PMQs was a waste of 12 minutes, until the SNP stepped in

Wednesday 23 September PMQs
Steve Topple

If you wanted to waste 12 minutes of your life, you could have watched Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday 23 September. That was until the SNP got involved.

A prime shambles

Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer were both muddled, to say the least. Although the Labour leader did seem more robust than he has on previous occasions. Probably something to do with Angela Rayner and Ed Miliband’s mauling of the PM last week.

But Starmer still failed to land any direct blows. His choice of subject was all over the place. It seemed to be on test and trace. But Starmer hit Johnson from various angles, which came across as messy: from calling out his contradictions, to questioning his understanding of epidemiology, to school children struggling to get tests.

Johnson also floundered on his replies. From badly explaining coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemiology, to defending the disastrous Dido Harding, and the government sending children back to school. Overall, neither leader seemed on the ball – and neither of them came across as totally sure of what they were talking about.

But fear not. Because the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford bounded in to save the day.

The SNP: mauling the PM and showing up Starmer

Blackford got straight to the point, unlike Starmer’s rambling questioning. He said that “one million jobs” were at risk because of the furlough scheme ending; calling it “of the Tory government’s own making”. Blackford then went for the jugular. He said that Johnson:

must announce an immediate extension, no half measures, no half-baked projects, to this vital and life-saving scheme. Will the prime minister show [the] leadership required and save the jobs?

The PM floundered, not answering the question. He reverted to his now go-to, and rather creepy and epidemiologically dangerous, phrase:

What we will do… is continue to put our arms around the people of this country… and come up with the appropriate creative and imaginative schemes to keep them in work and keep the economy moving.

Blackford hit straight back, saying:

That’s so poor…. What we’re talking about is protecting the jobs of people today. It’s not indefinite… the first steps to any recovery is admitting that there is a problem. … The solution for millions of people right now is an extension… of the furlough scheme beyond October

Furl-off

The government so far has no plans to extend the furlough scheme. But at least Blackford’s probing was to the point, on one subject, and in a way that everyone watching could understand. Meanwhile, Starmer was convoluted, complex, and off-target. Despite his attempt at robustness and vigour, he fell way short of Rayner and Miliband’s mauling prowess.

Good job the SNP are there to pick up Labour’s slack.

Featured image via the Telegraph – YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. What we will do… is continue to put our arms around the people of this country… and rob them blind… because, let’s face it, they’re too stupid for money… 10+ years of chaotic incompetence, 3 PMs, Brexit fiasco, unprecedented corruption… we’re fucking invincible!!!!

    2. Keir: here’s a question from The Canary. Why doesn’t the Labour Party bring back Jeremy Corbyn and John Mc to lead the party?

      PM: that’s an excellent idea.

      Corbyn got nowhere in 5 years. We are are now living with the consequences.

      1. “Corbyn got nowhere in 5 years” so Corbyn didn’t turn back the austerity agenda, which was continuing under the Labour right regime. Corbyn didn’t come within a whisker of power only to be defeated from within. Did you ever wonder why Starmer was in the Shadow cabinet under Corbyn, it was to bring it down from within ie the second referendum proposal. I listened to the knight in his leadership campaign, twelve pledges all being slowly ditched, the neo liberal band wagon rolls on.

    3. Only if your honestly believe in the Tory ‘borrowed votes – crumbling Red wall – landslide victory’ scam: they lied! We must investigate the Covert 2019 Rigged Election to Get the Tories Out. The Electoral Commission is useless: “A Watchdog that cannot watch is just a dog.” We need to “Rescue our Watchdog” DO NOT MOVE ON! Sign this Petition: https://tinyurl.com/w4u9dwm

      1. It’s more than probable that every election of the past 70 years was rigged ‘to keep the peace’; Labour was always there to act as a pressure release valve. The reforms were minimal and once the pressure was released the Tories returned to demolish the post war reforms forced on the government of the day by the grown ups who had paid the blood price of WW2. Unfortunately many of the war kids and post-depression kids (1930-45) seem to be avid forlock tuggers and happy to remain ‘below stairs’. Perhaps that’s the real identity of the puppies used by the pig, Napoleon, in ‘Animal Farm’ – their vicious orthodoxy seems to strengthen as they get older. We need Electoral Reform. In the meantime just spoil your vote so we get an idea of our numbers.

    4. The only reason the SNP waded into the debate is they are planning to leave the “Great Britain” and its failed economic policies of the “Austerity”
      Its called survival of Scotland.
      Why talk about the issue as if one were watching a boxing match? A deeper issue is on the move.
      The elephant in the room no one is talking about is Britain’s current account deficit of minus 3.8 %of GDP is the worst of any developed country.
      England is now a 3rd world country living on delusions of prestige. So is Los Angeles.
      England isn’t a wealthy country any longer is the truth of this Upper Class Austerity philosophy.
      Then came No Deal Brexit which is lo, and behold still on the table.
      Trouble, trouble, trouble, is afoot.
      Thats the consequences of the “Austerity” philosophy, the laundering of 10’s of billions through London, offshore tax havens for the weathly who have no interest in Democracy but what they can squeeze out of it pockets, and with a class system living in some historical fantasy with Starmer acting as its vicar.
      Its the Great WankerLand.

        1. “Only a self loathing fool would remain in a country they despised”.

          That is, without a doubt, the nastiest and most nonsensical comment I’ve ever read on this site. Who’s a liddle paranoid, unhinged, far-right nutjob? You are, aren’t you, you stunted liddle, far-right nutjob.

    5. And now the government HAS announced it’s replacement for the furlough scheme, one which will disincentivise both employers and employees – not to mention the self employed, from taking time away from their work to safeguard themselves and others. It is exactly as the author feared, a half-baked and ill-though-out scheme. It’s one which will cause an increase in infections.

      Whilst the press has been quick (rightly so) to criticise Trump’s poor handling of COVID 19 it has essentially given Boris a free ride. Yet when you actually check the figures our Case Fatality Rates are three times higher than that of the US and our infection rates are higher also. Even when you break it down to the areas over which Boris has most/least control in the UK (ie England) you can see that he has overseen the highest death rates (by far) in the UK and the second highest infection rates (after Wales) The devolved administrations are able to act differently but only in limited ways, it’s obvious that where they act differently they improve the situation and where they are forced to go along with Boris this hinders efforts.

      It will be decades before we (are allowed to) know properly the exact numbers of dead and infected and how government handling affected this. Certainly I expect my grandchildren might be my age before it is publicly known (in fact it may well be much longer than this) Boris has bungled this and on top of that his plan was one where he was and is willing to thrown most of us under the bus to save his donors share prices..

      1. Considering that Johnson is the worst prime minister the country has ever had, backed by the worst government in office, Starmer should be miles ahead in the polls. As it is, we have a wet fish of an opposition leader who is easily shown up for what he is by back-benchers. Labour need a kick up the backside.

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