A GOOD news day at last! A Covid-19 vaccine has been licensed in the UK and plans for a roll-out are in place, so for this week’s PMQs Keir Starmer dispenses with verbal jabs and sticks to the important questions.

Who will be getting the vaccine first, and within what timeframe? How can we counter misinformation from anti-vaxx conspiracy theorists, and do we need emergency legislation?

However, the Prime Minister has clearly prepared for a Punch and Judy show, not a consensual, grown-up discussion, and he isn’t about to let his spanking paddle go to waste.

Perhaps the leader of the opposition could also pay tribute to the vaccine taskforce that secured the deal with Pfizer, he says, which he “criticised only a few weeks ago”?

And he’s got another zinger lined up, so when Starmer raises concerns about the collapse of the Arcadia group and Debenhams, he need not waste time providing reassurance to those whose jobs are at risk as a result. After all, if Starmer cares so much about jobs, why did he abstain from last night’s vote on opening up the economy, hmm?

Glossing over the fact that 16 of his own MPs abstained, and a further 55 rebels voted against it, Johnson declares that Captain Hindsight has risen through the ranks to become General Indecision.

What does that make him, then? Colonel Calamity?

The same dismissal is deployed against the SNP, when Ian Blackford has the temerity to complain about the shameful lack of support provided to three million workers across a range of sectors.

The National: Ian Blackford spoke via video links at PMQsIan Blackford spoke via video links at PMQs

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“We’ve abandoned nobody”, replies the PM, to howls of outrage. These people haven’t been abandoned at all, as they can of course simply claim the temporarily uplifted Universal Credit and “many other means of support”, and be jolly well grateful for it.

“Shameful!” comes a shout.

“The gentleman from the Scottish nationalists says it’s shameful”, he begins, and then things take a truly bizarre turn.

“Uh, he, wuh, I, wuh,” he begins, building up the courage to blurt out a massive whopper. “We on this side of the house do not think retail is shameful.”

WHAT?! The faces of the SNP MPs say it all – apart from that of Alison Thewliss, who is wearing a fetching yellow mask. But her dramatic raising and flapping of her arms says “what the hell are you playing at?”

Even by the PM’s usual standards, this is an outrageous piece of mischief-making. A shameful performance, one might say.

The SNP’s Drew Hendry points out that the Universal Credit uplift is a tacit admission the previous rate was too low to live on, and that January will see the benefits cap kick in for those who began claiming in March.

He asks if the affected families will be thrown to the wolves, just like the three million self-employed who have been locked out of Covid-specific employment support.

A “no” would be nice, wouldn’t it? Alas, we just get some more waffle about “looking after every job we can”.

But perhaps Hendry should be grateful that his question wasn’t distorted into “shameful nationalists endorse feeding the poor to wolves!”

At this point you could feed Johnson himself to the wolves and they’d likely end up in retreat, having blunted their fangs on his solid brass neck.