Wednesday, July 09, 2014

PMQs 9th July: Sycophancy and sound = reshuffle.

Sycophancy, according to the Collins English Dictionary, has synonyms including obsequiousness, fawning, kowtowing, bootlicking and toadyism, not to mention grovelling and servility. Today, thanks to the Tory back benches in the House of Commons, it also has  volume control. Add the two together, mix in an imminent Cabinet reshuffle and welcome to Prime Ministers Questions.

The fact that there is anything going on in the world at all following last night’s Brazilian by Germany may come as a shock to football fans. But the prospect of promotion was clearly enough to focus the throats, if not the minds, of MPs still hoping for preferment.

With Dave apparently intending to wield the axe to this weekend, his side of the Commons was packed with those hoping for a chauffeur-driven. You would have thought the Prime Minister had come in twice by the sounds of support even before he opened his mouth. But in a chamber dotted with the remains of those for whom the future is already the past, any re-shuffle conjours up reminders.

First up was one time Environment Secretary Caroline Spellman who reminded all why she had been sacked by putting the words “welcome” and “German” into the same sentence. Today was not the day to suggest a sing along with the German parliamentary choir.

Speaker Bercow, whose chances of a Cameron Cabinet place are less than those of Ed Balls, was quickly in on the game. As he lined up the chancers, the no-hopers and the living dead to make their pitch, the present incumbents smiled manfully - and womanfully.

Theresa May, now required to make her way through the minefield that is historic child abuse, could at least be confident nobody wants her job. Next to her, the nervous tic that is the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt.

Whether he knows where to get Dave’s sandwiches, or something more serious, odds on he’ll still be there next week lip-synching the PM’s words.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, sometimes too gobby for Dave’s good, had the look of someone who expected to be up for be relocation. As indeed did Michael Gove who has apparently run out of people to be rude to in education and fancies new victims elsewhere.

Getting in what could be his last appearance as chief noddy dog, the inaptly named Leader of the House Andrew Lansley. He has been on death row since cocking up the NHS in the early days of Dave’s reign.

But let the reader not think that matters of promotion and demotion were restricted just to the PM’s party.

As PMQs turned briefly to the matters of the day, there suddenly stood Ed Miliband whose appearance now attracts more Tory cheers than Labour.

Ed and Dave both agreed that another inquiry into previous inquiries was the obvious way ahead for Britain’s threatened children.
But as Ed moved on to other matters eyes were inexorably drawn to his own front bench and the colourful sight of his deputy Harriet Harmon.

If the polls are to be believed, then Ed will be Prime Minister this time next year.
Harriet let it be known last night that if he is, then she expects to be deputy PM - and no arguments.

Similar freedom of movement for the Labour leader from the man on his other side, Ed Balls, neither first or second choice as shadow Chancellor.

Ed M seems to have lost his touch at PMQs and was only a sideshow as the Bercow beauty parade continued. Michael Fabricant, a Tory MP who appears to rent his hair by the foot, spoke long enough for his neighbours to check their phones.

A man called Stephen Phillips brayed a few “disgracefuls” in the direction of Ed Balls and Keith Vaz reminded why he is in no-one’s Cabinet.

With the PM under fire for the paucity of women in the Cabinet, the Speaker could not resist calling Maria Millar, like Caroline, booted off the top team. Both had been great, said Dave, for whom PMQs is just the place to practice speaking power onto truth.

Meanwhile Nick Clegg stared about him hoping to have enough left to shuffle, never mind reshuffle.