If you watched Prime Minister’s Questions today you would be forgiven for wondering what planet Theresa May is on. Since last week her economic platform has been lambasted as a failure, her Brexit plans have been exposed as pathetic and the Chancellor looks set to abandon the typically Tory-friendly older generation. Despite all of this, May suggested to public and politicians this afternoon that people have never had it so good.
The Prime Minister got away with it this week because most political commentators have been more concerned about the death of Fidel Castro than the dismal lack of planning surrounding our exit from the European Union. Coverage of the backlash to the Autumn Statement slipped away as discussion turned to the guest list for Castro’s wake. Publications jumped to accuse Jeremy Corbyn of having his bags pre-packed for the flight to Cuba without even attempting to check whether this was true or not.
It is a serious indictment of the British media that such great energy was used debating this non-story at a time that the country slips into ruin.
Corbyn was at his strongest in PMQs when pushing on the NHS and social care. Given that the statement last week didn’t make a single reference to either, this was fertile ground for the Labour leader. In identifying the area as a weakness for the Prime Minister, Corbyn has demonstrated a new ability to follow up on areas of strength from previous weeks. The NHS continues to be an area of main concern for the wider public and it is encouraging to see Labour leading strongly on the Tory neglect of the health service. In questioning the Prime Minister’s priorities, Corbyn clearly touched a nerve.
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
The most ridiculous claims made about Jeremy Corbyn
1/11 He called Hezbollah and Hamas ‘friends’
True. In a speech made to the Stop the War Coalition in 2009, Mr Corbyn called representatives from both groups “friends” after inviting them to Parliament. He later told Channel 4 he wanted both groups, who have factions designated as international terror organisations, to be “part of the debate” for the Middle East peace process. “I use (the word ‘friends’) in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk,” he added. “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No.”
2/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a tragedy’
Partly false. David Cameron used this as a line of attack at the Conservative Party conference but appears to have left out all context from Mr Corbyn’s original remarks. In an 2011 interview on Iranian television, the then-backbencher said the fact the al-Qaeda leader was not put on trial was the tragedy, continuing: “The World Trade Center was a tragedy, the attack on Afghanistan was a tragedy, the war in Iraq was a tragedy.”
3/11 He is ‘haunted’ by the legacy of his ‘evil’ great-great-grandfather
False. A Daily Express exposé revealed that the Labour leader’s ancestor, James Sargent, was the “despotic” master of a Victorian workhouse. Addressing the report at the Labour conference, Mr Corbyn said he had never heard of him before, adding: “I want to take this opportunity to apologise for not doing the decent thing and going back in time and having a chat with him about his appalling behaviour.”
4/11 Jeremy Corbyn raised a motion about ‘pigeon bombs’ in Parliament
This one is true. On 21 May 2004, Mr Corbyn raised an early day motion entitled “pigeon bombs”, proposing that the House register being “appalled but barely surprised” that MI5 reportedly proposed to load pigeons with explosives as a weapon. The motion continued: “The House… believes that humans represent the most obscene, perverted, cruel, uncivilised and lethal species ever to inhabit the planet and looks forward to the day when the inevitable asteroid slams into the earth and wipes them out thus giving nature the opportunity to start again.” It was not carried.
5/11 He rides a Communist bicycle
False. A report in The Times referred to Mr Corbyn, known for his cycling, riding a “Chairman Mao-style bicycle” earlier this year. “Less thorough journalists might have referred to it as just a bicycle, but no, so we have to conclude that whenever we see somebody on a bicycle from now on, there goes another supporter of Chairman Mao,” he later joked.
6/11 'Jeremy Corbyn will appoint a special minister for Jews'
False so far. The Sun report in December was allegedly based on a “rumour” passed to the paper by a Daily Express columnist who has written pieces critical of the Labour leader in the past. The minister did not materialise in his shadow cabinet.
7/11 ‘Jeremy Corbyn wishes Britain would abolish its Army’
False. Another gem from The Sun took comments made at a Hiroshima remembrance parade in August 2012 where Mr Corbyn supported Costa Rica’s move to abolish it armed forces. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world…abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army,” he added. The caveat that “every politician” must take the step suggests Mr Corbyn does not support UK disarmament just yet.
8/11 Jeremy Corbyn stole sandwiches meant for veterans
False. The Guido Fawkes blog claimed that the Labour leader took sandwiches meant for veterans at at Battle of Britain memorial service in September but a photo later emerged showing him being handed one by Costa volunteers, who later confirmed they were given to all guests.
9/11 He missed the induction into the Queen’s privy council
True. After much speculation about Mr Corbyn’s republican views and willingness to bow to the monarch, his office confirmed that he did not attend the official induction to the privy council because of a prior engagement, but did not rule out joining the body.
10/11 Jeremy Corbyn refuses to sing the national anthem.
Partly true. The Labour leader was filmed standing in silence as God Save the Queen was sung at a Battle of Britain remembrance service but will reportedly sing it in future. Mr Corbyn was elusive on the issue in an interview, saying he would show memorials “respect in the proper way”, but sources said he would sing the anthem at future occasions.
11/11 He is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cheese
True. The group lists its purpose as the following: “To increase awareness of issues surrounding the dairy industry and focus on economic issues affecting the dairy industry and producers.”
As Theresa May brushed off the economic criticism, however, she moved to an apparently more important issue: the suffering of Christian believers during the Christmas period. Conservative MP Fiona Bruce noted that many are “fearful” when it comes to talking about Christmas at work – and anyone who’s experienced an office in London will surely know the terror that strikes in their hearts when they consider making an offhand remark about tinsel or when to put up the tree, only to be slapped down by – who exactly? Who was this aside supposed to subtly imply was responsible for overturning Britain as a “Christian country” and making Christians feel like they’re in the minority? Muslims, perhaps? This felt like dog-whistle politics if ever we’ve seen them.
After telling the media that it was God who was guiding her plans for Brexit during the weekend, it was perhaps unsurprising that the Prime Minister spoke passionately on the issue of religious – or, to put it more specifically, Christian – freedoms. But rather than paying lip service to her dedication to Jesus, perhaps she should step out into the country and consult the people being hurt by her Government’s economic incompetence and tragic mismanagement of the NHS. Perhaps, after all, that’s the more Christian thing to do.Reuse content