Corybn gave his wettest ever performance at PMQs. The party leaders had different theories about the authorship of the floods. Corbyn blamed Cameron. Cameron blamed the weather. Rainfall, he explained, had wept from the heavens in such unheralded quantities that a record-breaking dip-stick had to be lowered into the bucket to assess its full volume. Corbyn wouldn’t have this. He said government scrimping was at fault.
He personified the issue with his usual set of hand-picked hankie-drenchers. He’d met a nice pair from Leeds, he said, called Chris and Victoria, whose holiday had been ruined by tides of sewage inundating their pressies. This prompted mystifying giggles from Tory backbenchers. Geography teacher Corbyn glared over his specs with his wintriest look. ‘It wasn’t very funny for them,’ he scolded, whiskers a-quiver. ‘This young couple lost many of their possessions: photos, children, toys.’ Yes, he said that. They lost their children.
Cameron threw up his usual billion-pound smoke-screen and claimed that an immeasurable plenitude of cash had already been spent on deluxe concrete embankments and top-dollar dykes. Corbyn pressed him on Leeds and asked if scaled-down flood schemes might be scaled back up again. Cameron dodged and weaved shamelessly. He tried to argue that a ‘strong economy’ is our best protection against future downpours.
Plodder Corbyn repeated the question three times. A cannier politician would have banked Cameron’s silence and demanded to know why Leeds was being abandoned to the rising floodwaters. But Corbyn seems to fight the Tories with rubber-tipped rapiers. (Perhaps he saves the best ammo for his own side). Today, he finished his flimsy interrogation with a gormless demand that Cameron adopt a ‘co-ordinated all-party approach’ to the floods. In other words, a seminar. In a swish hotel, no doubt, with nice views and a heated pool. What a bunch of do-nothings the Labour party are. There’s no crisis so desperate that it can’t be solved by a congregation of wind-bags making speeches over the snores of their dozing colleagues.
Shaven-headed crowd-pleaser, Nadhim Zahawi, asked a planted question that went slightly wrong. The Stratford MP likes to claim Shakespeare as ‘a constituent of mine’ but today he got rather over-excited and called him ‘the greatest living bard.’ The 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death will be marked with a refurbishment of his school-room. Zahawi issued an invitation to the country and even ‘the world’ to come and marvel at a replica of Shakespeare’s old desk. This gave Cameron the chance to read out a list of jokey titles for Corbyn’s reshuffle: Much Ado About Nothing. Love’s Labours Lost. And so on.
Wythenshawe MP Michael Kane wanted to know why the tarmac has yet to be ordered for Heathrow’s third runway. Trade with China depends on a swift decision, he said. Cameron replied with his favourite impersonation: the sincere environmentalist. He blamed the latest delay on worries about ‘air quality’ in west London. Everyone knows the hold-up is a fix aimed at buying the mayoralty for hereditary millionaire Zac Goldsmith. Maybe he meant heir quality.