“Before they start telling us what to do, they jolly well ought to sort their own house out.” There speaks enraged middle England, championed by Theresa May, telling FIFA not to presume to tell us when we can and cannot wear poppies.
Week by week, the Prime Minister becomes more confident of her own judgment, and of her ability to speak up for the respectable, poppy-wearing classes.
When Jeremy Corbyn objected to restrictions on access to benefits, she saw him off by declaring that he wants “no assessments, no sanctions and unlimited welfare”.
The Prime Minister accused him of “drifting away from the views of Labour voters”, and added that “it is this Government that understands working-class people”.
This is a lethal line of attack, for it cuts Corbyn, with his leftie, Islingtonian views, off from traditional Labour voters in less trendy districts who regard him as weak, unpatriotic and soft on benefit fraud.
May steps forward as the champion of the provinces. Here is a strong woman who in prepared to voice truths which are unfashionable in Islington: for example that there have to be limits on benefits and on immigration.
She did not, however, side with Charles Walker, who uttered an impassioned defence, apropos the Louis Smith case, of our right to make mocking remarks about religion.
The Prime Minister said that “free speech” needs to be balanced by “tolerance to others”. She is an Anglican, not an out-and-out liberal.
The session began with music-hall scenes as May mistakenly congratulated Corbyn on becoming a grandfather, instead of Conor McGinn (Lab, St Helens North) on becoming a father.
But the hilarity provoked by this “unfortunate mistake”, as May herself had the confidence later to call it, rebounded on Corbyn rather than on her. It is many months since the Labour benches have enjoyed themselves so much.