By Campaign Agent Oliver Ratcliffe
Note: views expressed are those of the individual and not representative of TalkPolitics
PMQ’s this week was as raucous and heated as ever. The session began with a question about investment from a Conservative MP. May was able to respond with her well rehearsed economic vision on investment for the country, asserting the government’s commitment to infrastructure spending, including billions of pounds on rail projects.
May began very much within her comfort zone. Enter Jeremy Corbyn. The leader of the opposition’s first direct question at the Prime Minister was on the issue of police funding, claiming that crime is up and police budgets have been cut, thus risking the safety of the public. May’s response was a counter claim that in fact crime had gone down by a third since 2010. So a familiar trade off of carefully picked statistics between the two leaders, leaving more questions than answers.
The second wave of questions referred to Universal Credit, a major topic in the last PMQ’s, with Corbyn using some real life stories to urge the PM to pause it’s roll out. May defended its roll out by re-affirming its aim of ensuring more people can keep what they earn at work. Corbyn came back by saying the use of food banks has increased in areas that Universal Credit has been used, and repeated the need to pause the roll out.
Then the session moved onto the NHS and education cuts; you could almost hear the rubbing of hands of Labour MPs. The Labour leader used a letter to the Chancellor from 5,000 Head-teachers that requested the money be returned to the system as ammunition. May’s responded to the education funding issues by once again, painting the wider picture of what the Conservatives are trying to achieve- a strong economy first, high public spending second.
Corbyn then strategically placed the discussion of the paradise papers after the discussion on cuts and deficits. Although I do feel as though this subject was glossed over somewhat and needed more air-time.
On first viewing, Theresa May has grown in confidence in recent weeks, but by no stretch of the imagination was this performance an indicator of a turning of tables. She might be gaining confidence with the odd jibe or statistical comeback, but she still has a tendency to instinctively edge into her party’s default comeback of building a strong economy. Corbyn undoubtedly hit some raw nerves, and continues to breathe down the neck of the government.