Prime Minister’s Questions is covered in detail elsewhere on this site, but I have been moved to comment having watched the first half of today’s session.
PMQs is good knockabout stuff, but it should be more than that. Not many people can watch it – given that it begins at noon – and so it is of limited importance. However, those outside the Westminster Village who do watch, such as retired people, may well be floating voters. Clips of the exchanges are shown on evening bulletins. So it is not wholly trivial. That being so, I think Conservative MPs need to be a bit more serious.
I understand the temptation, I really do. Face to face with members of this complacent, decadent, dishonest and self-satisfied Government, I might find it very hard not to take the mickey. But I’m a stand-up comedian, not a prospective Cabinet minister.
Drawing attention to inconsistent quotations and broken promises is great. The odd dig is entertaining, and I’m sure the public like to see a well-considered one. But braying like schoolboys and acting as though PMQs is a particularly irreverent Oxford Union debate is incredibly unattractive, and hardly inspires confidence. At a time when the economy is in meltdown and we are just over a year away (at most) from a general election, Tory front benchers need to be sober and thoughtful, and seen to be so.
William Hague did an excellent job with Harriet Harman, calmly cataloguing the Government’s unrealised promises to help struggling businesses. He mocked her over her prime ministerial ambitions, which was fine. The ludicrous giggling of his colleagues wasn’t. Nor was the fact that they shouted so loudly the Speaker had to step in.
This all comes from a candid friend. I know for a fact that the shadow administration is comprised of men and women who sincerely want to change this country for the better. But they need to demonstrate in word and deed – and demeanour – that this consumes them in a way that point scoring does not.