Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Chancellor George Osborne is someone, it is said, who has often risen from the dead. Indeed some say he pulls off this trick, to the accompaniment of a creaking coffin lid, on a daily basis.

But, even Lazarus would have stood in awe today as the man written off after pasty-gate made a return as Prime Minister for the day. Actually it more like Prime Minister for 30 minutes as he became the P in PMQs.

With the real deal Dave lunching his way around Europe trying to find friends George emerged from the shadows. After five years with his hands up the back of his best friend, would he be able to cut it on his own?

As the man who tells Dave who to stick on the Government payroll, a full house on the Government side was guaranteed - as was the spontaneous shouting when he appeared.

Meanwhile on the Labour benches ongoing disarray was ongoing as acting leader Harriet Harman opted out of facing down George. With half the rest of the shadow cabinet in for Ed’s old job, Hilary Benn was promoted from the Ministry of Obscurity to stand in.

Talking of obscurity, George managed to surround himself with people who appeared to have slipped into the chamber via the public entrance. Later enquiries indicated that the people each side of him were actually in the new Cabinet.

As for the old cabinet, Theresa May, auditioning for the part of Sphinx’s mother, managed to last the whole session with even a smidgen of a smidgen crossing her face. But then again, a month ago she was a leading contender to replace Dave and George was not even in the running.

But with the Prime Minister’s notice already in, were MPs watching the first audition of his replacement. (Boris was down the road being grilled in his other-job-for-the-moment, Mayor of London). Just to be on the safe side, Tory MPs cheered every time George stood up, sat down, waved his arms or stared about him wildly.

Meanwhile Hilary dumfounded the Ed generation - and George - by asking six sensible questions sensibly. Labour MPs seemed confused as their leader - at least for the next 30 minutes - was unconfused about his questions. By now the Tories were now confused and the Chancellor, unrehearsed in proper answers, could only cover his tracks.

Luckily enough questions had been planted on newly-elected stooges to allow the economy to be raised, get George off the hook and unrestrained cheering to break out again.

The disappearance of the Lib-Dems means the SNP get an official go at PMQs. With Nicola Sturgeon up in Edinburgh and Alex Salmond brooding on the benches, Angus Robertson got to pass on the party’s best wishes.

Mr Robertson, who seems permanently angry, said enough to make Tories close by jeer and those further away cheer anyway. The Chancellor, much more comfortable in traditional Flashman mode, snarled in the general direction of the Scots Nats and his side cheered again.

With George now fully returned to form, a quick denunciation of “unsustainable” welfare spending provoked reverse snarling from the opposition. The Chancellor, relieved to find himself back on safe ground gracefully accepted a few more cheers and dropped back into his seat - job done. 

By now Labour MPs must have been getting replies to tweets about why Hilary Benn wasn’t on the leader’s short-list.