PMQs Verdict: Is this the best Parliament in the world? Or the worst? Actually it’s both

6th February, 2013 1:57 pm

We’ve seen at least two sides of our Parliament in the past 24 hours – perhaps more. Last night’s debate on Equal Marriage was certainly an eye-opener. The speeches ranged from the spectacular to the erudite, the heroic to the downright vile. Some of the debate was Athenian. Some were more akin to a 1am row outside a pub.

Today’s PMQs was better than that, but again it was the low politics rather than the high principle that stuck in the memory was the “spectacle” was over. Ed Miliband led on the Bedroom Tax. It’s an important issue, and the examples he highlighted brought the lives and struggles of millions into the great chamber of the Commons. But of course it was not long before it had descended into acrimony. Miliband mocked Cameron, saying that he has almost half of his party behind him. That was a little cheap really, considering it’s hardly Cameron’s fault that his party are more backwards then either he or Miliband on equal rights. It would have been far more impressive from Miliband had he praised Cameron today.

In return, Cameron snapped back at Miliband for “pre-prepared” remarks.

That’s always something that irks me at PMQs. Of course PMQs is pre-prepared. Everyone knows that. This is not an example of on the spot debate, this is a carefully choreographed set of statements designed to make the other man look like a fool. A huge amount of time and resource is spent my both sides to try and win these jousts. Anyone who claims otherwise is a liar or a fool.

Depressingly, Cameron followed up his jibe about pre-prepared lines with…a pre-prepapred line, hopefully shoehorned in, about Len McCluskey. The Unite General Secretary gave a lecture nearly a month ago (and wrote a piece on LabourList). It was open to the public, journalists were invited, and it was interesting (if not terribly shocking). Yet the Daily Mail claimed yesterday that there had been a “leak” (as in, it’s a slow news day, shall we read that Len McCluskey lecture? – because a public lecture can’t be “leaked”) and today Cameron danced to their one month old tune.

Weak stuff – but as I noted last week, it’s exactly what we should expect from Cameron.

But then it was all change again, as the PM gave his statement on the Mid-Staffs fiasco. And it was good. It was well informed. It didn’t try to score overt and cheap political points. It considered the huge issues with the gravity they deserve. And Miliband’s response was thoughtful and worthy of the gravity of the situation.

And for the second day in a row, there were two parliaments, co-existing, side by side in the same space, conflicting, contrasting and complimenting each other all at the same time. And my view of the place changed all over again. Perhaps this is the greatest parliament on earth after all. Or maybe it is the worst. But it’s more complicated than that – it’s both.

  • I thought Ed did very well today. Look, this is what PMQ’s is – I agree its not really up to much but unless the beast is slaughtered it will carry on being beastly

  • postageincluded

    What’s this, Mark? PMQs a “spectacle”? Is this Situationist entryism on Labour List? You’ll be “taking a walk” next, you flaming lefty.

  • Bob

    There’s nothing wrong with PMQs per se. The only problem is that often Cameron doesn’t make any attempt to answer the questions.
    But as for the noise, the theatre, the passion, the heckling – I like all of those things. And let’s be honest, without them no-one would bother even watching PMQs.
    The last thing we want is for parliament to become some dry, monotonous stage play (a bit like the US Congress).

Latest

  • Comment Featured Welsh Leaders’ Debate: Jones strong on his record but needs more gusto

    Welsh Leaders’ Debate: Jones strong on his record but needs more gusto

    The leader’s debate underscored the scale of the challenge for Carwyn Jones. The Welsh Labour leader’s six-and-a-half years in office gave his opponents found enough in his record to throw at him. But he struce a determined tone saying “The NHS is on the ballot paper” but he fell short of carrying the audience with him yesterday on the crucial issues of NHS and steel.  Jones’ point is a good one – healthcare is one of the biggest policy areas devolved to […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured The cancer of anti-Semitism could destroy Labour – it’s time to drum out the bigots

    The cancer of anti-Semitism could destroy Labour – it’s time to drum out the bigots

    Labour has a problem with Jews. If it was just a case of one MP who possessed obnoxious opinions, then we would still be in some trouble. But when it is an MP whose views find support among a minority of members – very small but very noticeable – then it shows we are in big trouble. The first step in rooting out this cancer is to admit that it exists. This has begun to happen, following the suspension of […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Ken Livingstone suspended from Labour over anti-Semitism row

    Ken Livingstone suspended from Labour over anti-Semitism row

    Ken Livingstone has been suspended from Labour for “bringing the party into disrepute” after he mounted a defence of Naz Shah. The move comes after dozens of Labour MPs, including a number of Shadow Cabinet minister, demanded Livingstone be suspended for his comments on anti-Semitism, Hitler and Zionism. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale also endorsed the calls, while Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones said that “Ken Livingstone must be expelled today.” You can see the full list of Labour figures […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Furious MPs call for Ken Livingstone to be suspended over anti-semitism claims

    Furious MPs call for Ken Livingstone to be suspended over anti-semitism claims

    UPDATE: Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party and will be investigated over his comments. Ken Livingstone is today facing calls to be suspended from Labour after a series of public comments about anti-semitism in the party. Over 20 Labour MPs, including a number of frontbenchers and Sadiq Khan, the candidate for London Mayor, have publicly called for Livingstone to be suspended, as has Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones and the Jewish Labour […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Campaign Round-up: Seven days to go

    Campaign Round-up: Seven days to go

    It’s seven days until voters go to the polls – here’s a quick look at how the elections are shaping up across the country. Message “Renting a home shouldn’t be a luxury, but under the Tories Londoners could live in 4-star luxury in most of Europe for what they pay. Rents have gone up by 30 per cent with a Tory Mayor and it would be exactly the same under Zac Goldsmith – with rents soaring above £2,000 a month” – […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit