Winter is upon us and it’s almost pantomime season. So what exactly was last night? Aladdin? Shrek? One Man Two Guv’nors? One thing’s for sure- it wasn’t politics. Except it was. This is our politics.
If last night was a Christmas tree, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would be those crummy wooden decorations that don’t really look like anything that your in-laws gave you and which you have to hang in a prominent position on the tree because they’re coming round yours for Christmas lunch.
Ed The Never Was Ready In All Honesty had had what was by all accounts a less than productive day at the CBI, topped off by having his well-meaning but crap speech slammed (“Labour’s tendency to market intervention could deter investment. We believe open markets are the best way to deliver growth for all”). The only thing that could make his day any worse was one of his frontbenchers performing absolutely brilliantly in the Commons debate on the European Arrest Warrant. We may or may not be about to see a Cooper d’etat, but by Christ, she was brilliant last night.
Even little Jacob-Rees Mogg stood up on his hind legs and mouthed “I agree” and praised Cooper in the thick of the onslaught against the Home Secretary as Tory whips scuttled round desperately attempting to retrieve Team 2015, partly from Rochester and Strood, but mainly from the bar.
In fairness, she didn’t need to do a lot. The chief whip, Rees-Mogg later noted, has a brain “the size of a planet” so exactly how or why the Tories had managed to cock up having the vote they had promised the House is anyone’s guess. “Keep up” the Lib Dem member for Torbay tweeted his own party account as they urged their dedicated followers to “keep Britain safe”.
If truth be told, Cooper couldn’t have done it without her right hand man. Rees-Mogg asked the Speaker to reiterate his earlier advice in case “she [May] wasn’t listening,” accused the government of “fundamentally underhand” behaviour and hit May with a “crooked wood” jibe. And that was before Sky News.
Speaking of the Speaker. Bercow reminded Labour MPs why they voted for him in the first place as he launched a scathing attack on the government. The catalogue of events, he said, was a “sorry saga” which was leading to the public being “frankly contemptuous… of what is not straightforward dealing.”
Hmm. When I was about 12, there was a film called Jimmy Grimble where a skinny dweeb gets to play for his school team in a crunch game against a rough team from the other side of Manchester and one of their teachers, refereeing the match, scores the equaliser for the opposition. Bercow was that teacher last night, but less charming.
No one wants to kiss a Prime Minister in white. Enter Dave, less than fresh from the Lord Mayor’s banquet and decked out like an extra from Downton Abbey, just in time as Cooper eventually got bored and proposed an emergency motion as to whether the debate should happen in the first place, which the government edged by nine votes.
Digested: everyone got rather cross at everyone, Yvette Cooper was rather good, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis both broke ranks and said that, backbench MPs on both sides of the House got annoyed but for different reasons and the Speaker was a hypocritical, unprofessional arse. Business as usual then, and it rumbles on.