Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Theresa May's first PMQs 1) - the view from the left

I caught most of this afternoon's Prime Minister's Questions. I was very impressed with Theresa May's strong and confident performance, but of course, it was not me that she had to convince.

What was more interesting was how her first session of PMQs was seen on the left: the extracts below from a Guardian article giving various perspectives and which you can read in full here suggest that I am not the only one who thought the new Prime Minister had the best of the exchanges.

Extracts from Polly Toynbee's piece,

May has nothing to fear from the rabble across the floor

"The person Theresa May trounced most crushingly was on her own side – her predecessor. Serious and commanding, she showed how PMQs should be done – with forensic fact and deadly precision alongside flick-knife jabs."
"But nothing Theresa May said in her first PMQs was pronounced with such sincerity as her wish for these exchanges with Jeremy Corbyn to continue for a very long time. Of course she hopes he’ll stay. Though she had plentiful fun with Labour spending three weeks to choose a “unity” candidate, with months of infighting still to come."

"She had every right to revel in being a second Tory woman PM – bragging she got there through an “all woman shortlist” with no quotas. What does the Conservative party do for women? “It makes us prime minister!” The Labour MPs opposite her could only writhe, with so many more good women on their benches than sitting behind May – but no leader."

"But no, she has nothing to fear (yet) from the rabble across the floor with a leader whose colleagues mostly watched in glowering silence."

Ayesha Hazarika's piece:

As a Labour supporter, it was excruciating to witness

"Theresa May had a brutally brilliant PMQs debut. To be fair, first outings generally go well and she had an embarrassment of riches gifted to her by a Labour party falling apart at the seams. But sometimes PMQ open goals can be easier to flunk than people think. Yet May rose to the occasion and hit the back of the net again and again.

As a Labour supporter, it was excruciating to witness. She was confident, not referring to notes, and exuded cool authority – but most importantly showed she has the capacity to think on her feet and capitalise in an opportunity to land a punch.

And Jeremy Corbyn gave her plenty of those. He kept moving between topics and asking open questions, which just allowed her to trot out her top-line positive messages and then go on the attack.
The worst moment for Corbyn was when he asked an earnest question about job insecurity and bad bosses without any self-awareness. Tom Watson’s face showed he knew exactly what was coming. May resisted going for the obvious gag straight away, which made it all the more painful. Her riff about bad bosses who won’t listen to workers and exploit the rules was both funny and politically true, which is why it worked. It was clearly prepared (so hats off to her team) but she delivered it effectively, at the right moment and with a touch of theatrical flourish that she clearly enjoyed and the chamber loved.

May made a smart call to end her exchange with a bigger political message about how while Labour will spend the summer fighting each other, the Tories would crack on with running the country. It was a performance to make Tory MPs feel confident that they picked the right leader and Labour MPs feel the very opposite"

If that's what Theresa May's opponents wrote about her first Prime Minister's Question time, she cannot have done too badly ...

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