Parliamentary Sketch

PMQs 23rd November – I’ll show you all my assets…just be patient 

The NHS is in a mess. Doctors say it. The BMA says it. Journalists say it. And most importantly patients say it. The only people who don’t say it are the Tory government.

During today’s PMQs Corbyn made another telling performance, attacking May on the health service, and the “post-truths” her party has made up about it.

May said there was £10bn extra funding for the NHS but that figure has been questioned by the UK Statistics Authority, and the Health Select Committee said it’s only £4.5bn. Who do you really believe?

Corbyn demanded to know why the PM has focused so much on health tourism, which is one hundredth less than the figure of planned Tory cuts. Also why did Simon Stevens Chief Exec of NHS England say that spending per person will be cut for the first time ever in this country.

The simple answer is the NHS is failing and Richard Branson chips away another piece at every opportunity. Of course she didn’t admit this; May was left resorting to Labour’s failures over care for the elderly. Give it a break, Theresa, Labour governments were a LONG time ago now. She started her attack by mentioning a Green Paper from 1997, and suddenly I, and I think everyone else watching, suddenly felt old. I still think 1997 was only a few years ago…but it really isn’t.

After Corbyn sat down, another job well done from his point of view, the majority of the rest of PMQs were planted Tory questions about what was going to be discussed in the autumn statement that followed. To each question she gave a wry smile and said “be patient it will all be revealed soon.” It reminded me of the ten-minute teaser adult channel shows, my “mates” told me about, back when I was a teenager, weirdly around 1997. Spooky. You would have been very disappointed if you subscribed for a month and up popped glum Philipp Hammond, but that’s what we got today, for nowt.

He promised billions for high tech R & D for the “future high skills economy.” This is great, but these companies tend to only employ a few geniuses (a high proportion of foreign talent) and are hardly going to recruit the “left behinds,” in fact they are likely to be developing ways to get as many machines to do the jobs of mere drones (we used to call them humans), but it sounds nice and digitally futuristic, so I nodded along.

The Chancellor summed up the backward nature of the Tory Government by telling the house he was abolishing the Autumn statement, from next year there would be an Autumn budget and a Spring statement instead, and he looked surprised when the opposition benches reacted with mocking laughter.

The strangest part of his statement was right at the end, where Philip Hammond talked about money for a private house. Couldn’t be Liz’s house, we own that apparently, but instead £7.6 million for Wentworth Woodhouse (a giant stately home). It appeared he pledged this money mainly just to have a go at Labour’s coal mining developments in 1945 (they dug up the gardens to get the coal), which seems a bit petty and is actually quite a lot of money just to make a point, bit like the £10bn for the NHS.

Sycophantic question of the day

Definitely not the various planted questions regarding the autumn statement, that has made me feel quite queasy ever since.


Corbyn, again weirdly.

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