By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
On the surface, today’s PMQs was a battle over the NHS, the PM insisting a strong economy needs a good health service I’m not 100% convinced, Cuba has a pretty decent health service, but a dismal economy.
But this was all window dressing; this was a war from all sides to win the hearts of minds of the white van man. They have never had it so good. I half expect the Tories to enshrine a law, that we must conduct a minute’s applause in the street after a cry of “get your tits out love” is heard from a passing van.
Aside from Alan Johnson, Lab, delivering post, I can’t see many white van men (or women) in the chamber. On the Labour side their only brush with the once feared white van man would be to fix the AGA, on the Tory side they would merely be delivering the Osborne family wallpaper.
But it took Nadhim Zahawi, Con, to claim the white van man once and for all for the Tories, (I bet they will be overjoyed when they find out). Zahawi gallantly stood up, pulled his sword into the air and bellowed;
“When I see a white van, Mr Speaker, I think of the small business owner who works long hours to put food on the family table. When I see the cross of St. George, I think of the words of my constituent William Shakespeare (even with the extended 5 year parliament that’s preposterous) This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England!
Will my Rt. Hon friend agree with me that we shouldn’t sneer at people who work hard, who are patriotic, and who love their country?”
And with that the (Vauxhall) cavalier sat back into his saddle.
The PM looked across at the enemy, and said “I see the Shadow Attorney General isn’t here, she must be off taking pics of people’s homes. Modern Labour, who sneer at people who love their country.” CHARGE!
But the Labour defences held firm, there was even a rear guard attack: Jamie Reed, Lab, stood up and said, “When I see a white van I wonder if it would be my father or brother driving it?”
The Tories looked at each other, does their groundkeeper, pulling a horse box with a Range Rover count? It’s van-esque surely?
Cameron saw this as a chance to charm a potential deserter (in a huge role reversal for him) and asked Mr Reed to “walk across the floor and come over here, with the people who work hard”. If UKIP can do it so can he.
Like all civil wars there are different factions, Alan Reid, Lib, asked about Red van man (post office workers), a militant faction of drivers with union backing. The PM decided to back their struggle (for now), but they are expendable and can fall on their swords at a later date.
As the session was about to drop a gear, another Van faction parked-up on the lawn. Jason McCartney, Con, stood up to talk about “Movember”, sporting a handsome moustache and so was his neighbouring MP.
The PM said they looked like Cheech and Chong. The infamous drug runners in their Green Van. A green revolution perhaps?
But the man who probably has the backing of an increasing number of white van men, was about to speak. Mark Reckless, UKIP, stood up to heckles from all side, and slyly thanked the PM for visiting his constituency so many times and asked about a local hospital.
The PM sniped back blaming Mark for leaving for a party that wants to break up the NHS. It was reminiscent of an ex-partner, whose new relationship isn’t going well. “I told you she would put on weight.”
UK politics is becoming increasingly uneven, and there is no idea who is in the driving seat – certainly not white Cam man.
Sycophantic question of the day
More of a good set-up for the PM, when Andrew Turner, Con, asked ‘Does the Prime Minister’s believe that Tony Blair should get a global legacy award from Save The Children for taking us to war unnecessarily in Iraq?’
Cameron replied: ‘The remarkable thing about this award is that Tony Blair got it from someone who used to work for Gordon Brown. Obviously the person who gave the award knows about peace-making and peace-keeping.’
Definitely not George Osborne, who looked like he had been on an all night coke session with an escort, once bitten, twice shy?