At long last! Labour takes advantage of Tory weakness. Stephen Crabb, the new Work and Pensions Secretary, was subjected to the sort of grilling we haven’t seen come from the opposition benches in a good long while. Yvette Cooper and Liam Byrne earn special mention. They ruthlessly went to town on Crabb, asking repeatedly what the “no cuts” pledge actually meant, causing the newbie to fumble several times and equivocate like it was going out of style.
Putting aside any party sympathies for a moment, it was really very nice to see parliamentary democracy in full swing again; the government actually being held to account for once. To be fair, they didn’t have an open goal so much as an open stadium to shoot at, but at least they scored for once. There have been a few easy opportunities to capitalise on Tory missteps this parliament, and this was really the first one taken.
Of course, as you’ll notice from the Labour names mentioned, this was the party’s “B Team” these days. Except the B Team is actually, de facto, the A Team. And the de jure A Team is more like the Youth Under-Nines D2 Team at present.
This was never more clear than when watching that other business in the House of Commons yesterday, namely Corbyn v Cameron on the topic of the budget. Even by Jeremy’s low standards, he was unbelievably dire. I could pull apart the lameness of his response, but thankfully Jeremy left us an easy way to communicate how ineffective he was: he didn’t mention the IDS resignation even once. He didn’t even allude to it. The most explosive thing to happen to the Conservative Party since who knows when, an event that is directly related to the budget Corbyn was commenting on as well, and not even a passing remark about it. What did he say then? Just more of Jeremy’s vague waffling about equality, blah, blah, some rubbish about Cameron not responding to some point of order – even if you didn’t hear any of it, what you make up in your head and put in the mouth of a Jeremy impersonator will be remarkably close to the substance of his speech yesterday.
It allowed Cameron a momentary respite from the Tory wars in order to do what he likes best – look prime ministerial. No matter how much some of his colleagues try and take this away from him, Cameron always has Jeremy Corbyn to make him look good at least.
Anyhow, in conclusion: yesterday’s session with Crabb gave me some hope for the future of parliamentary democracy, the first in a while. I don’t expect this feeling to last very long.