Last week we had violence, we had war. This week was less battlefield and more battle over the last jam sandwich at the Women’s Institute tea. Make jam not war - all they actually succeeded in making was snore. For once PMQs was actually dull. Even the village elderly and their sandwiches are more interesting. It was not a battlefield of any sort. It was a zoo and one of those dodgy regional zoos you have never heard of and will not make the mistake of visiting again. All the animals sleep in their huts all day thus you pay are robbed of some ludicrous entrance fee to look in a succession of empty cages. The Westminster cage (should that be bubble?) was well and truly empty; I felt robbed.
Hattie was on top zebra form (like I said, it was dull). Gone are the giraffe days, it is all about stripes. It is the age of the ‘new woman’; I suppose that makes the sharp pinstripes the ‘new zebra’? The ‘new’ zebra was up against one of the lions of the Tory front bench, the other being OsbornehahahahahaKen Clarke. The lion wanted to know about the working capital scheme that still is not actually working.
The not actually working capital scheme, Harperson assured us, was in fact a very nearly almost soon to be working capital scheme, essentially a probably never working capital scheme. Apparently the government has helped a whole 93 businesses. 93? The zoo sensed it was feeding time. A few seconds later it was 93,000 businesses. Hang on, where did the other 92,907 come from? That was quick. Anything to do with the Business Secretary’s trip to Chile? (or was it Brazil?) I hear these beach bars are really struggling (do they have beach bars in Chile?). I fear said ‘businesses’ may have been the sort that don’t actually exist.
The lion now wanted to know about the mortgage support scheme, or rather the mortgage lack of support scheme and the job recruitment scheme, or as the government have chosen to interpret it, the job redundancy scheme. ‘HMG – not helping you to find a job’ reads the slogan (well actually it doesn’t, but it should).
Hattie hopped from hoof to hoof. She trotted out (excuse the pun) the usual ‘do nothing Tories’ line: “the Opposition would take no action and make the recession worse and longer”. Make the recession worse? Not sure we need to, the government (Gordon) seem to have managed that all on their own.
The call of the wild was spreading for Hague took us to South America, to a particularly disturbing image of the PM and the other PM in speedos. I’m not sure my eyes are up to that particular mental image. This is getting less like government by the minute and more like Madagascar 3. Escape from the zoo to South America. I might pitch it to Pixar. Mandygascar: The Movie. On second thoughts…
Hague asked about naughty Merv and his fiscal expansion. Or lack of. Does the government agree with the Governor? (Maybe that should that be the Guv’nor?) Hattie tried the ‘do nothing’ jibe. Hague asked again. The Lion seemed weary, batting the irritating flies away with the swish of a tail. Hattie seemed disappointed. She wanted the lion to roar. She wanted a fight. She pitched the class war. “The Conservatives’ priority is to give £200,000 each in tax cuts to just 3,000 millionaires."
“The question was about the Governor of the Bank of England.” Again he tried (the third time in case you’d lost track). “The Budget will be on 22nd April.” Err, good. I’m pleased that it will, but err, about the Guv’nor? I was beginning to think that sticking Hattie in the zebra, sorry new zebra, enclosure was a mistake. She was jumping around all over the place, more gazelle than zebra. Back and forth, zig zag, up, down, around and around. The smug looking gazelle (can gazelles look smug?) turned round after much a-leaping to discover that the lion hadn’t shifted from his shady spot under a large tree.
Hattie had one last attempt to start a war, she gave Hague a final poke. “They have set out their stall: it is the millionaire’s manifesto.” Nice sound bite or whatever it is No. 10 like to call such meaningless phrases these days. A minute ago it was all about ‘worse and longer’, then it was something about the far right, then we a-leaped over to millionaires again.
Presumably all the people with estates valued between £312,000 and £1 million are millionaires too? Now I don’t mean to be funny, but the last time I looked, to be a millionaire required a wealth of more that £1 million, hence, presumably, the term millionaire? I’m starting to fear the reshuffle. What if Hattie gets the Treasury?
The only slightly less boring bit was when Vince had a go. Things briefly looked up, but not for long. We were soon back to zebra Hattie and her pre-prepared answers. This was not Prime Minister’s Questions, but Prime Minister’s Statements. I want Leopard Dave and Brown Bear in the enclosure together. We all know that however much a-dancing is done the gazelle, or indeed the zebra, is no match for a lion. It was just a shame this one was not interested.