PMQs began with the Labour MP Peter Dowd asking Theresa May if she didn’t wish that she had told Boris Johnson to FO rather than sending him to the FO. To which, May replied that he was a fine Foreign Secretary — an FFS. At this point, it seemed that the session, the last PMQs before Christmas, might descend into festive silliness. But that didn’t happen. Jeremy Corbyn urged people to buy the Jo Cox charity single, a call May echoed, before moving onto social care.
Over the next five questions, Corbyn turned in his best PMQs performance — admittedly not a particularly high a bar to clear. Corbyn kept pressing May to abandon the corporation tax cut and spend the money on social care instead. May, though, held to the line of telling Corbyn to wait for Sajid Javid’s statement — which is expected to allow councils to vary the social care precept. May also wanted to emphasise the difference in performance between councils, saying that much of the problem would be solved if all councils were as efficient as the best ones. It is worth remembering that May thinks that the squeeze on the police budget in the last parliament made forces more efficient and contributed to the fall in crime which is one of the reasons why I don’t think a May government will pump that much more money into the social care system.
The opposition parties clearly sense an opening on social care, Tim Farron asked about it too. But, I suspect, that the kind of tax rises that would be needed to fund an NHS-style National Care Service remain very hard to sell politically.