Corbyn has ammunition but still the PM flattened him

Chris Moncrieff
Chris Moncrieff

What more attractive Easter Egg could an opposition leader want this holiday?

What more attractive Easter Egg could a Leader of the Opposition wish for this holiday weekend?

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, should be delighted at the dire straits of the Government. The governing party at Westminster is in disarray; the Cabinet is split over the European union referendum next June; a Cabinet Minister has resigned in a huff; and the Budget is unravelling into an unseemly mess.

Yet, Corbyn, with all this ammunition, was still flattened at the recent Prime Minister’s Questions. He appeared to gain no advantage from the shambles detailed above.

David Cameron simply clobbered him in the Commons, drawing attention to the ludicrous Corbyn so-called loyalty list, placing members of his own parliamentary party in gradations, depending on whether they are hostile towards him, luke warm, or actively supportive.

Unsurprisingly, the Prime Minister mercilessly taunted Corbyn with this latest Labour development, saying: “Mr Speaker, I thought I had problems.”

Well, he has, of course he has, but Cameron is a past-master at turning things round so that his political enemies, rather than he himself, become the laughing stock.

Labour will have to buck up its ideas beyond measure if it is to become an effective political fighting force again.

Meanwhile, the truest word so far spoken on this issue comes from Robert Harris, the bestselling novelist, who was himself once a member of the parliamentary lobby. He said: “Everyone I know who voted for [Corbyn] regrets it.”

That says it all...

:: The sudden resignation of Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Secretary, has certainly rocked the Government, but it is far from proving fatal.

The real victim of this event is probably the Chancellor, George Osborne, whose Budget earlier this month was the final straw so far as Duncan Smith was concerned.

Duncan Smith, who was one of the most impressive members of the Cameron Cabinet, denounced the Budget in comprehensive terms, describing parts of it as “indefensible”.

Some of the Budget, notably the cuts to disability benefits, have been revoked, thus creating a black hole so far as revenue is concerned, which Osborne will have to fill.

The Chancellor has not quite gone from hero to zero in the space of a few days, but the Duncan Smith resignation has seriously damaged his authority.

And this, in turn, could harm his prospects of succeeding Cameron, who has announced that he will be stepping down before the end of this Parliament.

Nor is the wounded Osborne likely to be able to heal himself by the application of a few sticking plasters. It is far more serious and profound than that.

All of which, of course, will have other leadership aspirants like Theresa May, Michael Gove and (God help us) Boris Johnson rubbing their hands with anticipated glee.

:: Unfortunately, the Brussels terrorist attacks have exposed the Belgian security forces as being at sixes and sevens. There appears to have been a minimum of information-sharing and some of those allegedly involved in this massacre were already well known to the police.

All this should encourage the European Union - and others outside the EU - to fight terrorism as a cohesive force rather than in the kind of fragmented way that marked out the Brussels bombings.

:: There is anger over proposals like the one to force an elected Mayor on areas like East Anglia. Tory peer Lord Tebbit, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, has joined in the outcry.

Like him, I have never understood why anybody should want yet another layer of politicians in their areas. Politics, alas, is becoming a growth industry - and it is the taxpayer who pays for all this so-called devolution.

I hope they listen to Lord Tebbit and abandon these pointless plans...