Conservatives should be in despair this week after David Cameron failed to answer concerns raised about cuts to tax credits – despite having a week to think about the issue.
All he could do was stutter about irrelevances and quote Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn out of context.
In Prime Minister’s Questions today, Mr Corbyn returned to the attack over the cuts – which will make three million families £1,300 a year worse off, on average.
“Last week I asked the prime minister the same question six times and he couldn’t answer,” said Mr Corbyn. “He’s now had a week to think about it. I want to ask him one more time. Can he guarantee that next April, nobody will be worse off from cuts to tax credits?”
Cameron’s response was a stutter. He tried to recover by reeling off his ‘comfort’ statistics: “£11,000 personal allowance… national living wage at £7.20… ” (We all know that the real Living Wage is currently £8.25 per hour – £9.40 per hour if you’re in London). Then he admitted: “We suffered the defeat in the House of Lords; we’ve taken the proposals away, we’re looking at them, we’ll come back with new proposals in the Autumn Statement.” And he ended with a jibe at Corbyn which is not worth publishing here but which got a response from the braying idiots behind him.
“This is not funny for people who are desperately worried about what’s going to happen next April,” countered Corbyn.
So Cameron tried to recover by changing the subject: “If we don’t reform welfare, how are we going to fund the police service… the defence service? If you listened to him, you’d still have families in London getting £100,000 a year in housing benefit,” he said, referring to Coalition Government changes to housing benefit rules that were supported by the Labour Party at the time, and therefore undermining his own point.
Corbyn was not to be deterred. He referred to a veteran of the first Gulf War, who is likely to lose £2,000 per year – more than the average – due to Cameron’s cut: “Is this how the government treats veterans of the Armed Services?”
All Cameron could do was serve up a poorly-reheated quote, off-subject and out of context: “That serving soldier is dealing with a Leader of the Opposition who said he couldn’t find any use for the armed forces, anywhere, at any time.”
This refers to a comment by Mr Corbyn during a Labour leadership hustings on Sky TV, in which he said the UK’s armed forces were overextending themselves by taking on foreign adventures as desired by Cameron. While he said he could not – on the spot – think of any reason to deploy the forces overseas, he qualified this by saying he knew there must be good reasons for doing so.
The result: Cameron out of his comfort zone, Corbyn victorious.
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