Prime Ministers Questions – 11th Jan 2017
Corporation tax call sees Corbyn throw victory away
The first Prime Minister’s Questions of the New Year saw Jeremy Corbyn begin on comfortable ground. He started with condolences to a member of the armed forces, which quietly embarrassed Theresa May from the off as it is normally the PM who brings that up first in the early backbench questions.This is something David Cameron always did and for Theresa May to be doing it in response to the Leader of the Opposition is poor.
Unusually for Corbyn there were no surprises in the tack he took, straight on on the NHS problems which is one area he and Labour still have some strength in the public mind. He raised the Red Cross claim that what has happened is a ‘Humanitarian Crisis.’ May responded the Red Cross claim was ‘irresponsible and overblown.’ Corbyn the backed up with quotes from the BMA and Royal college of Nurses. May began waffling about the ‘hard work of medical professionals’ as means of diverting from the issue.
Corbyn accused May of being in denial and then raised a real life scenario of ‘Sian’ who had clearly written to him. In the David Cameron days this would bring huge groans from the Tory benches and his case would normally fall apart, it is a nod to how strongly Corbyn had started that this was not the case. May’s response of ‘I accept there have been a small number of cases’ by contrast were met by groans of derision from the Labour benches. Corbyn mocked the ‘shared society’ with more sharing trolleys, corridors etc. Corbyn at this point was on top. It was good stuff.
The turning point was Corbyn mentioning May’s focus on mental health and welcoming that. Not the ting to do when you are on top. He talked about an increase in mental health patients ‘having to go to A&E, May pointed out they should not be going to A&E, using a visit to an Aldershot Hospital and the importance of appropriate care for the individual. On this she spoke with passion and conviction, then Corbyn agreed these people should not be going to A&E after first saying they were forced to.The shambolic Corbyn of the last day or two was back.
May re-iterated the point ‘He may find it difficult to believe people may say the same thing they aid a few weeks ago.’ Poking fun at yesterday’s series at U-Turns. She then resorted to an old David Cameron tactic, that you can’t have a strong NHS without a strong economy. Corbyn then showed his weakness and fell into the trap, calling for Corporation tax cuts that have been shown to bring in more money to be scrapped. May pointed out he has spent that money that would immediately be saved eight times over, weakening the economy in the process.’The last thing the NHS needs is a cheque from Labour that bounces’ After a poor start enough to leave the Tory benches cheering at the end of the exchange, a score draw today that tells us Corbyn can score on the small picture, but May wins on the big picture.
Outside of the May v Corbyn exchange
SNP Leader Angus Robertson brought up the Northern Ireland crisis to call for Article 50 to be delayed, raising derision from both sides of the House. This was rebuffed by May who stated the plan to invoke Article 50 by March is still on course. Norman Lamb (Lib Dem MP for North Norfolk) stated MP’s from all parties had come together to call for a Health convention and wanted May to meet with them, she stated she would.John Woodcock (Lab MP for Barrow In Furness) raised the special NHS service issues due to remote locations in Cumbria. Caroline Johnson (Con MP for Sleaford & N Hykeham) got to ask her first questions since her by election win, raising her local NHS (She was a doctor prior to becoming an MP.) Gavin Robinson (DUP MP for East Belfast) Praised May’s considered response to the Northern Ireland issue. Finally in the will anyone get told off by the Speaker this week watch, John Bercow reprimanded Paula Sheriff (MP for Dewesbury) for poor behaviour.
MOON OF LIBERTY VERDICT – Thresea May 2 Jeremy Corbyn 2 – A PMQ’s of two halves, Corbyn took the first half, May the second