I'm usually the first to slam Corbyn's performance every Wednesday, but at today's PMQs he looked like the better leader

Whatever he did differently prior to this showdown, he should do it again – because it was impressive

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The Independent Online

Now, I still hold firm the belief that Jeremy Corbyn is an electoral trainwreck waiting to happen for the Labour Party – and usually I’m the one berating Corbyn for his poor oratory performance every Wednesday – and but I have to give him his due this week. His performance at PMQs today was his best so far.

Mental health is a growing issue in this country, and one that many of us are affected by – so it was fantastic to see Corbyn take up four questions berating Jeremy Hunt and the Prime Minister for their failings in this sector. Corbyn drew attention to the fact that one quarter of us will experience a mental health issue in our life, yet health trusts are faced with a 40 per cent budget cut - how can they claim parity of treatment when they aren’t providing the cash to see this through?

His questions were clear, detailed and well researched: he pulled out figures and percentages with ease, instead of waffling on for half an hour about the trials faced by Sharon in Dorset. When Theresa May failed to come back with a valid response, shifting off the fact that spending has been cut and that there’s extensive bed-blocking, he came back and challenged her on her half-answer.

This, for me, is the first time that Jeremy Corbyn has looked like a proper opposition leader at PMQs. Angus Robertson from the SNP usually shows him up with his hard-hitting and intrusive questioning, but this time, Corbyn stood his ground.

You can tell he was making the Tories shake in their boots, as Jeremy Hunt’s jaw was visibly quivering. Theresa May’s stern and aggressive assertion that “only one party cut the NHS –  Labour in Wales” showed that she couldn’t answer his questions on mental health, and had to instead use diversion tactics to avoid admitting her Government’s downfalls.

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This issue in particular is one that grips the young of our country - with instances of depression, anxiety and much more common in younger age brackets, and suicide the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50. By bringing up mental health and concentrating on it, Corbyn is doing his duty to the young people he’s promised to represent, while the Tories conspicuously fail them. This was a savvy way of pulling back any support for Labour that might have been wavering after his election.

One wonders if Corbyn has been getting some coaching from his new comms man, 28-year-old James Schneider, before PMQs. The questions he asked were ones that affect the public, grab the attention of younger people and have the capacity to cause real damage to the already shaky career of the Health Secretary. Whatever he did differently prior to this showdown, he should do it again, because it was impressive.

Instead of discussing Mao, he’s discussing MAOIs – smart move. 

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