MPs had to be reminded yet again today that there are actually people watching them during Prime Minister’s Questions, as grown adults made chicken noises at each other in the country’s seat of power.
Ed Miliband picked the Tories' missed net migration targets and proposals for TV debates as the topics he wanted answers on from David Cameron – but it quickly became apparent he wouldn’t be getting any.
Instead, Labour MPs squawked at the Prime Minister from across the Commons, while the most memorable interjection from Mr Cameron was to bring up Ed Balls’ cringeworthy appearance on LBC Radio where he said he was a “long, slow burn” in the bedroom. At one point the Speaker, John Bercow, had to interject with a reminder: “Can I just ask the house to have some regard for the views of the public about our behaviour given that we will be seeking their support in the weeks ahead?”
And in a point of order following the proceedings, the Labour MP Paul Flynn branded today's PMQs “the worst ever”.
Understandably, the “views of the public” were largely disparaging:
That sound is the nails being screwed into the coffin of the TV debates #PMQs. Or else it's the sound of Labour MPs making chicken noises— Isabel Hardman (@IsabelHardman) March 4, 2015
Question around whether PMQs is damaging to public opinion of Parliament. Cameron says it's a "robust exchange" and more can be done #PMQs— Ed Fuller (@edmundfuller) March 4, 2015
Honestly, the barracking noise of #PMQs can only turn people off politics and bring even more distance between politicians and voters— Paul Devlin (@PSDevlinConsult) March 4, 2015
Following #pmqs online is so much better than watching. Don't have to put up with all the childlike geering and paper waving.— Arran Morrison (@bigevy) March 4, 2015
What is the point of #PMQs? The PM doesn't actually answer a single question put to him.— Nikki Farthing (@NikkiPixie70) March 4, 2015
I was taught never to answer a question with a question. Public schools must teach different #PMQs— Darren (@Griffdaz) March 4, 2015
No more Punch and Judy politics... another Cameron broken promise #PMQs— AngieMac (@Coordinated73) March 4, 2015
Following #PMQs Paul Flynn says the PM should be sent on a seminar to learn the meaning of the words "question" and "answer".— Cemlyn Davies (@Cemlyn) March 4, 2015
Christ that was bad. And boring. And pointless. Good news is there's only three more to go before the election #pmqs— Alex Shilling (@alexshilling) March 4, 2015
To shouts of 'More!', PM avoids giving answers by listing to run down time like late Clement Freud on Just A Minute. Not an edifying #PMQs.— Andrew Sharpe (@TMT_Lawyer) March 4, 2015
Pointless, spineless Prime Minister. Defend your record and answer a question. Just one. #PMQs— Joe (@joeshawty) March 4, 2015
Ahead of today’s session in the Commons, the Lib Dem MP John Pugh hit out at his colleagues for “screaming like banshees” at Mr Balls last week when it was mentioned that he had forgotten the full name of a businessman who backed Labour.
“It's actually worse than the schoolyard,” he told the Commons on Tuesday, “but we'll see it repeated again at 12 o'clock tomorrow.”
The 9 worst car crash interviews in recent politics
The 9 worst car crash interviews in recent politics
1/6 Chloe Smith on Newsnight
George Osborne was enjoying a good day as he scrapped a planned 3p rise in fuel duty in June, 2012. But then someone had the bright idea of putting Chloe Smith, a junior Treasury minister and then something of a rising star for the Tories, on Newsnight. But she was unable to convincingly answer a single question posed to her by Jeremy Paxman, even the ultimate killer blow: “Do you ever think you’re incompetent?”
2/6 Boris Johnson on Andrew Marr
Eddie Mair, standing in for Mr Marr during his stroke recovery, might have been seen as something of a soft touch in March 2013 before he destroyed the London Mayor on the BBC’s flagship Sunday current affairs show. Mair presented a series of anecdotes about the harsher side to the fluffy-seeming Mr Johnson’s rise to power and concluded: “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” Boris didn’t quite seem to know how to respond.
3/6 Ed Miliband on Good Morning Britain
Labour’s leader faced some slightly inevitable accusations of being “out of touch with reality” from ITV’s Susannah Reid after she surprised him with a “how much does X cost question”. This time it was during an interview on how much he knew about his much-vaunted “cost of living crisis” – and Mr Miliband underestimated the average household grocery bill per week by about a third. He admitted he was wrong – but later tried to wriggle out of the situation by claiming he was only referring to “basic groceries” not his “overall shopping bill”.
4/6 Rachel Reeves on Daily Politics
The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary got very mixed up on whether Labour were promising “a freeze or a cap” – when energy prices actually stopped rising and fell. Refusing to accept that her party had enacted a u-turn on policy, she said: “It wasn’t us who changed – it’s the world that changed.” She later couldn’t give any examples of retail prices being successfully fixed by governments – stumping for “the minimum wage – the price of labour”.
5/6 David Cameron on Gay Times
Grilled on his MEPs’ voting records on gay rights in the European Parliament, a pre-prime ministerial Mr Cameron suggested they could vote any way they liked. But he also said the right not to suffer discrimination based on sexuality was a fundamental human right – meaning it should not be subject to an open vote. The former PR man got so flustered he had to ask for the cameras to be turned off because he was getting “distracted”.
6/6 Nigel Farage on LBC
Nigel Farage’s image as a plain-speaking, not-like-that-lot-in-Westminster politician suffered one of a number of dents in May 2014, when a tense 22-minute confrontation with LBC’s James O’Brien had to be cut short by his spin doctor. Patrick O’Flynn – who is now an MEP for Ukip – had to step in when Mr Farage was repeatedly questioned on his views on race and why he would be uncomfortable if a group of Romanian nationals moved in next door to him.
Mr Bercow yesterday repeated his criticism of the way PMQs is conducted, and called for the party leaders to improve the tone of the exchanges.
Labour have proposed a “sin bin” for repeat offenders whose rowdiness persistently interrupts proceedings, while Mr Miliband said he doesn’t see PMQs as “a great advert for politics or Parliament”.Reuse content