The Speaker realised something had gone amiss. Towards the end of PMQs he said the questions were “too long”.
But the truth was that the whole session, which lasted almost an hour, was too long. By allowing the thing to spread out so far beyond the appointed time of half an hour, John Bercow has become the friend of waffle in high places.
He quite rightly wants MPs to have the chance to hold the executive to account, but at PMQs they should do this by a kind of brutal brevity, of the sort which used to be found on the best tabloids, where the vital point is got across a few short words.
MPs instead use PMQs to strike high-minded, self-glorifying attitudes about crime, health, the environment and other worthy topics. They become embarrassingly parochial, and abandon any attempt at concision, as they strive to get good local coverage by mentioning a local school.
No wonder the House was far from full. Why bother to turn up to listen to this stuff? Why write about it?