Parliamentary Sketch

Parliamentary Sketch 21st Oct – Going out steeling with the Chinese

By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor

Today’s PMQs began with a quick guide to consumerism, Susan Elan Jones, Lab, asked why Sunday trading hours shouldn’t be extended: “What about families?” she asked despairingly.

The PM robustly replied: “This is about families.” Eh, no Dave, this is about consumer capitalism. He nearly wept when he discussed families who conduct the long march around department stores “for hours,” before they can pay for goods, bivouacking next to the Baskin Robbins concession and swapping stories of the 24 hour a day shopping they did in Dubai. These people are the modern day warrior class.

Corbyn attacked, well, in the same way a poodle attacks, and got his teeth into Cameron on tax credits and the PM’s promise he wouldn’t cut them. However, the shadow leader wasn’t getting anywhere. Cameron delivered the same old lines: “The best way to progress is to build a strong economy etc etc,” blithely ignoring the direct question as ever.

Then it was time to challenge Cameron on the UK steel industry, or lack of it, using an unnamed maintenance fitter from Scunthorpe and asked the PM “To walk the walk, not talk the talk.” Strong words from Jeremy – the equivalent of the Dalai Lama head-butting a child.

Corbyn read out a list of places being affected by the declining metal industry. He told the house about: “Scunthorpe, Wrexham, Motherwell, Rotherham, Redcar and Cambuslang.” You get the feeling the Tories looked at each other, shrugged and said “I care, why?”

The Labour benches became pretty animated during this line of questioning and the speaker jumped in and told Tom Blenkinsop, Lab, (MP for the area affected by steel job losses on Teesside), to behave like “a statesman-like person.” Blenkinsop is fighting tooth and nail for every job in his constituency, he doesn’t want to keep playing the violin as the ship goes down.

To add insult to injury, Cameron was going straight from PMQs to meet the Chinese delegation to beg them to build a nuclear white elephant. Consumer capitalism I can just about stomach, but fawning over an authoritarian state, who are destroying British jobs, I can’t. I can’t see how anybody can.

Maybe we could use some of that excess steel to give the PM a backbone.

Sycophantic question of the day

Almost David Burrowes, Con. He tried to take on Corbyn at his own game and used “Ian from Enfield said…” to huge cheers from the Tories, but he then let them down by asking a question about homelessness. You get the feeling the Tories wanted “Ian” to moan about, “5p carrier bags, green crap, swarms of immigrants…”


Tom Blenkinsop, Lab, a man of steel in a place that will never see it again.

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