What became of dear old Oltep? We used to hear about him every week, indeed every minute, from David Cameron. In 2014 it became evident the Cameroons were relying on Oltep to win the next election for them – a feat which, to general incredulity, he actually managed to perform.
Was Oltep an obscure Hungarian intellectual whose brilliant insights were being fed into the Tory manifesto by Oliver Letwin after hard-fought Sunday morning games of tennis in Regent’s Park?
A plausible guess, but according to more humdrum analysis, Oltep’s name simply stands for “Our Long-Term Economic Plan” – a topic with which Cameron and his followers bored us to distraction in the run-up to 2015.
The two explanations are not, in logic, mutually exclusive. But never mind Oltep’s origins. Where is he now?
For Theresa May has forgotten all about him. Week by week she says nothing about Oltep.
Why the insulting silence? We all know Oltep was a close friend of George Osborne, but oddly enough he was also a great supporter of the Conservative Party.
Corbyn asked a good first question: “Does the Prime Minister agree with the Foreign Secretary that the National Health Service needs an extra five billion pounds?”
May retorted that the Chancellor had just given the NHS an extra six billion pounds.
She also spoke of getting value for money. But unless I missed something (and it is easy to switch off for quite long periods while the Prime Minister is speaking and not miss anything), she didn’t ask where the money is going to come from.
There is some good news about employment to which she hardly alluded. And as this column has observed before, she is rather good at giving elementary lessons in economics, and Corbyn is in dire need of them.
After asking a good first question, he became absurdly long-winded in one of his follow-ups, so sank himself as far as the parliamentary battle was concerned, though one or two of his soundbites are doubtless even now being spread around on social media.
But here is a man who believes in the economics of Venezuela, at the end of which we wouldn’t have an NHS. Why doesn’t the PM say so?
Too much of PMQs is taken up with atrocious individual cases. Corbyn himself alluded to a man in Lowestoft who froze to death after waiting for 16 hours for an ambulance – a case then taken up with fitting gravity by Peter Aldous (Con, Waveney).
John Woodcock (Lab, Barrow and Furness) referred to the even more unbearable case of young Poppy Worthington, who he said was “anally penetrated” before she died.
And the very moving interview given this morning on the Today programme by Tessa Jowell, who spoke about her brain cancer, was brought up by Sarah Jones (Lab, Croydon Central).
The Prime Minister expressed conventional sympathies, as any decent person would, but was quite unable to put these hard cases in any kind of wider framework, or to suggest they might make bad law.