Lloyd Evans Lloyd Evans

Corbyn’s team are trying – and failing – to turn him into a famous wit

Poor grey sad Mr Corbyn. So angry. So useless. And so weird as a visual spectacle. His sharp-featured head looks, from a certain viewpoint, like an anvil pebble-dashed with porridge oats. But guess what? Today he scored a victory against Mrs May. And guess what? He blew it.

First he revealed his team’s latest attempt to turn him into a famous wit. He claimed that Mrs May had yesterday marginalised parliament while claiming to restore its primacy. Then the pay-off. ‘Not so much the Iron Lady as the Irony Lady.’ Why is that a lousy gag? Bad mouth-feel. No punchy consonants. But it looks deceptively good on the page so Mr Corbyn’s comedy apprentices must have hoped it would fly.

Then, perhaps accidentally, he skewered her. Mrs May wouldn’t reveal whether Britain will pay for access to European markets. He asked again. No reply. Job done. He had her. Total triumph. But instead of building on it he did his tetchy park-keeper routine.

‘Still no answer,’ he wheedled, with his head bobbing up and down as if he’d just dropped a man-hole cover on his toe. Yet the advantage was still his. All he had to do was float the query a third time and watch her flounder. But that would have involved keeping his trap shut for a few seconds and Mr Corbyn, uniquely among parliamentarians, likes to hear what Mr Corbyn will say next.

So he moved onto citizenship rights and thus, with supreme adroitness, terminated his own advantage. The session then turned into Discrimination Day. Chris Bryant, who can nearly pronounce ‘Rhondda’ in a Welsh accent, began life as an attention-seeking vicar and has now become a born again windbag. State bureaucrats, he complained, are being relocated from the Rhondda to Cardiff. ‘We in the valleys,’ he said in his prosperous Home Counties tones, ‘we in the valleys feel ignored by the government.’ No one in the valleys says ‘we in the valleys’.

Angus Robertson joined in the grudge-fest.

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