On Tuesday, when Gids Osborne was shafting Ed Balls — to loud approval from his backbenches, everything was fine-and-dandy.
By PMQs on Wednesday, the shaft was thrusting the other way — to the extent that Quentin Letts had to construct a Mail sketch wholly ignoring the headline act.
Advantage, Dominic Raab
Then, today, total Tory chaos ensued with Dominic Raab (himself a distinguished lawyer) putting an amendment to the Immigration Bill. With its explicit and deliberately-intended ECHR-illegality, this was nearly wished upon Theresa May. A messy bit of on-off Tory whipping (allegedly the party line was changed five times during the morning) ended up with mass abstention by the pay-roll vote, and 87 Tory and 10 Labour votes in favour. Labour and LibDem votes saw the Home Office off this hook, for the time being.
We await, with some interest, how all this can be spun to the lasting credit of Tory HQ, Downing Street, the Home Office, and sold to the loyal Tory press.
Cue, Paul Waugh
Then we had this (continuing) exchange:
Kudos, Yvette Cooper
Earlier, Paul Waugh had been tweeting:
I suspect EdM, not Cooper, made the final call on Lab voting against Raab. Echoes of Liam Byrne kneecapped to vote against Benefits cap?
Whatever the truth there, Yvette Cooper was able to take chunks out of Theresa May and the Home Office — seemingly to enjoy herself thoroughly.
Of course, it will hardly be a lasting achievement. Somehow the amendment, had it been carried would have been mislaid somehow, somewhere, or sucked into the Black Hole that is the House of Lords. Had Labour been truly, deeply nasty, also abstained, let Raab have his wicked way, it could even have transpired (knowing the ironies and delays of these things) that after 2015 a future Labour Home Secretary would be paying good lawyers good money to defend this abomination before the ECHR.
Hence Ms Cooper deserves only a “putty medal”. Let’s consult the OED:
putty medal n. humorous a worthless reward for insignificant service or achievement.
To which is appended a citation:
1893 Times 26 July 11/6 (advt.) Our system..is as far removed from the little five and ten pound systems of dealing as is a genuine sovereign from a putty medal.
Malcolm’s Dear Old Mum had the expression too often for Malcolm’s self-esteem, but it seems to have lapsed in usage subsequently.
Welcome, Betty Martin
When the dust settled, the Raab amendment had been rubbished by 241 Nays to those 97 Ayes. In the run-up we had Norman Smith doing his impartial BBC bit:
No 10 say “relaxed” about Tory ‘rebel’ vote on Immigration Bill
No 10 say “not that far apart” from Dominic Raab over his ‘rebel’ motion but do not think it is is workable
Spinning away there, the afternoon press briefing.
Of which one can cheerfully say: all my eye and Betty Martin. Let’s help the OED here, which simply calls it a noun, with no great explanation except the citations. Its modern equivalent would be along the lines of
“a load of old cobblers”