With the House returning from summer recess, the first PMQs took place on Wednesday. Many of us were expecting a clash of the titans but instead it seemed a clash of the damp squibs.
The first question from Starmer was on the debacle that was the exam results, covering ground that should have been covered during recess. Boris seemed flustered and unprepared for the questions and tried the tactic of diversion, which seemed to back-fire. This shone brightly when he accused Starmer of supporting the former Labour leader who allegedly condoned the IRA, leaving the Leader of the Opposition bursting with anger. On this occasion I believe Boris dropped a clanger.
A question from myself to the Prime Minister would have been, ‘In hindsight would it not have been more productive to have held exams as planned? As the rest of the school would not have been in attendance, social distancing could have been maintained. More importantly, the pupils would not have had to endure the U-turn which ultimately caused the exam crash.’
Boris looked very out of depth and struggled to get his point across. The second question from the Labour leader asked the PM if his government is going to extend the furlough scheme that was introduced to protect people’s jobs. The PM said that people must be encouraged to return to work which in turn will restart the economy. Now, I agree with the PM on this point. The government has used taxpayer’s money to fund this scheme:
‘The scheme brought in to retain jobs amidst the new coronavirus pandemic is currently costing the government £14 billion per month. If continued at the same rate, then by October the cost of the scheme will have been £69 billion’. (Source: fullfact.org)
The PM continued to say that people needed to be encouraged to return to work without much explanation as to why. My second question would have been, ‘Prime Minister, why won’t you explain in stark terms why it is so important for workers to return to work?’
You must help people to understand that when others are not productive, the economy suffers. The monies from the furlough scheme are not infinite. We cannot just print money and hope everything will be fine. People are happy to go out and spend in shops, which is a good thing, so they must be prepared to return to work. In fact many workplaces could take a big lesson from retailers who have managed to make their trips to their premises safe for everyone. People need to understand that to work is good for the country, for us and our mental well-being.
My final thought on this PMQs is that the PM needs to sharpen up his act. He was no Iron Lady, and yes, the gentleman is for turning.