THE Mother of All Parliaments plunged into pantomime last week when, amid what is fast becoming its stupidest hour, MPs focused not on the biggest crisis we have faced since the Second World War but on whether Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May a “stupid woman.”
Let’s first assume that Corbyn did so, then ask whether that would qualify him, as some have argued, as a misogynist, or whether in the context of this time of national peril, he was stating a simple truth?
Then let’s ponder the fact that MPs, stupidly, felt it was proportionate to spend more than two hours arguing about what may or may not have been said – two hours more than they spent debating Brexit.
And then let’s examine the evidence to support a claim of stupidity.
Firstly: a government that is causing panic with warnings that a no-deal Brexit could prompt shortages of fuel, food and medicine and that ports may be gridlocked and airplanes grounded.
A health secretary quipping that he could fast become the biggest buyer of fridges to store hoarded medical supplies, an international development secretary suggesting her department could take control because of its experience in emergency provision overseas, and a defence secretary putting 3,500 troops on standby in case of civil disorder.
We are being pushed into a state of fear where the objective is clear – avoid a no-deal Brexit by supporting Theresa May’s very bad deal.
Does anyone need to remind this stupid government this kind of political blackmail can spiral out of control? Do they need reminding that in 2012, when cabinet secretary Francis Maude advised filling jerrycans with petrol in preparation for a possible strike by tanker drivers, the panic buying that ensued led to one woman suffering 40% burns after catching fire decanting petrol in her kitchen?
Let’s also, then, give pause to think about the homeless man found dying next to an entrance to the Commons on the same day politicians were embroiled inside in this stupidest of rows.
Let’s also contemplate the fact that the man, who died, was sleeping on the streets, even though he had a job as a hospital porter – because having a job these days doesn’t mean you can afford a home.
And, while our elected members howled in faux outrage over a comment made so silently that lip readers were recruited by TV stations to clarify what was actually said, nearly 5,000 disabled people were found to have been wrongly stripped of their welfare benefits, the numbers of children living in poverty rose, there were calls for the rising number of assaults on rough-sleepers to be classed as hate crime, and the numbers referred to food-banks hit an all-time high.
Whether Corbyn mouthed “stupid woman” or not does not concern me. If, as he claims, he mouthed “stupid people” at the Tory front bench, that would not concern me much either.
What is concerning is a government that has so abdicated from any sense of reality that it would rather whip up synthetic outrage than deal with a looming disaster.
That isn’t just stupid, it’s plain idiocy.