Corbyn’s sin was not the comment but the cover up. Lying to the House is usually a resignation matter. But he will be tarnished but safe. He is the government’s greatest asset

20 Dec 2018 at 13:40

It’s rarely the offence that sucks the life out of a politician. It’s the cover up. Whether it was Watergate, Profumo, Huhme or that ghastly MP from Peterborough. And now it is the turn of Corbyn, the leader who in the eyes of his acolytes can be forgiven anything from rampant anti semitism to consorting with the enemies of the United Kingdom. He has glided through the shit storms with relative ease. Although not smelling so much of roses as Domestos. Yesterday’s little outing was far, far more serious then anything he has ever faced. Some of you will say, ‘don’t be daft he only muttered under his breath that Madame was a stupid woman. Get perspective.’ And I can agree with that argument. What he should have done is come back the the House and said, ‘Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I was accused by the party opposite of using unparliamentary and sexist language. As you know, Prime Minister’s Question Time is the most fast moving, high pressure arena that any politician has to endure. Feelings run high and sometimes things are said that are immediately regretted. To be honest I have no recollection of saying that the Prime Minister was a stupid woman. It is against everything I have fought all my life. However, I have since looked at the playback and can see that to my horror I have muttered those offending words. I unreservedly apologise to this House and in particular the Prime Minister. What I meant to say was stupid people.’

If he had done that, it would have been the end of the matter. But he didn’t. His hounds spun that he said ‘people’ not ‘woman’ and that they had a well known lip reader who would attest to this. Well, the lip reader has vanished like a Will O’ the Wisp if he/she or Zi had ever existed, which I doubt. Corbyn then came back to the chamber and lied. A lie, so big, so venal and so obvious that it made Boris’s battle bus promise look like a bit of fib.

In the Commons if you apologise with good grace and humility you can just about get away with most things. But if you lie to them it is the most serious Parliamentary offence on the charge sheet. Which is pretty long. Profumo didn’t resign because of shagging Christine Keeler, he resigned because of lying to the House about it. If he hadn’t done that and bluffed it out he might well have survived.

So what will happen to Corbyn? Difficult to say. It’s not long to go before Christmas. But anything that unites Anna Soubry and Loathesome borders on the miraculous. And Madame yet again bestrides the moral high ground. Corbyn won’t resign. Good God it would be a disaster for the Tories if he did. But the fluffiness, wide eyed innocence and the lovely old grandad veneer is wearing thin. We have the ocular proof.

And poor old Bercow’s reputation took a serious beating. One of the favourite sayings of Speakers who wanted to avoid making a tricky decision was, ‘I am unable to make a ruling on this as my wig slipped over my eyes.’ His antics yesterday were simply embarrassing. To say that the images were ‘ambiguous’, is a serious porky. And stupid. I have never never known a Speaker who has lost the confidence of the House. If he tries to cling on it will be the death of him.

But isn’t it wonderful not to write about Brexit? It’s like the story of the Brighton lavatory attendant who was getting rather fed up with the hedonistic activities of his clientele. ‘Do you know I had a guy come in here the other day for a shit? It was like a breath of fresh air.’

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