Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

John Bercow - First #PMQs review

Well that was the first PMQs of John Bercow's time as speaker. I thought he did OK. Here are my highlights:

  • He got in early by cutting short a planted question stating "We got the jist of it!"
  • When there was continual barracking during the Cameron/Brown exchanges he interrupted and insisted that the public do not like it "and I do not like it!". Things were a bit quieter after this.
  • He chided Michael Fabricant the Tory MP saying that he must calm himself "It's not good for your health!".
  • The best bit for me was a slap down to another Labour back-bencher who started trying to tack on slating of opposition policies to his question. Bercow interrupted and said that the PM need not concern himself with opposition policies. If Bercow sticks to this then it could eventually make life difficult for the PM as that's half his question answering strategy out of the window.
  • He made a brief statement at the end firstly insisting that ministers must make statements initially to the house not the media, must keep questions and answers relatively short and that those speaking must be able to be heard.
There was however no attempt to stop the planted questions. There was no rebuke for Mr Brown given how he trampled all over Harriet Harman's statement to the house yesterday as Paul Waugh commented on. There was also no attempt to get Gordon Brown to actually answer the question as he reeled off tractor statistics and made reference to David Cameron times in the Treasury 17 years ago when he was about 25 and in no position of power at all (I always find this pathetic).

So, there is a lot more he could and should have done. However I suppose if he had tried to do all of this it would have meant all the headlines would have been about him playing to the gallery and trying to personalise the Speakership. One step at a time.

I very much hope he does try to address some of these other points though in the coming weeks. Let's see.


11 comments:

Constantly Furious said...

Cheers Mark.

No, not impressed with Bercow at all.

Very busy showboating for the cameras but didn't make any difference to the actual proceedings.

Voter said...

Good to see we are still in agreement on this, Mark.

Getting the speaker to insist on the PM answering the question would be very good.

I note you said that barracking was reduced, not eliminated.

The noise should go altogether (people should be ejected from the chamber if necessary to achieve this).

It gives the PM license to think that this is not a serious event but more of a football match.

Niklas Smith said...

Much as I would love Mr Speaker to force the PM to answer the questions put to him, he can't actually do that without appearing to take sides, as the BBC commentators pointed out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8116603.stm

But this quote is a classic: "The Prime Minister doesn't have to concern himself with Opposition policy." I was pleasantly surprised by the new Speaker's performance overall. Keep it up!

Voter said...

It would not look like he is taking sides. It would look like he is getting the PM to actually answer the question.

A judge can compel witnesses to answer the question: Objection unresponsive

No one says a judge is not impartial because of this.

Do not take what the BBC says as the final word on this.

It is possible that the rules need to change but Mr Bercow is surely in a position to call for such a change

Robert Barnes said...

Hello Mark,

I agree Bercow did well. As you say, if he'd tried to change too much first time out, it could have backfired, so I think he did all he could in the circumstances.

Rob

Robert Barnes said...

Hello Mark,

I agree Bercow did well. As you say, if he'd tried to change too much first time out, it could have backfired, so I think he did all he could in the circumstances.

Rob

Robert Barnes said...

Hello Mark,

I agree Bercow did well. As you say, if he'd tried to change too much first time out, it could have backfired, so I think he did all he could in the circumstances.

Rob

Robert Barnes said...

Hello Mark,

I agree Bercow did well. As you say, if he'd tried to change too much first time out, it could have backfired, so I think he did all he could in the circumstances.

Rob

Mark Reckons said...

Hi Robert. Thanks for your comments.

In fact you seem to be quite firm on your point as you have made it 4 times! ;)

Aye We Can ! said...

Mark,

Your review was for me spot on. Not a bad start. You correctly point out what ercow ideally would have done. But, as you allude to, it would have been a tactical error to have attempted to correct a decade or more of bad practice on his first outing.

He did enough to suggest promise.

Robert Barnes said...

Wish I knew how I did that!

Sorry

Rob (hopefully once only)