At PMQs today, Jeremy Corbyn challenged Theresa May on her refusal to participate in any TV debates:
We welcome the General Election, but this is a Prime Minister who promised there wouldn’t be one. A Prime Minister who cannot be trusted. She says it’s about leadership – yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates and it’s not hard to see why. She says we have a stronger economy and yet she can’t explain why people’s wages are lower today than they were ten years ago, why more households are in debt, 6 million people earning less than the living wage. Child poverty is up, pensioner poverty is up. So – why are so many people getting poorer?
May’s response was as weak as it was predictable:
I would point out to the Right Honourable Gentleman that I have been answering his questions and debating these matters every Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since I became Prime Minister.
But she hasn’t. There’s a reason it’s called ‘Prime Minister’s Questions’ and not ‘Prime Minister’s Answers’ – and Theresa May exemplifies it even more than her predecessor and did so again today. Corbyn made mincemeat of May on the crucial issues of poverty, the NHS, education, broken promises, the Tories borrowing more since 2010 than every Labour government in history and more.
In spite of the media’s attempts to cast it differently, and even in the artificial and rules-bound environment that allows a Prime Minister to be evasive without being called to account properly, Corbyn routinely trounces May every week, forcing her to resort to smears and jibes almost instantly – and today he was statesmanlike, incisive, confident and coherent.
Here’s a short example, in case you missed it:
It was a stark contrast with her bluster and diversion – but of course, if you have a helpful media, that might not filter from PMQs into the awareness of a public that doesn’t watch PMQs and only reads or hears about it.
And that’s why Theresa May is terrified of a live television debate. She knows it will be watched by millions who wouldn’t normally watch PMQs – and without the filter of the media to airbrush out her haplessness and obvious inability to give a straight answer to any important question.
If May faced Corbyn in a live television debate he would take her apart – and millions would see it.
Angus Robertson for the SNP and others also challenged May – and got the same lame response.
The BBC and other channels have a duty to hold the debates anyway – and to ’empty chair’ Mrs May, so the public is aware of her cowardice while the real politicians debate the real issues. If they fail to do so, they will have put beyond doubt the fact of their enslavement to Establishment interests.
Just as May has put beyond doubt her unfitness for the role of Prime Minister and her complete lack of substance and backbone.
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