By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
After watching 20-year-old Mhairi Black’s maiden speech, when she showed how a young politician should conduct oneself, in a non-precocious or cringe worthy way(William Hague take note) I settled down to the last PMQs until after the summer recess.
I hoped that established politicians had seen her speech and a breath of fresh air had blown through politics, which would enlighten me. Obviously they didn’t and I wasn’t.
Harriet Harman, who was cheered by the Tory side, decided to attack the PM on the changes to tax credits in the recent budget, even though she ordered Labour MPs not to block the Tory welfare bill, and supports the two-child tax credit limit.
She yelled at Cameron that the Institute of Fiscal Studies had said millions would be worse off with the planned changes, it was “arithmetically impossible,” that the new national living wage could make-up for the cuts to tax credits.
I doubt I’m alone in being slightly confused, if the interim leader isn’t sure what she stands for, what are us mere mortals supposed to make of it all? Call me cynical (I am, it’s fine) but it looked like she wanted to throw her weight around a bit to show her MPs she was still a street fighting socialist. She even hit back with, “I don’t need to be patronised about the minimum wage: we introduced it.” It was reminiscent of a factory owner who makes someone redundant, but gives them a tenner on the way out to drown their sorrows.
Even for ardent Labour supporters, there appears to be mixed messages. Anyway, once that issue wasn’t resolved, Harman had a go at Cameron’s plans to change funding from the Unions to Labour and limit their ability to strike (any links to the just announced testing of water cannons remains strictly fanciful)
The problem is both major parties believe they have the majority of the population supporting them. It is hard to tell – they could conduct a poll, which clearly don’t work anymore (if they ever did) or maybe a referendum, which can easily be ignored anyway, the Greeks Trojan horse “gift” of a vote, being a pretty solid example.
Cameron did admit the claimant count had gone up, but he said it was still the lowest since 1975 (under a Labour Government, which he didn’t bother to mention). However, neutering the Unions and rising unemployment aside, his real problem, as night follows day, was Europe.
Harman pressed him to discuss how we would help Greece, he said the problem should “be sorted by the Eurozone and we are not in it,” to a huge cheer from behind him. The idea of lazy feckless Greeks getting their hands on our money, is deeply worrying to the Tories (and probably beyond, to be fair). You could feel the sense of relief from the Conservative backbenchers, but it won’t be for long, as £1bn of UK money has been requested to bailout Greece from a different pot of money, legally accessible, I see trouble ahead.
Right at the death Michael Meacher, Lab, demanded to know why the economy was actually stalling, not growing as we are lead to believe. The PM stood up and said “two words, Gordon Brown”. Still blaming the bogeyman for causing your nightmares, even a three-year-old Mhairi Black wouldn’t have resorted to that.
Sycophantic question of the day
Weirdly from me, after writing on Twitter, “When I was 20, I drank a pint of Vodka in one go & spent two days in hospital. Please kids don’t copy me and be like @MhairiBlack.”