Prime Minister’s Questions – At The House of Commons, The Palace of Westminster (10th Feb 2016 at 12:00 pm)
Silence of the strike
Today at Prime Minister’s Questions, surely the Junior doctors strike would be a key factor? Surely? Well no. David Cameron began with a tribute to the late Labour MP who did this week Harry Harpham. Mims Davies (Con MP for Eastleigh) opened with a question about right to buy, probably having no idea that this would merely be a warm up for the main part of the session, because Jeremy Corbyn was going to raise junior doctors, wasn’t he?
It was even in the badge. As Jeremy stood up visibly wearing a ‘love unions’ badge. He too paid tribute to Harry Harpham, with a nice aside about his support for the steel industry and he hoped ‘The Prime Minister would reflect on this.’ Fair enough and now onto Junior Doctors yes? Loving those unions behind the strike yes? Er, No.
As on the day of the last strike Corbyn raised housing. Maybe he would split the questions and raise Junior Doctors later? We shall see. But for now, he had an email about housing not doctors, the email was from ‘Rosie’ to howls of laughter with Labour Chief Whip Rosie Winterton sat not far away. Apparently it was not from that Rosie. Rosie wanted to know that the PM was going to do to help her with housing.
The PM suggested when you get a letter from the chief whip it is usually not good news. The more general the question the more ineffective it is, allowing Cameron to roam through his general housing policy. Reducing taxes, right to but, shared housing schemes and of course, suggesting they were doing more than Labour ever did. Too easy a start for Cameron. Maybe changing tack to junior doctors might improve Corbyn’s chances.
Corbyn did not do that. Instead he argued home ownership was down under the Tories, he also moved to attack changes to housing benefits. Cameron responded under Labour one council house had been built for every 170 sold off, under him, due to an amendment from Zac Goldsmith, name checking the Tory London Mayoral candidate, it would be no more than one in two in this parliament. Corbyn responded it is currently one in eight under this Government, which well, is still rather better than one in 170. Ouch. Corbyn walks into a trap of his own making again.
Cameron than began to reference ‘Rosie’ who would be paying lower tax and lower rents thanks to this Government. Rosie would have a strong economy under this Govenrment which she won’t under Labour. he attacked Labour’s housing subsidy ideas pointing out ‘every penny on housing subsidy is a penny you can’t spend on building houses.’ He also trotted out the old line of the Tories building more council houses in five years than Labour did in 13, ‘Where was he (Corbyn) when that was going on?.’ My guess, probably on a march somewhere.
Corbyn then moved onto Junior Doctor’s, just kidding, he moved onto to conditions for private renters suggesting a third of homes where in poor condition and also suggested homelessness was up as a result. Cameron replied homelessness was ‘at half it’s peak now than it was under Labour.’ No, I’m not sure what that means either. Even so Cameron got a final flourish in about how you need a strong economy to build more houses, that includes welfare reform, which Labour are against. Despite Corbyn actually scoring a point or two, his questions were too general allowing Cameron to breeze through the exchange to another victory, with silence from Corbyn on Junior Doctors not looking particularly good either.
Elsewhere Angus Robertson the SNP Commons leader accused Cameron of short changing Scotland by £3 million, Cameron replied stating he had good discussions with SNP leader and Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and with oil prices collapsing, independence would short change Scotland far more. Robert Jenrick (Con MP for Newark) paid tribute to ‘Nadia’ who had fought and escaped the evil of Islamic State and was in attendance in the gallery and Victoria Atkins (Con MP for Louth & Horncastle) in an impressive sixty seconds of precise and intelligently worded oratory, attacked a ‘UN group nobody had ever heard of.’ for their apparent support of Julian Assange reminding us he is wanted on charges of rape.
There was also time for more fun on Labour’s Trident row with Nigel Adams (Con MP for Selby & Ainsty) suggesting Labour would have ‘Trident as Obsolete as a spitfire’ referring to shadow defence secretary Emily Thornberry’s comments. The PM quoted Madeleine Moon’s (Lab MP for Bridgend) twitter response to the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party) meeting ‘Oh dear, Oh dear, OMG, Oh dear, Oh dear, need to go and rest in a darkened room.’ As for Labour MP’s, they on mass raised Junior Doctors, oh no, they didn’t actually. Not a single mention. With friends who love unions like these, the union behind this strike does not need enemies.
MOON OF LIBERTY VERDICT – David Cameron 4 – Jeremy Corbyn 2
Jeremy Corbyn made odd good points this week, but Cameron was always in command and always had an answer, even if at times it was just, you would be worse, it was still more than good enough.