Only a few weeks have passed since Jeremy Corbyn appeared to be getting into his stride at PMQs. He bettered David Cameron on academisation (a policy the government has now abandoned) through a series of clear and forensic questions. But Corbyn now appears to have unlearned all of these lessons. His questioning today was dizzyingly incoherent and verbose.
After beginning by challenging Cameron to support a new European Commission directive on worker exploitation (the first time he has led on the EU), he swiftly progressed to British tax havens, the City of London and Tory MEPs before concluding on child refugees. There were no memorable soundbites (and, yes, such things matter in politics) and no sense of direction. Cameron was left entirely bemused. His government’s current direction offers no shortage of targets but Corbyn didn’t merely miss them: he didn’t even bother to aim. “That was a very long answer,” the Labour leader complained at one point, prompting appropriate cries of derision.
The only notable flashpoint came when Corbyn attacked the National Living Wage as a “corruption” of the concept. His point was reasonable: the government’s policy is not a “living wage” as traditionally understood. But Cameron easily spun this as an attack on a pay rise for workers (and the new minimum is one of the highest in the world).
Having last week attacked Sadiq Khan as a friend of Islamist extremists, the Prime Minister publicly congratulated him for the first time. But, in defiance of Khan’s demands, there was no hint of remorse for what had gone before.