Thursday, September 17, 2015

Death of PMQs?

House of Commons Debating Chamber not been so packed out since 2010. Not a perch to be found. It was 11.55am. Welsh Secretary, Stephen Crabb was at the Despatch Box clipping 4s with a confident straight bat on a good wicket against weak bowling.  Welsh Minister, Alun Cairns was swinging his bat with greater vigour, trying to hit a 6 off every ball. Welsh Questions were in full flow. Not that it made the one jot of difference. No-one was taking the slightest notice. Steve and Alun might as well have been reciting Cardiff to Swansea bus timetables. Or better still, reciting the words of God Save the Queen in Welsh. We were all awaiting the arrival of newly crowned King Corbyn.
And then he was there. Not a squeak of welcome from the Labour benches. No-one noticed him arrive. Spoken to no-one who actually saw him enter the Chamber. At first, I thought he must have been beamed in by one of those handy little transporter things they used on Startrek. Or maybe he had commissioned Paul Daniels to wave a red flag and have him simply 'appear' as he sometimes does with white doves. Anyway, he was there, studiously reading his notes, when we first noticed Jeremy Corbyn had taken his place, alert and ready for his first PMQs.
We waited, agog with anticipation. And then he stood to ask his first ever question from the front bench. Well it wasn't really a question. It was more a speech, explaining that he didn't fancy PMQs at all as we know it, and that he had had privatised the questioning to the public. Mr Speaker allowed much latitude. When he did finally get around to questions, they had been emailed to him by Gary, Barry, Larry, Cari, and Mari. (Might have these names wrong). Anyway it was a bit like a Jason Mohammed phone-in minus Jason's cheery repartee.
Personally I thought it worked out ok. But then I've long found PMQs to be a vulgar shout-fest for frustrated actors. Worked for Jeremy Corbyn though. All he would have wanted today was survival. Mission accomplished. Worked well for the Prime Minister too. He had no follow up questions to defend, and a great platform to lay out Govt plans and achievements . Worked well for me too. Needed a few minutes quiet to think things.
But what about the public? Ok as a one-off, or may be a two-off, or three-off. But what then. I suspect they will feel cheated. Be like turning up for a weekly 20/20 match only to find it always rained off. Since I've been an MP, tickets for PMQs have been like gold dust. Well, that'll change. Unless we give the fiery celts, Nigel Dodds and Angus Robertson six questions each - just to liven it things up. A month til round two. Can't wait.

1 comment:

John evans said...

All we want is a few answers to simple questions, think he did well for first outing considering that his every word is going to be dissected , bit better than the normal exchange when the PM knows in advance what questions are to be asked, think the PM looked a little bemused. The Tory press are hounding him like nothing we have seen before and sad to say some of your followers are going over the top but am glade to see you are not following suit. It's very early days yet, as you say, who knows how things will turn out.