Analysis: Calm Corbyn changes tone of PMQs, but can he do it again?
After the chaos of the past four days, Jeremy Corbyn’s first Prime Minister’s Questions as leader of the opposition looked set to demonstrate a fractured Labour party in disarray.
But that is not what happened.
To a packed chamber, Corbyn looked utterly unruffled and when he took the floor, and unexpectedly received a hearty cheer from Labour MPs.
During his first question, Corbyn said he would like Prime Minister’s Questions to change in tone, and said he would “do things differently”.
This he did by asking the public to email him questions to ask in parliament. More than 40,000 people emailed him, he said, and he went on to read questions on housing, mental health and cuts to working tax credits.
David Cameron responded sincerely, but missed no opportunity to criticise Corbyn’s economic policy, his appointment of John McDonnell as shadow chancellor, and his defence policy.
Nonetheless, the effect was undoubtedly a calmer Prime Minister’s Questions, and it meant Cameron had to respond not directly to Corbyn himself, but to those people Corbyn had asked questions from.
This had the effect of removing the opportunity for Cameron to ridicule him.
But it also meant that Cameron had free reign to set out to the public – which no doubt tuned in in droves – exactly what the Conservatives stand for.
Corbyn’s integrity was preserved – he spoke fluidly and calmly.
If the audience was expecting a car crash, they did not get it.