“Hear, hear!”

“Order, order!”

It is, of course, PMQs time.

This week, with Keir Starmer still stuck in self-isolation with Covid, Angela Rayner took the wheel and clashed with Boris Johnson about the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal, tax, and how the recent budget will impact different groups in society.

How did they get on? Let’s take a look.

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“In no other profession in our country could someone be found guilty by an independent process and just have their mates vote them back into the job,” Rayner, 9/10

Rayner kicked off proceedings by embarrassing the prime minister over reports that he will change parliamentary rules to stop Paterson – who was found to have broken a series of lobbying rules – from being temporarily suspended from parliament.

Johnson said that Paterson’s case hadn’t been treated fairly because his witnesses had given written but not oral evidence and that he deserves a “proper appeal”. But presenting a case in which it appeared that the Tories follow “one rule for them, and one rule for the rest of us”, as Rayner then added, will surely not go down well with voters.

“Why is the Prime Minister making it up as he goes along?” Rayner, 10/10

What can we say? A fair point that could be used in numerous contexts when it comes to the veritable king of winging it.

“Instead of playing politics on this issue… she needs to consider the procedures of this house in a spirit of fairness,” Johnson, 3/10

As the Labour Party reached for their violins as one, Johnson winged about “fairness” – remarkable, really.

“We are getting on with delivering the people’s priorities,” Johnson, 5/10

Johnson being Johnson, he then tried to change the subject by delivering his usual monologue about how the government has “helped” with wages, hospital building, and all the other statistics he prattles off every week – why not sing along at home? – as he shouted over jeering from Labour.

As Greta Thunberg might say: “Blah, blah, blah”.

“This isn’t about playing politics, this is about playing by the rules,” Rayner, 6/10

In response, Rayner once again seized that moral high ground and didn’t let it go. She then mocked Johnson and claimed that Donald Trump was one of his “heroes” and said he was “wallowing in sleaze”.

Quite the oration.

“Their bills are going up every week and the budget is doing nothing to help them,” Rayner, 8/10

Next, Rayner turned her attention to the Budget and said Johnson had enacted tax cuts for bankers while making things more difficult for ordinary working people. She quoted research by the thinktank the Resolution Foundation that claims household taxes will be £3000 higher than when Johnson took office and savaged him on cuts to defence spending.

Johnson emitted some grandiose waffle about how great the government is in response, while Rayner stared him down like an unimpressed teacher telling their student off.

“She has about a gigawatt more energy than the right honourable gentleman, her friend from Holborn,” Johnson, 0/10

Johnson resorted to insulting Starmer’s conduct in PMQs – a man, lest we forget, who was not debating during this edition of PMQs – such was his inability to challenge Rayner.

If even the PM is praising his opponent for her performance, we think it’s pretty clear who the winner is...

Verdict

There is no denying that Angela Rayner has a way of making entitled public school boys look very small indeed.

Just as she did with Dominic Raab when she last took Starmer’s role in PMQs, she delivered her questions in a relaxed manner and with confidence and segued between various themes without even a hint of clunkiness.

By discussing veterans, tax, and political corruption, she struck emotive chords that will surely resonate with voters and made the Labour Party look like the fair and populist alternative to a group of self-interested elites.

This is something Starmer – whose politics are not as left wing as Rayner – struggles to do and regardless of whose policies would work better in practice, PMQs is a pantomime so it can’t be played by a stagehand.

As Starmer sits stir crazy waiting for his brush with coronavirus to come to an end, we’re sure he’ll do so with pride. This was Rayner’s parliament, everyone else was just living in it.

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