Thursday, 13 December 2012

PMQs and a baboon's backside

Prime minister's questions (PMQs) are held as a single session every Wednesday when the prime minister spends around half an hour answering questions from MPs. In theory, it is a time when backbenchers and leaders of the opposition parties can hold the prime minister to account. It's an opportunity for the backbenches to haul the prime minister over the democratic coals. Except, except...... increasingly it descends into farce. When the prime minister and leader of the opposition take to the despatch box, it’s all about who can cause the most embarrassment, get the biggest laugh, and secure the most playable soundbite. It's obvious that getting a proper answer on an issue isn’t what anyone wants anymore. It's all good knock about stuff and makes for excellent TV but policy never gets improved or changed due to an exchange at PMQs. How can it? A prime minister in that bear pit is in no position to say calmly: “Thank you for that information, I’ll go and change that now”. The confrontational nature of PMQs doesn’t allow for grown up debate, so what is the point?

Absolutely no point at all from an advancement of politics perspective. Let's get rid of them. Except, except.....

Watchers of David Cameron just love the various shades of red his face goes as he gets more and more irritated during PMQs (see colour chart on left). And to the Labour frontbench (and lots of other people, including me!) his journey through facial palette signals victory. Indeed Ed Miliband could not resist calling it to our attention recently: "It's good to see the crimson tide back." No wonder Posh Dave went the colour of a baboon's backside.

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