By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
It’s almost the same amount of time between the start of Sepp Blatter’s presidency of FIFA and the last majority Tory Government. Then the football dictator stepped down the day before the first pure-blooded Conservative PMQs, some coincidence surely? “Wow, they made Michael Gove Justice Secretary? I can’t compete with that level of malevolence,” he was heard to say, as he handed himself into the Feds.
When they were last in power people sent text messages to each other to ignore politics, now they have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Grindr/Tinder (delete as your sexual preference allows), Instragram etc etc – The Ketamine of the masses. Just the tonic needed for next few years of increased austerity.
As the “natural party of Government” it must feel good to be back in their rightful place, however, not everybody in the chamber looked comfortable today. Leadership contender Mary Creagh, Lab, (who I hear you ask? Don’t worry, you are in good company, Andrew Neil presenter of the Daily Politics didn’t know how to pronounce her name last week) sat directly behind Harriet Harman and watched the interim leader fudge her lines, fail to land any blows and generally resemble a primary school supply teacher with a migraine.
To begin with Mary gave a knowing look, as if she could do a better job. However, that seemed to rapidly change as her original confidence turned to fear. I think it finally dawned on Mary that she either didn’t want the job or realised she couldn’t do it any better, if I had to hazard a guess, it would be a bit of both. On the opposite benches, sat behind the real PM, sat the “real” Grant Shapps. I wonder who he was imagining he was?
The Tories have their majority, so I assumed they might have decided to spare us the “long term economic plan,” they had rolled out more times than cheese down a Gloucestershire hill-side, but no such luck. At the 25 minutes spot Cameron dug the phrase back up and threw the rotting flesh at us.
But, if you actually wanted to know what happened during PMQs, here goes…the PM didn’t answer any questions, he didn’t rule out disability cuts and took the higher ground on home ownership over Labour, even though it went down during the last parliament.
Harman did manage to tell the PM that he can’t blame Labour for any failings from now on, it was on his watch, but he stood up, refuted that and said they “were still clearing up the mess they left behind”. So for the next five years he intends to blame everything that goes wrong on the Blair/Brown Government, that’s seems fair doesn’t it?
As ever the PM turned the session into shadow PM questions and asked Harman if she supported the £23k welfare cap, until the Speaker interjected and reminded him she couldn’t answer any more questions. There were no sign of any Liberal questions or indeed Liberals in the chamber, but there were heartfelt statements from all sides of the house for Charles Kennedy, following PMQs.
The only light relief came from a question from newly elected Cat Smith, Lab who asked when the UK plans to get its AAA credit rating back. Cameron urged Ms Smith to “throw your hat in the ring”, into the leadership contest adding, “In that one question she’s made more sense than all the rest of them put together.” He didn’t answer the question of course, but at least he raised a smile. The question of who will be next Labour leader will leave the Tories laughing all the way to the publically bailed-out bank.
Sycophantic question of the day
Alec Shelbrooke, Con, who revelled in his own “blue collar conservativism”, and said his party will achieve “lower tax, highest possible minimum wage for a true one nation government”.
He appeared to be riding on the back of the Twitter hash tag #workingclasstory. We will have to see whether Cameron is the goose that lays them the golden egg, or they become poultry at the festive ballot box.
Charles Kennedy’s ideals: he opposed the Iraq war and the coalition. Imagine how different the world would be if we had followed his principled stand.