Jeremy Corbyn started well, by quoting one of Theresa May’s friends on the front bench who had said on Twitter that he is “very disappointed and mystified at the closure of Uxbridge Police Station”.
Here was a pleasantly Wodehousian note on which to begin. Boris Johnson – for he was the disappointed and mystified one – bounced up and down with indignation.
The Prime Minister is, however, rather difficult to catch out on police questions, having had many years’ practice at dealing with them during her previous existence as an impregnable Home Secretary.
She pointed out that the Police and Crime Commissioner in London is the Mayor, and “the last time I looked” that was Sadiq Khan, who is Labour, though perhaps “not Labour enough” for the Leader of the Opposition.
Corbyn then switched to sprinklers in tower blocks – a perfectly good subject, but it gave the impression that he had nothing more to say about the police, and had somehow ceded control of that topic to May.
Nor did he persist in trying to open a gulf between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary – a theme which could have run through all six of his questions, and where May might quite soon have found herself running short of ammunition.
Corbyn kept on doing this. No sooner had he started on one subject than he switched to another. He’s much better than he used to be, but still too scattergun in his approach, and so verbose he gives his opponent plenty of time to think.
After he read out some letter which was supposed to embarrass May, she reproached him for not yet having sent her the “letter from Georgina” to which he had referred some weeks ago.
She seems to be climbing out of the Slough of Despond into which she descended after the election. She was perkier and more confident, and she and her staff had plainly devoted a lot of trouble to getting ready.