Cameron's PMQs plan: steal Rosie from Corbyn

The country has a new currency. Not the pound, not the euro, but the Rosie.

“I have a letter from a woman called Rosie,” said Jeremy Corbyn at prime minister’s questions. Rosie Winterton, Labour’s chief whip, looked up and smiled. Her leader had finally got round to reading something she had written. Corbyn was quick to disillusion her: “Rosie is in her 20s and wants to buy a house in London.” Winterton shrugged. In a good light …

In their previous exchanges at PMQs, David Cameron has often been caught off guard by Corbyn’s references to members of the public, unsure whether to laugh or adopt a solemn face. Now the prime minister had a plan; repeat Rosie’s name as often as possible. “I want Rosie to be able to buy her own house,” he said, “which is why I have brought in the help-to-buy Isa especially for Rosie.”

If Rosie has any sense she will steer well clear of the help-to-buy Isa that had been specially created for her, as she would end up saving money at a far slower rate than house inflation and would be even less likely to afford a home than at the start.

Corbyn appeared rather nonplussed by Dave’s unexpected romance with Rosie. Perhaps he expected Dave to do the decent thing, like him, and keep it quiet.

The Labour leader was wearing an “I heart the unions” badge on his jacket lapel, but he wasn’t going to do anything so undignified as to mention the 24-hour junior doctors’ strike. Perhaps because half the Labour party aren’t at all sure if they are in favour of it. Instead, Corbyn chose the technocratic route of grinding the housing numbers more closely. Had home ownership not fallen by 200,000? Had not the Conservatives only built one new council home for every eight sold?

“Don’t talk to me of housing numbers,” Dave snapped. “Talk to me only of Rosie. Everything I do, I do it for Rosie. I’ve built 400,000 homes for Rosie.” Though none that she could afford or wanted to live in, apparently. “And yes, I’m not ashamed to have cut housing benefits. Just think how many Rosies I could house for £100k.”

George Osborne pulled out his calculator, did a quick sum and passed the answer on to Dave. 23.57. One Rosie = £4,242.68. Armed with this figure, Dave went into Rosie overdrive. Rosie wanted a country where everything Dave said was completely right. Rosie heart Dave. Dave heart Rosie.

One currency that isn’t doing so well is the Emily. So it was no coincidence that Tory Nigel Adams used his question to reminisce about how Spitfires had won the Battle of Britain and how the shadow defence minister, Emily Thornberry, had said they were as useless as Trident missiles at a recent meeting of the parliamentary Labour party. At this point Thornberry began a pressing conversation with Lucy Powell, while Powell made no effort to conceal the fact she wasn’t listening.

Defence is one of Labour’s bigger achilles heels right now and Dave doesn’t even have to stretch himself to come up with ways of making the opposition look divided and dim-witted. He merely quotes their own words back at them. “Oh dear oh dear omg oh dear oh dear need to go rest in a darkened room.” That was the tweet Labour’s Madeleine Moon had sent out after Thornberry’s recent address to the PLP.

The only Tory not to find this funny was Julian Lewis. Defence is far too important a subject to laugh about; and Lewis is far too self-important a chair of the defence select committee to laugh about it.

“I hope the prime minister isn’t planning to wait until after the Labour party has split itself over Trident at its next party conference before debating the future of Trident in this house,” he said. “Heaven forbid,” sniggered Dave. Make that a yes. It’s what Rosie would have wanted.

Powered by article was written by John Crace, for The Guardian on Wednesday 10th February 2016 15.30 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010