Jeremy Corbyn has responded to a personal attack during Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday by posting a direct response on his twitter account.
During the questioning, the opposition leader Corbyn asked David Cameron if he intended on “writing another letter to himself, asking on behalf of his constituents asking for the health secretary to intervene and support his local NHS?” The question was in direct reference to reports that Cameron’s own mother had signed a petition in her constituency condemning the Conservatives health policies. A labour back bencher suggested that David Cameron should ask his mother for an answer to the question when the Prime Minister responded with a personal attack on the attire of Jeremy Corbyn.
In what many commentators have suggested is a move typical of the Tory leader while attempting to avoid answering a question Cameron merely said his mother would tell Corbyn to “put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem,” leading to over 30 seconds of laughter from his parties back benches. A video of the exchange can be seen on the BBC website.
Corbyn responded during PMQs by suggesting that his own mother would have stood up “for the principle of a health service free at the point of use for everybody, because that’s what she dedicated her life to, as did many of her generation.” However, after PMQs had finished a tweet appeared on the official Jeremy Corbyn twitter account quoting legendary genius physicist Albert Einstein when he said, “If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes & shoddy furniture let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas & shoddy philosophies.” Corbyn added the hashtag PMQs. His response proved popular, receiving over 13,000 shares at the time of writing.
PMQs is a weekly event held every Wednesday in British parliament where Members of Parliament are allowed to ask questions directly to the Prime Minister. In recent years, it has often descended into a change to senior politicians to exchange insults rather than address issues of policy. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party, he decided he wanted to focus on policy over personality and his attempts received early acclaim, with commentators in The Independent saying the new “grown up” politics was refreshing, although critics were quick to suggest that the change would not last long. A claim that the Conservatives are doing their best to prove accurate.
After PMQs a number of senior Conservatives were quick to defend the ad hominem attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, with Education Minister Nicky Morgan claiming that it was right to expect personal attacks in parliamentary debates. However Labour MP’s were quick to condemn the Conservatives response, and even Liberal Leader Tim Fallon got involved when he said that Cameron’s comment about had bought Parliament to a new low.
It is not the first time that Cameron has avoided answering questions from Jeremy Corbyn. It has been a recurring theme and seems to be a deliberate tactic from Cameron to avoid policy debate. Indeed, on September 16, 2015 Corbyn made a specific point of highlighting this by using his time during PMQs to ask the same question about changes to benefit changes to the most impoverished six times, with Cameron avoiding answering the question all six times.
Not everybody is a fan of Corbyn’s approach, with some saying he makes PMQs dour and uninteresting, seemingly preferring the politics of personality over policy. However, while many people do not appreciate Jeremy Corbyn’s personal style it seems they appreciate his principled approach. Whether that will be enough to beat the Conservatives in the next general election is still to be seen, but the future promises to bring up more interesting Cameron vs Corbyn moments in PMQs.
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