I notice that Prime Minister’s Questions (or PMQs) is fifty years old today.
And long may it continue, if only for the comedy value… let me explain my thought on this.
Some years ago (actually it was when I first became self-employed: I wasn’t very busy and so had a bit of time to dream up new ways of getting through the day and then pretending I’d been productive at the end of it) I watched PMQs for the first time.
What a bunch of buffoons, eejits and numpties! It put me off voting and politics forever.
All that paper waving, shouted remarks and voices shouting ‘hear, hear’ or ‘shame’. I swear I even heard someone shout ‘Bah, humbug.’
It inspired me to email Iain Duncan Smith, the then leader of the Conservatives, and John Prescott, the… well, I was never sure what his job was.
Essentially what I said was this: You look like a bunch of buffoons to us people outside parliament and, given that we’ve just had the lowest turnout ever at a General Election, don’t you think you should try to look less idiotic to the voters?
JP, bless him, didn’t bother replying, but IDS, did. Or at least a junior minion did. This is, basically, the response: “The Chamber is a robust debating house and we shouldn’t change it…” now run along, puny, you’re just a voter and there’s no election for another 4 years.
He didn’t say that last bit, I made it up, but I bet that’s what he was thinking.
Whatever. The thought process was we don’t need to change ‘cos we (the politicians) like it as it is.
But, I’m sorry, politics is at all time low because, I think, politicians ain’t in touch with… well, anyone really other than themselves. Expenses scandal, ridiculous debate, lots of shouting at each other and stupid points scoring: the word bandwagon could be used for just about every thread that runs through government.
In fact I think there is the political class and then there’s the rest of us who just seem to get on with things whilst they endlessly talk and shout at each other.
Now, when I pointed this out recently to a politician he wouldn’t have it… the need for change that was. He enjoyed the way things were set up and couldn’t see that it looks ridiculous to the rest of us. He didn’t care.
And that’s the fundamental issue with politicians. They don’t go to parliament with an open mind, to be persuaded by the debate… they go with closed minds and to score points. They look inwards and downwards instead of upwards and outwards. We don’t care that their speech writer has created a lovely insult for the oppo leader!
Until they ask ordinary people what they look like and actually listen to the answer the divide between politicians and the rest of us is just going to widen.