Liberal Democrat Voice have initiated a debate on PMQs, based on a recent Hansard society report.
About four-fifths, or about 25 minutes, of PMQs consists of very earnest questions and equally earnest answers with no ribald antics. Question: “Will the Prime Minister agree to look at the appalling situation concerning the plight of Mrs Muggins/the threatened closure The Royal Free Muggins Hospital/the disastrous flooding in Mugginshire in my constituency?” – Answer: “The Right Honourable member is absolutely right to highlight this situation. I share her/his concern and I will look into it and get back to her/him in due course.” – is a very typical exchange.
The other 5 minutes consists of a few disingenuously planted questions and the slanging match between Her Majesty’s First Lord of the Treasury and leader of the loyal opposition. I agree with most of the proposed changes listed on LDV, particularly the one which makes the whole thing done in peak time so more people are appropriately bored to tears by the Mugginshire questions. – So they know it’s only five minutes of Punch and Judy. But is that really the way forward? Will we end up with people being bored by politics rather than appalled? The media has some responsibility here and I can’t help but think it would help to educate people generally more in the real business of parliament. But I doubt they are interested.
Therein lies the conundrum. The media, abetted by the pols, sex up three minutes of mindlessness out of endless hours of earnest boredom, to catch people’s attention. But it then “turns them off” politics. Hopefully a middle way between ennui and outrage can be found. Is it too much to ask that people in general use their brains a bit more, listen to some of the other debates, or at least to the rest of PMQs apart from the three shouty minutes, rather than making stupid assumptions based on a very small snapshot?
In a democracy, citizens actually do have a broad duty to use their brains, rather than just sitting there and taking what is rammed down their throats by the media.
“Controversial!” – as Ben Elton used to say.