Have you noticed the temperature? It’s got weirdly balmy all of a sudden. And the forecasters are predicting a spell of bikini weather over the festive period. By Boxing Day, we’ll be tippling iced cocktails to take the edge off the muggy gusts breezing up from the tropics. This is bad news for the energy companies. And it’s even worse for Labour MPs who love a winter breakdown in the NHS. The party’s crisis-profiteers are praying for icy blizzards and vicious gales chiselling down from the frozen north.
They were hard at it today. Jeremy Corbyn assumed a gloating tone when he asked Mrs May about underfunding, missed targets and other symptoms of ‘the crisis’. ‘Let me tell you what’s happening in the health service,’ said the prime minister. ‘Chaos,’ shouted Labour. ‘Chaos! chaos’. They chanted ‘Chaos’ as if he were a goal-scoring Brazilian legend dribbling past the keeper ready to fire the ball into the net.
The truth is that Labour watches the NHS like a hyena stalking a sick wildebeest. They want decay. They want disease and disaster. They want epidemics spreading across the land because these calamities win them support and secure their parliamentary incomes. It’s rather shameful to see them cheering for ‘Chaos!’ on afternoon television.
Mrs May quoted statistics suggesting that more patients than ever are being treated on the health service. And she hoodwinked her opponent by claiming that he’d mentioned Labour’s efforts in government, (he hadn’t), and she offered an anonymous quote.
‘Labour’s legacy on health,’ she said, ‘was described as a mess.’ ‘Who said that?’ she wondered airily. ‘It was the right honourable gentleman!’
Jeremy Corbyn was wrong-footed but he came straight back with a damaging quote of his own:
‘If government wants to reduce pressures on the health service it needs to tackle chronic underfunding.’
Who said that? Surely not Theresa May? How humiliating.
No actually, said Mr Corbyn, it was a Tory member of Warwickshire council.
Labour groaned. The Tories chortled. Mrs May joined in the laughter. And she did that jiggly thing with her shoulders while tossing her head back. Not wise. It makes her look scornful not jovial.
Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan called on Mrs May to end the tragedy of child vagrancy in winter. It’s a good question. And it makes one wonder how many starving urchins Ms Allin-Khan will ask to dinner over the coming week. There’s no shortage of hungry candidates, as the member herself made clear. ‘Two and a half thousand children, yes, children, will wake up homeless on Christmas Day,’ she sorrowed. Mrs May rebuked her for suggesting that children are left to sprawl in frosty gutters, begging for help, over the holiday. Ms Allin-Khan yelled angrily back when the PM said that even children who are technically ‘homeless’ are fed and housed at Christmas. Ms Allin-Khan seemed oddly disappointed.
The SNP’s Ian Blackford asked Mrs May about RBS branch closures in Scotland. He asked her twice. He got the same reply twice. He asked the same question last week too. And he got the same reply. That’s four times. The privilege of interrogating the executive should be used more productively. And Mr Blackford is motivated by pique rather than by policy. He always demands, in shrill and bitter tones, that Mrs May drag the RBS chief into Downing Street and scream at him for several minutes in a large room. This approach reflects badly on the SNP which seems less a political movement and more a coven of hysterical exhibitionists.