Wednesday, 16 September 2015

How was it for you?


I heard (before it happened) that it was likely to be a shambles. Afterwards I read that Corbyn had 'abrogated his responsibility' as Opposition Leader.

But what do you think of Jeremy Corbyn's PMQ debut?

Personally, I'm impressed. And I'm impressed for the same reason I was impressed with his leadership campaign. I'm not a party member; I have voted Labour but I'm temperamentally a floating voter. And I'm weary of the theatricality and empty point-scoring of our so-called Parliamentary democracy.

Do you know why they sit there, like that, on rows of benches opposite each other? It's because the 'lower house' used to meet in St Stephen's chapel and chapels - like the chancels of large churches and cathedrals - are traditionally laid out that way with rows of benches, pews and stalls parallel to one another. In other words, it's an accident of history. And it's not one that's particularly healthy for democracy.

The next great influence on our parliamentary practices is, of course, the Oxbridge debating societies - especially the Oxford Union. The 'yaw-boo-sucks' style that seeks to rubbish an opponent or shout him/her down as much as make a case of one's own is seen most clearly in Prime Minister's Questions. Bobbing MPs, order papers, cheers, shouts, jeers, mocking laughter...

Or, this:

Makes a change, doesn't it? To hear questions, calmly put, plainly answered (or avoided) and then - to make up your own mind! Not to let the massed ranks of Westminster wonks and media mites tell us what went on, interpret it and endlessly analyse every aspect of it; not to let the spin doctors and point-scoring and rehearsed answers get in the way of what is, after all, still called Prime Minister's... questions. Questions. That's what Corbyn asked. It wasn't a show or a rally or a jamboree. And it shouldn't be.

It should do what it says on the tin.

And it did.

Let's hope it carries on doing so.
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