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Sir Alec Douglas-Home remains the only Prime Minister to have played first-class cricket. Unfortunately for him, in 1963-64 he found himself facing, in Harold Wilson, a Leader of the Opposition who did not play cricket.

Theresa May possesses, at the Dispatch Box, many of the virtues of a first-class cricketer. She is brave, professional, patient, reads the bowling well and is ready to punish the loose ball when it comes.

During her long spell as Home Secretary, May showed how difficult it is to get her out, and she adopted the same style of play today, tenacious in defence and scoring some runs when she saw the chance. If she maintains this form, she could be there for a long time.

But Jeremy Corbyn no more plays cricket than Wilson did. He has just played Glastonbury, where he received a rapturous welcome.

In the Commons he started with some sombre, rather technical questions about the Grenfell Tower fire. Mrs May defended herself with care, but also with ease, by giving some sombre, considerably more technical replies.

At last, Corbyn went into Glastonbury mode. He said the fire was one of the “disastrous effects of austerity”, and of “disregard for working-class communities”.

How some of us hoped she would say a word about the “disastrous effects of profligacy”. But that would have got her into trouble, so she had come equipped with a safer riposte: “The cladding of the blocks began under the Blair government.”

Tony Blair, the guilty man! Mr Corbyn would heartily agree with that. Indeed, there were moments at which he could be seen nodding, for he and his supporters regard Mr Blair as the vilest traitor to the Labour movement since Ramsay MacDonald.

Whether hatred of Mr Blair will end up being of greater value to Mrs May or Mr Corbyn remains to be seen. Mr Blair used, in his pomp, to be a Glastonbury type himself: a member of the professional classes who yearned to show that in his heart of hearts he was a Sixties rebel, a rock star manqué rather than a man in a suit.

Yet nowadays he is taken to be about the most loathsome member of the Establishment, which is very much the direction in which Mrs May wants to push Mr Corbyn.

So when one of her backbenchers, Leo Docherty, the new MP for Aldershot, asked her a helpful question about Mr Corbyn and Trident, she replied that in public the Labour leader appears to support that weapon, while in private he has said he wants to scrap it: “He says one thing to the many and another thing to the few.”

That went down well with the Conservatives, who were determined to demonstrate their unflinching support for Mrs May, and need no persuading that Mr Corbyn is a hypocrite.

But it would not, evidently, go down at all well at Glastonbury, especially if it were accompanied by any suggestion that most of the people who go there are pampered members of the middle classes rather than valiant left-wing rebels.

So Mrs May still has a serious Glastonbury problem. But on her home turf, in the Commons, she she reminded us today that she can still perform very well.

31 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: May plays cricket, Corbyn plays Glastonbury

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