Published:

32 comments

GIMSON Andrew Krieg

How enjoyable to hear Jeremy Corbyn giving voice to his conservative instincts. He quoted with  approval some primary school children in his constituency who “love their school” and “like their school the way it is”.

Mr Corbyn also quoted a number of Conservative politicians who have spoken out against the Government’s plan to turn all schools into academies.

The Labour leader opposed “diktats from above” and “arbitrary changes imposed from above”.

To love things the way they are, and fear that local institutions are bound to be damaged by sweeping programmes of modernisation conceived and enforced by ministers in Whitehall, are emotions many of us will share with Mr Corbyn.

David Cameron responded with a series of diversionary attacks. He said “it’s always good to get a lecture on diktats from someone whose press secretary is an avowed Stalinist” – a reference to Seumas Milne, recently profiled in these pages.

And in his final exchange with Mr Corbyn, Mr Cameron attacked the Labour Party for banning some ghastly hamburger firm from its annual conference – a decision of which quite a few old-fashioned Conservatives, who never succumbed to Manchester liberalism, might approve.

In vain I informed my children that if they ever ate at one of those hamburger joints, they would find they had been poisoned. They did not believe me, and somehow scraped together the money to go there without me, but at least I never took them there myself.

The Prime Minister later engaged in class warfare against a member of the Labour front bench who happens to be married to a knight, taking a swipe at “Lady Nugee giving us the benefit of her wisdom” – a reference to the admittedly ridiculous figure of Emily Thornberry, as she is known in politics, who is currently shadow Defence Secretary.

And Mr Cameron tried to damn Sadiq Khan, the Labour candidate for Mayor of London, for appearing “again and again” on platforms with extremists.

But on Mr Corbyn’s question of turning all schools into academies, the Prime Minister insisted he wanted teacher and head teachers, not bureaucrats, to be in charge; pointed out that the reform had begun under the last Labour Government; insisted several times that standards in these schools are rising in a wonderful way; and generally portrayed himself as the champion of all that is new, progressive, enlightened, uplifting and modern.

The late John Biffen MP referred to the then Conservative leader, Edward Heath, as a third-rate management consultant, and one fears that is how Mr Cameron sounds to some of his backbenchers.

Two of them, Christopher Chope and David Davis, asked the Prime Minister if he agrees with the Treasury forecast that three million more migrants will arrive in this country by 2030.

Mr Cameron did not offer much of a reply. But here, one may note, is a small-c conservative worry – the fear that this country may be changed by the admission of too many migrants – which although felt by millions of Labour voters, is never voiced by Mr Corbyn.

32 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Corbyn gives voice to his conservative instincts

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.