Following on from my post yesterday, regarding the lack of relevance of PMQs my point is wonderfully illustrated by the picture above showing MP Michael Fabricant donning what the Telegraph calls “a magnificent moustache” during yesterday’s session.
Despite long ceasing to function as such, PMQs is supposed to act as a check on the executive by MPs, Fabricant’s actions couldn’t more clearly show the function’s absence and in addition demonstrate the contempt held by MPS on how the process should work. Paliament’s failures laid bare.
Thus one is inclined to agree, albeit reluctantly, with the sentiments of former Labour party member Dan Hodges when he dismisses PMQs as a joke which makes a laughing stock of our nation:
Perhaps it was the sight of Michael Fabricant sitting on the back benches wearing a giant fake moustache. Or the Prime Minister’s joke about Ed Miliband “loving Engels instead”, a reference to Miliband’s Desert Island discs choice of Robbie Williams song “Angels”, which contains the line “I’m loving angels instead”. Or the fact Labour’s leader didn’t have the wit or wisdom to inflict the mercy killing the pun so richly deserved, and instead spent his own time at the Dispatch Box rambling aimlessly from one issue to another.
Anyway, whatever it was, as I sat there delivering my instant Twitter verdict – “Appalling joke aside, Cameron skated through this one. Ed’s PMQ’s strategy seems to be to meander from one issue to another. Weird” – I suddenly thought “what is the point?” Not just “what is the point of me sending this tweet?” which would have been a legitimate thought in itself, but: “what is the point of PMQs?”
What precisely do we conduct PMQs for? It’s certainly not for the benefit of the electorate, who think the whole thing is a farce. In fact, this is one of the problems.
Yet while Hodges identifies a failure in the system he is unable to put forward a suitable solution, blinkered by the Westminister Village as he is, he sticks with the status quo:
If we want scrutiny of the executive we can have it without the festival of banality that is PMQs. John Bercow has shown himself only too willing to drag ministers, from the PM down, to the chamber to deliver statements to the House on the important issues of the day. They give the opportunity for the government to set out their case in depth, for the opposition to conduct a detailed and forensic analysis of Minister’s responses, and for backbenchers of all sides to have their say free from the rabble-rousing that in unleashed at noon every Wednesday.
But as we see on a daily basis the status quo doesn’t work either. Parliament has long ceased scrutinising the executive; a mixture of conflicting interests between MPs’ representing constituents interests but wanting promotion, that Parliament no longer makes a lot of our laws and the lack of power of constituents to hold their MPs to account.
We need something different, we need the six demands.