I have noticed recently that the Speaker, John Bercow has been going further and further in trying to control the baying mob at PMQs. There is still barracking and heckling but when it gets too much he is more frequently stepping in and embarrassing individual members who are behaving badly even threatening to sin-bin them. He also keeps pointing out how most people watching outside the chamber find this sort of behaviour very off-putting.
Thursday, 8 July 2010
Mike Smithson now thinks that Bercow is being high-handed and that PMQs is in danger of becoming a bore.
I'm afraid I totally disagree. If anything he has not yet gone far enough. He should start to exclude MPs from the chamber if they persist with this sort of infantile behaviour. I would much prefer there to be little or no barracking and heckling at all.
What Mike is failing to appreciate is that there are only a few thousand political junkies in this country (in which I include myself) who largely view PMQs as theatre and a sort of verbal jousting with the opposing sides cheering for their leader and heckling their opponents. They perceive it as good sport and sit on the sidelines "scoring" it often based on how up or down the "troops" seems to be in response. For most of the rest of the population, the highlights that they see on the evening news of those who we have elected to represent us in our primary political chamber consist of grown adults baying at each other like schoolchildren. It is one of the things that drives a wedge between the political classes and the rest.
Of course our Prime Minister should be held to account and the fact that we have this weekly session is admired around the world. But there is no need for the sideshow stuff and it regularly spoils what should showcase the best of our political system.
Keep it up Mr Speaker. Who knows, eventually maybe even I will be proud of the weekly sessions.