PM avoids questions on tomorrow's elections with attacks on Labour anti-Semitism
David Cameron took the last Prime Minister’s Questions before tomorrow’s local elections as an opportunity to take what election strategist Lynton Crosby calls the ‘dead cat on the table’ and to beat it into ashes at the dispatch box.
In a heated exchange with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the prime minister sought to exploit Labour’s ongoing anti-Semitism row – and avoid any tough questions about government policy – by subverting the form and asking the leader of the opposition questions instead.
Cameron began by using a planted question from Karl McCartney MP to ask Corbyn about the Palestinian group Hamas, and the Lebanese party Hezbollah, demanding that Corbyn ‘withdraw the remark that they were his friends’.
Corbyn began by noting that Israel was today commemorating the Holocaust, adding that the House should send ‘a very clear statement, that anti-Semitism has no place in our society whatsoever, and we all have a duty to oppose it’.
He then turned to cuts to local council funding, saying that the most deprived areas in England would be hit the hardest, and adding: ‘The prime minister used to say, we’re all in it together. What happened to that?’
Cameron responded, after a brief claim that the government has increased council funding, by saying ‘I’m gonna press him on this point’, and forcing Corbyn to say that Labour is an anti-racist party and that he did not approve of Hamas and Hezbollah, though without referring to them by name.
This pattern was repeated for the rest of the exchange, with Cameron shouting about Corbyn and terrorism, and Corbyn speaking more about anti-Semitism issues and less about social policy questions to do with homelessness, inequality and the local elections.
Sadly, it could be read as a microcosm of party-political debate at the moment.
You can watch part of the exchange in the video above.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.