Jeremy Corbyn is the Pooter of politics. He possesses a touching faith in his own dignity, and a comic inability to get people to take him as seriously as he takes himself.

This week the Leader of the Opposition made the foolish error of sticking to the subject of academies, with which he had some success last week. People soon began to wonder why he was not asking about refugee children, or striking doctors, or the collapse of BHS.

For as soon as he asserted that “the wheels are falling off the rocket boosters”, one could tell he was going to make a hash of academies.

David Cameron is not exactly the Flashman of politics. One sees why his opponents regard him as an arrogant bully who strikes low blows at his inferiors, for he devotes a lot of care to living down to that reputation.

But to do justice to him, one would need the pen of Anthony Trollope, not George MacDonald Fraser. For Mr Cameron is a traditional Conservative leader, who seeks to unite his own fractious followers by being amazingly rude about the other lot.

So today he told Mr Corbyn that “perhaps if you could deal with the anti-semitism in your own party we’d be more prepared to listen to you”.

Chris Bryant, the shadow Leader of the House, was dismissed with the words, “If you want to be Speaker you’d better stop interrupting everybody – it’s not going to get you any votes.”

And Nigel Farage, who has never actually managed to become an MP, was accused of pronouncing his surname in a “poncey” foreign way.

These unedifying jibes were supposed to make the Tories feel better about being led by Mr Cameron, just as a gang of yobs would prefer to be led by a more vicious figure than their rivals. Bonar Law followed the same tactics in 1912.

And just in case the Prime Minister should be accused of being a softie, he held out against the admission of unaccompanied refugee children from the continent of Europe.

Yvette Cooper made such a passionate plea on behalf of those children that some Labour and Scottish Nationalist MPs started clapping. But Mr Cameron stuck to his guns.

Let no one say (as unkind people might during this referendum campaign) that he is the kind of leader who gives in to foreigners. Here, we see, is a British Prime Minister who will not even give in to foreign children. I have yet to think of a fictional character who brings this sort of thing off quite as brilliantly as Mr Cameron does.

13 comments for: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: Cameron devotes a lot of care to living down to his reputation as Flashman

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