May crashed and burned on the grandest of stages. In her first PMQs earlier in the summer, Tory backbenchers had been able to delude themselves that they had got themselves a mini-Maggie. This time they got to see May Unplugged - brittle, lacking in humour and unable to think on her feet as one of her key policies was dismantled in front of her eyes. Dave had come up with some bad ideas in his time, but he was never inept enough to let Jeremy Corbyn take them apart at the dispatch box.
It wasn’t even as if the Labour leader had needed to be on top form. Competent was more than enough to get the job done. “I’d like to congratulate the prime minister on managing to unite Ofsted, the teaching unions and education secretaries on both sides of the house with her plans to introduce more grammar schools,” he began. “Can she name any experts who think this is a good idea?”
Theresa couldn’t, and tried to steer the argument on to faith schools. For once, Corbyn didn’t allow himself to be distracted and got stuck in. “So you don’t have any experts to support you,” he said. “Well let me quote a few more experts who don’t, starting with the Institute of Fiscal Studies.” By now, May was looking badly rattled. She glanced behind her for encouragement, but no Tory backbencher would catch her eye. Her grammar school proposals are almost as unpopular with her own party as they are with the opposition.
“Well, I went to grammar school and you went to grammar school so they must be a good idea, right?” she said. Tory heads went even further down. When the personal is the only defence for a public policy, the game is up.But at least one Tory was pleased, probably:
Somewhere in a house near Witney, a slightly overweight 49-year-old man hauled himself off the sofa and punched the air. Dave takes his victories where he can find them these days.