Did an element of end-of-term fever enter into the last weekly clash of UK political party leaders of 2020? One would assume so, from the quality of this exchange.
It seems Keir Starmer was hoping to get one over on Boris Johnson with his final submission to yesterday’s (December 16) Prime Minister’s Questions. He said:
This is the last PMQs of the year, and I for one often wonder where the Prime Minister gets his advice from.
Well, now I know, because I have here the official newsletter of the Wellingborough Conservative party. It is not on everyone’s Christmas reading list, but it is a fascinating read, because it gives a lot of advice to wannabe politicians.
It says this: “Say the first thing that comes into your head… It’ll probably be nonsense… You may get a bad headline… but… If you make enough dubious claims, fast enough, you can get away with it.”
The December edition includes the advice: “Sometimes, it is better to give the WRONG answer at the RIGHT time, than the RIGHT answer at the WRONG time.”
So my final question to the Prime Minister is this: is he the inspiration for the newsletter, or is he the author?
As attempted put-downs go, you have to agree that it wasn’t bad.
Sadly for Starmer, Johnson’s retort was better:
I think what the people of this country would love to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman in this season of good will is any kind of point of view at all on some of the key issues.
This week, he could not make up his mind whether it was right for kids to be in school or not, and havering [whatever that means] completely.
He could not make up his mind last week whether or not to support what the Government were doing to fight covid, and told his troops, heroically, to abstain.
He could not make up his mind about Brexit, we all seem to remember.
We do not know whether he will vote for a deal or not.
He cannot attack the Government if he cannot come up with a view of his own.
In the words of the song, “All I want for Christmas is” a view, and it would be wonderful if he could produce one.
Alas, we all know – thanks to the diktats released by Starmer’s (acting) general secretary David Evans – that the Labour Party is now not allowed to have any views on anything at all, for fear of offending the legions of ‘snowflakes’ covering the UK (even in this, so far, mild winter).
Starmer was defeated. The loss will be all the more galling to him because Jeremy Corbyn was never so soundly thrashed by either Theresa May or the current incumbent.
And Johnson will go to his Christmas break happy to have won that round of the regular battle of wits.
But then, given the quality of the participants, it would be more accurate to describe it as a battle of halfwits.
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