There was a local paper on the west coast of New Zealand that began an editorial in early 1914 with the words: "We have repeatedly warned the Kaiser." Well, I have repeatedly warned the Leader of the Opposition, and to much the same effect as the Greymouth Gazette on the Imperial German High Command. Do you know why I bother? Anyone? Nothing. Not a peep out of any of you.
The Tories have been shambling along in opposition for years now, it's hard to remember how many, and have lost every rhetorical battle they have had with the Government. This is no mean feat, when you consider the battlegrounds. The Dome, the railways, the health service, David Beckham's foot, the Tube, the London mayoralty, the spin, the cash for access, the cash for favours, the sleaze – oh, don't get me started. Every single rhetorical battle the Government has won, though they have faced insuperable odds and been armed with nothing more than six broken bottles of Guinness and a handbag.
It's a pitiful effort by the Tories, and John Spellar was right (these words come through teeth so clenched I can't open my eyes), they should be ashamed of themselves.
The Government's three responses are simple, and after constant repetition some of the shine, you will observe, has come off them. They are simple, but they are solid and no way has yet been found round them.
Tories run at the wall with their heads down, then fall over backwards. The next one runs at the wall with his head down, and falls over backwards. A Tory MP then runs at the wall with his head down. What happens? He falls over backwards. For variety, she runs at the wall with her ... but you get the idea. But only because you're not a Tory MP.
These are the three lines of defence the Government uses against any hostile question:
"But this is precisely the result of the shambles we inherited from 18 years of Tory misrule." "It's a bit rich coming from the party that had 18 years to do something about precisely this and did nothing!" "And yet they are opposing the investment that would cure precisely the very thing they are complaining about!"
If they sound dull and tired now, they have never sounded anything else. They are the reason that debate in the House of Commons is so sterile. You can't blame the Government; it's those kamikaze Conservatives.
Iain Duncan Smith reflects on the state of the country: 192 muggings a day, one for every Home Office initiative; waiting times are up; survival rates are down; liver cancer patients in France have twice the chance of survival; not enough GPs; 35,000 more on waiting lists.
The Prime Minister says 1, 2 or 3, and that's the end of it.
One Tory gain yesterday: the Prime Minister became, for the first time I can remember, quite obviously irritable. Angry, then. He got angry. That's enjoyable for everyone, obviously, but it's not exactly victory at Stalingrad.
So unless the Tories start making an effort and doing better, I'm going to release all the photographs in my possession. I'm not joking this time! Labour's Tam Dalyell asked a question with his characteristic punctuation: "Has Kuwait. Indicated support. For military action against Iraq?" Then he sat down. The Tories could learn a lot from Tam Dalyell (no, seriously).
The Prime Minister hesitated in his answer and said: "It hasn't yet got to the point of military action in Iraq." And we all thought, "Cripes! Kuwait's indicated support for military action in Iraq." A memorable moment in Prime Minister's question time. A question was asked, it was answered, and we learnt something we hadn't known before. Bad luck Tories: the only goals are own goals.Reuse content