Saturday 27th February
I seem to remember that the last few Prime Ministers insisted that Prime Minister’s Question would be different now that they were Prime Minister; no more yah-boo politics, no more name calling, no more playing to the gallery – but a serious occasion, where questions would be listened to and answered as correctly as possible. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and certainly Cameron all promised something along those lines. But oh how quickly these words are forgotten, if they were ever meant in the first place. Actually the only Prime Minister who ever came anywhere close to treating this occasion as serious was John Major – but who remembers him these days.
I was surprised and then deeply impressed when Jeremy Corbyn stood for election as Leader of the Labour party. I saw him interviewed a few times, and once when the interviewer tried the usual trick of abuse rather than a serious question and asked Jeremy if he was a Marxist, expecting a denial which he could then attack, Jeremy sat back, thought for a moment and said that no, he wouldn’t describe himself as a Marxist but admitted that he had read Marx and found a lot of what he had to say very interesting – it completely took the wind out of the interviewer’s sails and he moved on to another question. This degree of honesty, of unrehearsed buzz-words, of thoughtfulness, was refreshing. Maybe Politics could be done in a different way. We were soon disillusioned when at the Cenotaph the newly elected Labour leader was ridiculed because his respectful bow of the head was deemed not low enough. Not half as low as those who attacked him obviously.
And then we had Prime Minister’s questions where a polite Jeremy not only has his questions, mostly sent in from Labour members, steadfastly unanswered but is now ritually abused. The latest instance a personal jibe at his lack of sartorial elegance, as if the style of suit you choose to wear has any bearing on your opinion. But that is exactly the point my dears, going to Public School, being a ‘toff’, is all about what suit you wear, whose watch you wear, how you tie your tie. These things matter, not what you have to say, not whether you are telling the truth or not, not how honest or decent a person you are; but have you learnt the lessons of the elite, do you know how to be accepted in our circle, are you indeed a hypocrite just like us. And the cheering that came from the Tory benches was just that, a tribal baying, cheering on their boorish leader who rather than answer a sensible question returned to type and resorted to personal abuse, one step away from Jeremy Clarkson himself.