QUENTIN LETTS watches as Corbyn muttered like a bulldog chomping on nettles

A tad of Baldrick-ian calamity for Jeremy Corbyn. First he saw his cunning plan – of getting the Commons to vote on Government war powers – backfire like a badly-serviced Wartburg Knight. Ker-BANG! He had hoped to bifurcate the Tory side but merely divided his own and ended up with a face of soot.

Then came a blistering debate on anti-Semitism in which a series of Labour MPs attacked Mr Corbyn and his Momentum friends.

There were interventions by a tearful Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth, Ian Austin (shouting with open fury at his leader) and a thunderous speech by Bassetlaw’s John Mann, who pointed an accusatory finger at the Corbyn front bench after detailing outrageous threats levelled at his family by anti-Semites. His wife had been sent a dead bird in the post and had been threatened with rape.

First Corbyn saw his cunning plan – of getting the Commons to vote on Government war powers – backfire like a badly-serviced Wartburg Knight

His children had been assailed by hatred. Having myself been exposed to but a fraction of that sort of stuff recently on a different matter by the internet’s nasty Left, I shudder to think how Mr Mann has coped with such filth.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, left his front bench seat to sit beside the backbenchers in solidarity. Time and again, Labour MPs demanded that Ken Livingstone be ejected from the party.

Down by the despatch box, Baldrick Corbyn just muttered, a bulldog chomping nettles.

The teatime vote on Syria saw Theresa May win easily by 317 votes to 256. Oops. That wasn’t meant to happen. Back to the design shop, comrades. The strength of our Marxo-Islingtonian ideas has yet to become apparent to the capitalist lackeys of Westminster. Back to our laboratory to distil further the bubbling nectar of our leader’s far-sighted proposals. Nurse Thornberry and her syringe will administer sedatives.

Labour's Luciana Berger (pictured), MP for Liverpool Wavertree, made a tearful intervention

Labour’s Luciana Berger (pictured), MP for Liverpool Wavertree, made a tearful intervention

On Monday there had already been a Prime Ministerial statement on Syria, in which 140 MPs spoke, followed by a three-hour emergency debate. Not content with that, and a vote which the Government won by 314 to 36, Mr Corbyn called another three-hour emergency debate for yesterday. Mrs May was again on parade. She was again reasonable, resolute. Again, several Labour MPs behind Mr Corbyn crossed their arms and looked furious at his stuttering performance.

He said there should be a War Powers law to stop Prime Ministers taking military action until the Commons approved. Mrs May argued that would prevent a PM ever responding quickly to a threat to our national security. It would give our enemies time to prepare themselves for our retaliation.

Former Army officer Johnny Mercer (Con, Plymouth Moor View) said the Corbyn proposal would be ‘calamitous insanity’ because ‘speed and secrecy’ were essential in military operations. Ken Clarke (Con, Rushcliffe) tried to squash Mr Mercer. The Father of the House pooh-poohed the idea that ‘Whitehall knows best’. But he came off the worse in the exchange, for Mr Mercer’s case was put with oratorical urgency and authenticity. How out of date old Ken often looks on the Tory benches these days. The younger Conservatives no longer give him automatic respect. They are fed up with his drawlinsg air of superiority.

The more Mr Corbyn goes on about Russia and Syria, the better the Scots Nats’ Westminster leader Ian Blackford sounds. He, too, is sceptical of Middle Eastern adventurism but he manages to put his case while still sounding patriotic. Strong speeches were also made by Heidi Alexander (Lab, Lewisham E) and Jacob Rees-Mogg (Con, NE Somerset), who skilfully and concisely explained how there is already parliamentary oversight of Downing Street’s military powers.

The Syria vote and the later anti-Semitism debate left Mr Corbyn and his shadow team looking isolated. Is it getting to them? Shadow Foreign Secretary Thornberry snapped angrily at Mrs May, shouting ‘rubbish’ and jabbing one of her painted, porky talons at the Prime Minister. Mr Watson’s decision to decamp to the backbenches later was further, graphic evidence of a splintering of Labour’s top command. As I recall, things only ever go badly for Baldrick. Uh-oh. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk