When a politician wants to promote a certain party policy, they tend to make sure to know the numbers behind it. Jeremy Corbyn did things differently when he appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour this morning to push his flagship pledge to provide free childcare to all two to four-year olds, as the simple question of how much it would cost left him scrabbling for his iPad to find the answer as he plaintively asked: “Can I give you the exact figure in a moment please?”
Corbynistas have reacted with fury online, with former spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin on the politer edge of the responses with his attempt to dismiss presenter Emma Barnett’s questions as “pub quiz”.They may be especially annoyed as it emerges that Diane Abbott’s fumbling attempt to set out her party’s spending commitments for the police on LBC was noticed by voters, so Mr Corbyn’s performance could reinforce the image in their minds that Labour – as Ms Barnett suggested – cannot be “trusted” with money.
Meanwhile, Theresa May has sought to ram home the impression that her Labour rival is a novice who cannot be trusted with leadership, declaring that his approach towards Brexit would leave him “alone and naked” in negotiations with Brussels. She will be quietly pleased by his struggle today with numbers, as it will it even easier for her to portray him as inexperienced.
After getting off to a dodgy start this morning, the Labour leader had managed to log into his iPad by the time he arrived at Mumsnet Towers for a Q&A.( an all too quick one in the view of the forum’s users) – quoting the cost of his childcare pledge as £5.3 billion. He then followed up his car-crash interview by quite literally crashing a (toy) car while visiting a nursery in London.
Mr Corbyn’s day is far from over, as he is appearing on the One Show sofa tonight. He is unlikely to face further questions about the numbers behind his pledges from the presenters, so will enjoy the chance to relax and show off his personal side. We’ll be watching it, and have the latest analysis of what emerges on our live-blog this evening.
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