Is There A Point To Prime Minister’s Questions?

Posted: February 9, 2011 in Politics
Tags: , , , ,

Week after week, this half-hour of televised showboating comes up and shows the world that we do NOT have a civilised and democratic House Of Commons. There is rabble-rousing, baiting, pointing of papers, talking across answers, this is supposed to be the House of people who represent this nation and it is nothing more than the country’s largest classroom of rowdy schoolchildren! In fact, I reckon that even the rowdiest of children would behave better than these “adults” who get paid £65k+ a year to act on behalf of the people of this nation. So is it time we saw the end of this half-hour of madness?

In today’s example of the steady and civilised chance for the PM to answer questions about anything and everything (he gets briefed on things that might come up, as well as on everything the Opposition Leader will ask), Speaker John Bercow had to try and calm the rabble after just ten minutes of questions. This is the first reason the session is pointless.

The second reason the session is pointless is that the PM very rarely answers questions with a straight bat. Whenever he is asked a question that attacks any Government policy, instead of giving a straight answer, the PM will use it as a chance to attack Labour’s policy. Let it go, Dave, you’re in charge, you don’t need to keep doing that any more! The constant lack of answers tells me a couple of things about this Conservative Government.

  • It tells me that they are running scared. Their constant attacks on the Opposition are designed to try and get the public to see that the Conservative way is the only way forward because the Opposition would keep on ruining the country. It effectively frees them from any kind of blame, because when they are attacked they can simply answer “still better than the last lot”. But is it really?
  • It tells me that they have no answers. Constantly pointing to the opposition means that they have not needed to have answers, their stock answer of “the other lot made a mess” is the only answer they need. But it is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. not good enough for the people of this country to be told “We will do what the hell we like because the last lot made such a mess”.

A good example was today’s question from David Cairns (Lab). He pointed out that the Government was responsible for massive cuts in the Police budget, asking whether the Goverment was being soft on crime. The PM’s considered answer was that Labour were denying the need to reduce the deficit. It’s that answer that makes Dave truly believe he can do what he wants with this country.

Another one: Mr Miliband followed up one of his questions with an attack on the Government’s cuts, saying they will make society “smaller and weaker”. Mr Cameron’s answer? “Labour has no answers, and nearly bankrupted this country”.

Personally I would like to see PMQs replaced with a different format. The questions are still gathered in the accepted manner, but instead of facing the House with the questions, the PM faces a cross-party (or ideally independent) board of inquisitors. The questions HAVE to be answered properly, and any reference to the previous Government would be banned. This would last for one hour instead of 30 minutes, giving the inquisitors time to ask follow-ups where necessary, and all answers would be televised for the nation to see. Surely this has to be a better solution than the current non-entity of a session that is foisted on us every week in the name of democracy.


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