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Coffee House

PMQs sketch: Was Carswell right all along?

3 September 2014

5:34 PM

3 September 2014

5:34 PM

Calamities crowd in every side. Nuclear-armed Russia is already waging war with Europe, according to our NATO ally, Lithuania. At home, Douglas Carswell’s defection threatens to rob the Tories of power. Yet these crises were barely mentioned at PMQs.

One source of international conflict has been resolved, at last.

Is the name Islamic State? Or is it ISIS? Or is it IS? Or is it Isil?

Isil it is. Both leaders used that term today as they condemned the latest savageries. Cameron made a vague attempt at karaoke Churchill. And no one particularly minded that it wasn’t up to much.

‘A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers … Our opposition to Isil will continue, at home and abroad. … We will not waver in our aim of defeating terrorism.’

Miliband played the part of Attlee, offering his full support, and no doubt hoping that his impersonation will reach its historic destiny at the general election.

Asked a soft backbench question on EU membership, Cameron made an egregious blunder. But his knee-jerk correction may have got him out of trouble.

Cameron: ‘It’s vital we include the British people. And under my plans they will have the decisive stay – the decisive say – before the end of 2017.’

[Alt-Text]


Was Carswell right all along?

Rotherham spurred Diane Abbott into action. She got to her feet wearing a perilous, many-fronded hairpiece that looked as if it might leap down and give someone a nasty bite on the leg. She’s worried that the social services directors who failed Rotherham are now bringing their genius, and their standards, to other public bodies. She demanded that local authorities offer much tougher contracts to senior staff. (But why would they, when they recruit from within their own clan of municipal groupies?)

James Gray was on characteristic form. If this sonorous shiresman hasn’t yet been made a baronet then it’s high bloody time he was. With his kindly, stooping gait and his air of fatigued authority he recalls a Palmerstonian age when the Commons was the world’s parish council. Glancing down at a piece of parchment, he read through a checklist of international troubles, from Libya to Donetsk, and he asked that a ‘two-day debate’ be convened so as to give him to a chance to bring peace to the unfortunate races born across the English Channel.

Cameron said he’d do his best.

The revolt in Scotland prodded a few old wasps into life. Angus Robertson called the prime minister a chicken. In April, the PM had agreed to a TV debate with wavering Scots voters.

Robertson: ‘He’s running away.’

Cameron: ‘I offered them a date and a format. But the TV companies seem to have run away.’

‘Ooh!!’ mouthed Robertson, like a scandalised spinster.

Old Labour diehard Lindsay Roy, (in a weird truce with Cameron), expressed alarm at Alex Salmond’s threat to renege on Scotland’s debts. Cameron shared his anxiety with a single word.

‘Chilling.’

For once he didn’t mean watching House of Cards while Merloted to the gills. And he reminded us that the EU intends to blackball Scotland unless it achieves a currency union with sterling.

Which has been ruled out. So Free Scotland’s first act may be to render all its citizens stateless.

Well, now we know where to send the returning jihadis.

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