The People’s Question Time

My first response is Who Cares? PMQ’s? Haud me back…a platform for the bully boys and bigots to bawl at each other, point like cricket umpires as a wicket falls and wave their order papers like students on Putney Bridge watching the Boat Race.

It is an arena for public schoolboys and Cameron, after his initial No More Punch and Judy promise, has shone as Flashman, pink with outrage, blustering about ‘living within our means’ while doubling the national debt. Might as well be singing the Eton Boating song.

Of course the Corbyn approach is a contrivance but no less symbolically important for that. Why not rename the silly event the People’s Question Time? Why not a format that allows those plebs and oiks who pay for the bloody place a chance to ask a question? What was instructive on the day was just how hard Cameron had to work to keep calm and control his rising voice as each pertinent question came in. Remember, he can’t dismiss them as meaningless if they come from the voters. And it made his normal device of turning every question round to his own pre-planned agenda transparent…he ended at least three answers with a mention of the ‘success of the economy’, clearly the major target for Tories anxious to play on Corby weakness. (So they think). It looked what it was – desperate.

This understated Corbyn approach won’t work forever, unless the plan is to kill off PMQs as a televised event – no bad thing. There will be times when one issue dominates and no doubt we’ll see the comeback to each answer to discover if Corbyn can master the debating society technique. But this was a total change from the playground embarrassment we’re used to and caused us to rethink what parliament is for. Should it be more interrogative? Can we hear the Prime Minister actually detailing what he thinks and how he justifies financial penalties on poor families, how London will look when it is cleansed of lower income people, what constitutes a family ‘opting to live on benefits.’ Can he justify the massive benefits paid out to business and the failure to capture their taxes properly? Why haven’t we repatriated the billions stashed in tax havens and stopped non tax payers spending more than a week or two in Britain, or prevented them from owning property here? (Or would that exclude his wife’s family estate on Jura?)

I’m glad Corbyn is refusing to play the hypocritical Establishment game of bowing to Andrew Marr, singing stupid anthems about being reigned over, always wearing the uniform of suit and tie and daring to introduce people’s questions into the peoples chamber. I’m glad the commentators don’t know what to make of it and have been denied their weekly theatre to fire their bile.

The new politics in itself isn’t that different, as we know. It’s just human, honest and humble. And that’s why its effect is completely different. Corbyn may have no significant impact in Scotland at all but in forcing right wing Labour careerists to talk of defection and disorientating the British elite, he is turning the fawning Westminster beast in on itself. Will it work? That’s for a real Question Time.

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8 thoughts on “The People’s Question Time

  1. I don’t think it will work – the Establishment will see to that.

    I watched Corbyn’s speech to the TUC yesterday. During the first part, when he was reading from notes, he was frankly awful.

    When he put the notes down and took off his glasses and went into free flow it was much better – but still nothing to get excited about.

    And we have many (Not) Labour MPs being openly hostile and critical of him. No leader can lead if they allow that kind of nonsense to go on to their face, or even behind their back.

    In all honesty I give Corbyn 6 months and when he does get punted (most likely by his own back benchers) will our Kezia then say she really didn’t support him after all?

    I think anyone who thought Corbyn could salvage the New Labour wreck of a party is sorely mistaken. Contrary to his election threatening the independence movement here I think it will turn out to be a huge benefit to us in the long run.

    I do think Corbyn is a decent guy underneath it all (in spite of his obvious dislike for further devolution and total antagonism towards another referendum) who could change a lot if given the breathing space and time to do so. But instead I fear he is going to be crucified – a martyr to the Left.

    • S’about right. 🙂

      Corbyn may, or may not, last those six months, but I hope for the sake of England’s progressive left electorate he does. As you say, for Scotland the point is moot. The man has neither knowledge of, or interest in Scotland’s politics or electorate. Its basically who and what the man is. His world of politics, indeed his world is far removed from ours.

      Derek’s right though, I doubt his approach will flummox the establishment for long. They’ll have their chums in the meeja work overtime on his character and on the big stand alone issues they’ll have their own prepared scripts to stick to. Corbyn will need help to survive and or make an impact and there are enough within his own party who would happily see the man fail.

      He has ready aid in chamber if he asks nicely right enough and by that I mean approaches the Scottish benches in a spirit of compromise and reciprocity. That though is entirely up to him. The SNP held their hand out to Labour once already this year and had it slapped away in a fit of ‘huh, hell no’ spite.

      Pass the popcorn. 🙂

  2. What struck me about PMQs was that it showed Cameron cannot think on his feet. He resorts to soundbites and mission statements, and even when presented with questions from real people, with real names and real issues, he couldn’t relate. He was uncomfortable having to draw in his horns and fell back into his old ways as soon as Angus Robertson MP spoke up for Scotland. He did try, I’ll give him that, but it was all easy words with very little substance.

    Out of the two of them, to me Jeremy Corbyn comes across as infinitely more thoughtful and effective. This is what people outside the Westminster bubble actually want – less of the theatrics and more of the thought. I also believe he’s a lot stronger and tougher than people give him credit for. The Tories and the media can crash against him with as much foam and spray as they can muster, but there’s a determination built on sound principles within Corbyn. He may look benign, but there’s tempered steel underneath.

  3. I believe the custom in the House of Commons is for their respective M.Ps to applaud their party leader when he enters the chamber before P.M.Qs. Apparently yesterday, the Labour benches sat in stony silence when Corbyn made his entrance, so on that basis, it doesn’t look good for him as far as the P.L.P is concerned. They didn’t want him as their leader, and will depose him as soon as they think they are strong enough.
    In their assessment he, and I hate to agree with them, will never win an election for them, and in that I think they are completely correct.
    And if he, Corbyn, thinks the “monstering” was bad before his election, just wait until the M.S.M really gets to work. We have already seen the furore over his non-singing of the National Anthem. and now revelations of an alleged affair with a fellow Labour M.P. As an, alleged, avowed republican, will he, won’t he, kneel before her Maj, during his swearing-in as a Privy Councillor?
    It’s going to be interesting watching this pantomime, and I only hope that that it causes this fraud of a political party to further disintegrate.
    As far as Corbyn is concerned, I don’t care what he says or does. He has already demonstrated he has very little understanding, or relevance to Scotland, so I think his, probably, short time in charge, will alter very little in terms of political thinking in our country.

  4. The fact that Jeremy Corbyn entered the HoC chamber for his opportunity at PMQ for the first time to be greeted by complete and utter silence from the Labour benches shows that he is going to have his work cut out to gain any kind of backing or support from what are mostly Blair’s New Labour on the Labour benches.

    Such a shame that an honourable and decent man such as Corbyn is going to be destroyed by the Tory media assisted by his hostile New Labour colleagues in the Labour Party.

  5. He is probably an honourable and decent man but that does not make him good for Scotland. I get the impression that he sees Scotland as an irrelevant sparring partner – an irrelevance – in his bigger fight. Unfortunately actions like his refusing to sing about being reigned over do not help in this fight. They will only hasten his demise as the media gather their brows like gathering storm, nursing their wrath to keep it warm.

    All hell will be unleashed on him from the press and the BBC in the coming weeks and months. I will be extremely surprised if he survives it long. I think he will be deposed in the next year or two as the right wingers in his party help to KO him. This will lead to another leadership election and ensure that the last vestiges of a proper, left wing Labour party are consigned to history.

    • “Honourable and decent man”. Well Brian and Mor, I don’t know what sort of person Corbyn is, I don’t know him and have never met him, but so far by his statements, he is no fan of Scottish independence.
      Some of us are expressing an opinion that we should work with him, and while it’s early days, there has been no approach from his camp as far as I know.
      Personally, I wouldn’t trust any Labour politician, they stood shoulder to shoulder with the tories during the referendum campaign, and are still at it, sitting on their hands during the vote on the trade union bill.
      No, let this near moribund political party sign its own death warrant, stand well back and cheer.

  6. Call Corbyn is it
    Tales from the Riverbank I think, just look behind him,all he needs is the Laurel Wreath for the Ides Of March doth approach
    I come to bury Corbyn not to praise him,…..Ooft…..Ouch…..The end

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