Watch with Mumsnet: live-streaming of PMQs with Anushka Asthana, WEDNESDAY at 12 midday

(151 Posts)
RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Jul-14 16:36:32

You might recall that last month we conducted a survey on the UK's political culture, following on from our work with Mori on women and politics last year.

The results from the survey showed that 76% of respondents called Prime Minister's Questions "unprofessional and outdated" and 80% thought it "ineffective". As one Mumsnetter put it: "Might as well get some preschoolers to call each other poo-heads and be done with it."

Following on from this and our webchat last week, we launched a petition asking the PM to look at ways PMQs could be strengthened. So far, over 55k people have signed.

On Wednesday we'll be streaming PMQs live at 12pm. Come along and watch with us: we'll be joined by Sky News' political correspondent Anushka Asthana for a live webchat before and after to discuss the session.

Anushka wrote the Mumsnet/ Mori report on women voters last year. Before working for Sky News she was a columnist and chief political correspondent for The Times, and before that was at the Observer, where she worked for eight years. Her final role as the newspaper's policy editor saw her working from Westminster writing about politics and people. While there she covered the 2010 General Election and the formation of the Coalition.

Anushka wants to find out a bit more about what you think. What do you like about PMQs? What, if anything, do you feel needs changing? If you don't like, it why not? What could be improved?

Please join us at midday on Wednesday - and as ever, if you can't be there then please use this thread to post up any questions or comments in advance.

Thanks
MNHQ

IscreamUscream Tue 01-Jul-14 17:27:10

All they do is shout and argue. I can't stand when they say here here and the one upmenship mentality. Ner ner what I said is better than what you said. It's all men and not many women in there at PMQ and half the men are either asleep or looking bored. I would like to see them dressed down not in stuffy suits.
A women speaker should take charge to control the school boy playground mentality.

Choccyjules Tue 01-Jul-14 18:11:30

It's not all men, there's a majority of them as we know but the females among them seem to have been encouraged to wear bright colours to stand out recently - anyone else noticed this?

longfingernails Tue 01-Jul-14 23:08:28

I won't be able to join live. But here is my input:

*Request 1*: Bercow should stop his idiotic interjections (in particular, he should stop trying to be funny and seeking attention), and let the questions/answers flow.

Request 2 It should be on twice a week for 30 minutes; once in the evening.

Request 3 Calls for 'change' should not be measured using dodgy self-selecting surveys/petitions and the opinions of some pampered self-selected chatterati. Instead viewing/listening figures for various political events involving the PM should be used to measure the level of public engagement which PMQs provides, relative to (for example) select committee hearings which the PM attends. In particular, claims that PMQs is 'offputting to the public' should be treated with the contempt they deserve, given the massive viewership of PMQs compared to any other regular political event. PMQs may be offputting to Guardian readers and the MN Islingtonistas, but it's simply not true more broadly - and the TV stats prove it.

Request 4 PMQs must celebrate and accentuate the politics. It is a time for political conviction to come to the fore; it is a time when character, mettle and oratory must be tested. Above all, it must never be watered down to be just a forum for managerialist politics - or, almost as bad - irrelevant 'statesmanlike' speeches on foreign affairs or faraway natural disasters over which the government has little influence anyway.

Request 5 We should cherish and maintain the little flourishes which make PMQs unique: for example, the utterly pointless first question about the PM's engagements for the day. These little traditions have been built up over countless decades, and are well worth preserving.

Missushb Tue 01-Jul-14 23:34:30

Here here longfingernails! Enjoyed reading your post and found myself agreeing with all of it. Self selected chattarati right enough.

KarlWrenbury Tue 01-Jul-14 23:35:17

Stop trying to make PMQT rage happen.

It's summer. It's wimbledon. It's World Cup.

Missushb Tue 01-Jul-14 23:37:02

Agreed!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Jul-14 00:10:10

KarlWrenbury

Stop trying to make PMQT rage happen.

It's summer. It's wimbledon. It's World Cup.

You don't have to be angry Karl and Missushb - you can be anything you want about it. Thought it might be interesting to watch it with a pro from the Westminster Lobby, though. No worries if it's not your bag - as you say there's always Wimbledon (assuming it's dry grin).

Belloc Wed 02-Jul-14 09:55:20

I love PMQs. Please don't change it.

But if you are a Labour supporter, I can see why you want its format changed. Urgently. During PMQs, most Labour politicians come across as being dim and totally joyless: they just don't do fast-on-the-draw sardonic wit.

Cameron is always very impressive at PMQs with his panoptic wit.

Crumblemum Wed 02-Jul-14 10:00:30

I agree that with Belloc that Ed M leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to PMQs but that's not really the point. I love a lot about PMQs, I think a lot of the questions are spontaneous, and a good question can change the course of events, BUT the rest of the stuff makes it so cringeworthy, the shouting, the barracking, the red faces (Mr Balls), it is just awful. Get a good chair, better rules, pilot a few of the ideas and let's see what happens.

Question fo Anushka, when you're watching live, in real life, what is the noise actually like?

Missushb Wed 02-Jul-14 11:00:07

Fast on the draw panoptic wit? Think Cameron is on here in disguise.

claig Wed 02-Jul-14 11:04:23

I think that is a fair description, particularly if you compare it with some of the Labour types - more like apoplectic twit.

Missushb Wed 02-Jul-14 11:07:41

Strange reply from JustineMumsnet. Sorry for not toeing the petition wielding mumsnet line!

UnsureOfOutcome Wed 02-Jul-14 11:09:27

Anushka, as a political journalist, does it offer anything to you/do you get anything out of it, news-wise? In fact, do you actually watch it every week - is it essential viewing? If you could introduce any reforms yourself, what would they be?

woeface Wed 02-Jul-14 11:10:54

I like the idea of taking questions direct from the public - it often seems that when smaller issues/scandals actually reach Westminster, it's as a result of tireless investigation/campaigning by individuals for years. Maybe once a month, via a blind draw?

BananaHammock23 Wed 02-Jul-14 11:13:15

I don't watch PMQs. I only remember catching 5 mins of it once when at uni. Wasn't impressed by anyone or any of it. I would like to see clear, concise, surprising questions asked of the PM each week, is that too much to ask?

CrikeyMrsEvans Wed 02-Jul-14 11:14:12

I clicked on this and couldn't work out where the noise was coming from until I saw the live feed in the OP confused

Even if we made all the changes in the world, and I do agree with the petition by the way, I get a horrible feeling that until we do something about the public-school, Oxbridge, RAC-Club, male dominated back-slapping culture at parliament, the MPs' behaviour won't really change.

Don't know if Anushka can comment on that one without jeopardising her job grin

CrikeyMrsEvans Wed 02-Jul-14 11:16:03

What's wrong with JustineMN's response? She's saying you don't have to be interested if you're not interested?

Crumblemum Wed 02-Jul-14 11:28:28

Like that idea woeface. I had loads of friends stressing about late passports before it reached the news.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 02-Jul-14 11:35:15

So Anushkha's here and will start answering questions in over the next 20 mins or so and then stay on to comment/respond during the chat.

AnushkaAsthana Wed 02-Jul-14 11:36:42

Hi there,
I've just arrived at Mumsnet HQ... They've kindly let me park my sleeping toddler in the corner!
Great comments/questions, I'm going to reply to some before it actually gets going.
Ed Miliband and David Cameron have both been locked in their bunkers being prepped by their teams.
The big decision for Ed M is what to go on. One obvious subject is the Prime Minister in the EU and the repercussions of his failed attempt to block Jean Claude Juncker. Or he may want to look statesmanlike and talk about the ebola crisis.
What would you like to see?

AnushkaAsthana Wed 02-Jul-14 11:40:46

CrikeyMrsEvans

I clicked on this and couldn't work out where the noise was coming from until I saw the live feed in the OP confused

Even if we made all the changes in the world, and I do agree with the petition by the way, I get a horrible feeling that until we do something about the public-school, Oxbridge, RAC-Club, male dominated back-slapping culture at parliament, the MPs' behaviour won't really change.

Don't know if Anushka can comment on that one without jeopardising her job grin

CrikeyMrsEvans Well I can certainly say that Parliament (unfortunately like some other professions as well) is hugely over-represented by private school goers and men. Only 22% are women - Labour best, then Tories and Lib Dems at bottom. Female MPs carrying out an inquiry into what is going wrong due to report this month. One northern male Tory MP told me last week that he and colleagues like him are fed up of the "spadocracy" (people who go straight from Oxbridge to special adviser roles to becoming MPs) at the top of the Government.

CrikeyMrsEvans Wed 02-Jul-14 11:40:47

Hello Anushka

I'd like to see him mention the petition, haha

Ed strikes me as a clever and thoughtful chap. I'd like him to ask something substantial and clever about national policy, not bang on about Juncker, which is a ruddy political bubble storry if ever I saw one. I mean really who cares. Just an opportunity to go 'ner ner' at Cameron, then Cameron will go 'ner ner' back about Ed Balls or something. BORED ALREADY

AnushkaAsthana Wed 02-Jul-14 11:44:44

UnsureOfOutcome

Anushka, as a political journalist, does it offer anything to you/do you get anything out of it, news-wise? In fact, do you actually watch it every week - is it essential viewing? If you could introduce any reforms yourself, what would they be?

UnsureOfOutcome For a political journalist it is unquestionably important - the gallery, where we hacks sit, is packed for PMQs and pretty quiet for other debates. It gives a snapshot of where the two main parties are - and allows us to get a sense of how they are both reacting to the big news of the week. BUT I really think that there is too little focus on many of the other debates that can throw up really interesting policies/stories. I remember once covering "adjournment" debate by London MP Karen Buck on gangs that had about 2 journalists and 4 MPs but threw up a big warning about what was going on in London. And it was just two months before riots struck.

AnushkaAsthana Wed 02-Jul-14 11:47:18

woeface

I like the idea of taking questions direct from the public - it often seems that when smaller issues/scandals actually reach Westminster, it's as a result of tireless investigation/campaigning by individuals for years. Maybe once a month, via a blind draw?

woeface That would be great! The way it works is that some MPs are chosen in advance - and their names included on the order paper - and others chosen on day. When Prime Minister wants to boast about unemployment figs notice how he has them to hand for each of the constituencies of his questioners.

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