Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you know it will be a bad day. Well today was one of those days for Theresa May.
On Wednesday 2 November, at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), the PM started by congratulating Jeremy Corbyn for the birth of his non-existent granddaughter.
The comment came after the Labour leader “welcomed” the news that one of his MPs – Conor McGinn – had delivered his own daughter at home. The PM then admitted she has completely missed the point and blamed her colleague Patrick McLoughlin for the wrong information.
Without realising it, May just admitted what we already knew about her – she doesn’t listen to Corbyn at PMQs.
After the laughter stopped Corbyn went on the attack and quizzed the PM over benefit cuts.
The Labour leader said that May’s pledge to help those who were “just managing” had proved to be “empty words”, and called for an end to “institutionalised barbarity” in the welfare system.
He also pointed out to a study that found a link between benefits sanctions and an increase in the use of food banks.
But then Corbyn invited the PM to go on a double date with her own Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green to see the new Ken Loach film – I, Daniel Blake.
“Can I recommend you support British cinema and take yourself along to the cinema to see a Palme d’Or winning film – I, Daniel Blake?
And while you’re doing so, perhaps you could take (Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green) with you, because he described the film as monstrously unfair – and then went on to admit he’d never seen it. So he’s obviously got a very fair sense of judgment on this.”
“But I’ll tell you what’s monstrously unfair – ex-servicemen like David Clapson dying without food in his home due to the Government’s sanctions regime.
It is time that we ended this institutionalised barbarity against often very vulnerable people.”
This was a brilliant attack form Corbyn on the true meaning of Tory austerity policies for millions of people in UK.
On the other hand, May’s answers were robotic at best. She could only reply with her usual weak line of attack against Labour:
“Of course it’s important that in our welfare system we ensure those who need the support the state is giving them through that benefits system are able to access that.
Now, you have a view that there should be no assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare. I have to say to you that the Labour Party is drifting away from the views of Labour voters. It’s this party that understands working-class people.”
But behind her, Tory MPs were wondering what have they done, putting “Theresa Mayhem” in No 10.
The PM never recovered from her mistake and was clearly not at her best today. As she sinks, Corbyn rises and that is becoming a problem for the Conservatives.
Corbyn finished with a dignified plea on behalf of parents who had difficulty affording funeral costs for children who die, and this prompted a consensual response from May, who said funding was already available.
The Shadow Education Secretary is right, there’s nothing else to do but to laugh:
#PMQs PM claiming the Tories are the workers party, I nearly fell off the bench laughing, they continually attack workers rights
— Angela Rayner MP (@AngelaRayner) November 2, 2016
Labour MP David Lammy is right, but will May do something about it?
1 million people reliant on foodbanks is a national scandal that shames us all. It's about time the Govnt acknowledged this and acted #PMQs
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) November 2, 2016
Clive Lewis perfectly summed-up Corbyn’s main point:
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) November 2, 2016
Overall it was a solid performance from Corbyn as his questions were all pertinent. Unfortunately, and as always, May had no answer to Corbyn’s serious questions on welfare cuts. All she managed to do was to congratulate Corbyn for the birth of his granddaughter, when he doesn’t have one.