Corbyn was back on drone duty at PMQs. He monotoned his way through six questions about NHS funding and gave the impression that a winter crisis would really make his Christmas. Ed Miliband had the same habit of suggesting that only mass-death could save him. Semi-comatose Corbs remained on ‘stand-by mode’ throughout. He didn’t react even when the Tories pounced on an unforced gaffe. As he offered his Christmas greetings to the nation, the Labour leader mentioned Britain’s very own space daredevil, Tim Peake, – ‘who is not on the planet.’
‘Nor are you,’ hooted the Tories.
Angus Robertson of the SNP asked David Cameron for ‘guarantees’ that Scotland won’t be ‘forced out of the EU by the rest of the United Kingdom’. Very bizarre. Amply proportioned Mr Robertson must be such a busy trencherman that he hasn’t found time to apply logic to the contents of his fluffy skull. His entire political life has been devoted to fighting and winning a vote on national secession. Today he pre-denounced the outcome of a vote on national secession. Whoever pays his salary is being swindled. What does he really want? Either an end to all referendums. Or a hokey-cokey Britain (in-out, in-out) with some bits of the patchwork loyal to Brussels and others not.
Tulip Siddiq had an idea. Let’s slap an exclusion order on Donald Trump, the billionaire hate-preacher and man-about-town, for mentioning the incompatibility of Islam and the US. Cameron raced towards the high ground. He wants Trump and his flying wig to come over here pronto so that Brits can ‘unite against’ (i.e. show our moral superiority to) him and his hick-town views. Long ago, Downing Street refrained from commenting on American election campaigns. But today’s freak-show culture ensures that any nylon-haired loon in need of a global profile can elicit a statement from the prime minister. The Donald must be thrilled.
Douglas Carswell stood up in a prickly silence and asked if social and employment regulations were still part of the EU renegotiation charade. The mood of the chamber – tense, simmering, embarrassed – gave the impression that Carswell was some kind of barmy loner reciting a nursery rhyme in a foreign language. He may lack friends in parliament but he’s got 3.8m supporters elsewhere. Yet the head of this vast throng received a smirky brush-off from the prime minister. Carswell, quipped Cameron, joined a Tory party that didn’t want a referendum and abandoned one that did.
A question from Cockermouth’s MP revealed that flood-victims are being asked to pay the excess on their contracts before the insurer resolves their claim. Some house-holders chose an excess of ten thousand quid. Cameron seemed suitably shocked by this and promised to help those with inadequate cover. Which is a bit back-to-front. For scrimping on your insurance you’ll get royal treatment. For wisely buying full provision you’ll pay, through your taxes, to subsidise your silly-billy neighbours. The Lake District doesn’t need subsidy but comprehension lessons. Lesson One. ‘Lake.’ A mono-syllable referring to a shallow crater in the earth’s surface containing a cold, wet fluidy substance which is apt to breach its boundaries during rainfall. Not hard really.