PMQs: what do you think?

One of the issues I’m pondering over the summer is what to make of Prime Minister’s Question Time. To me – yes, it’s great theatre and even fun at time but – it’s utterly crap as a way of holding the Prime Minister or Government to account – and I doubt the baying mob moment where everyone (except polite Lib Dems of course!) is cheering or booing does much for the reputation of politics.

After all – what would you think of someone who behaved in a work meeting the way the boorish heckling backbenchers do at PMQs? So – you may have guessed I’m not impressed!

Still though I’d be interested to hear other people’s views – what do you make of PMQs? Is it any good? Does it damage politics etc? Let me know what you think!

(Update: my fellow MP John Hemming has expressed his views on PMQs over at his blog).

0 thoughts on “PMQs: what do you think?

  1. If MPs want to improve what the public think of politics the number one change is to start behaving like adults at Question Time.

  2. I am big fan of PMQs. I enjoy the theatre and the humour of it, and I think this is a side to politics and politicians that the public rarely gets to see. Granted, in terms of a way in which to hold the government accountable or for serious politcal discussion, PMQs does not offer either.

  3. Hailing from a politically orientated family, we frequently tune into PMQ on Parliament Channel. It is quite simply unacceptable that the Prime Minister offers MPs, irrespective of party affiliation, thirty minutes to hold him accountable for all his important decision in his role as Prime Minister. Despite having enjoyed PMQ during Blair’s period, as he always had that smile on his face, whilst MPs were putting him into that awkward position. This Mr Brown is a complete turn off. It is a hard one. I think maybe offer a longer period of time for MPs to question the Prime Minister, probably an hour or hour an thirty minutes to be able to put questions. Despite his involvement in PMQ, perhaps Mr Brown could face a public PMQ once a week or once a month live on television. Therefore, this would provide the public an opportunity to hold their leader to account and feel they are able to relate to him. I must say, I love David Cameron’s tone and the way he conveys himself. But, Mr Brown does not seem like an inspiring leader at all.

  4. I think it is a good way to hold the PM to account. And if you want something more sedate then there is the Liaison Committee grilling that goes on for hours.I just don’t buy into this whole thing about PMQs being so ghastly. Having some kind of consensual hemicycle where everyone just agrees with each other would the death of accountability.

  5. The theatre is the consequence of people seeing it as an opportunity to ‘get’ the Prime Minister, to try to catch him or her out, to “hold them accountable”.They attack, the PM defends. They seek admissions of errors to be used as weapons, the PM seeks to hide them. One is the consequence of the other.Such attacks are only appropriate if you have something solid to hold them to account for. Do we really have something new every week? And does asking a question to which everybody already knows the answer, just so you can force him or her say it, really help?If you want PMQ to be taken seriously, you should only use it when there’s something specific about government policy that you want to know – to understand their thinking and reasoning for what they do. To check and challenge their assumptions and logic in the interests of getting the policy right, not in some hostile attempt to prove them wrong. Participants should not be ‘scored’ on whether they catch the others out with their clever debating points, and it shouldn’t be seen as any sort of way to get at the current administration or to cause them trouble. (That might happen, but it isn’t supposed to be the aim.)The moment winning the debate becomes more important to you than running the country well, you’ve lost all hope of being taken seriously.

  6. PMQs is a hideous monstrosity; 600 men groaning at each other, and then they wonder why people aren’t interested. It’s an international embarassment, and is indicative of the somewhat childish state of British politics generally.If I think this despite working in politics, I can’t help worry how the general public see it; I do know that both of my sisters, far less politically inclined than myself, find it very silly, and a general waste of time. They are fairly aware of current affairs, but cannot watch something so pathetic and boorish.If politicians refuse to show any respect for each other, perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised that the general public hold us in such contempt. Listening to an answer, and allowing questions to be asked, not interrupting like prepubescent schoolboys should be considered a bare minimum – were I the speaker, the chamber would near empty very quickly as I banned in turn every member incapable of acting like an adult.

  7. There are two things wrong (well mainly two!) with PMQsOne is the apalling behaviour of MPs – including those or our own party. Their behaviour would seem contrary to what I read is permitted in Erskine May. Secondly all too often questions are not answered but turned into a political attack.It should be said that the Speaker is very lax at policing PMQs appropriately.Here’s an idea:1) Why don’t Lib Dem MPs stop their own heckling and cat-calling2) If Opposition MPs abuse Ming then he waits till they’ve shut up before answering his question.If they don’t then how much of a statement would it make if Ming left the chamber followed by all 60+ Lib Dem MPs in protest 🙂 3) If the PM doesn’t answer the question at all someone should make a point of order as to whether this is appropriate (assuming you can do this procedurally) Alternatively have someone else put the same question a second time.

  8. PMQs is amusing theatre and I tend to listen each week. However, in terms of the legislature holding the leader to account it is a farce. If the PM was interviewed weekly for an hour by a select committee, that would be scrutiny.Chances of that happening are somewhat akin to the chances of David Cameron holding on to his job into 2008.