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BRIT Review

Why it matters that PMQs ran over by seven minutes

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I watched Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime. I’ve seen it many times before, often struck by how a dodgy one-liner can make headline news; but today something was different. Why? It over-ran by seven minutes.

Now this may be regarded as insignificant by many, but those seven minutes showed me seven things about PMQs and British politics:

  1. Ok they weren’t throwing actual punches like some countries, but it didn’t feel very parliamentary and a little more out of control than usual

  2. It felt childish. MPs on the backbenches (and front at times) were like an excitable class on their first day back at school

  3. It was so noisy that people couldn’t ask or answer questions properly. This led to a highly unusual moment when the Speaker interrupted the Prime Minister’s answer, only to be told ‘but I haven’t finished yet’

  4. Far too much time was taken up with posturing and not debate

  5. Questions starting with ‘Would the Right Honourable Gentleman agree with me’ should be banned – they are not questions and the public knows it

  6. Because it makes the headlines, examples like this of politics and politicians ‘in action’ may continue to disengage the leaders of our country with the people they represent

  7. We must be near election time….  

I guess whatever people think, and it is clear that it is equally off-putting as it is exciting, PMQs will certainly continue to provide headlines every week as we creep towards 2015. I for one just hope it is for robust debates generated by Questions put to the Prime Minister and not the play that surrounds it.



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