You might think that passing on season’s greetings at Christmas time in the House of Commons would be a fairly enjoyable and risk-free thing to do. But David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn got themselves into twist as they came head to head in the last PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) before the Christmas break.
Corbyn (LO), when he first stood up to speak, passed on his greetings to the Speaker, members of the house (and Major Tim Peake, the British astronaut who recently went into space on the International Space Station).
LO: thank you (.) thank you mister speaker (1.0) could I start by wishing you all members of the house and all staff here and major Tim Peake who’s not (.) on the planet at this time Chamber: ((laughter & general noise)) ((5.0 secs)) LO: a very (.) a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year
It is interesting to note how the Guardian has transcribed this section – there are significant differences with what was actually said:
May I start by wishing you, members of the house, staff and Major Tim Peake who is not on the planet at this time, a very happy Christmas and peaceful new year. (Guardian translation)
Cameron (PM) however didn’t seem to be happy with the greeting. Maybe he didn’t feel it was sincere or direct enough?
PM: well (.) well first of all let me join the right honourable gentleman and be very clear that I don’t want to (.) wish him the season’s greetings and I want a full happy Christmas for the er (.) Chamber: ((shouts of agreement)) PM: er right honourable gentleman and everyone (.) er in in the house
Corbyn (LO), perhaps imagining tomorrow’s newspaper headlines, felt the need to clarify the fact that he did use the words ‘happy Christmas’:
LO: mister speaker just for the record I did say happy Christmas (4.0)
Cameron (PM) made sure that the news of the fall in unemployment got a full sounding during PMQs; something he does most months when the figures are released. He clearly felt that Corbyn should have addressed this in his questioning and mentioned the fact seven times during the opening exchanges.
PM: on unemployment I’m sure the whole house will want to welcome the fact that there are <HALF a million> (.) more people in work in our country in the <last year alone> Chamber:((shouts of agreement)) PM: we’ve had (.) wages wages growing above inflation every month for a year and (.) the claimant count is at the lowest level since nineteen seventy five I’m sure this will have a welcome right across the house Chamber: ((shouts of agreement)) PM: none of this would be possible without the growing economy that we have and the more jobs we’ve created Chamber: ((shouts of agreement)) PM: it’s this government that has the strong and growing economy and I note (.) question four and still not a welcome for the unemployment figures Chamber: ((shouts of agreement)) PM: but I challenge him again how do we pay for the NHS we pay for it by more growth more jobs more people having a livelihood Chamber: ((shouts of agreement)) PM: is he going to welcome that at Christmas time or doesn’t he care about the reduction in unemployment PM: but all of this is happening mister speaker because the economy is growing because the deficit if falling unemployment is coming down you can fill up a tank of gas at less than a pound (.) a litre wages are going up Britain is getting stronger as we go into Christmas because our economy’s getting stronger too Chamber: ((shouts of agreement))