumped and went on to make general points about NHS investment. It was not until Corbyn had asked his third question about cuts in public health funds that he found the bit in his file that I assume had the figures. Radiologists were up 15% since he became PM, He also contradicted the public heath cuts point, then having dealt with the substantive points, his wider context began to make more sense. The Tories can do these things because they invested, unlike Labour who have cut the NHS in Wales, and he (Corbyn) was responsible for Labour.
Corbyn then resorted to a trait that looked as bad this week as it was last. Accusing the PM of not answering the question when he actually had. He then did this again when asking about ESA cuts. Cameron rightly pointed out someone with cancer would be in the support group whose benefit would not be cut even under the new proposals. On this Cameron gave a very specific and targeted answer, yet Corbyn still accused him of not answering. It makes it look like he is not listening and comes across very badly. To compound this he asked the same question again via an email from ‘Martin,’ using his failed ‘Peoples Question’ regime, and fell into an easily avoidable trap had he been listening the first time by reading out a scenario in which, as Cameron had already explained, the benefits would not be cut in that scenario anyway. An easy one for the PM to dispatch, with some added extra digs at the Welsh NHS including numerous areas where Labour run Wales were doing much worse Tory run England to boot.
Elsewhere the SNP leader in the commons Angus Robertson challenged the PM on the EU Referendum timing regarding a letter signed by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and Northern Ireland’s First Minister and Deputy First Minister Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness asking the Referendum should not be in June out of respect to other election. Cameron’s response was revealing, stating he agreed with Alex Salmond that it should not be ‘within six weeks.’ Given the rumoured date is 23rd June, exactly seven weeks after these elections, the response was more telling than normal. Beyond that David Rutley (Con MP for Macclesfield) had some fun at the expense of SNP and Labour Trident policy asking whose policy was more dangerous, Cameron responded Labour now wanted to use the submarines to move defence personnel around ‘The most expensive Uber service by boat.’ Overall another easy day for David Cameron, While his opponent needs to start listening before assuming the question has not been answered in something that is becoming an increasingly poor trait.
MOON OF LIBERTY VERDICT (Out of 5)
David Cameron 3 – Jeremy Corbyn 1 – Not as clear cut as last week, but another very easy win for David Cameron, as Corbyn continues to fall into all sorts of avoidable traps.