James Forsyth

PMQs: Corbyn fails to sustain the pressure on Cameron

PMQs: Corbyn fails to sustain the pressure on Cameron
Text settings

PMQs was a rather ill-tempered affair today. With tax credits and steel closures dominating proceedings, the two sets of benches went at each other with vigour. This was much more like an old-style PMQs than the other Corbyn sessions.

The Labour leader began on the tax credits issue. His questions were beginning to rile Cameron, who — in a poor choice of words — said that he was ‘delighted’ that tax credit cuts had passed the Commons. But Corbyn then changed tack to ask about the steel industry. This eased the pressure on the Prime Minister and allowed him to regain the initiative. Corbyn finished his set of questions by demanding that Cameron cooperate with a UN investigation into how Britain treats the disabled. Considering the number of countries where disabled people have almost no rights, it seems both bizarre and wrong that the UN is spending its time investigating this country.

The string of questions from Labour backbenchers on the steel industry clearly riled Cameron. Towards the end of the session, Cameron thundered that he wouldn’t take any ‘self-righteous lectures’ from Labour on the issue given the number of steel jobs that were lost under the last Labour government. Cameron’s slightly triumphalist tone seemed rather jarring given that there are jobs being lost.

Today was more like a traditional PMQs than the last few sessions have been, more feisty and confrontational. But because Corbyn splits his questions, he isn’t managing to use his questions to put Cameron under sustained pressure. So, today’s session — despite being dominated by two difficult topics for the government — didn’t change the political weather or move the tax credits debate along.