Storms. Floods. Migrants. Perhaps even floods of migrants, storms over migrants, or maybe a little Sturm und Drang as light relief. The potential topics for today’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) ranged from A right through to B. But here on Zelo Street there is always plenty to mull over, even from the most monochrome of Q&A: welcome to the first Itch-A-Sketch.
Young Dave opened the batting with a deserved tribute to Labour MP Paul Goggins, and was handed a suitably grovelling question from Simon Burns. This was not to continue, as Mil The Younger, flanked by “Auguste” Balls and wife Yvette Cooper, sent down a straight one on floods and storms. Cameron let the House know that the emergency services were doing jolly well.
Miliband switched to the iffy response of the power distribution companies. This was built into a flood defence googly. Cameron remained assured and firm, assisted by another easy one from his own side. It was all going wonderfully well, and if it wasn’t, it was all Labour’s fault. But then came the Miliband wrong ‘un: fixed odds betting terminals. Dave said these were also Labour’s fault.
A pattern emerged: anyone from his own side, however critical, made an excellent point. The Government should hold to its course. The rotten lot opposite wanted to take us back to 2010. The film Back To The Future was invoked. When this failed to quieten the opposition benches, they were held to be in denial. Dennis Skinner, for one, was unimpressed, and continued to practice his stand-ups.
The touchy issue of migrants was skirted around: Cameron deflected onto those from outside the EU, flannelled expertly about education and encouraging people into work, that tried and trusted code for welfare cuts, which was underscored with the key phrase “hard choices” in case anyone were unsure as to what he was driving at. But what of those foreigners who come here with their global corporates?
Blaenau Gwent MP Nick Smith reminded Dave that he had been damn sure to make them cough out rather more in tax. They had if anything paid even less than before. This was batted aside onto the G8, as if they have anything to do with the subject. But one subject not ducked, to his credit, was climate change, with Cameron leaning towards accepting its contribution to the storms. Well done Tim Farron.
All that remained was for the PM to retain his sense of humour as Glaswegian MP Ian Davidson called him a “home counties toff”, even if he did have a nice haircut. No mention of the Cameron hairdresser getting a gong was allowed in, as he honourably conceded that, for those north of the border, he might not be the best advocate for the Scottish Referendum “No” campaign. And that was that.
It was indeed a little monochrome. But, for Young Dave, a successful half hour.