Tag Archives: PMQs

PMQs: Starmer misses Johnson’s gaping-open goal, allowing the Tory to make a fool of him

Johnson and Starmer: we have a PM for whom the initials more appropriately refer to him as a Performing Monkey, but the ‘forensic’ former Attorney General is incapable of beating him, despite his incompetence.

Keir Starmer’s protestations of support for Tory government anti-Covid policies came back to bite him on the arse in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Two weeks after supporting the government in its decision to close pubs at 10pm, Starmer u-turned, demanding an explanation of the science behind it. He gave Johnson a perfect opportunity to land a knockout blow – and launch a new anti-Labour soundbite:

I was dismayed:

Sadly, that was the way of it for the whole of this week’s PMQs – as I had feared at the outset:

Look at the rest of my commentary on the confrontation:

He didn’t. But Johnson picked up on that failure and it led to the knockout later on.

As I write this, Jo Coburn on the BBC’s Politics Live is suggesting to Labour’s Stephen Doughty that Starmer wrote Johnson “a blank cheque” by offering his support “whatever restrictions are in place”.

That failure – that lack of closure – seems to have given Johnson the confidence to launch his own attack.

I could have done better:

Starmer is under attack at the moment, for his failures to lead an effective Opposition against the Johnson government.

On Twitter, the general public are at each other’s throats with many attacking him under the #StarmerOut hashtag, while others have tried to subvert that with an opposing line, #StarmerOutstanding.

In the real world, the union Unite has withdrawn 10 per cent of its funding because Starmer “isn’t listening” on matters of major importance (I’ll make more of this in a separate article).

If he can’t respond to these criticisms – as he failed to protect himself from Johnson soundbiting him into shreds – then he must seriously reconsider his position.

He is leading Labour into irrelevance.

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Peston’s client journalism: his fawning tweet about ‘saddened’ Johnson gets short shrift

Johnson and Starmer: political hack Robert Peston managed to get between them during PMQs with an ill-judged remark that has singled him out as a client journalist for the PM.

Sometimes you can tell how a nation feels by the way it reacts to the reporting of the news.

That’s what Robert Peston has been discovering after a particularly ill-advised tweet toadying to Boris Johnson. Here it is:

Johnson wasn’t saddened. He was annoyed that Labour leader Keir Starmer was asking pertinent questions about the failure of the Tory Test and Trace system and was desperate to deflect attention away from that failure.

We all saw it – those of us who were watching Prime Minister’s Questions. And some of us had a few sharp responses:

No – it’s client journalism. Peston was working in Johnson’s favour, trying to make the performing monkey PM look better than he is.

It’s a moment’s work that has been particularly damaging for Peston himself:

And it hasn’t done Johnson any favours either:

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‘Desperate’? Boris Johnson is clutching at straws as his party loses faith

Impotent rage: Boris Johnson is losing his grip on his party, as his incompetence as a leader becomes increasingly apparent.

Remember the old adage that repeating an action and expecting a different result is a sign of madness? It seems Boris Johnson hasn’t.

But then we already knew his grip on reality is tenuous at best.

The Observer is reporting that he is furious at the failure of his attempt to smear Labour leader Keir Starmer by connecting him with the IRA.

But rather than finding an alternative, he has instead reprimanded his advisers for leaving him under-prepared – and demanded more attack lines on Starmer, doubling down on criticism of his legal record.

It hasn’t worked; it won’t work.

Even where Starmer may be criticised, he knows those weaknesses and will have answers.

And of course Johnson will be laying himself open to analysis of his own past career – which consists of multiple claims of dishonesty and at least one high-profile sacking.

That won’t play well when he lays himself open to an airing of his faults at PMQs.

Meanwhile, his colleagues in the Conservative Party will be doing what they always do when they see a leader sinking; they’re sharpening their knives. Here’s The Observer:

There is evidence that the wider Tory party is losing faith in Johnson’s ability to lead them against Starmer – and signs that the chancellor Rishi Sunak has become the new favourite of the Conservative grassroots.

According to the latest survey of Tory members by ConservativeHome, the website for party activists, Johnson is now in the bottom third of cabinet ministers in the satisfaction ratings – having been the runaway leader nine months ago.

Johnson has slumped to 19th place, below Baroness Evans, the leader of the House of Lords, with a rating of plus 24.6%. Sunak meanwhile is out in front on plus 82.5%.

The verdict among the Twitterati is that Johnson is self-destructing:

You get the idea.

Who said Johnson would be gone by Christmas?

It seems likely he might be out a lot sooner.

Source: Desperate Boris Johnson to step up personal attacks on Keir Starmer | Politics | The Guardian

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PMQs: here’s how Badmouther Boris got from his exams failure to accusing Keir Starmer of IRA sympathy

Johnson v Starmer: in the PMQs battle-of-words, Starmer came out the clear winner against a prime minister that didn’t seem to know what question he was being asked to answer – let alone how to do it.

Prime ministerial failure Boris Johnson showed us all he had no answers about the ‘A’ level results scandal when he wandered off in the middle of PMQs and started accusing Keir Starmer of sympathising with the IRA – by proxy.

The Labour leader had asked a reasonable question – when did Johnson know that there was a problem with the algorithm used by Ofqual and the Department for Education to produce results, as exams hadn’t taken place?

Johnson’s response was not only an insult to everybody whose results were tainted by the system that upgraded private school pupils and marked down those at state schools – it was a direct attack on Starmer, with no reason.

He was clearly off-balance; he did not know what to say about the exams fiasco – so he groped for an attack on the Labour leader that he (or more likely his team) had clearly prepared in advance.

See for yourself:

This is Johnson’s tactic, it seems: if he’s asked a tricky question, he’ll throw a dead cat on the table.

The barb about supporting the IRA had nothing to do with anything at all – particularly not Keir Starmer who, as he said, prosecuted many terrorists in his former role as a lawyer and as Director of Public Prosecutions.

It was simply a means of distracting attention away from the fact that his government failed ‘A’ level students across the country and he did not have an excuse.

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What was the object Boris Johnson had in his ear during Prime Minister’s Questions?

The offending article: it isn’t a shadow – it’s a device. Was somebody feeding Boris Johnson answers via this earphone [Image from the eagle-eyed Skwawkbox]?

Was Boris Johnson wearing an earphone in his right ear during Prime Minister’s Questions today (June 3)?

If so, who was on the other end and what were they saying to him?

Mechanical aids are forbidden to the PM when he is taking his questions from other members of Parliament. He is expected to be fully briefed before he enters the Commons Chamber – not while proceedings are taking place.

The people of the UK should certainly expect the Speaker’s Office to carry out an investigation into the nature of the device and the purpose to which it was put.

If Johnson needed help, then it shows he isn’t even capable of carrying out the most basic duties of a prime minister.

In that case, it will be time for a vote of ‘no confidence’.

Source: Breaking: Johnson caught using ‘earpiece’ in PMQs – SKWAWKBOX

UPDATE: Skwawkbox is now showing video evidence which suggests Johnson was not wearing a device in his ear. It seems the appearance of a dark object in his right ear, in the image above, is only indicative of the void between it and his left ear after all. But what do you think?

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Tory MPs share doctored video of Starmer in abortive smear attempt

Here’s another tweet by ‘Mad Nad’ Nadine Dorries – which she could now more accurately use to describe herself.

Health minister Nadine Dorries, former Tory vice-chair Maria Caulfield and Lucy Allan have made an abortive attempt to discredit Labour leader Keir Starmer by sharing a misleading video created by far-right activists.

They quote-tweeted a video post that claimed to show Starmer explaining “why he didn’t prosecute grooming gangs”, when in fact he was explaining why he implemented reforms as the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A Labour source said: “This is a doctored video tweeted by far-right social media account. As a government minister, we hope Nadine Dorries acknowledges this and takes it down.”

Dorries and Allan have now deleted their posts, while Caulfield has deleted her Twitter account.

But the real question is how the three Tory MPs obtained the video in the first place: the original Twitter user – whose account is now deleted – has previously shared racist content.

The trio’s decision to post this anti-Starmer propaganda has been questioned by many on the social media, who point to the fact that the new Labour leader had just exposed false claims about Covid-19-related deaths in care homes by Boris Johnson:

(I think he means they’ll be asking anybody who retweeted their falsehood to retweet their apology.)

Perhaps more revealing is the fact that any reference to the prosecution of child grooming allegations in connection with Boris Johnson brings us back to his own – genuine – remarks, that the investigation into historical allegations of child abuse is “spaffing money up the wall” (an extremely unwise comment when one considers the meaning of the word “spaffing”):

So, while we wait for Mad Nad and Loathsome Lucy to delete their accounts, perhaps BoJob would like to explain why he wanted to stop investigations into child sexual abuse?

Source: Tory MPs share doctored video of Starmer promoted by far right – LabourList

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Coronavirus: Johnson is floundering toward lifting the lockdown too soon because he wants happy headlines

Boris Johnson: this is an old image but it perfectly sums up the character he displayed in Prime Minister’s Questions.

Let’s give Boris Johnson a new nickname. After his performance in Prime Minister’s Questions – and a recent viewing of a favourite comedy movie – This Writer believes he should be called Flounder.

I’m not saying that because he resembles the stupid-but-saveable character in the movie (the Parliamentary version of which would no doubt be entitled Animal House of Commons) – but because it’s how he spent his first session answer questions from Keir Starmer, the new Labour leader.

Starmer’s no silver-tongued sweet-talker; he’s a plodder. But he plodded rings round Flounder as the prime minister desperately sought an upside to the catalogue of catastrophes we know as his record of handling the coronavirus crisis.

Faced with the government’s failure to hit its target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day – and the obvious fact that the claim to have done so on April 30 was a lie, Flounder set a new target of 200,000 by the end of this month (while health secretary Matt Hancock blanched visibly behind him):

For clarity:

Latest figures show 69,463 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday, well short of the 100,000 benchmark.

The total was 84,806 up to 9am on Tuesday, 85,186 up to 9am on Monday and 76,496 up to 9am on Sunday.

Perhaps realising he had dug another ditch for himself to die in, Flounder latched on to the only other big question – when he is likely to lift the lockdown.

So he took a gamble and hinted that something might happen on Monday:

There’s only one problem with that: the figures suggest that it is far too early to even think of lifting the lockdown.

The UK is still experiencing more than 6,000 new coronavirus infections per day, along with more than 600 deaths. Those with the intelligence to understand what this means know perfectly well what lifting the lockdown will signify:

For clarity:

Suicide by the Tories, maybe.

For most of us, the victims of their policies, it will be mass murder.

Flounder will end up, as John Crace states in his Guardian commentary (that was overly obsequious to Starmer, in This Writer’s opinion), “with blood on his hands that no amount of washing for 20 seconds while singing Happy Birthday can get clean”.

Some might call it pointless death, but that would not be true.

If Flounder lifts the lockdown, and it triggers a second peak in coronavirus infections and deaths, it will happen for just one reason:

Boris Johnson was struggling, and thought he could help himself out with a happy headline.

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Corbyn humiliates Johnson over Greggs bonus – that might as well be a donation to the government

Remember the £300 bonus Greggs bakery was offering to staff?

The one that Ally Fogg on Twitter said might as well be a £7 million donation to the Treasury because most employees are on Universal Credit and the system will claw back the cash?

Jeremy Corbyn does.

Having researched the issue, he has worked out that most workers will retain only £75 – a quarter of the bonus. The rest will go to the Treasury.

So he took Boris Johnson to task over it in Prime Minister’s Questions on January 22:

All he got back – all we got – was more bluster and bumbling from an amateur politician who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It’s clear that the only people taking home more of our workers’ pay are in the Tory government.

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Prime Minister’s Questions with Mrs Mike

Dominic Raab: If he had heard some of the things Mrs Mike said about him while he was standing in for Boris Johnson at PMQs today, his ears may well have turned blue and fallen off.

Mrs Mike swears at politicians.

Admittedly, she only swears at them on the TV – she would never be so rude to their faces (except in certain extreme cases, or the case of certain extremists) – and mostly during Prime Minister’s Questions.

I’ve been looking for a way to share this with you for a considerable period of time – partly because I think the reaction of someone who isn’t a professional pundit may be informative – and finally wore her down with a promise to ‘bleep’ out some of the words she uses with appropriate sound effects.

Thus was born PMQs with Mrs Mike.

This is a pilot project; a first effort to see how it goes, if you like. It happened on a day when Boris Johnson was dodging the bullets, having arranged to make his speech to the Conservative conference at the same time like the coward he is.

Instead, Dominic Raab took the flak from my significant other. What follows is a selection of her output, taken from questions by backbenchers.

Here’s the clip:

Constructive criticism will be welcomed as I’m hoping to make this a regular occurrence.

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Tory double standards: Abuse them and the police are called – but they can abuse anyone freely

Pointing the finger: A Conservative MP shouts at Commons Speaker John Bercow during discussion of the Grieve Amendment.

Conservative MPs have been at their abusive worst in Parliament – heckling Speaker John Bercow over his decision to allow a vote on the so-called Grieve Amendment, and hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn, ironically as he called for a “safe space” from such behaviour during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The hypocrisy comes into sharp focus when one recalls that only two days before, Conservative MPs wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, demanding stronger policing of the area outside the Palace of Westminster to prevent abuse of the kind directed at Conservative MP Anna Soubry by (right-wing pro-Brexit) protesters on Monday.

Note that I put “right wing pro-Brexit” in parentheses because there seems to be a concerted effort to airbrush this fact out of the record, along with the abuse of left-wing journalist Owen Jones by the same people. We’ll come to that shortly.

First, let’s consider yesterday’s Parliamentary antics, starting with the Grieve Amendment. Tory backbencher and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve had proposed an amendment to legislation that gives the government 21 days to say what happens next if its Brexit deal is voted down, and a further seven sitting days (days in which Parliament is in session) in which to hold a vote.

The amendment reduces the time allowed before a statement is made to just three days. It isn’t binding, but it would be extremely damaging to Theresa May if she failed to do so.

MPs objected because they claimed the original legislation was unamendable. Mr Bercow held a different view:

Let’s see if I can dig out some examples of the behaviour he had to endure. Here’s Arj Singh:

That’s mild. Try this:

Mr Clarke’s reference was to the right-wingers who abused Ms Soubry and Mr Jones, and hints as to the attitudes he saw being expressed around him.

Then we had the hypocrisy of the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom:

Here’s the icing on this particularly rotten cake – the moment when Tory MP Adam Holloway accused Mr Bercow of trying to sabotage Brexit, claiming as evidence that the Speaker has a pro-Remain sticker on his car. The slapdown was brilliant:

https://twitter.com/SidUnite/status/1083002551493189637

It seems clear that the behaviour of these Conservatives lowered the tone of debate in the Commons and arguably harmed the reputation of Parliament itself – although some would say that this cannot happen as they have already damaged it irreparably:

The arguments over the Amendment were – sadly – only a sequel to a similar unseemly display during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn mentioned the intimidation of Ms Soubry and Mr Jones on Monday. The prime minister said politicians and the media should be able to go about their work without harassment and intimidation.

Sadly, her backbenchers did not pay any attention to her (perhaps cementing our opinion that she is no leader) and poured abuse at Mr Corbyn while he agreed with her. He said: “We also have to be clear that intimidation is wrong outside this building as it is wrong in any other aspect of life in this country, and we have to create a safe space for political debate.”

By this point, the level of heckling had reached a point beyond which he could not continue, so he pointed it out: “You see what I mean, Mr Speaker; I am calling for a safe space for political debate.”

The Tory perpetrators may have enjoyed themselves but the public drew the appropriate conclusions, as the following comments bear out:

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/1082976660322955264

And of course, that is what they have been trying to do.

Possibly worse than the habitually abusive behaviour of Tory MPs is the apparent attempt to pretend that the only person suffering abuse on College Green on Monday was Ms Soubry.

I myself was so surprised to see her mentioned on the BBC’s lunchtime Politics Live show – and not Owen Jones, who is a frequent panellist there – that I actually raised the matter with editor Rob Burley. Here’s the dialogue:

What do you think of that?

More concerning still were the efforts to mitigate the effect of Mr Burley’s choice – which was to play up the effect on Ms Soubry and play down that on Mr Jones – by members of the public. Here’s one such comment:

Owen Jones himself put that comment in its place, in a response to information from Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick that – as with the BBC – attempted to excise the abuse of Mr Jones from the record:

Left-wing members of the public have made it clear that they are not going to accept this kind of misreporting from the mainstream media:

If you are confused as to the reason television news reporters have tried to play down the targeting of people who represent the Left by people who are for all intents and purposes fascists, I refer you to this perceptive comment by Mr Jones, that makes it clear that the mainstream media have legitimised it:

The attitudes we have seen are sickening: Right-wing MPs have shown they are happy to abuse others before TV cameras in the Palace of Westminster, while decrying the same behaviour against their own by members of the public who were filmed on mobile phones, as their cronies in the mass media do their best to make it seem that they are the victims – when in fact they have stoked the extreme attitudes that lead to such abuse, threatening behaviour and, ultimately, violence.

These are our elected representatives but if this is how they conduct themselves, they do not represent me. We must demand better.

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