Wednesday, July 01, 2015

PMQs - red in tooth and claw.

It was almost the end of the session before he was called.

Until then it had been a balmy day down Westminster way.
The nation sweltered; its MPs turned up the air-conditioning.

Dave had turned up a few minutes early for PMQs, the weather at last matching his tan.

With the opposition still in disarray - and his notice already in - its a more relaxed helmsman at the wheel of HMS Great Britain. 
Which is not to say that there are not still some subjects which can put the Downing Street paramedics on standby.

Scotland and its place in the union is now guaranteed a mention or four at any opportunity and what better opportunity.
The trouble however with tender English ears is that any question from someone north of the border seems to be taken as an invitation to a fight.
What seems equally certain is that any answer in tones found only south of the Thames is heard in Scottish ears as acceptance.

As English MPs checked the Wimbledon updates on their twitter feeds, various representatives from the phalanx of Scots who now occupy a corner of the Commons, demanded Dave put up his dukes (hands, not relatives).
Come clean, they demanded, on his plans to freeze them out of voting on alleged English-only issues.
‘Yes’ and ‘no’ seemed to be the answer which pleased all sides and left open the opportunity to make the same charge again and again and again.

A couple of light grey suits seemed the only concession made by the men in the chamber to the frying of eggs on the pavements outside.
But temporary-stand-in-Labour-leader-until-September-12th Harriet Harman re-emphasised the common sense brought by women to the Commons with an outfit that looked cool.

The Prime Minister looked fidgety as he always does when facing Harriet the head girl.
And he fidgeted even further when she promised him Labour support on a third runway for Heathrow.

Tory MPs in swanky southern constituencies are split over the plan and its opponents include Boris who wants to shut Heathrow and move it to Essex or somewhere else.
Dave was frightened of being bullied by Boris, said Harriet as her side put down their blackberries for a moment to hoot in derision.

Dave, glancing about him for sight of the mayoral haystack, paled slightly under the pan-stick as he denied all fear.
A decision would be made by the end of the year, he said while Chancellor George, his minder, stared squarely at the floor seeing inspiration for the £12bn of benefit cuts to be announced next week.

And so PMQs rolled on as new MPs got their chance either to suck up to the boss for a few votes or to insult him for a few more.

Speaker Bercow, who had intervened only to throw calming waters in the direction of the SNP, now obviously decided he’d had enough of the niceness.
Regular readers will remember that his relationship with Dave, and indeed most of the Tory Party - of which he is still a member - was not great in the last Parliament.
Those who might have thought relations had improved must’ve thought again when, the half hour of PMQs already officially up,the name Denis Skinner was thrown into the crowd.

Some might think that when Alfred Lord Tennyson came up with the phrase, “red in tooth and claw”, he had already met Denis.
But although an MP for 45 years the member for Bolsover is just an extremely active 83.
Now the Speaker knows that Denis doesn’t like Dave or indeed any Tory anytime, anywhere.

But even he could not have gauged the horror and fascination on the faces of new members on the Government benches who saw in front of them a living manifestation of all those nightmare stories from the past.
Denis was actually angry with Dave for not getting aid for the miners from Europe.
But the subject was lost in the fury of the finger-pointing northerner standing within arms reach of the Tory side.

Dave slipped further behind the Despatch Box as he reverted to type and hurled his favourite “Jurassic Park” insult at the octagenarian.
His MPs checked gangways and exits in case the Beast of Bolsover made a move in their direction.

Denis, content at frightening the children, holstered his finger and sat down.